Mountainbiking with kids – from balance bike to blue trails by the age of 5

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Mountainbiking with kids – from balance bike to blue trails by the age of 5
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Posted: May 5, 2021 at 7:48 Quote
aahhh , maybe the options aren't so good.. i need to look closer !..

Good idea with the elbow pads, will do that...

I've been looking at the leatt vest, Man, I also have a 7 year old ( with the hellion 24 , again great bike ) and getting 2 leatt vests starts to be expensive ... but it's got to happen... I suppose... I was thinking of waiting until we are going to a lift assisted area, but the boys are starting to get rowdy on my local trails , so it might need to be bought forward.

Posted: May 5, 2021 at 23:32 Quote
G-form are even better for pedalling up. POC is my little guy's second favorite. Both are my elbow pads.

He has fox pee wee knee pads he likes to wear when we ride next to our house as it has a combination of pavement and singletrack. The peewee elbow pads and chest protector are ok when he isn't going at stupid speeds. Mine is only allowed to wear those up to 30 km/h.... So, they get worn when riding with mom as he refuses to be under 50 km/h in the best spots of the downhill trails around our place.

The fox jacket he is wearing isn't made in size small any longer but if you check classifieds you should be able to find one from a "one and done" kid. I want him to try IXS or 7IDP soft (breathable) body protection for some of the trails. I haven't been able to find either in stock in his size. Wiggle/CRC carry the kid line from IXS. The pants should be good too. Right now mine is using motorcycle padded shorts which are a decent option too sice they have the same padding as G-form armored shorts.

I love my leatt body protector but if I wear that at high altitude on a sunny day I need to go FAST to keep from getting cooked. The fox protector my son wears doesn't have the same kind of protection but it doesn't cook him easily. a couple years ago I missed a jump into a tree because of how my ice spikers grabbed the ramp and I walked away from that with a slightly sore shoulder. With the fox protector I would've been hurt but probably still walking away. Definitely use leatt on sandstone though, everything else has almost no crash survivability on "moab rocks". You will probably live... Your body protector won't live for multiple crashes.

The goggles are his scott ski goggles. He has a Spy+ pair of kid mtb goggoes but they fog too easily so he rides with the scott goggles.

In the heat of summer I am his sherpa carrying the mandatory snacks, tools, hydration plus enough armor for an army of kids so I can have him wear the least amount of protection for what he wants to do. The g-form knee pads and armored shorts are the only things that stay on him the whole ride. Everything else goes away if not needed for the next section. That fox jacket is not the first thing you want to wear pedalling up the mountain for 2-3 hours in anything warmer than 15C.

Funny enough, the only thing he wanted for his yama jama was to be tubeless, an oval chainring, a bike bell and one thing he doesn't yet need.... a dropper post. Even the pedals are good. With his other bikes he's always swapping things on and off and still they never feel quite right. He has a Ghost and a Kona that are really just one bike put together from the parts of the two. I "built" version one for him when he was 4 and wanted a trail bike and couldn't fit any commercially available 20" bike. He still likes to tinker with that but anytime he plans to "do something dumb" he goes for the spawn. I think I could build something nicer than the yama jama except for pandemic supply issues. That brood fork is half the price of the bike and worth every penny imo. I have a 5 year old that will be able to manual a trail bike before the end of this summer.... He is almost there. There is no way to do that with a fork twice the weight until he packs a whole lot more weight of his own.

Good luck finding what you need with "pandemic demand". Luckily, most kids aren't as extreme as ours and their gear stays in mint condition....

Posted: May 14, 2021 at 2:04 Quote
Amazing, love this!

Posted: May 15, 2021 at 21:25 Quote
daman wrote:
Amazing, love this!

How old is yours?

Mine watched all Tupa's videos and told me that I need to get him a GoPro so he can make videos like that too. So, I guess we'll have videos edited and posted as soon as we make and edit some.

