Mountain/Hybrid bike for a shortish 11 year old

(29 Posts)
foragogo Sat 26-Dec-15 16:32:20

I'd like to buy my son a new bike for his 11th birthday. he's a very experienced rider and we go on lots of family bike ride - mainly on trails/disused railways etc rather than full on mountain biking due to younger siblings. However, I suspect he will get more into mountain biking with his mates but he also needs to ride in on the street up to the shops etc.

My query is what size to get him. He currently rides a Dawes Grind BMX 20 which to be honest is still ok, just getting a wee bit small, but he is fed up of standing up on long rides due to the low seat post and would like a bike with gears. He is currently 137.5 cm in height, but has been that for awhile so I suspect is due a growth spurt. 62cm inner leg. I was looking at getting him a Specialized Hotrock 24 which is, I believe, the size before adult size. However, as the recommended heaight range for this bike is 135-145 cm I am a bit concerned it won't last him long. So should we get him an adult 26 inch bike instead? Would it be too big for an on the small side 11 year old?

To be honest it wouldn't necessarily be the end of the world if it didn't last for that long as he has 2 younger sibling to pass it down to so I am happy to pay for a good make, but I'd like it to last him a year or so. So 24 or 26 inch? And recommendations?

YeOldeTrout Sat 26-Dec-15 17:08:21

A) Ask on Bikeradar fora instead? (and read this)
B) do you want suspension at all?

I hate to always bang on the Islabike drum, but at 2+kg lighter than the Hotrock, the weight issue is a pretty compelling reason to go for Beinn 24 instead.

foragogo Sat 26-Dec-15 17:53:35

Thank you! I will go and find that forum. Yes i think he probably does need at least front suspension as he is pretty gung ho. As for brand i am entirely open to options. I only started looking at Specialized as thats what me and his Dad have. the younger two have Frog bikes but i thought he needed sonething more grown up and he wants to try gears as fascinated with ours. So I will definitely go and look at Isla Bikes too - i didnt realise they came in larger sizes. Thanks!

mudandmayhem01 Sat 26-Dec-15 17:58:12

My 10 year old has a isla luath 26 inch wheels, uses it with cross tyres in the winter and road tyres in the summer. It does have drops but he rides over some pretty rough ground ( does races on it) no bother.

BikeRunSki Sat 26-Dec-15 18:00:39

Also big fan of Islabikes. Until a few weeks ago we had one of every size from balance bike to Beinn 24. The Beinn 24 was DS's Christmas present, he's hardly been off it for 2 days. You could out suspension forks on it I guess, jump bike forks would prob be small enough, but they'd be suite heavy.

foragogo Sat 26-Dec-15 18:06:10

Excellent i am going to look at islabikes. So the question is 24 or 26. I know we shoukd go to a shop and try them really but i am pushed for time bwfore his birthday. I suppose we could go out and get it on yhe day. Know of any stockists is Surrey/South London?

mudandmayhem01 Sat 26-Dec-15 18:18:53

Suspension forks rarely work on children s bike, Decent ones cost at least £300 so you are going get very poor heavy ones on a child's bike and the child is often too light for them to anything but look cool. Learn good skills on a rigid bike and get suspension if you get into mtbing as an older teen.

YeOldeTrout Sat 26-Dec-15 19:24:07

I dunno... I did a mostly offroad 16 mile ride with DS 5 yrs ago and I so would have loved suspension for that. I don't normally do more than a mile or 2 offroad, and even then only smooth trails. If you do miles & miles offroad, front suspension must be a godsend.

Ridgeback gets spoken of highly among MTBers who want suspension for their kid bikes.

BikeRunSki Sat 26-Dec-15 19:29:44

Islabikes only sell online, but have excellent fitting advice on their website.

DS is 130cm tall and on a Beinn 24, with plenty of growing room. I would;t recommend it for anyone smaller.

mudandmayhem01 Sat 26-Dec-15 19:46:49

I have a mtb ( with front suspension) and a cross bike and rarely bother riding the mountain bike. Unless you are doing very technical down hill mountain biking, cross bike all the way, have a bit of a google of gravel bikes or cyclo cross racing. People have been riding bikes off road long before suspension was invented.

mudandmayhem01 Sat 26-Dec-15 19:50:43

Ds is about 138 cm and is good on a 26, the sizing chart on Isla bike website is good, or go somewhere where a lot of children ride bikes and ask for a sit on one, I have been asked this when out with my lad and i am always happy to help. On a specialized or a ridgeback he would still be on a 24 due to the longer top tube.

foragogo Sat 26-Dec-15 20:01:46

Thankyou all this is really helpful.

Is a cross bike the same as a hybrid bike?

MeanwhileHighAboveTheField Sat 26-Dec-15 20:07:27

A small 26 would probably be best. There are quite a few xs 26 wheel bikes aimed and kids now.

BikeRunSki Sat 26-Dec-15 20:11:26

No, cyclocross bikes are skinnier and generally lighter than hybrids. They look like a chunky road bike, whereas a hybrid is more of a skinny mountain bike. Cyclocross gearing is set up for racing. No mudguards as standard (weight). They almost always have dropped handle bars, although sometimes these are changed for flat bars if the rider is not into racing.

