I’ve often thought that it takes a generation to build great athletes in a sport. Parents figure out the new sport, fumble along, invent and build the passion and foundation for a new sport like mountain biking. Then they have kids who grow up with an appreciation for the lifestyle and the sport, get proper training and get some dialed equipment. Check out the best kid’s bike we’ve ever seen.
Here is an example of one such bike as Forrest Arakawa passed on his deep love of mountain biking to 7-year-old son Finn. But note that the bike is just an object that is passed on. The true work has been done in the last few years, riding together, talking, taking the time to demonstrate why mountain biking is so good. And the greatest example is Finn seeing Forrest’s eyes light up after a bike ride. It’s Finn meeting all of Forrest’s friends who show a deep appreciation for the sport and for life.
Any bike given by a parent to a child is special. A custom bike is even better since it can complement a child’s strengths and address weaknesses. Forrest and master mechanic Marshall Eames poured everything they knew to put together a special bike for Finn.
They started with a Santa Cruz Nomad 27.5 with a Fox 36 and 160mm of travel since the key objective was to shred Whistler Bike Park. Since Finn is only 7 years old, a key mod was to put 26-inch wheels on it to shrink the bike and make it lower.
The bike came out to 28 lbs and the gearing was tuned for Finn’s developing power, giving him a small 30-tooth ring. Push Industries was employed to custom valve the suspension for Finn’s meager 70 lb weight.
Cranks are an issue since Forrest could only find 165mm cranks initially which are prone to pedal strikes as this bike was lowered with the smaller wheels. Much training was given to Finn though to keep the pedals up and level when the terrain demands it.
Here are a few words from Forrest:
Mtbr: Can he pedal it?
Forrest: He did 2200 feet of climbing on his first ride and didn’t get off once. It’s much easier to climb with the XT gearing vs the SRAM DH cassette on his old bike.
Mtbr: How much does it cost retail?
Mtbr: How old is Finn?
Forrest: Turned 7 on March 18th
Mtbr: How many years do you think you can use this?
Forrest: Hopefully until this time next year, he’s growing really fast!
This year we didn’t ride MTB too much because he had a pretty busy schedule with school and sports. Additionally, we travel quite a bit to destinations (National Parks) where riding bikes isn’t always legal. So far this year, we have averaged about 3 rides per month on the trail, but he does enjoy the skatepark and riding through town with his buddies. My hope is to get him out 2x per week on this bike over the next few months, even if it’s just to the skatepark so he can get used to it.
It’s quite a bit more bike than his 20″ Little Shredder although you would never know by watching him ride. He literally got on it and felt at home!
That’s the best kid’s bike we’ve seen to date. But in the end, it’s about riding with your kids. Have you passed on your love of the sport to the next generation?