10 tips to keep kids motivated

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve screwed up when trying to get my kids into mountain biking. As a parent, the act of motivating our kids is a constant struggle. What works for one kid, may not work for others. I have 2 boys, 9-½ and 11 at the time of writing. And they are VERY different in their learning styles. So I thought I’d share what I have found has worked for me and my boys.
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26” is dead. Long live 26”.

Being a cross-country/trail rider, there is no question in my mind that the 29er is the superior choice for a wheel size. The unfortunate side effect of the 29er is that good 26er’s are getting hard to find. 26 is a great size for the pre-teen kid. Last year, a fellow Dad on Dirt was upgrading his ride and wanted to get rid of his small full-suspension 26er. Even though it was a few years old, this would be a perfect upgrade for my oldest son from his Trek MT-220 24”. So we got it and he absolutely loves it. I’ve always noticed large increases in my boys’ abilities whenever they’ve bumped up to the next wheel size. And going from 24” to 26” was pretty significant.

But there’s a problem ….

Younger brother is now at the age and height where HIS Trek MT-220 is too small. And guess who ALSO wants a full-suspension bike? Well … it’s only fair right?

Yes, there are some new bikes that are custom built for kids. Trek has a version of the Fuel in the 26 for kids. I think it’s great that there are some good quality builds for kids bikes, but where did all of the used bikes go? In an effort to spend the same amount that we did for the other bike, new is out of the question.

When I was debating 26 for my boys I thought it would be simple to find 26 stuff. I’d love to upgrade the fork on my older boy’s bike from coil spring to air … but there doesn’t seem to be used stuff out there. I really expected to find more.

In the end, I posted up a topic on the MMBA (Michigan Mountain Bike Association) forum that I was looking for a bike. I was contacted by a guy looking to get rid of a Specialized Camber FSR in a small. It was a bit more than I wanted to spend, but was a really good deal and had everything I was looking for in a bike for my son. It’s funny how once you start spending money on bikes, it gets easier and easier to spend more and more!

With this addition to stable, the whole family is now on full suspension bikes. Looks like my off season will be spent doing fork and shock maintenance.

So for the time being, we should be good on bikes for a while. Well … unless we start doing family winter rides … then we’ll need fat bikes. Or the boys want to dirt jump, or cyclocross, or road, or downhill …..

Bontrager Solstice Helmet Review

At the end of the year, I noticed my kids were constantly fighting with their helmets. The chin straps just didn’t seem long enough for them anymore … Looks like dad needs to step up and get them out of their Youth helmets.

The latest safety tech in helmet design is MIPS. It’s being integrated into helmets for all different sports. MIPS is an acronym for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. The technology was created in 2001 by members of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. MIPS is a world leader in head and neck protection as a result of over 30 years of experience from its creators in the field of medical technology and research. MIPS technology mimics the brain’s protective structure by reducing rotational forces caused by angled impacts to the head. The helmet’s shell and liner are separated by a low friction layer which allows the helmet to slide, noticeably reducing trauma to the brain in the case of oblique impacts. These angled impacts are considerably more common in action sports compared to the blunt force impacts for which traditional helmets are typically tested.

When MIPS first started making its way into helmets a few years back, it was very expensive. But now, you can find it in sub-$100 range. When doing all of the research for becoming a brand ambassador for D&D Bikes, I learned about the Bontrager Solstice MIPS model. So the boys and I took a trip up to the shop to try them on.

Both boys (11 and 9) fit into the S/M using the dial fit. Should also allow extra room if they want to wear a thin hat under the helmet in the cold. I was surprised to learn that Bontrager has a Crash Replacement Guarantee which provides a free helmet replacement if involved in a crash within the first year of ownership. I wish I had that a few years ago when I wrecked and destroyed a Bell Super after only a couple months.

This helmet is the “enduro” style which gives more protection on the sides and back, but still allows for plenty of vents. I’m a fan of this type of helmet for its functionality and coverage.