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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided to cross-post this from the NICA forum since more folks seem to be here.

I see a number of middle school kids on 29ers, and it looks kind of ridiculous, but seems to work okay for them. I was just wondering if there was any general consensus on 29ers for small kids.

My son just turned 12, but is very small for his age - 4'7". He is still on a 24" bike, and it still fits him okay, but he could fit on a bigger bike and larger diameter tires would have some advantages in rolling over roots and rocks.

I was looking at the Trek hardtails because in the XS and S sizes they come with 27.5 wheels, and my son is within their sizing recommendation for an XS 27.5er. I was considering the Procaliber 6 since it has a decent fork and drivetrain.

However, the Trek alloy bikes are kind of heavy, and I just saw that the 2020 Specialized Epic hardtail comes with a light carbon frame and similar components and fork for just a bit higher price, and it comes in an XS size, but as a 29er. I have a Specialized connection, so I can get it at wholesale price. I'm just wondering how the XS 29er would work for a smaller kid.

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/ep...dtail/p/171127
 

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I decided to cross-post this from the NICA forum since more folks seem to be here.

I see a number of middle school kids on 29ers, and it looks kind of ridiculous, but seems to work okay for them. I was just wondering if there was any general consensus on 29ers for small kids.

My son just turned 12, but is very small for his age - 4'7". He is still on a 24" bike, and it still fits him okay, but he could fit on a bigger bike and larger diameter tires would have some advantages in rolling over roots and rocks.

I was looking at the Trek hardtails because in the XS and S sizes they come with 27.5 wheels, and my son is within their sizing recommendation for an XS 27.5er. I was considering the Procaliber 6 since it has a decent fork and drivetrain.

However, the Trek alloy bikes are kind of heavy, and I just saw that the 2020 Specialized Epic hardtail comes with a light carbon frame and similar components and fork for just a bit higher price, and it comes in an XS size, but as a 29er. I have a Specialized connection, so I can get it at wholesale price. I'm just wondering how the XS 29er would work for a smaller kid.

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/ep...dtail/p/171127
When my son was that hight i bought a scott genius 27.5 in S and he used great. Now he is 13 years old and use a hightower lt 29 in M. Hes about 1.64cm tall
 

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It’s not a popular opinion, and there is a lot to consider, but the modern geo xc 29ers are so light and well mannered that you could get away with being a tad under 5’ and enjoy the benefits. Chloe Woodruff is 5’2” and used to run 27.5, but has been very successful with a 29er at the highest level of racing, where any real or perceived advantages have been accounted for. I think that helps answer the “can” question.

As to the “should” you get a 29er for your kid; you and he are the only ones that can answer that. Ride a couple and see...does he look like he fits? Is he comfortable? Is he confident? Does the bike make him want to ride more?

My daughter can climb very well, but is a tad cautious on the decents. I had her try a 14” 29er, thinking the larger wheels would benefit her in the downhill. Within 15 seconds of her riding it I could tell it wasn’t for her, and that her 13” 27.5 bike would benefit her for at least another year. There’s a number of very fast racers in her age group that rip on 29ers, she just isn’t one of them yet.

To me, there’s no question your boy would be better on a xs 27.5 bike. You would have to demo a 29er to see if it’s for you. Oh and that new Epic HT would be towards the top of the list! Some other xs (under 15”) carbon bikes are the Ibis dv9, pivot les, niner air 9 rdo, and Norco revolver.

Good luck! Hope you find something awesome for your boy!
 

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1.64 cm, would be about 5/8 inch. I'm surprised he fits on a medium. :)
Me too, but he loves to ride it!(1.64 meters meters lol sorry for the mistake)
30mm stem
80mm dropper
HTLT M size frame (on the picture the bike looks small lol)
 

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I decided to cross-post this from the NICA forum since more folks seem to be here.

I see a number of middle school kids on 29ers, and it looks kind of ridiculous, but seems to work okay for them. I was just wondering if there was any general consensus on 29ers for small kids.

My son just turned 12, but is very small for his age - 4'7". He is still on a 24" bike, and it still fits him okay, but he could fit on a bigger bike and larger diameter tires would have some advantages in rolling over roots and rocks.

I was looking at the Trek hardtails because in the XS and S sizes they come with 27.5 wheels, and my son is within their sizing recommendation for an XS 27.5er. I was considering the Procaliber 6 since it has a decent fork and drivetrain.

However, the Trek alloy bikes are kind of heavy, and I just saw that the 2020 Specialized Epic hardtail comes with a light carbon frame and similar components and fork for just a bit higher price, and it comes in an XS size, but as a 29er. I have a Specialized connection, so I can get it at wholesale price. I'm just wondering how the XS 29er would work for a smaller kid.

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/ep...dtail/p/171127
I cringe every time I see a kid on an xs 29er with a setback seatpost turned forward, slammed, and a 30mm stem.

