We’re all on bikes with 26-inch wheels now!
Both kids outgrew their bikes in August and due to the bike boom that has oodles of people getting new bikes (yay!) but makes it hard to find bikes (boo) we’re making do with what we already have.
My 11-year old is riding his big brother’s handed down Islabikes Beinn 26 Large.
My 13-year old is on my old mountain bike, a 2004 GT I-Drive 2.0. That means he’s got disc brakes and a front derailleur! …though it isn’t currently going in its granny gear so I need to futz with it a bit. A full-squish mountain bike isn’t the most practical Pacific NorthWET school commute bike due to the lack of fenders, but it’s got a bit of a built-in rear mud guard and I bought a $10 zip-tie-on Bontrager Enduro Front Fender from REI, which has become our go-to bike shop thanks to curbside pickup and more availability than our nearby shops. Most importantly, he’s always wanted a mountain bike and I only use the thing once a year when there’s snow on the ground, like four years ago during icemaggedon. When he first got his hands on the bike he wanted to hit every unpaved patch of ground near home. Three flat tires later (never on his chunky tires, just me and his brother) I ruled that the alleys were too full of hidden blackberry brambles so now we stick to the many unimproved roadways with their plain gravel.
I had been dreaming of a Frog for his next bike–the Frog 73 8-Speed 26-Inch Kids’ Bike is “an 8-speed hybrid bike for 12 to 14 year olds” and it’s really light–on par with the Islabikes my kids have been spoiled by. At $600 it’s a serious investment, but light bikes are worth it and putting it through two kids sort of makes it feel half the price. BTW, here’s my reivew of Frog Bikes on BikePortland from a year ago. Fortunately (?) there are no Frog Bikes to be had anywhere so there’s the whole $600 saved. Once he grows another few inches he’ll fit on an old hybrid my neighbor gave us when they moved away (as well as on all my bikes!), but it’d be nice to find him a fendered bike before that.
As for me, I’m still on my Surly Big Dummy. (The loaner Urban Arrow e-assist bakfiets went back in June.) Nowadays I always have my two-bike tow hitch attached just in case we run into trouble and I need to carry both kids and their bikes, though fortunately that hasn’t happened (not to mention we rarely leave the house so there’s not much trouble to run into). If you’ve noticed my bike is sporting mismatched tires that’s because while taking a close look at my front tire while fixing a blackberry sticker flat, I realized the old black tire was dunzo. In a normal year I would have bought a replacement Schwalbe Marathon Plus, but they’re probably not in stock anywhere…plus they’re $50 a pop. Lucky for me, while purchasing a couple small things at Crank’s going out of business sale a while back, Justin threw in two cream tires because no one wanted them. You also may have noticed I’m no longer running a front fender. That’s because I forgot to adequately weigh down the back of the bike while I was fixing that flat and it took a nose dive into the floor, tacoing the fender. It’s metal so it might bend back into shape, but I haven’t tried to do that yet. I’m also not sure it’ll fit around this massive 26 x 2.35 tire.
So there’s the punch line: three bikes with 26-inch tires, but with a total of four different sized tubes!
In a pinch the wrong-sized tube can do the job–in fact, I started the white tire with a too-narrow tube from the mountain bike before the kid had grown into it, but I like to have the right sized tube in each tire.