To start with, I am a new bike rider myself, though I have had experience many years ago on a dirtbike. I recently bought an older cruiser and needless to say, my two boys, 9 and 10, now think I am the coolest dad in the world (temporarily, I am sure). Anyhow, they both have a lot of interest and I would like to get them started riding themsleves sooner rather than later.
Now here is the kicker, I am looking to buy only one bike for now, and here is why - both my boys are about the same size, but are way different in way of maturity. My 10 year old is much more mature for his age, and my 9 year old is much less for his age. Anyhow, I am fairly certain that my 10 year old will stick with it, while my ADD/HD stricken 9 year old may lose interest quickly.
So, what size bike would be recommended? I was thinking around the 75-125cc range. I am not so much concerned with power at this point, for obvious reasons, but do not want something that is really small in size (bike wise). Also, since they are going to be growing quite fast in the next few years, I want to get something used. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!
My son is currently 8.
I started him out at 7 on a Suzuki JR50 (2003 model I bought for $600 used in excellent condition). Its a 2 stroke 50cc....it has only 1 gear. So it either in gear or neutral....easy enough. At the time physically he was *about* to big for this bike really....but it was a learner bike. Anyways....I put him on it expecting to have to really teach him the basics. Instead in about 15 mins he was flat ass hauling around the yard, leaning into the corners and running flat out. He was pretty good by the end of the day. At any rate I let him ride it for the rest of that year deciding to buy him a bigger bike this year.
This year I snagged him a 2003 Yamaha TTR90 (bought used for $700). This is a 90cc 4 stroke bike with 3 speeds....but still no clutch. You just let of the gas, shift, back on the gas.....easy way to get them into shifting without the concerns of the clutch worked into all the other stuff they have to think about. Hes 8....cant quite flat foot the bike but hes close enough he feels comfortable on it. He loves riding it but still spends quite a bit of time on his JR50 too.
Size is all relative.....hell me and my friends will get the JR50s (I have another 1978 model as well) and the TTR90 out and race them around the yard. That TTR90 pulls me easily and Im 320lbs and 6ft4in......I wouldnt ever try the JR50 though.....my buddy rides it hes probably 5ft8in and weights 220lbs.
My advice is at your sons sizes skip the 50cc bikes.....its a waste.
I would stick to something semi-automatic (ie no clutch) for ease of learning.
I highly recommend:
Honda XR70 or CFR70 (changed from XR to CRF in 2004 I think) - great bike, super aftermarket support.....the 70 is a 3 speed semi auto......the 80 is a clutch bike
Kawasaki KLX110 or Suzuki DRZ110 (same bike) - this would probably be my top pick in your situation considering your boys size.
Any of those three would be fine....there are others such as the Yamaha PW80 (same size as the TTR90 except 2 stroke instead of 4) you just have to look around. The biggest issues is going to be what you will be able to find used in your market. I have my best luck on Craigslist.
In my area the KLX110s were running $900 on the low side up to $1200 or so. The XR and CRF70s were running $900 to $1100 with an occasion unit found around $800. The TTR90s run solid in the $800 to $900 range but you can score one a little cheaper if your quick. Mine was $700 but I drove 3 hours to get it (Im in the middle of no where).