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Bike for 8 year old boy

NGE

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#1
I trail ride and want to get my son into riding.. He is eight years old tall for his age and relatively well co-ordinated. I want to get him a bike that he will have fun on, he will not outgrow in two years, and will not cost much (used for sure, $500 range?.. maybe a bit more). I had minibikes (centrifigul clutch, belt driven techumseh or B&S, you know the ones) when I was a kid and they got me into riding, they are fun for anyone, don't seem too dangerous, but you don't see them around for sale much anymore...

My questions are these-

Are there still minibike makers out there? sources?
Used minibike sources?
advantages of a "real" cycle? (I am hoping he will ride trails with me)
Best choice in used jr. dirtbike?
How do I find the best deal on a used minibike or jr. dirtbike? (net sources?)
how do I determine his riding skills and the apropriate motor size/bike dimensions?... (if he gets maimed, I might as well just leave the country as opposed to bring him home to his mom.)
 

woodsy

Mi. Trail Riders
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#2
Hi NGE: I grew up on those "Lawn Mower Motor" mini's too!! Actually I started out on a 1958 Sears/puch moped then went to a Bonanza Mini and then a Honda Mini Trail (I spent EVERY dime I could find on bikes even at that age :) ). The Honda Mini Trail was with me for a LONG time and I can honestly say that it taught me more about "real" riding then the other too did! I actually learned to ride wheelies on it (something that I use EVERY time I go in the woods) as well as shifting techniques and the like.. I suggest that you take him down to a bike shop and let him sit on a few. When I am sizing a brand new rider I like to see them be able to set on the bike and touch flat footed (or real close). He can learn to handle the higher seated bikes later.. Dont get him to small of a bike either... I would stay away from the higher strung MX bikes for a first bike (KX's, RM's, YZ's, Pro Seniors and the like) and maybe stay with the 4 strokers (although the Yamaha PW line is REAL nice!!). I REALLY liked the Big Wheel 80 for my kids cause of its FAT TIRES and auot trans - the kids LOVED that bike!!! Yes, those "lawn mower" mini's are still made and I see them at bike shows ALL the time!! I know for a fact that Sams CLub has them as well has "Homier Tools" (I think you can Google and find Homier).. My "lawn mower" types that I had thru the years like to eat clutchs, rods (especially the few Techumsy motor models I had) and were never really stable.. I better retract that, I have an old 1969 Heathkit Boonie Bike right now that will really make me eat those words.. Anyway, hope this helps!!
Get that kid a bike an teach him to ride!! Oh, before I forget. GET HIM ALL THE SAFETY GEAR - we wouldnt want to see another valued trail rider having to live out of the country :) :) :)
Woodsy
 

NGE

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#3
any idea on prices?... (I don't have a membership to Sam's). I will google up the other site....

What are the prices for a used PW or the like?... if I go that route I think I might want a clutch, so the boy learns to operate a clutch and so the bike can keep up with him as his skills grow... or is it better to go clutchless and then ease into it when his skills improve. (he gets discouraged a bit too easily... thats his mom in him.. lol.)

I definately want some sort of governor or restrictor for the bike at first, cause if he rides with the reckless abandon he skiis with... well, I need to be able to keep up at least.
 
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#4
we are dealing with the same subject with my three nephews. except they are short for 10,8,6. they all have bikes xr50,pw80 and an xr70.
stay away from the jr50, the one had it for a first bike, what crap. cant go wrong with a drz110, it will cost a few dollars more tho
 

gwcrim

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#5
A PW80 might be a good choice but I'd suspect that it would only fit him one year. My boy just turned 7 and next summer will be his last on the PW. Used ones are easy to find for $7-800. Use it for a year or two and you'll probably be able to sell it for near what you paid. (As long as it's in comparable condition.)

Depending on his personality, you may want to get a bike that he can barely tippy toe on. That was my approach with my boy. But he's a real go getter. For a timid child the flat foot approach is better.

Over the years, Honda has made some great beginner bikes. Pretty bullet proof too.

The auto clutch for a beginner is a real good idea. The kid can concentrate on learning to ride before learning how to operate a clutch.
 
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#7
Got my daughter a KLX 110. Awsome bike and there are a lot of aftermarket goodies for it. It will cost you a little more.
 

CaptainObvious

Formally known as RV6Junkie
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#8
Kids grow like weeds. In the three years my 9-year old son has been riding he has had a different bike for each (XR50, XR70 & KX65). I suspect that he'll keep the 65 for all of next season.

I'd stay away from those B&S engined "mini-bikes". They are lumps of crap. No suspension, deadly brakes & not enough power (caused by a power robbing clutch) to climb the smallest hills.

For your budget, my advice would be to find a good used XR70. If you can't find one in your price range, look for one of the cheeper knock-offs.

BTW, don't forget to budget for some safety gear.
 
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#9
NGE:

Check this site out, I believe it's a bit over $500.00 but see what you think.

Shipping is included.

http://www.motorlandsports.com/minibikes.shtml
 

NGE

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#10
wow, thanks for all the input... It would seem that I can probably find an XR70 at least near the price range I am thinking if I go used.

