Parents Guide to Kids’ Bikes

Jeremiah age 11 enjoying his bike
Jeremiah, Age 11, enjoying his Scott bike and Troy Lee Designs helmet

There are so many choices for kids’ bikes, it makes the head spin. We only carry what we feel most comfortable putting our loved ones on. We take great pride and care in every bike we build. Also, we stock all necessary safety equipment your child needs. Whether you buy a bike from us or not, there are some things to be conscience of.

At some big box stores, most of the bikes that cost less will have safety or enjoyment sacrifices. In addition, they are assembled by employees who may not have formal training as a mechanic.  So even a quality bike may be assembled incorrectly, making it potentially unsafe.

Even though kids bikes are small, they have all of the working parts that adult bikes do. To get the same quality in the bearings, machining, assembly, finishes and lightness, they would cost about the same. But kids are expected to out grow their bikes in a year or two, so not many parents are willing to spend $500 – $800 on a bike for their child. Hence, you generally won’t find kids’ bikes with ALL of the same qualities found in adult bikes (although they exist). Don’t be surprised if your kid’s bike weighs more than your own. Manufacturers such as Scott and Cannondale offer high quality, reliable bikes for $150 – $300.

Purchasing a bicycle for your child is exciting for both parents and kids. A bicycle is your child’s first vehicle and it’s one of a child’s first steps to independence and healthy transportation. Kids are usually most interested in the look and color of the bike (most adults are too). But remember, the bike is a vehicle not just a toy. As the parent, it’s your job to help your child find the right size and style of bicycle.

Fit should be your first priority.
Don’t buy a bike that is too big for your child with the rationalization that they will “grow into it.”  It will be easier for your child to control a bike that fits properly. Better control of the bicycle means that he or she will be safer.

Get a bike simple enough for your child to handle.
Some kids have trouble with handbrakes or multiple gears. Only buy a bike your child is comfortable using. Listen to his or her concerns because your child is often the best judge of what feels right. Don’t get something fancy with the hopes he or she will keep up with you on the road or trail.

Buy a bike suited for the type of cycling your child will be doing. There are many styles of bikes and having the appropriate kind is important. For instance, a one-speed BMX-style bike won’t be much fun for cycling longer distances on the trails or roads.

Be sure to test-ride the bike.
You wouldn’t dream of buying a car without taking it for a test spin, would you? To properly check fit and control, your child needs to test-ride the bike. Shop at your local bike shop. Bicycle shops typically sell higher-quality bikes at competitive prices and will stand behind their products. In the long run, a better-quality bicycle will save you money on replacement parts and repairs. A good bicycle will last for years and, with basic maintenance, can be sold or passed down to a younger child.

Buy a properly fitting helmet.
Helmets can significantly reduce the chance of a head injury in a crash, but only if they fit right. To make sure the helmet fits properly, learn with your child how to do the Eyes, Ears and Mouth Test and have him or her check the helmet fit every time he or she puts it on.  Higher-quality helmets ($30 and up) will be much easier to adjust. Let your kids pick out a model they like to help them take ownership (will make it easier to get them to wear it). Be a good role model by wearing a helmet yourself every time you ride.

A properly-fitted, high-quality bicycle is safer. Investing a little time and money will go a long way to make sure your child has healthy means of recreation and transportation!