As I wrote in my previous post, Time for a new bike, I’m setting off into (somewhat) uncharted territory to build Ari a quality mountain bike she can enjoy over the course of the next few seasons. Then, if all goes well I can sell it to another parent looking to get their daughter onto the trails for a relative good return on my investment.

My primary goals are to build her a relatively light (around 20 lbs, give or take) ride with quality components that fit her. The bike will be 1×9 (or 10), have relatively short cranks to fit her short little legs, an 80-100mm travel fork (with a lockout) and mechanical disc brakes. Standover will have to be under 23. I’ll build both a set of 24″ and 26″ wheels and swap them accordingly as she grows a little older.

Sound crazy?

Please let me know what you think. I’ll append this post as time transpires with the products and specs I end up choosing for the build, which I hope to have by the time spring hits the DC area

In the meantime, here’s my initial punch list:

Component Notes Cost
Ari's new frame

Spitfire XVI

Ended up pulling the trigger on a white 13″ Fire Eye Spitfire XVI frame.

Fork Ended up getting a second hand Fox 100 Float from a friend – cost $0 – can’t beat that! 0
Headset  Integrated with the frame – Joy – nothing to buy 🙂 0
Stem  Thompson BMX stem – 80mm – also a second hand form a friend – cost $0 🙂 0
Handlebar Race Face Evolve XC Bar; Got a good deal on this bars from Jenson USA; I’ll just have to cut them down a bit so that they are not too wide for Ari. UPDATE – got the bars and size about 1/2″ from each end. perfect. $20
Grips Had a set of new lock grips in the parts box that I bought years ago at a swap meet and never used. They are narrow and perfect for Ari’s small hands. I think I paid $5.00 for them. $5
Seatpost  Thompson Elite post – Also a hand me down – cost $0 🙂 0
Saddle  WTB Comp She Saddle. $39
Brakes/Levers Found the Avid Elixir 3 brakes on sale and went ahead and got her a set; I was initially going to go for the 1s, but the levers cannot be adjusted to match the reach of her small hands. $133
Wheels I’m getting her two sets; a 24″ and 26″ pair. For now I found a good deal at Jenson on a set of WTB rims laced to SRAM 306 hubs. Should be more than adequate for her needs (plus they are a great spare set for my bike if I need them ;-). As far as the 24″ rims are concerned there is a very limited availability of MTB rims available. I found a pair of SunRinglé Rhyno lites that I’ll lace to whatever hubs I can get my hands on. Digging through the parts box right now and seeing if some of my buddies can hook me up with a pair. Updated; Ended up getting the Rhyno lites I mentioned earlier and laced them to a pair of Shimano Deore 36 hole hubs I got from Jenson – they price matched so it brought the price down. Got standard spokes and nipples from (used their nifty Spoke Length Calculator to figure out exactly what I needed.) Cost for wheels, including the 26″ ($99) set and 24″ ($100) set was $200  $200
Tires Bought a pair of Kenda 24″ off road tires at REI for $17 each – $34. Added a pair of tubes ($3) and a pair of cloth rim tapes ($4)  $48
Cranks After doing some research on the subject and finding this article on Determining Crank Lengths for Children, I’ve determined that Ari needs a relatively short (relatively speaking) crank arm – somewhere between 135mm – 145mm. I figure that by the time the bike is built and ready to go the length will be perfect for her. She can use the cranks for at least a couple of seasons before they need replacing, which should be an easy change. I ended up getting a pair of 145mm Sinz Expert Square Taper Crank Arms. Cost for the cranks was $60  $60
Chainring(s) Up front I’m making things simple for her. I was going to go with a very small Chain Ring but decided instead to get her a 35 tooth stainless steel Surly ring. I think it will promote the use of the rear shifting mechanism a bit more for her. In time I may change this and put a three ring crankset up front. Cost for the chain ring was $14. I also added a Paul’s Chain Keeper that I had from a previous build into the mix to keep the chain on.  $14
BB Standard fare here. Went with a quality Shimano square taper BB – UN55 – price was right too, $20.00  $20
Pedals TBD; For now She’ll get a set of platform pedals with some power grips; then settle her into a set of Candy or Frogs once her feet are a little bigger and I can get her some cycling specific shoes like these italian DMT Marathon 2.0 Kid shoes. Ended up using a pair of platforms I had in the box – nothing fancy and will be fine for a while. No grips or clips until she grows a little more and can easily hop on and off the bike without problems.  0
Rear Derraileur SRAM X9 – I had one of these in the parts box. It’s a long cage – we’ll see how it works. Works just fine…  0
Shifter SRAM X0 Rear grip shft mechanism. I had it in the parts box – perfect price. Should be perfect for her. It’s responsive and easy to use. UPDATE – the grip shift was simply too big for her hands so I went with a trigger set-up instead. Bought a pair of SRAM X-7 shifters at my local LBS.  $65
Cassette SRAM PG990 9 Speed Cassette – Also from my parts box. it’s an 11-34 that has seen little use and should give her ample range with the 35 tooth chainring in the front. 0
Final Cost $708

Rear conversion

Final Notes – I went a little over the top on some things here and went over my initial $600 budget. Still – I ended up getting some quality components, have an extra wheel set ($100 which would have kept me within budget) for the future,  and Ari has a kick ass bike to grow into that will last her a few years. I’m confident that I’ll be bale to get a return on the investment when it comes time to sell it to the next parent looking to get her kid into a nice bike.

Update; 6 years later we sold the bike for $250.00 to a friend to use a s a dirt jumper.