I had no idea that the choices were so numerous... I think the XR70 is pretty good cause it has gears but no clutch... that should get him more used to a motorcycle.. and make it ridable for him for a longer time.

What are the other manufacturer's options that are similar?... (smaller, no clutch, gears, and powerfull enough to ride on the trails)

I did some searching on the net but so much information can be overwhelming (thanks for all the references)... and I'd rather hear about what CUSTOMERS actually think of them... everyone "claims" their bike is "the best" for beginers.

Im definately thinking gears now though, as opposed to Briggs and Stratton, I had no idea the prices we're so comparable.
 

woodsy

Mi. Trail Riders
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#11
another thought - I see a LOT of the old CT70's floating arond for $500 and under - same motor as the current XR70 minus the CDI ignition. I have sold alot of them too in "rideable condition" for that! THey are pretty neat bikes but they dont have the "modern" dirt look... There are SCORES of "clones" out now (as already mentioned) that have copied both the Honda and Yamaha designs - I have ridden some of them and they are "ok" but certainly not up to par with Yam/Hon and if you shop you can find Honda's for the dame price NEW.. The Honda's seem to hold there resale best of all (if that is important).. And, again, dont forget to budget for the gear...
Woodsy
 
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#12
when i was 7 i was riding an rm80 till i was 13. if its not his first bike maybe have a look at the kx65 or if it is his first bike try the xr75 and xr80.
 

NGE

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#13
it would be his first motorcycle... he is a good bike rider... I will check out the XR80 too....

I'm sorry but 7 years old on a RM80 seems a bit outrageous... I rode one of those things when I was 12 and had experience on a minibike, and it still scared me... I don't think he has the finesse required to operate a clutch on a bike geared for power like that (no low end torque).... I dont want him to get frustrated with it.... plus I am very afraid of what he might do on it (he doesnt have a lot of regard for his personal safety... he thinks everything always works out ok... I watched him ski full speed into a crowd of people. He didnt think anything of it, I was terrified, but he just came zipping out the other side of the crowd, no control at all but smiling and yelling "I did it!! I did it!!".

He needs something a little tamer than the RM... (nice bikes though, and I will get him one if he shows a strong interest in this after he learns to ride)
 
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#14
NGE,

Everyone has given good advice. Let me share how I made my choice for my son's first bike.

He was going on his 9th birthday, about 4'4" and 95 pounds. He rides bicycles, skateboards and can snowboard. So he has a sense of balence and velocity.

I wanted to get him a bike with a clutch. He will need to learn anyway so why not start him off that way. I wanted something that would last a few years. It needed to be user friendly in the begining, but would keep up with him as his skill level grew. The bike was gonna be a tad bit big for him now, nothing that would be unsafe mind you but it needed some growing room. I chose a 4 stroke for ease of maintenence and it's smooth power. I was on a budget, aren't we all, so used was the way to go.

I took him to the local dealer a few times and had him sit on different makes/models. Just keep in mind, on average, a newer bike will sit a little higher than it's used/older counterpart due to suspention settling. My first bike was a 1973 XR-75 and I have fond memories of that bike, so I settled on hondas XR line. Just a personal preference. We tryed the XR-70, he was a tad too big for it. He fit the XR-80 perfectly, no growing room there. We tried the XR-100, he was on his tippy-toes. I thought this is the bike.

I found a 1996 XR-100 for $700, it was a little cosmetically worn, but in sound mechanical shape. His first ride was a blast. He had to kickstart it while resting on the kick stand. After a few tries he got it. He didn't even stall it on his first take off. He wound up riding for about 2 hours, doing figure 8's in first gear.

As for maintenence, let them get involved as much as you can. It's takes longer "supervising" but they will learn responsibility and respect for their bikes.

I look back now, as he's hitting the jumps in the back yard, and think about that first ride. That bike was a perect choice. He's had the bike for 3 years now and it's kept up with him. Plus he has lots of fun on it.

Hope this helps some, Steve.
 

NGE

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#15
snb,

Thanks for your input, and thanks to everyone elses too.... It is all good advice.

I WILL involve him in all of its maint. I think that is one of the biggest things to learn here is responsability for your own things.

The minibikes I had as a kid were all "projects" that me and my dad worked on constantly.... We bought them as wrecks and fixed them up. It is what got me to realize that I could do this stuff.... and if I didnt work on it, I couldn't ride... That later evolved into me buying a KX125 when I was 14 or so and rebuilding it ALL BY MYSELF... I have never feared a mechanical issue since.

I will take him to the dealers and see how he fits... thats a good idea, I can get him on all different sizes and see what seems the best... Im in a quandry about the clutch issue (is there one that has a clutch you can set to auto?).. I want him to learn it, but not at the expense of frustrating him to the point of loosing interest.

Thanks again for all the input everyone. I have never seen a web forum that was as helpfull and informative as this one.... and the lack of bickering and childish mayhem is a pleasant releif... this is now one of my favorite sites (not that I do a lot on the web)... The whole Web Forum Community could take a serious lesson from the folks on here.