You know, my son can ride my 250cc dirt bike just fine on the groomer trails and in the fields. It's a bit big and unwieldy for him but he can ride it just fine. Would I let him take it out on technical terrain with rocks, roots, exposure (cliffs, dropoffs, etc.) - hell no.

Just because kids can "ride it" doesn't mean they can ride it as well as a properly fitting bike.

A 29er with just 3" of exposed seatpost showing and a 30mm stem, or a 28-29" standover height 29er under a kid with a 26" standover height is inviting the possibility of some bad accidents on blue/black level trails IMHO.
 

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It seems that many have taken this whole '29ers are faster' thing as a determinant that that then they must be better.

You could argue that the terrain is the same for the bike, regardless of the rider size, therefore a 29er is always a better solution.

I disagree and feel that absolute speed should just be one consideration, and besides speed is a factor of comfort, control, and fun at our level. Frankly a Pro woman racing XC, or a 5'11" tester choosing a 29er doesn't make it the best for your shortie imo.

The problems that I see with 29ers is chassis fit, but also all that extra inertia, both work against the smaller less experienced rider in many circumstances. Stand over height is lacking. The front tire hits their foot when turning. Due to wheel inertia the things don't do as well starting and stopping on the trails or turning, ya know, typical beginner riding. Sure 29ers offer some slight roll over advantage on serious chunk(seriously it's pretty small) when you maintain momentum but that's just one aspect of trail riding a bike.

Tell you what, the anti-27.5" message has really gotten out far and wide. I had a petite 5' woman look at purchasing my wife's high end, light, efficient, and very physically small 27.5" Giant Advanced Anthem SX for trail riding and she stated and I quote "Oh I thought it was a 29er, not interested in demo riding it cause these 27.5s aren't any good..." It's hard to blow me away with ignorance these days but she did, and I get it, she is reading reviews and that's the message she is getting. Thinking at her size for trail riding that she would have had more fun, learned more, and been faster on most trails on the well fitting nimble 27.5" bike.

Don't care if the 27.5" die off or not (after all bicyclist are very subject to fashion) I recently purchased my petite wife a very high end 27.5" trail bike because I believe it to be the best fit for her body type and application and it seems to have worked as she has never been faster.
 

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My kids don't XC race, so I'm sure there are some factors in picking a 29er that are alien to me. That being said, in playing and coaching sports, there are lots of Dad's that will prioritize something for short term gain results; which later limit the child's long term skill development and often lead to less than ideal habits. I think putting kids on bikes too big or with giant wheels is similar to this. That's my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt...but I can say with some certainty that it occurs with my 7yro when he's ridden larger wheel, slightly big bikes. His straight speed increases a bit but his bike handling skills fade quickly in some areas. He didn't drift, jump, drop, manual etc as good. Def a less fun ride for him. Small sample size but I think there is something to it.
 

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You should definitely consider a 29er for your kid if he's primarily doing XC riding/racing, he can handle a bike, and most importantly, since you've got connections :thumbsup:! My oldest is a couple of inches taller than your son but he can handle a bike. He's not on a 29er yet. I didn't think he'd like a 29er for the same reasons mentioned above, but I was surprised he preferred the 29er he demo'ed over the 26er and 650b bikes. I wasn't as surprised when, just as you noted, a lot of the kids showed up on 29ers for the XC race the following day. He hasn't demo'ed a 29er yet for shuttle or resort riding but small 29ers are rare for that type of riding based on what we've seen.
 

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My own thoughts are that if the tire diameter is too big to reasonably manage, maybe for better rollover you could pick a higher tire volume. So if you want a 29er but they're a size XS, get a 26+.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Doing the math, I could put 27.5 wheels on the 29er bike, and swapping the cranks to 152mm would provide the same pedal to ground clearance as original. This would also provide a lower standover height and lower center of gravity, so it seems like it would work well.

The new Epic Hardtail carbon looks like a great deal, but the XS size is not available until at least late October, after this racing season has ended.

The Chisel Comp looks like a solid option, and is available now. Frame weight is about one pound heavier than the Epic, but it would cost me about $300 less. I've also read that the Chisel is less stiff and has a more compliant ride than the Epic, which might actually be better for a small middle school kid.

Another option is the Women's Chisel Expert (the men's Chisel Expert is not available in XS). Per the specs, the only differences between the women's and men's are the saddle and grips. Compared to the Comp, the Expert upgrades the fork from a Judy to a Reba, and the drivetrain from Eagle SX to Eagle NX. Per online reviews, these reduce weight by about 1.5 lbs. My cost would be about $250 more, so I'm trying to decide if it's worth it. My son is very small for his age -- about 4'7" and 70 lbs., so I don't want him to have a heavy bike.
 

