Need a bicycle recommendation

My wife’s son is going to be starting high school in the fall. We want to get him a bike in the next couple of days. It won’t be for long trips, just chasing around the city. He’s bigger than the average student his age, so it’ll have to be strong and durable. And, it has to be something average that isn’t as likely to be stolen. Bonus points if you can recommend a good system for locking it up, too.


A bike shop close to his place has a Merida MTA-51 that seems okay. The sales person said they’d change the seat to something wider and softer. They also said the brakes were good and the mechanism for shifting gears was better than some of the others. It doesn’t have rear shocks, though.

6000TWD … _%E9%BB%91

You don’t want rear shocks. You even really want front shocks if you are only riding in the city. But overall that bike is a good city commuter. And it’s not going to be a big target for thieves. I only use a long padlock through the rear frame/wheel. This is enough to deter casual thieves and if a pro wants your bike then he’s going to get it easily regardless of your lock. But pros don’t usually waste their time with 5000ish NT bikes.

I have a KHS with that gearing (shimano tourney 21spd) and it’s pretty much what you are looking for. Giant also sells a similar bike for 5000ish NT.

If your kid is only ever riding on the flat (school commuting is normally like that) then he does not even need any gears at all, and you’d be better off not buying something that will rust up if left outside and need repair and adjustment (which I’m guessing you’d not be familiar with). Simple bikes are best for Taipei, unless you can bring it inside under cover every day. If you do live on top of a long hill, then gears are a good idea. Not for riding along Neihu road, though.

He definitely does not need suspension, front or back, for the city streets. On cheaper bikes, suspension is more of a liability than a blessing, and it’s heavier and more expensive and less robust than solid forks. Only needed for rocky unpaved tracks, not even for dirt roads in general, and definitely not for asphalt.

Of course, will the bike be cool enough? Who knows. A granny bike probably would not be terribly cool, but I see kids riding them all the time, and they still seem to have friends. More cool bikes for city commuting for high school kids would include the BMX style, but they’d be a second step rather than a first bike.


The store we want to buy from is near his father’s apartment. It sells Merida, so that’s what we’ll probably go with.

They didn’t have a large selection in the store, but maybe they can order something in for us. If so, what are some more options I should consider? What kind of brakes? What kind of frame? Most important, what to avoid?

Brakes are pretty standard and haven’t really changed much unless you are getting a high end or a really low end bike. They should have rubber brake pads clinching on the rim. Get a solid steel frame that probably is standard on most bikes in that price range. It’s not light but it’s strong. Pretty much avoid anything that looks flashy. rear shocks are completely worthless. Avoid cool looking wheels with 20/24 spokes. Get a normal wheel (32ish spokes). One thing I always look for is to make sure that all the shifters/gearing are Shimano branded instead of some cheap Taiwanese knockoff.

But basically you should get the bike you linked or slightly better yet get one that doesn’t have the front shock. You don’t need it for the city and it’s just one more thing to break. Hopefully you are at least able to store the bike inside at night because the rain will do a number on the gearing.

He says he can keep it in his apartment.

Two more things: that bike in my above link is aluminum. How durable is it compared to the steel frame you recommend? Also, I’m not sure what the streets are like where you live, but the streets here in Taichung, with few exceptions, are pretty beat up. Does that alter your recommendation that front shocks are not necessary?


[quote=“SlowRain”]Two more things: that bike in my above link is aluminum. How durable is it compared to the steel frame you recommend? Also, I’m not sure what the streets are like where you live, but the streets here in Taichung, with few exceptions, are pretty beat up. Does that alter your recommendation that front shocks are not necessary?


Aluminum is fine. It is lighter than steel, which is nice for a kid’s bike. It is also more corrosion resistant. Steel is stronger, but many cheap steel bikes are made with high-tensile (“Hi-Ten”) steel which is very heavy and rusts easily. Anyway, aluminum is plenty strong and is one of the best bike frame materials.

He doesn’t need front shocks. Those bikes have big, low psi (pressure) tires that will absorb the bumps and jolts just fine.

Sorry, I was wrong. good job asking questions since I was misleading you a little. My old bike is just 6061 aluminum and that’s probably standard in that class of bikes. I do have a steel handlebar on that bike and my new touring bike (a Surly) is steel.

Thanks, guys. We bought the one linked to above, but with a different seat, plus lights and a U-lock. Any suggestions for locking it up at the library, cram schools, department stores, etc?

Don’t waste your time trying to lock it up to an unmovable object. All this does is attract bike thieves since it’s isolated and easy to spot.

Do lock it up in the big line up of bikes. It will be hard to spot by drive-by thieves.

Do put the lock through the rear frame and wheel.

This is perhaps best in a dedicated thread. Let’s see what the mods do.

I’m enjoying the pictures of your son and his bike. My son is nine years old and is itching to get a better bike. Can I ask when your son started riding a real road bike? I asked about this at a Giant store before and they recommended waiting until the child is 150 cm. My son is 140 cm. I think he’s ready for the switch. I know he would enjoy the mountain by our house much more with a full range of gears, rather than his present 7 with no real gear for the steep parts of the mountain.

Any thoughts?

In reply to…

My son upgraded from a 7-speed to the Pinarello FP-Zero when he was nine. I found the bike second hand in our home town of Madison, WI. His sister got on it when she was ten. I’d say they were about 4’6" or ~139cm when they started. It was a stretch, this bike has a ton on stack, but a long reach, but they grew into it pretty quickly. They both enjoyed learning integrated shifter controls. They both struggled to get comfortable with braking. They have very little power from the hoods, so it was a matter of training them to move their hands to the drops on the way down hills for more control and better stopping power. This bike came with a 42/46 chainring and a 10/25 8-speed cassette. It induced many walks up hill the first season. So I fitted a 12/36 mtb cassette, and finally tracked down an Italian Miche 39t inner ring from a shop in the Netherlands to improve the climbing ability for my daughter last year.
Hopefully you can find a good option.

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Thank you for that very detailed post. I’ll ask again at a smaller shop by my house and report back here after talking with them.

My son already complained about cramped hands on our last ride. On our way down, I showed him this advantage on road bikes of being able to move your hands to the drops. Not only the increased power but also moving to different muscles in your hands for a bit of a rest effect.

This was our ride on Monday. Up this mountain about halfway then back down again. We took a short break in the middle for water and to wait for my wife! Our son did great and I think he can conquer the mountain all the way to the top by this summer, even with his 7-speed.

The average gradient is probably around 5%.


This is what the owner of the shop said: “早期 有650c的公路車可以騎,不過現在這個規格 都已經停產了 ,以目前700C的最小尺寸,建議升身高至少也要150cm 才適合喔”
(In the early days, there were 650c road bikes that could be ridden, but now this specification has been discontinued. With the current minimum size of 700C, a height of at least 150cm is recommended.)

I did a quick check, but just to be sure, he’s talking about wheel size here, right? I think so. I asked him if he could keep his eyes open for 650c. I’m surprised that it’s not the frame that is most important but rather the wheels. Live and learn, I guess.

So I guess my son will have to wait unless we can find something used.

The Performer Maca should be the right size for your son.


Thanks for that! That would be perfect. I hope they have them in stock. I’m having the shop owner ask for me.

Giant used to sell a TCR XXS in 650c. I built one for my ex-wife 12 years ago. and converted to flat bar it was even more friendly for someone 145 cm. Hand reach will always be an issue on adult brakes.

maybe some body still does?

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