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
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
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. ❏
Jim “Bones” Bacon has tuned the suspension of
the biggest names in motocross, including Jeremy
McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Villopoto and Adam
Cianciarulo. If you have a suspension question, send it
YOU OUTGREW YOUR SHOES