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I've posted elsewhere about this. But my girls are 54" right now and at the top of their 24" bikes. They can handle them really well. I know I could fit them onto a 29er and they'd "ride it just fine" in a race situation. But the other 95% of the time, When we're riding for for fun, they would benefit from a 26" wheel. Of course I want them to win races and keep stoked about bikes. But with the variety of riding we do, pump tracks, flow trails, lots of xc riding and the rare chairlift day. I'm leaning towards a 26".

Based upon your commentary above, I would suggest the 27.5 option. And add a few bucks for racing wheels. Or skip the whole Specialized discount and buy a Trailcraft. It will be much lighter than anything you're looking at.
 

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To me, there's no question your boy would be better on a xs 27.5 bike. You would have to demo a 29er to see if it's for you.
A wider issue is a XS 29er simply isn't the same bike as an L 29er in the same model and manufacturers didn't design a 29er around an XS frame.

I might drop the Spez discount over a manufacturer that refuses to sell XS 29ers (in general) as that at least shows they put some thought into it.
 

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A wider issue is a XS 29er simply isn't the same bike as an L 29er in the same model and manufacturers didn't design a 29er around an XS frame.

I might drop the Spez discount over a manufacturer that refuses to sell XS 29ers (in general) as that at least shows they put some thought into it.
Spesh put thought in to it, they decided correctly that there is a market and they can make money selling them to that market and that's essentially the end of their concerns as long as they build a safe reliable product.

That said I agree with you that 29ers are rarely an ideal fit for physically small riders and frames. The exception would be maybe a very stocky strong male, or a female that rides very XC type constant speed trails and prioritizes race results over riding enjoyment and bike control.
 

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Spesh put thought in to it, they decided correctly that there is a market and they can make money selling them to that market and that's essentially the end of their concerns as long as they build a safe reliable product.
Hmmm. if they were smart they might realise they don't need to make money on kids bikes directly. You can't beat brand loyalty you get as a kid.. (IMHO)

That said I agree with you that 29ers are rarely an ideal fit for physically small riders and frames. The exception would be maybe a very stocky strong male, or a female that rides very XC type constant speed trails and prioritizes race results over riding enjoyment and bike control.
Even then it's hard to know... just because they race on one, very few sponsored riders can really refuse but yep a really stocky XC rider would get away with it (assuming they exist, its hardly the discipline for stocky builds).

EDIT...
Forgot ... what I was really saying is the whole geo is completely different.
Being blunt its usually just a shorter top tube, same chainstays etc. so the whole balance of the bike is completely different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
When I compare XS size XC bikes that come with 27.5 wheels (like Trek and Pivot) with ones that come with 29" wheels (like Specialized), the geometries are very similar. I think modern 29ers have the geometries pretty dialed now, including those in S and XS sizes. 29ers do tend to have higher stack heights, which might be an issue from some very small riders, and there may be some additional toe-wheel overlap issues with the bigger wheels, but overall I think it really comes down to individual preference.

Personally, I have gone back and forth between some 29ers and 27.5 bikes. At 5'7" I'm not that big and felt like the 27.5 just fit me better, and was also a bit more playful. However, I ultimately decided that I liked how the 29ers rolled through rocks and roots better, so I have settled on 29ers now.
 

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For sure boost spacing in the rear really assisted with 29er geometry and rear end stiffness getting to where it needs to be.
But like for like there's no getting around the additional inertia large wheels have.

Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
 

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I'm thinking that slacker head tubes and longer front-center would make it easier to make a 29er fit a smaller rider. On account of the low toe overlap. Shorter chainstays would most likely help and not hurt.

As far as stack goes, am I the only person who thinks inverting a riser bar is a perfectly appropriate way to compensate? I've used that hack when I needed space under the stem for accessories, flipping it up when it should have been down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I built up a new Chisel Comp with 27.5 wheels for my son as a step up from his 24" bike. I swapped out some parts partly to fit him better and also to shed some weight.

I calculated that if I went from 29" wheels to 27.5" wheels and installed shorter cranks the pedal to ground clearance would be about the same, so I got some Stans Crest 27.5 wheels with Rocket Ron tires set up tubeless. For the cranks I got Trailcraft 52mm cranks with a 26t chainring to give him some nice low climbing gears.

I had an old 11-speed XX1 group in the garage, so I installed that to save some weight. The stock SRAM SX Eagle group is pretty heavy -- the cassette and bottom bracket felt especially heavy.

I also cut the bars down from 750mm to 690mm. This still seems wide for a small kid, but a good starting point for now. I also installed a shorter stem that I had.

The 24" bike still fits him (he's about 4'7" and 70 lbs.), and he still feels a little more comfortable on it, but I think this bike will work well for him once he gets used to it. And I think he can ride it for a long time, since as he grows I can swap to longer cranks, 29er wheels, longer stem, etc.

Stock Chisel Comp weight was about 26.1 lbs. Bike is now at 22.3 lbs. I'm pretty happy with that.
 

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