Adding a brake to a balance bike

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Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:07 pm

Dilemma here, I live in a not-completely-flat suburb. Not steep per-se, but no big flat expanses on the local streets.

My daughter is four, and moderately competent on her balance bike. However she doesn't like going down hills - the bike wants to roll quickly, and it only has Fred Flintstone brakes, neither of which she really likes.

I'd like to fit a handbrake. It has provision for this on the front forks. But clearly it needs to have a very light action, and very short reach. The drop is about 73mm between the mounting bolt and the rim.

I'm thinking these bits:
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/dia-compe-80 ... prod23355/
and
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/cannondale-s ... prod27728/

I know the lever is for v-brakes not side-pulls, I'm hoping being a dual-pivot that it would have more power than a single pivot.

One option is this, but the lever looks a bit flimsy.
http://www.likeabike.co.uk/likeabike_ac ... _brake.php

Or this exists, but the reach looks way to big:
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/LikeaBike-Ju ... 0575536538

Thoughts on the best option?
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by BNA » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:52 pm

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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby high_tea » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:52 pm

I wouldn't try V brake lever + caliper. Ime that combo gives frighteningly poor braking. I may have some bits that you could try - yours for $postage. PM me if interested.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby barefoot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:09 pm

My just-turned-5 year old has pretty much outgrown her balance bike and isn't at all confident on a pedal bike yet, so I've stripped the drivetrain off a 16" BMX-like bike for her.

It has a rear V-brake and a front caliper brake - the same basic low-end stuff that came on the bike (which was $5 at a garage sale). I originally de-cranked a 12"er for her, but it had no brakes (just the coaster, which doesn't work without pedals) and she too was scared on hills. We're also in a relatively hilly area.

The brakes on this 16"er work well enough. They don't need to actually stop the bike - just provide enough drag that it's easier to stop with the flintstone brake. I've backed the brakes right off, so that she almost has the lever to the bar before the pads touch the rim. Her grip is strongest there - she only has to overcome the brake return spring force with her extended fingers. So, she can squeeze the levers completely against the bars, and the bike slows down enough for her to control it.

See if you can get levers with reach adjustment screws, so the lever isn't so far away from the bar.

tim
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby bookworm1707 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:21 pm

If your child has got the hang of balance then time to move on.

Buy the next bike for her, think about what you are going to buy, a cheapo kmart bike can be a good 10kg+ lots of kids riding them weigh not much more. Imagine your bike was 40kg and how much un it would be to ride... Sorry about the rant...

Lower the seat, take the pedals off and you have a balance bike with brakes. If your original balance bike has steering then should a very fast progression, if not slightly longer but with practice a lot of kids who can balance can also be braking and pedalling within a few hours.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:35 pm

A bike is under consideration for Christmas, pondering a ByK E350, though looking at one of those on the weekend the brakes felt rubbish and I would probably want to change them.

I'd like to see her progress a bit more on the balance bike though - once she can keep her feet up for a while I would say it's time to move on to a pedal bike. She will glide on the flat pretty well, but not glide down any sort of hill. I think having a brake on the balance bike would give her some confidence to lift her feet more and really learn balance and steering control. She's fine down the hallway going feet-up for several seconds...

I really need to find a tennis/basketball court near me that she can practice more on.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:38 pm

Adding to your mini rant - why can micro race BMXs weigh 6kg but most other kids bikes weigh a ton?
However race BMXs carry their own compromises...
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby mikedufty » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:47 pm

My kids have been riding the micro bmx bikes everywhere for the last few years, haven't come across any real compromise with them. A little more expensive, but there are cheap options around, especially if you don't mind one that has done a seasons racing.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:15 pm

mikedufty wrote:My kids have been riding the micro bmx bikes everywhere for the last few years, haven't come across any real compromise with them. A little more expensive, but there are cheap options around, especially if you don't mind one that has done a seasons racing.

How do you/they find the following factors:
Plastic seat
Skinny tyres
Bottom bracket height
Lack of front brake
High gear ratio

Also where would be a good source for used ones?
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby Dan » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:25 pm

MattyK wrote:
mikedufty wrote:My kids have been riding the micro bmx bikes everywhere for the last few years, haven't come across any real compromise with them. A little more expensive, but there are cheap options around, especially if you don't mind one that has done a seasons racing.

How do you/they find the following factors:
Plastic seat
Skinny tyres
Bottom bracket height
Lack of front brake
High gear ratio

Also where would be a good source for used ones?


Parents see:
Plastic seat
Skinny tyres
Bottom bracket height
Lack of front brake
High gear ratio

Kids see:
BIKE!!!
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:28 pm

Well I took the plunge on some parts:
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/dia-compe-80 ... prod23355/
and
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/origin8-mini ... prod28425/ (in silver not purple though!)

Overkill I am sure, but most of the available kits didn't impress me. I feel something powerful will be useful for the limited strength of a 4 year old's hands.

Regarding the upgrade to a pedal bike, I think I might wait another year until she is a bit more proficient on the balance bike. It should also time better with #2, he will be 2 by then and ready to start on the balance bike.

