I’ve been shopping around for a road bike for a seven year-old who really, really wants to be on a real racing bike like his dad. The shot here is from his recent participation in the Xterra/Stoaked kids triathlon in Hanover, NH. He took second place and was, well, stoaked. So, a road bike. Fair enough. Problem is, there aren’t that many of them out there.
Basically, I’ve come across a handful of serious entries in the 24″/650CC field:
- The Felt F-24 (list around $630)
- The Trek KDR100 (usually a clearance somewhere at $550 or so)
- The Orbea Carrera
- The Specialized Allez Jr. (there’s also a Jr. Comp with Shimano 105 instead of Tiagra)
- The 24″ Piedrahita (nope, I hadn’t heard of them, either)
- The Ibex Vantage JayVee (list around $499)
- Bianchi’s Junior 24″ (list around $1000)
- The Argon 18 D2 (list around $630)
- The Pinarello KUI Kids (list around $1200)
- The GMC Denali (list around $150)
UPDATE: there’s a new and very interesting contender in this field. Ibex (no, not my favorite Vermont-based clothing company, the other Ibex) makes the Vantage JayVee, a very nicely spec’ed bike with a carbon fork, Shimano parts, decent wheels and a user-friendly price tag of only $499. The color scheme is not great, and there’s no other choices than the toxic green-yellow, but so be it. For a 38cm frame with 650C wheels this is a geat bike.
Also stumbled across this recently; the Argon series of race-ready road bikes. I’d never heard of them (company is based in Montreal). FWIW, the first online retailer I came across (upsideover.com) has some really cool kids bike schwag that you rarely see, like arm warmers and cleat bike shoes.
In addition, Bianchi makes this very, very nice little toy, but clocking in with a list price the impractical side of $1,000 it’s just not happening. Right up there with Orbea and Bianchi, Pinarello makes the KUI Alu Kids; a phenomenal and stunningly beautiful bike (alu fork, though, which is too bad), but from what I read it retails for somewhere around $1,500.
At the other end of the price scale, an outfit called abikestore.com retails a line of bikes from GMC including the Denali 24′ road bike. It’s a weird clunker; fairly decent frame, crappy parts (some reviewers claim the brakes barely work — that’s nice…). The sub $150 price tag is nice, but still.
Fuji and Giant also make XS frame bikes spec’ed for small women or kids, but they run 43-44cm frames and just don’t seem right.
Retail price ranges from $499 for the Piedrahita to around $799 for the Orbea; the Trek can be had for around $659 or so, with some selling the ’05 model for about $540.
There are only reviews around of a few of these; people seem to generally love the Orbea, others like certain things about the Felt and the Trek. The Piedrahita is cheaper and apparently comes as a do-it-yourself kit, which is good and bad. It apparently has some rather crappy wheels and brakes.
The Specialized comes in two versions; regular with Shimano’s Sora (retails for around $700), or Comp with 105 (for around $1100). It’s a 40cm frame, but it’s built with real 700C wheels. Looks a bit weird, but saves all the hassle of dealing with 24″ tubes and tires.
Some real confusion, too. Older versions of the Felt are listed at 44cm frames, while the ’06 and ’05 models are 40cm frames. I’ve seen the Orbea up close at this year’s Prouty ride, and it is quite an impressive rig. Trek is messing with the KDR1000 for ’07; apparently it’s no longer a 34.5cm frame, but a full 43cm frame, which is quite a jump. As far as I can tell, the Orbea is a 41cm frame. The Carrera is no longer listed on the main Orbea website, nor on the US Orbea site — but it’s still sold by a bunch of US Orbea retailers. Not sure what to make of that…
The little man has earned his road bike, and it’d be fun to ride with him over the hills of our native Vermont next year — but it’s not easy to figure out what to get him. Other Dads are out there are looking too, of course — check out this discussion, and this one, too.