I feel bad that he is always riding with adults or much older kids. He would have more fun if there were more crazy little kids on the trails we ride. The sad part is that he used to get hurt much worse at playgrounds, he only ever gets the odd scratch or bruise with all the protection he is wearing. Too bad so many parents think mountain biking is dangerous for kids.

Posted: May 15, 2021 at 23:53 Quote
Clearly the youngster is a great rider but the progress is also down to the commitment of parents to seek out decent bikes. As you point out the real challenge is getting small bikes that have proper parts on them and don't way a ton. In the last 10 years Isla Bikes went a long way to addressing this, but it is alway at a cost.

Many kids a riding on totally inappropriate bikes because of lack of choice, understanding or money. The last one is more difficult because decent kids bike are still expensive second hand due to lack of supply.

Well done in training him up.

Posted: May 17, 2021 at 12:22 Quote
mark-p wrote:
Clearly the youngster is a great rider but the progress is also down to the commitment of parents to seek out decent bikes. As you point out the real challenge is getting small bikes that have proper parts on them and don't way a ton. In the last 10 years Isla Bikes went a long way to addressing this, but it is alway at a cost.

Many kids a riding on totally inappropriate bikes because of lack of choice, understanding or money. The last one is more difficult because decent kids bike are still expensive second hand due to lack of supply.

Well done in training him up.

Money isn't an issue until it is made into one. Both the OP and I like to mountain bike and wanted our kids to be able to come along sooner than later. I will gladly give up beer or the newest big screen TV to get my son the equipment he needs. However, a five year old will not be on a blue trail unless at least one parent has issues.

For me, that "sacrifice" to splurge on kids equipment is based on four factors:
1. My kid earned a better bike by showing he is willing to work hard to make it even on subpar equipment. He biked several blue trails on a Kona Makena.... with dad assist in spots since he lacked the gearing and was only four.

2. We have decent trails some 2km from our house and planty of trails within a 60km ride. By plenty I mean thousands of km of trails. So, mountain biking is an easy activity and doesn't require extensive planning and preparation.

3. I like biking and have liked it since I was a kid. I bike regularly so my own kid has plenty of opportunities to join. Back to my initial point, I prefer my son can ride on trails I like too, so I am willing to spend extra so he can move to blue from green trails.

4. The pandemic cancelled all his other sports and so he had the energy for 20+km singletrack rides by the age of 4 on a 16" Trek Precaliber or 20" Kona Makena/Ghost Powerkid. Prior to the pandemic, between swimming, soccer, playgrounds, rock climbing, and so on either his Kona Makena or Ghost Powerkid would have sufficed. In fact, the 16" precaliber was ok on flowy green tracks as he could pump the bike to make up for being single speed.

My bigger "money" issue is that all bikes today are built to last ten years if you ride twice a year. My son's bike needed a new chain after only about 2000km with about 1000-1200 in snow. My own bike is even worse. I spend way too much time maintaining my bike compared to having a bike 2-5lbs heavier that can actually be ridden in all conditions and not require constant rebuilds.

Buying a kid a fancy bike expecting to see the kid ride like what you see here is lunacy. Know you'll get your money's worth first, and then money doesn't matter as you're willing to trade off other things for a certain outcome. Just my two cents as one of my riding buddies did it the wrong way with his kid and ended up with a $2,000 piece of 20" wall art, luckily, the pandemic hit and he recouped his money. This kind of crazy riding isn't for all kids, some like it, some not so much. Make sure they like it before spending that kind of money.

Posted: May 18, 2021 at 0:32 Quote
Some very good points made here.

I'd like to add one more thing I see quite often. Many people see my kid ride and comment about how they can't wait until their kid will ride like that.

Well, that didn't happen overnight. It took thousands of hours over the last 4 years I spent teaching and supporting him. Bringing his balance bike everywhere when he was 2, even if he rode it for 5 minutes and I carried it for another 2 hours. Sacrificing my solo rides for slow easy singletracks with him since he was 3. Towing him up some gruelling climbs, so we can enjoy nice trails together, etc.. Now it's paying dividends.

