Best road/hybrid bike for a bigger kid



qwalls

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May 12, 2006
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I'm looking for a new bike for my son. He's 12 years old and about 5'7". He has outgrown his current bike which I bought just over 2 years ago for around $300, a 15" Trek 7100. I don't want to spend more than ~$350 because I know he'll need another bike in a couple years. It's mostly paved surface riding with me (I have a 2006 Giant FCR1) but you never know when he's going to end up in gravel or going off a curb, so something light enough for him to maintain a decent pace, but not too fragile. Evening rides are only 10-15 miles, but I'd also like him to be able to do longer rides with me on the weekends (25-50 miles) in the future. The shop where we bought the Trek has changed brands to Giant. Anything better than (or comparable to) the Trek in this price range? I've seen some discussion here about the Schwinn 700c series at Target/Walmart/etc for around $200. Any first hand comparison to the Trek? Thanks in advance for any feedback and advice. I plan to buy him a better bike once his height stabilizes, but I don't see spending a lot right now the way he's growing.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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qwalls said:
I'm looking for a new bike for my son. He's 12 years old and about 5'7". He has outgrown his current bike which I bought just over 2 years ago for around $300, a 15" Trek 7100. I don't want to spend more than ~$350 because I know he'll need another bike in a couple years. It's mostly paved surface riding with me (I have a 2006 Giant FCR1) but you never know when he's going to end up in gravel or going off a curb, so something light enough for him to maintain a decent pace, but not too fragile. Evening rides are only 10-15 miles, but I'd also like him to be able to do longer rides with me on the weekends (25-50 miles) in the future. The shop where we bought the Trek has changed brands to Giant. Anything better than (or comparable to) the Trek in this price range? I've seen some discussion here about the Schwinn 700c series at Target/Walmart/etc for around $200. Any first hand comparison to the Trek? Thanks in advance for any feedback and advice. I plan to buy him a better bike once his height stabilizes, but I don't see spending a lot right now the way he's growing.
FWIW. Kids grow ... but, honestly, I don't think a 15" frame (54.8cm virtual top tube) is too small for someone who is 5'7" ... it was probably a little large for him when it was sold to you because it was the smallest size available + the shop figured your kid would grow-into-it.

The virtual top tube on the next size (17.5") up is only marginally longer (55.2cm ... a scant 0.1 inch, more) ...

And, the 20" 7100 frame has a virtual top tube of 56.8cm (2.0cm/0.8 inches, more).

Can't you simply (until he is actually a 2+ inches taller ... how tall are YOU?), buy a longer seatpost and/or longer stem?

Wait! Of course you can.

There is a reason that seatposts are as long as 400cm ... with 350cm seatpost being quite common for MTBs (MTBs & Hybrids are "cousins") ... that is, ditch the suspension seatpost. Ditch the suspension fork & put a ROAD fork on the bike + 700x25 (+/-) tires and you have a road bike!

And, the stem which comes with the TREK 7100 IS adjustable.

In another year-or-two/(more?), you can put road bars & shifters on the bike -- heck, you could put road bars & shifters on your bike!

Your options, other than a new bike, are actually quite numerous.
 

qwalls

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May 12, 2006
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Thanks for the response and advice Alfeng. I'll probably wait until early next year anyway since the season is winding down. He'll probably be a couple inches taller by then anyway. Don't want to put a lot of money into a $300 bike, but a replacement seatpost and stem is a good idea. Seatpost is currently at max extention and stem has been adjusted up. Don't know what road forks would cost for the bike. To answer your question, I'm 6'1". :) Thanks again.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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qwalls said:
I'll probably wait until early next year anyway since the season is winding down. He'll probably be a couple inches taller by then anyway. Don't want to put a lot of money into a $300 bike, but a replacement seatpost and stem is a good idea. Seatpost is currently at max extention and stem has been adjusted up. Don't know what road forks would cost for the bike. To answer your question, I'm 6'1".
Yeah, waiting until next year is probably a good idea ...

Even up to about 5'9" (the "new" seatpost will be the limitation ... so you may want to get the longest one you can), I think your son can continue to ride his current bike after you get a new seatpost and/or stem. If he is taller than that (I was asking about your height because I was trying to estimate how tall he might be, sooner-rather-than-later ...), then you can probably give some thought to giving him your bike, and buying another for yourself (he doesn't have to go to college on your dime ... kidding!).

BTW. You can get road forks through eBay ... a few years ago, I put a (Kestrel carbon fiber) road fork on a Marin Hybrid frame (56cm virtual top tube) ... rode it a couple of times, then sold it with a different road fork/etc. (see attachment) to someone I know because he needed a bike (yes, that's a very short stem because he was already complaining about bending over too far to reach the bars on another bike he had borrowed -- and, he was barely bent over with that setup but thought he was in a deep aero position when he first got on the bike!) ... I did eventually put a "solid" hybrid fork back on the frame for him because he wanted to use larger tires than 700x25/28.

Putting a ROAD fork on any Hybrid will change the front end geometry so that it will actually be more like that on a typical road frame (i.e., ~73º head tube angle).

N.B. Good parts (even, not-so-good) can always be moved to another bike in the future ... so, if you were to buy another crank & BB (for example ... say, 175mm cranks instead of what I presume are shorter cranks on the current bike), then you could always use them on a different bike in the future ... or, your crankset & BB could be moved to your son's bike & you could put a different one on your bike, etc. You could also put the fork from your bike onto his bike & put a different/(road) fork on your bike -- you have a lot of options.
 

qwalls

New Member
May 12, 2006
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Thanks again for the information. He's supposed to be an inch or so taller than I am when he's finished growing. Had his checkup today. He's actually 5' 71/2". He's grown 8 1/2" in the past two years! :)