Will update with progress once parts arrive.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby queequeg » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:53 pm

I took my son out on his balance bike yesterday after work. He is getting very good at it and can go pretty quick down hills with his feet off the ground. He has not had any major stacks, which tells me he had not found his limits yet.
He had a FirstBike Street with a rear drum brake. The lever is reach adjustable and seems perfect for his 3yr old hands. He is proficient using it.
He is already asking me for a "spokey bike", but I think he needs more time on the balance bike. Perhaps scooting down some grassy hills!
I looked at cheaper balance bikes before I got him the FirstBike, but I found nothing built as well. I also bought the lowering kit so he was able to get on it quite early. With his younger brother now starting to walk, I should be able to hold off buying a "spokey bike" until the younger one wants to try the balance bike. I reckon another 12 months and he can make a painless transition to a 16" bike with pedals.
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DIY brake install on Kokua Likeabike Jumper

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:05 am

Parts arrived yesterday (1 week) and installed last night.
Image
Took less than an hour to install, going slowly and taking pics.

The Dia-Compe 806 is at the limit of its reach adjustment (75mm)
Image

The Origin8 Mini Trigger is about the perfect size, and the reach adjustment brought it nice and close to the grip.
Image

The grip just slides off. There is just enough room to fit the lever before the bar tapers to a larger diameter.
Image

One downside is that the caliper hits the frame (no more bar spins - like that matters, but it could scratch the frame).
The caliper bolts in where the steering limiter was, but that was removed the day I got it.
Image

Yet to be test ridden.
I think I might need to re-tension the return spring, I can brake with my pinkie but it's still a bit stiff for a 4yo.
One bugbear is there is a loud creakfrom the caliper - seems to be from the return spring, but I've dripped oil on various points and it hasn't gone quiet yet...
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby mitzikatzi » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:40 am

@MattyK.
Are those tyres "Big Apples"?
Xplora wrote: Do not get cheap SPDs, your body will hurt you.

trailgumby wrote:29ers are awesome.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:54 am

yes. It's a very well specced machine.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby mitzikatzi » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:10 am

Your daughter is very lucky to have a "bike nerd" for a Dad. That is one nice looking run bike. :P
Xplora wrote: Do not get cheap SPDs, your body will hurt you.

trailgumby wrote:29ers are awesome.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby Dan » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:14 am

this is my favourite build thread so far. We should have a 'show us your child's bike' thread....

EDIT: thread created.
Last edited by Dan on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:40 pm

mitzikatzi wrote:Your daughter is very lucky to have a "bike nerd" for a Dad. That is one nice looking run bike. :P

I figured it cost a bit, but would hold together (google Jackson Goldstone) and have some resale value. Got it in Singapore, a bit cheaper GST-free than buying locally, and crammed it in a suitcase.

To be honest I don't think she cares too much at all - I get more out of it than she does. She hasn't really progressed too far in skill level in about a year. Maybe if I added some Barbie/Tinkerbell stickers?...

Number two (boy, 14 months) looks like being a bit more physical.

About the only flaw with it (apart from the lack of brakes...) is that the seat post has very limited movement due to the suspension pivot. They give you two posts, long and short, but there is a big gap between the max height of the short one and the minimum height of the long one.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby mitzikatzi » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:34 pm

Can you just use a std seat post and saddle and cut the post to the length you desire for best bike fit?

Why not "customize" the bike with stickers, tassels etc probably a good project for the two of you :D
Xplora wrote: Do not get cheap SPDs, your body will hurt you.

trailgumby wrote:29ers are awesome.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby Zynster » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:45 pm

MattyK wrote:A bike is under consideration for Christmas, pondering a ByK E350, though looking at one of those on the weekend the brakes felt rubbish and I would probably want to change them.


I bought my son a ByK 350 when he turned 4. He refused to ride it. He preferred his balance bike.

Now he's 6, and only a month ago decided he wanted to ride his bike. It only took 2 afternoons and he was riding. Now he rides everywhere.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:11 pm

mitzikatzi wrote:Can you just use a std seat post and saddle and cut the post to the length you desire for best bike fit?

TBH it's a gap that can be worked around, and given the relatively low stress use I had no problem exceeding the MAX marking on the short post. The post is a plain/tapered end, BMX style I suppose, and finding a suitably small saddle is possible I guess, but just too much work. I guess my point is, for what you pay, it seems a strange oversight. At least the post has a QR, and at least the post does not poke out through the "BB" to catch ankles on.

Also as a side point I'd say that a horse-type saddle as on Dan's bike (linked above) would generally be better for a balance bike - the rider's force is quite different to pedalling, you should have a "front" to the saddle to push against.

...
Back on the main topic, this was another kit that I considered that looks like good value:
http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bike_acc ... /102121572
Last edited by MattyK on Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby mitzikatzi » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:23 pm

Maybe a Uni cycle saddle would work?
Xplora wrote: Do not get cheap SPDs, your body will hurt you.

trailgumby wrote:29ers are awesome.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:25 pm

mitzikatzi wrote:Maybe a Uni cycle saddle would work?

Know any good unicycle saddles that will fit a 2 year old? :wink:
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby mikedufty » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:27 pm

The main thing my kids used their balance bike brakes for was doing skids. Wouldn't be so much fun with a front brake.
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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby mitzikatzi » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:52 pm

Image

from here

No idea if it fits a 2 year old.
Xplora wrote: Do not get cheap SPDs, your body will hurt you.

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Re: Adding a brake to a balance bike

Postby MattyK » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:04 pm

Tested succesfully
Image
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