So, even if one is ready to pay bigger money for kid equipment, the main question is the time and effort parents are willing to invest in riding with the kids. Cause 5 year olds won't suddenly ride on their own and that $2000 bike will indeed end as a decoration, it the parent isn't riding a lot too.

Posted: May 18, 2021 at 3:12 Quote
tupa-ceruzka wrote:
So, even if one is ready to pay bigger money for kid equipment, the main question is the time and effort parents are willing to invest in riding with the kids. Cause 5 year olds won't suddenly ride on their own and that $2000 bike will indeed end as a decoration, it the parent isn't riding a lot too.

Absolutely this, my little ones have been slowly getting better in very small steps over at least 2 years and I have spent so much time with them!!, the good thing is , towing them up the local big hill is a useful part of my training regime :-)

h.

Posted: May 18, 2021 at 10:03 Quote
To my riding buddy's defense.... He realized his mistake and left the kid alone. But, I would hate to be the kid whose parents are mad because they spent big money on a bike I am not using, or not using as intended. Like the ones I hear getting mad about crashes at the pump track.


This is a snapshot of my five year old's ride from yesterday. When riding that kind of distances at those speeds on singletrack a lot of things become a must. Lightweight bike is a must. Hydraulic brakes are an absolute must as you can see from his top speed (and this is slow). Good fork is also a must to keep his hands from going numb over 3 hours of bumping around. Wide cassette range is a must to optimize gear selection and keep up his speed.

My non competitive adult ride group rides the same trails at 10km/h average with 45-55 km/h top speeds. This is just on the green and blue trails behind our house. The downhill isn't long enough to build up more speed than that "safely".

I must also note that he rode these same trails on his other bikes. He usually ends the day around 15-18 km total. His average speeds are a whole lot slower around 6-7 km/h and his top speed stays below 25 as it is hard control the bike at higher speeds when he is squeezing the brakes with two fingers. So, while I think the Yama Jama is worth the money given his love for riding, it is not what allows him to ride those trails. He can ride the same on his Kona Makena or Ghost Powerkid.

The Spawn just makes it so he passes half the adults on the trail which means there are fewer inexperienced riders passing him. In my experience that's the most dangerous part of biking for kids. These days I am happy to know that in spots where half the adults walk their bikes.... He just sends it..... But, most kids grow into the adults who walk their bikes over the gnarly stuff. They're just fine on a $300 bike.

Also, we keep his other bikes for riding on pavement and the pump track. Dedicated trail bikes on a paved pump track will make you cry as it is sometimes a non stop demolition derby.


Question for Tupa? How do you get your son to forget the camera is there. Everytime I try to record my son it becomes a non stop blooper reel.

Posted: May 18, 2021 at 11:10 Quote
Daniel-01 wrote:
Question for Tupa? How do you get your son to forget the camera is there. Everytime I try to record my son it becomes a non stop blooper reel.

Honestly, I don't know, this has never really been an issue. Sometimes he asks me to make a (slo-mo) video of him on his own, so he can see, what he's doing right or wrong. Other than that, he doesn't really care and don't mind the camera at all. He enjoys the finished videos though.

Posted: May 18, 2021 at 13:54 Quote
tupa-ceruzka wrote:

Honestly, I don't know, this has never really been an issue. Sometimes he asks me to make a (slo-mo) video of him on his own, so he can see, what he's doing right or wrong. Other than that, he doesn't really care and don't mind the camera at all. He enjoys the finished videos though.

You're lucky! Mine thinks he's MacAskill as soon as he THINKS there's a camera around.

For slow motion rehearsals I put on his rock climbing harness and put him on belay over the complicated stuff so he can do it in slow motion and feel where he's not positioning properly through a feature. This doesn't work very well if it's not steep enough and doesn't let him review his position when he's launching off jumps. It is very useful for a lot of places on blue and black trails though. He's managed to figure out how to tackle a lot of steep rock or root gardens this way. If you rock climb as well give it a try.

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