Getting young kids into road bike racing is a worthwhile endeavor, in my opinion. In my recent interview with Dean Alleger, he talked about a lack of support in the United States for youth racing – “there’s no pipeline” as he put it. Most of the time kids get BMX bikes for boys, and banana seats and streamers for girls. Because of this lack of demand, it can be difficult to find actual road bike equipment for kids.
For my own children I went with the Fuji Ace bikes. Available with 20 inch, 24 inch or 650c wheels, they offer a reasonably usable frame and road-bike position that is great for kids. And at about $350 it is a reasonable investment for kids serious about road bike racing (or parents serious about their kids road bike racing) without sinking the bank on a bike they will outgrow within a season or two.
I have absolutely nothing against folks buying good equipment for their kids. However, I ran across something that caused even me – a rabid racing supporter – to pause:
That is the KirkLee Gunner – a custom 650c bike for the truly dedicated junior racer. What probably grabs your attention first is that set of Lightweight rims. Yes – those are the real deal. According to the KirkLee website:
But the fun doesn’t stop there. If you look closely, you’ll notice some funny boxes attached to the seat tube and the chainstay. That’s right folks – this baby comes with Di2 mounted on those custom carbon tubes. You’ll have the neighborhood kids shouting “OMG” on first sight.
Sure, it is easy for us to kinda laugh at the apparent extravagance of a bike like this. But is it really that ridiculous to get good equipment for a child that may be on the path to serious racing? All across the country families are spending on the absolute latest cleats for their youth soccer playing children, so what is different here?
Well, it comes down to dollars spent I suppose. While the price was not published, one can easily imagine an $8,000 to $10,000 price tag on this creation. And if you can afford it, than I say why not. All over Europe children are exposed to road bike racing at a very young age. Maybe more custom bikes like this can spur more families to get their children into the sport. Just like I’m not riding a Pinarello Dogma, not every kid is going to be riding a KirkLee custom. But it sure gives us something to admire and hope for.