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There’s a profound joy in watching our children grow, seeing them first crawl, then walk and finally, and most importantly for a bike-mad parent, ride a bike. But from the second you see their excited face as they first experience the joy of mountain biking, a thought hits you like a hammer, you will never have any money again!
It’s not easy keeping a kid in bikes, not only do they continually grow out of them, but they leave them down the park or in the rain, and you can bet that at some point you will have to carry it home while they hunt in hedgerows for imagined dragons. When it comes to your kids first introduction to bikes there are two main options. The first option is to buy an inexpensive balance bike or mini-pedal bike, but cheap bikes often have the density of Osmium (the world’s heaviest material, twice as heavy as lead if you were curious), which is no fun if you have to carry it miles accompanied by a kid in full tantrum mode. The second option is to buy a proper balance or mini-bike, lighter, more durable and a lot more fun, but expensive! Keeping up with your child’s rapid growth is a non-stop job, and keeping them on a good bike throughout their childhood is an expensive task. But is help at hand?
Andy Lloyd, owner of Black Mountain cycles may have a solution that will delight bike-mad parents, a bike that grows with your child. Based in Monmouthshire, Black Mountain is a small group of engineers and cyclists, creating growing bikes featuring their propriety EPOK growing technology. Their innovative approach aims to address the problem that a child will need three bikes before they are 6 years old, a balance bike, a 12” bike and a 14“ bike. Buying high-quality models of each of these represent a significant investment and often there will be periods while your child is on the wrong size. Black Mountain’s £329 Pinto aims to be one bike to do all, with a frame that grows with your child, optional and adjustable two-speed drive system to suit your child’s growing strength and a super durable belt drive that even the most motivated 4-year-old should not be able to destroy. According to the clever Black Mountain online sizing tool, the Pinto will be suitable for children from 90 – 110 cm, converting from a low and light balance bike all the way up to a long 14” pedal bike using a cleverly adjustable frame. We love this concept, not only does the bike develop with your child, but it also reduces waste and energy costs when compared to buying three bikes independently.
The Black Mountain Pinto features front and rear V-brakes, with levers tailored to tiny hands, skinny bars and custom safety grips with an oversized flange to stop you kids hands slipping off the bars while they are sending a curb. An inverted seat clamp on the seat allows the saddle to go extra low in the different modes, and the optional belt drive weighs a fraction of a chain and is maintenance free. We even recognise the tyres, Kenda ‘small block eights’, great for some shredding action.
Everything about the Black Mountain Pinto looks well made, unlike many of the alternatives on the market, it’s clear that the bike has been designed by someone who understands and is passionate about mountain biking. All the fixtures and frame bolts are well manufactured and fit with a precision that suggests your money has been invested wisely, a rare property in childs bikes. If you are reasonably skilled with tools, changing the bike from mode to mode is child’s play (all tools supplied). The bike uses V-brakes which work well, if you’re older than thirty they will rekindle some fond memories. Everything is packaged neatly and the instructions are clear and include lots of photographs. We had to call in some reinforcements to test the bike as none of our elite test team could dish out the same punishment as a full-gas 5-year-old. Our tester found the belt drive extremely smooth and combined with the small cranks resulted in effortless progress. You can alternate between two gear ratios, swapping to the faster ratio when your kid is old enough. After some high speed fun, it was clear the bike is a real hoot to ride, displaying confident handling, easy pedalling, easy braking, and at just 5.72 kg it’s lighter than most of the other top brand premium kids bikes, so it’s not a strain to carry should the dragons turn up again.
Anything to help get your kid stoked on riding is a good thing with us, and not only does the Black Mountain Pinto boast fun riding, a high level of durability and the ability to grow with your child, but it’s also less wasteful on the environment, a factor your child will benefit from in the future. Clearly designed by mountain bikers, the initial outlay is high, but the Black Mountain Pinto is the perfect choice for a bike-mad parent wanting to save money in the long run!