By Bones Bacon
Ever buy your kid new shoes for school only to find that in a short period of time he has outgrown them? You’re frustrated because you paid 50 bucks for them and they didn’t even have a chance to wear out. Well, if you have children who ride motorcycles, this problem just took on a whole new meaning. Keeping up with your kid’s bike setup is a lot like keeping up with his shoe size.
From 50cc to 65cc to 85cc to Supermini to 250F, you are in an endless chase to keep Junior’s bike setup in sync with his growth spurts. Kids typically ride a 50cc bike for a short period of time, and there is little you can do to keep up with the modifications if the kid grows too fast. When he gets to 65cc bikes, the workload increases. Initially, that new 65 may be too tall or too heavy for Junior. It’s not unusual for a first-time 65cc rider to be unable to touch the ground.
You have to buy new chassis parts to lower the rear of the bike and slide the forks up in the clamps to lower the front. Now, that’s better. He can ride the bike to its potential because he is more comfortable. At this point, however, you will most likely realize that the shock is sprung too stiff for him. Lo and behold, you have to buy lighter springs.
Okay, now we’re cooking. All is good, and little Johnny is ripping around like there’s no tomorrow. Oh no, what’s wrong? After a couple of crashes you realize he doesn’t look so comfortable anymore. At this point you realize Junior has gained a little weight and has gotten taller. Don’t panic; you may not have to buy your “third pair of shoes” just yet, since you can just put the old pair back on. You can put the stock chassis parts back on, slide the forks back down and put the stock springs back on. Life is good again for a while, but don’t get too happy.
It’s important to keep some money set aside for Junior, because before you know it, he has grown again and informs you that his friends are now riding 85cc bikes. This is a deja-vu moment, because the cycle starts all over again. He is too small, too light, too tall and too heavy in rapid succession. Even worse, now he wants a stock and a modified bike.
The cycle continues. All of a sudden, he is becoming faster and more proficient and doesn’t want to ride an 85cc anymore. He wants to race the Supermini class.
As life would have it, your child eventually gets old enough to look you straight in the eyes and ask for a 250 four-stroke. Panic sets in as you have nightmares that this will never end. Relax, you will soon be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are still going to have to spend money for a while, but there will be fewer bikes involved (although they will be more expensive). As his growth spurt slows, so will the number of bikes you go through. Once the kid is on big bikes, he will be staying there for life, with only the eventual change from a 250 to a 450.
I have personally seen this cycle over the years with Ricky Carmichael, Ivan Tedesco, Ryan Villopoto, Blake Baggett, Adam Cianciarulo and the current crop of up-and-coming riders. If this is your life, keep in mind it could be worse. This is a sport where 90 percent of the time the whole family is involved throughout the complete cycle—and no parent wants his kid to go barefoot.