Islabikes stll them as their Luath series.

mudandmayhem01 Sat 26-Dec-15 20:12:08

A cross bike looks more like a road bike to the untrained eye! It has more clearance so it can fit knobbly tyres and mud guards. It has drop handle bars but it also has top brakes so you can ride it in a more upright position as well. The islabike version is called the luath. My son uses his for riding on trails, cross races and triathlon.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 26-Dec-15 20:20:27

I have a cyclocross bike and unless you specifically want a cyclocross bike I wouldn't recommend it. It's very twitchy compared to my mountain bike and Id be scared doing some big downhill stuff on it which I happily do in the mtb.

My mtb is well old skool. It's a mid 1990s aluminium bike which was top of the range, worth £1000s new. It has no suspension at all, not even front forks. Forks didn't exist when my bike was made. Ive hammered this bike down all sorts including down Snowdon. An old mtb like this is kind of the equivalent of a modern day hybrid I guess. So for the majority of messing about on mtb trails, in the woods, etc I would have said that a hybrid is more than adequate.

The other thing to think about is tyres. My mtb has mtb tyres on and is bloody hard work in the road compared to my cyclocross bike. I think most hybrids have tyres somewhere inbetween.

I know some people have two sets of wheels for hybrid type bikes, one set has road tyres on, the other has mtb tyres on and they swap the wheels about depending what they're doing. My tight arse Dh wouldnt shell out for two sets of wheels and just swaps tyres about. Personally I'd have bought another bike rather than fuck about changing tyres but that's his look out. grin

foragogo Sat 26-Dec-15 20:33:05

Weve goy hybrid bikes with hybrid tyres (i believe) and have always found them to be fine for the trail ridinh and road riding we do. So i guess a similar type of setup for him would be fine and then if he gets really into mtb or wants to race he can eff about with wheels and tyres smile And youre right about him not needing suspension - hes used to doing 20 miles standing up on a BMX so anything will seem better to him!

So which 26 islabike am I lookibg at to best meet this hybrid type requirement?

BikeRunSki Sat 26-Dec-15 20:56:46

Probably the Beinn 26 Large foragogo

mudandmayhem01 Sat 26-Dec-15 22:41:38

Lovely bike bikerunski, my daughter has this one. Not cheap but the resale value is very high.

foragogo Thu 14-Apr-16 10:23:49

Right! The time has come to actually buy this bike for my 11 year old (promised as an IOU birthday present blush) as we have some trips coming up. I am still being tempted by (cheaper) Ridgeback and also dithering about gravel/adventure bikes with drop handles instead of hybrid/multi-purpose.

Tell me the Benin 26 Large is still the right choice for 11 1/2 year old (has grown a bit to 142cm) confident and keen cyclist but not got into racing as yet? For long trails / bit of light MTB and road, up to the shops, cycling to school etc as well. But I'd like it to be fairly adaptible if possible.

or Frog Hybrid or Frog Track ?!?! 5 year old has a Frog and we've been very pleased with it.

I have someone coming to service our bikes at the weekend who is going to bring a couple of bikse for him to try - with and without dropped handles.

What do you all think? Stick with the Benin / non-dropped handles? Or go for a gravel bike with dropped handles in case he does get racier? Cheap Ridgeback for now?

Piffpaffpoff Thu 14-Apr-16 10:33:46

I suggest you go for Beinn 26 Islabike. It sounds like the best bet but also, purely from a financial standpoint, you'll be able to sell it on easily and for a good price if it does turn out to be the wrong choice in the longer run. You'll lose more money on the cheaper one if its the wrong choice. Hope this makes sense!

foragogo Thu 14-Apr-16 10:47:44

yes it does - thanks! He has 2 younger brothers and one is not far behind him in height even though he is only 8 so we always have hand down potential as well.

As I would have to order an islabike online, do you then have to take them to a local bike shop to get them adjusted for the child, brakes etc?

CMOTDibbler Thu 14-Apr-16 10:49:39

You could do a Luath 26 with cyclocross tyres. I like that it has the top brakes as well, and you can put road tyres on if he wants to be on the road. My ds loves his, and he can do 50 miles on the road, or round the blue trail at Cannock chase on the same bike. And we'll get most of our money back on it which is a big bonus.

foragogo Thu 14-Apr-16 11:30:23

Is there anywhere in the South East or couple hours drive from London where you can try Islabikes? I see they have a studio in Ludlow but not sure if we have time to get a trip up there before the cycling trip to the peak district in May (which would be the perfect opportunity of course but cutting it fine)

RapidlyOscillating Thu 14-Apr-16 11:35:20

We have just bought dd2 a carerra saruna from halfords which I think is great value and about 10.5kg. She cycles about 4 miles minimum daily and has literally doubled her speed. We do have isla bikes when they're really little and tbh if there were no cashflow considerations at all we'd carry on with them but it's proving a good bike.

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