Any parents able to help? 6 year old MTB'ers - How far is too far?

MartinYorkshire

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Hi all,

Just been out and decided to do a longer route than normal on spec. The max distance my lad had done previously since starting riding properly in March was around 10km. Todays route, it turned out, was 16.5km, which is quite a step up. It was offroad riding, part made, part unmade, with some rooty singletrack, not much in terms of elevation (about 150m) but a few short steep switchbacks offered a challenge.

He's only 6 (in Jan), so I don't want to push him too far, too fast. We averaged out at about 14km/h today, which is pretty gentle, but then he's a lot smaller than me.

He's riding a proper MTB with 24" wheels, which he just about fits, sort of. Steep hills he struggles sometimes, but most of the time he's alright with no complaints. He seems to have got the hang of the gears too which helps.

I wondered if any parents might volunteer opinion as to how to progress his riding without over stressing his little muscles and joints? I was thinking a mixed programme, varying the ride distance over similar terrain, maybe riding 4 times a week at 8 or 10km, then one longer ride of 15+

I know kids are all entirely different, but perhaps some of you could offer some insight to me as a first time parent?

I'd also be interested in whether or not people thought it might be worth shelling out for a lighter wheelset, as the OEM wheelset is quite heavy. I've already changed the tyres to some lightweight folders which saved an almost unbelievable 1kg in rotating weight.

Thanks all.

M
 

longun

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Ride regular and mix it up steadily with longer distance on harder rides, they have more fun with regular stops, daisy loves riding to central park from home which is around 4 miles mostly off road, we have an icecream, play in the park and ride home with similar mileage. She has done around 30 miles on the tissington trail though, she didnt thank me after, neither did the wife hahaha

Shes reasonably tall for a 10 year old now but rides a 24inched ghost well and with confidence, 26 inch next year although she prefers the hydraulic brakes on the ghost to her green cantis on the kona.....kids eh
 

doctor-bond

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Sounds like he’s doing brilliantly! My lot started doing extended (10k, etc) rides on 20” wheel Frogs, but they were a bit older than your lad; when they moved to 24”, the weight uphill was a big blocker to going further and having fun.

I’d say definitely worth keeping the weight down and the cranks and brake levers short as they progress; and also having reasons and targets for rides: e.g ‘we’re going to ride to the pond, have a picnic lunch (yes we can take wheat crunchies), then we’ll stop at he shop for ice cream on the way home’. Keep treats to hand as they run out of energy steeply.

Heart-stoppingest moment? Seeing my youngest lad (aged 8 ish then?) accelerating away from me down a steep, bumpy lane and having to decide whether to shout “slow down” or not, in case he looked back and lost it. Kept quiet in the end and he held it together.

Turns out he he hadn’t been using both brakes as discussed, ‘cos he “preferred the back one” .... Even when you teach them things, it doesn’t always go in or get believed at first.
 

MartinYorkshire

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Ride regular and mix it up steadily with longer distance on harder rides, they have more fun with regular stops, daisy loves riding to central park from home which is around 4 miles mostly off road, we have an icecream, play in the park and ride home with similar mileage. She has done around 30 miles on the tissington trail though, she didnt thank me after, neither did the wife hahaha

Shes reasonably tall for a 10 year old now but rides a 24inched ghost well and with confidence, 26 inch next year although she prefers the hydraulic brakes on the ghost to her green cantis on the kona.....kids eh

Thats kind of what i thought. 30 miles from a child is majorly impressive regardless of circumstances. How many ice creams did that take?

Judging by our local van, pretty soon we'll start seeing Mr Whippy offering to accept payment by Klarna.
 

MartinYorkshire

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Sounds like he’s doing brilliantly! My lot started doing extended (10k, etc) rides on 20” wheel Frogs, but they were a bit older than your lad; when they moved to 24”, the weight uphill was a big blocker to going further and having fun.

I’d say definitely worth keeping the weight down and the cranks and brake levers short as they progress; and also having reasons and targets for rides: e.g ‘we’re going to ride to the pond, have a picnic lunch (yes we can take wheat crunchies), then we’ll stop at he shop for ice cream on the way home’. Keep treats to hand as they run out of energy steeply.

Heart-stoppingest moment? Seeing my youngest lad (aged 8 ish then?) accelerating away from me down a steep, bumpy lane and having to decide whether to shout “slow down” or not, in case he looked back and lost it. Kept quiet in the end and he held it together.

Turns out he he hadn’t been using both brakes as discussed, ‘cos he “preferred the back one” .... Even when you teach them things, it doesn’t always go in or get believed at first.

Thats awesome. We kinda skipped 20" so his progression has been balance bike at 2, 16" for a while then straight to 24". He's growing like a weed and I can't keep up, so for the short term inconvenience of mount/dismount complications, I pushed it a bit. Otherwise the bike fits him like a 20 year old pair of crocs. No dramas to speak of.

The weight saving issue is a bit annoying. Cranks, well, they are square taper and short, so that means there are few options. A new wheelset of any quality I'm looking at £500 custom builds. I'm willing to spend the money because to be honest, with this type of thing you tend to get the majority of it back on resale (like Islabikes, which cost us very little in real terms). It's just...I mean..argh, a £500 wheelset on a kids bike. lol.

We had a terrifying moment today, which was my fault. I asked him to pull into the left as a car wanted to overtake on a private lane. Good, safe car driver fortunately. My lad faffed with his gears, glanced down at the shifters and promptly swerved right out into the center of the road. I hadn't taken the correct position to block the car. This is despite riding motorbikes and having had advanced police training. So, lesson learned. I'm a dipshit but we wont do it again.

Picnics...aye. Ice cream van, oh yes (for me, too).

Can I ask, how tall were your kids when you moved them to 24" if you remember?
 

yakboy

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Built some kids bikes based on my experiences of trying to give my girls the best experience possible in their early biking experiences...believe me it makes a difference
 

Peachy!

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All good advice above..
BTW I promise you before you know it he’ll be waiting at the top of a climb drumming his fingers saying “chop chop old man, we haven’t got al day” 🤦‍♂️😁
 

MartinYorkshire

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All good advice above..
BTW I promise you before you know it he’ll be waiting at the top of a climb drumming his fingers saying “chop chop old man, we haven’t got al day” 🤦‍♂️😁

I am certain that will happen very soon! Maybe I should be added weight to his wheels rather than removing it?.... 😂
 

MartinYorkshire

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Built some kids bikes based on my experiences of trying to give my girls the best experience possible in their early biking experiences...believe me it makes a difference

Curious how much your lightest 24" model weighs? I have seen bikes from what would be termed quality brands like Orbea that as standard are nearly 13kg, so it's definitely a problem for young riders. The worst thing was that when I was in the market for a 24, very few brands actually published the weight at all, which set off alarm bells for me straight away.

I'm just not entirely convinced that rear suspension is necessary on childrens bikes unless they are riding red and black grade enduro courses. Kids are so light and springy, I feel like rear sus just adds unnecessary weight but thats just my opinion.
 

yakboy

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If I remember rightly my eldest 24" full sus was 12.5kg all in.
I found that full suss works really well for my girls as it gives control at the rear end. As kids are light the rear end of a hard tail skips around all over the place and they really get bounced around in the saddle unless they are standing for a large amount of the ride. The comfort level is greater and when my girls switched from hardtail the difference was instantly noticeable and they enjoyed their rides more...and happy kids means happy parents😂
 
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