The Li'l Bill by Woodpecker Cycle Co.
Recently, Daren Eric of Woodpecker Cycle Co. in Lacey, Washington completed a stellar build for his 8 year old daughter, Rey. We absolutely adore the planning, skill and love that went into this bike. Our conversation with Daren covers the challenges of building smaller bikes, and how children deserve good bikes too. Let's go.
Last summer, my 7-year-old son Huxley suddenly became embarrassed by his Star Wars-themed BMX and asked for a hardtail mountain bike. As a parent, I was thrilled to hear this, but I soon discovered that finding the right bike for kids is a real hassle. While the sizing and other technical aspects seem easy enough on paper, it's a whole different ball game when it comes to actually putting your child on the bike and seeing if it's the right fit. Additionally, kids' bikes seem to hold their value just as well as classic Porsches, making it almost impossible to find a good bike at a reasonable price. To make matters worse, many kids' bike manufacturers don't seem to care about making cool bikes - their main focus is simply ensuring that they can fit a wide range of children globally.
However, all of this goes away if your dad happens to be Daren Eric of Woodpecker Cycles. Woodpecker has been building some impressive steel hardtails since 2022. On the surface, Woodpecker's designs seem clean and functional, but upon further inspection, a ton of interesting details emerge. A couple of weeks ago, Daren and I got to chatting about a new build he was doing for his 8-year-old daughter, Rey, and he showed me a picture of the bike in fabrication. I was instantly blown away by the thoughtfulness, radness, and love poured into the project. The bike is called the Li'l Bill, named after the regular-sized Woodpecker hardtail, the Billy Boy.
Kids are people too, and damn straight, the bikes they ride deserve the same attention as ours. So, without further ado, let's chat with Daren about this stunning kids' ripper.
How did this project start?
Last winter, my 8-year-old daughter's 20” plus bike from Specialized was stolen from our front porch. I decided to build her a new bike, and after considering parts availability from big manufacturers, we landed on a 24” bike. Tires and forks (although forks were slightly more challenging to find) had become more accessible in the last couple of years.
What was the idea behind the project?
The main idea was to build a kids' hardtail with aesthetically pleasing proportions and modern standards. I also aimed for it to be able to fit a 26” tire once she grows a bit, although that idea might be a bit of a stretch since it would raise the bb significantly, and I would need a longer stem. However, we'll cross that bridge when we get there! The rear can fit a 26” x 2.4 tire with the axle slid to the rear.
Can kids bikes be awesome?
They have to be. Kids deserve to have nice things. We spend a lot of money to enjoy a bike for ourselves for one year, maybe two, and then we get something new. If our kids are into riding they too deserve a nice bike. Having a nicer bike will also make them a better rider and also they'll learn to enjoy and respect the outdoors.
How does building a kids bike differ from a regular bike?
Quite a lot. Proportions are obviously all smaller but also kids aren't as comfortable on a super tall stretched out bike. Cranks are smaller, and the gearing needs to provide plenty of range because they can't produce the same power that an adult can produce. The dropper post actually serves a huge purpose. It allows a child to mount and dismount the bike, with it in the low position, and then raise the seat to an optimal riding position.
|Tire Clearance:||24x2.8 - 26x2.4|
|Price:||$3750 USD: includes kids specific parts, a travel adjust dropper and your choice of powder coat|
How long do you expect your daughter will be able to ride this machine?
I am hoping that we can get a couple years out of it. I have two younger daughters, 4 and 6 so it will continue to live on!
How about that build kit?
The build kit is pretty neat on this! I'll mainly detail the kids' specific parts! The frame is 4130 with deda stays and a tapered headtube. The fork is a MRP Raven 27.5. MRP did some work on the internals to drop the fork to 475 ATC at 90mm travel. Boost front and rear wheels have Industry 9 1/1 hubs, Stans Crest rims 24” 32h and Maxxis Minion DHF 24 x 2.4. The crankset is a Prevelo Heir Crank in 140mm length that fits a DM chainring. The Tektro m285 stoppers are affordable and have a lot of reach adjustment making it easier for smaller hands to grasp. The saddle is a SDG fly junior saddle that looks like an adult saddle, but fits a kid! Win! The rest of the parts are standard mtb parts-11 speed XT drivetrain and a 125mm dropper.
What will your daughter use the bike for?
Trips to the park and learning to ride singletrack. Maybe pick some berries or ride to school?
Is this a one-off or can I get one for my kids?
Sure! Everything is available. I would like to get the weight down a bit (25 lbs) but it has a pretty serious tube set on it right now. I think with a bit of work I can get the weight down to closer to 21-22 lbs without too much extra cost. Nicer bars and xc tires would be a good start. I also plan on using the Manitou Junnit 24” fork in the future.
Any other Woodpecker projects in the pipeline?
There's a big tire gravel bike in the jig right now. Next I'm doing a single pivot full suspension! I'm pretty excited about that one. This year, I am taking it easy on the builds and focusing on having fun with it. I like building but the summer in Washington is short, so I have to balance family, riding, and building!
If you want a Li'll Bill for the li'l rider in your life, get in touch with Daren over Instagram.