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Bike for kids' triathlon

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by SimonB, 9 Oct 2007.

  1. SimonB

    SimonB New Member

    My 12 yr old son is keen to take up the triathlon and simultaneously he has grown out of his previous bike.

    The question what type of bike to get. Kids do their triathlon cycling (6km in a race) on grass - usually playing fields - as you can imagine the carnage that would be associated with kids racing on roads.

    My research so far suggests he needs something with a bit more of an off-road capability than a road bike as 23mm slicks are not going to cut it on grass (that also helps as our family leisure cycling is also based on disused railways and tracks rather than roads). But drop bars and 700mm wheels would I think be helpful (vital?) over a 6km race.

    A cyclo-cross bike would I'm sure do the job but the very cheapest at £650 for a Kona Jake is a lot if he doesn't stick to triathlons and perhaps is not the ideal bike for him just for leisure cycling.

    I though I might get the same effect with a tourer - drop bars, and clearance for 35mm tyres, strip off the panniers etc for racing - something like a Dawes Horizon (£375 from Evans) but is that going to be heavier (does that matter on the flat?) - or do I need it to be heavier for the off-road capability anyway?

    My wife is baulking at the idea of even £400 for a bike when you can get hybrids for £200 - but I'm not so sure of my ground in whether a "sit-up" hybrid will do the job for him. I can delay the purchase for a few months as he can use a borrowed bike for his triathlon training in the meantime but I'd be very grateful for any wise comments from anyone who has been through this already.

  2. Gary D

    Gary D Well-Known Member

    Have you seen this other thread on a similar subject?


    We don't own an Islabike - but there are plenty of people in the club that do. They look very good value for money and you can choose the specification to suit your needs I believe.

  3. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    South London
    See the last post on that topic. [:biggrin:]
  4. Gary D

    Gary D Well-Known Member

  5. SimonB

    SimonB New Member

    Thanks guys

    No problem Gary - it's good that people want to help. My problem is slightly more specific than the other thread. Part of my problem is budget too. If I had money to burn I could chuck £650 at a Kona Jake and not worry if he didn't keep up his triathlon... but I don't.

    One question is does he actually need drop handlebars? I'm struggling to explain to my wife (becasue I don't have the credbility either) why he needs them for racing or, if he doesn't keep up his triathlon commitment, whether he then does or or does not have a less than ideal bike for leisure cycling. When I was a boy every schoolboy had, or at least wanted, a "racing" bike because MTBs did not exist and the then equivalent of today's hybrid was the sit-up-and-beg bike the district nurse would ride. She can see hybrid bikes for £200 and yet there are no tourers / cyclocross bikes for less than the £400 Dawes and most are a lot more. Then again, am I paying an extra £50 just to have a rack and mudguards that he doesn't really need.

    The other thing is this weight issue. The Isla 700 is about 10.3Kg, the Dawes is 13.8Kg according to Dawes's own website. Is that going to be an issue for a (probably close to 50Kg) 12 year old when he's actually got it moving on the flat or once I've taken the rack and mudgards off is the difference not so great anyway? I'm not sure why a bike can be 3.5Kg heavier just for a small increase in frame size or are all adult bikes that will last him until he's grownup goingh to weight that much.

    This is harder than I thought it should be when I started thinking about it. All thoughts very much appreciated


  6. Not answering your question, but just throwing something into the question really...

    Earlier this year I was in a bike shop and there was another guy in at the same time obviously buying a bike for his son.
    He was trying to decide between one bike which would have fitted his son and another which he'd 'grow into'.

    'Look at it this way', said the assistant in the shop, 'if you buy the smaller bike he'll use it for a year or 18months before he outgrows it and you need to replace it - but he'll have got a year or 18months use out of it. But if you buy the bigger one, it'll be too big for him, he won't fit it and it'll be no fun at all to ride, so even thought it'll take longer before he outgrows it, he won't have used it at all'

    Perhaps this was just a ploy from the assistant wanting to sell one bike today and another in 18months time, but there is some truth in it...
  7. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    South London
    Sorry that this isn't going to help your case, but I'm not so sure drop handlebars will help a lot. I think that a very powerful 12y/o on grass isn't going to be going fast enough to bring much aero benefit. Big wheels yes, of course, very important.

