For his 10th birthday this guy got this classy red upgrade. For a while now he has been wanting shifters and better brakes. His old bmx 20" bike while serviceable is very heavy and the handbrakes are very poor. It takes most of my hand strength to close the calipers. He rode the bmx for a couple of years and I wanted him to ride single speed so he would fully appreciate the advantage of changeable gears once he transitioned to a geared bike.
Choices are very limited when it comes to kid's bikes that are lightweight and built up with decent components. When children are young and just getting into cycling the standard department store bike is fine but if a kid is lucky enough to be born into an avid cycling family he or she will quickly reach the limitations of the cheap bike.
After looking online at the Trek page I settled on the Trek FX 24" boys bike. I made a call to the local bike shop (Trek dealer) and was surprised to find out they had one in stock. My wife and I went over that evening and put a sold tag on it. I've had the discussion with other cycling parents on the merits of the 24" wheel for the still growing rider. Sure he will outgrow this bike in a couple short years but proper bike fit is important and that trumps any other considerations. One other kid specific model that is worth mentioning is the Felt F24. The F24 is probably the highest quality performance oriented kid's bike on the market short of building one custom. Although the Felt is a beautiful road bike it is very singular in purpose. In the end I decided to go with the Trek for it's upright fitness bike style and handling qualities. I felt the Trek better fit our general type of riding be it commuting, fast rail trail rides or simply junking about the rough pot-holed streets of our town. In a few years if he wants a dedicated road bike he will have grown enough to spin full sized 700c wheels.
The Trek FX sports an aluminum frame, twist shifter with a seven speed cluster, 1.5" street tires and a rigid steel front fork. The side pull brakes are powerful and the levers have a shorter reach perfect for smaller hands. My only complaint is the 32 tooth non-changeable front chain ring. I suspect this is the same crankset that comes on the 24" mountain bike and Trek simply spec'ed the fitness bike with the same component to keep things simple. If my son starts clamouring for more top end I have a Shimano XT crankset with a 42 tooth ring not being used that would provide much taller gear ratios. The Trek has a three piece square taper crankset so the older XT arms will bolt right up. The bike weighs a respectable 25.2 pounds, a full 9 1/2 pounds less than his bmx bike.
We have enjoyed several short cruises around town and he has told me numerous times how he is loving this new bike. Such talk is music to this cycling dad's ears.
Those pesky bottle cage mounting screws!