    Maybe you can sell your wife on a good cyclocross bike. Aren't they probably the ultimate all rounder all purpose bike? If he doesn't stick with the triathlons, it's still a good quality bike that's likely to keep him cycling for years. In other words it's a bit more expensive now, but it'll save money in the long run. If the worst comes to the worst, you can always ebay it off.
  8. bonj2

    bonj2 Guest

    you should get him a light cross country style bike. As light or lighter than a tourer/hybrid, and more to choose from.
    But racing 6km on grass sounds a bit tiresome...
  9. *****Insider information*****

    Thr Kona Jake may well retail for £650 but when you consider that Paligap ordered waaaaaaay too many of the 2007 model....... I suggest you ask your friendly Kona dealer to give the rep a call. I would be very surprised if Paligap have sold them all, and if they have they'll be sitting in a bike shop or bike shops somewhere. I cant say how much the trade price was on the 2007 model but I can tell you to expect a substantial discount. One option would be to get hold of a dealer listing for Kona and call round. They are out there somewhere.
  10. Maggot

    Maggot Star of BBC 5Lives Ballot Box Brigade

  11. SimonB

    SimonB New Member

    Thanks all

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm not planning (I hope) to buy him a bike that's too big for him because as you say that will not help him. He's built like me with long legs (useful skill - I can step over a tennis net without standing on tiptoe!) and he tried out a Dawes Horizon at the weekend. He's already taller than my wife and we started with the 48cm frame (I think) but he already had the seat up about four inches. The 53 was OK the only question was whether the reach was too long for him and with a short enough stem it was fine and he could reach the brakes.

    You're right Mikey I think a cyclo-cross bike would be ideal but there's not much change from £600 and my wife believes he should have a hybrid for about £200 if he's not triathloning so it's a difficult sell that one. I have spotted 2007 Jakes for £520 at about the lowest Mickle - thanks - but that still doesn't quite get there.

    So big wheels is a must but perhaps drop handlebars are not necessary for a 12 year old? That would certainly open the scope up a bit but I'm really not sure what to do there - I have no exeprience myself to make the comparison of racing on drop bars or more upright. Yes Bonj 6k is a long way - I misread the race spec it's only 6k if it's a duathlon - a run and a ride. The Triathlon is 200m swim, 4k grass cycle and 1800m run! That's still a lot and I certainly wouldn't fancy it on a bouncy mountain bike which is what some of the kids have got! So you reckon lightness is the key? What exactly is a cross country style bike?

    Is there mileage in a hybrid and putting drop bars on it later - probably not. The Sora shifters are £90 a pair so I'd end up at the same cost.

    The Giant looks interesting Maggot, the question is can you replace the 26mm tyres with something a bit more chunky? From what I've seen in shops a lot of road bikes just don't have the clearance in the forks. But then do I need to go all the way to 35mm tyres? Would 32s do. So much to think about! 9.8Kg is very light in the spec on your link but more perhaps with bigger tyres and a bigger frame. He doesn't need one that small or is that just the geometry and you need the seat up quite a way from the frame?

    Thanks again for all your comments.

  12. Big T

    Big T Über Member

    Unless the grass course is really twisty, he'd be OK on a road bike with normal road tyres on. If you decide you want a crosser, there's a ready market in 2nd hand machines that can be picked up for £200-300. If he loses interest or grows out of it, you can sell it on at not much of a loss.
  13. SimonB

    SimonB New Member

    Thanks Big T. I think the crosser would do a better job of leisure cycling with the family on disused railway lines etc. Where would I look for the second hand ones? There's not much on eBay (perhaps time of year). Is there somewhere more specialist?
  14. bonj2

    bonj2 Guest

    A cross-country bike is a mountain bike but that is usually a hardtail, and usually fairly light. It's probably one of the most versatile bikes you can get, especially for kids. If you want to squeeze the maximum out of it for the triathlon as possible, you can then spend say another £20 - £40 and put the absolute optimum tyres on for the particular grass terrain that he's going to be riding on.

    And remember, some grass is different to others! Is it like the green on a golf course, or is it more like the rough!? :blush: It sounds as if from your perspective you're a roadie yourself. But I'd personally try the grass terrain yourself on a road bike before you make the decision to get your lad a road bike.

    Oh, and why don't you ask him? explain the different types of bike to your son (if he doesn't know already), and ask him what sort he'd prefer?
  15. SimonB

    SimonB New Member

    Thanks Bonj. I have asked him but he doesn't really have the information to go on. He's had the typical kids (hardtail) MTB up to now but I tried him on a tourer and after some initial surprise at the drop bars and odd shifters (Shimano Soras) he really liked it. He could do with riding a few more larger bikes though before we make a decision. Maybe he could get low enough to race on a cross country bike set up right. I've never raced so I don't really know what's comfortable and what's not. Although I suspect for a child you'd want the setup less "hardcore".

    Interesting thought about the grass yes. It's rubbish stuff to ride on from my experience and it will probably vary from one event to another. Am I right in thinking big wheels and high pressures in tyres are likely to suit it best?.. and tyres close to cyclo cross tyres?.. a bit knobbly but not much.

    This is why I ended up thinking whether a tourer might be the best thing for him. Take some of the weight (i.e. the rack and mudguards) off, put 32 or 35 cyclocross tyres on and what you have it seems to me is not that much different from a cyclocross bike. Or am I fooling myself and what he really needs is a second hand Kona Jake?