BUYING A KIDS BIKE
By: Ernest Freeland – Owner Crofton Bike Doctor
Also check out our Kids Bike Guide.
It is always a special moment for me when I see people pick up their new bike because I know that we have done a great job of helping them pick out the right bike for them. They have purchased a bike that they will be able to enjoy for years to come. When they leave I know that they have a bike that it is going to fit. It will also be comfortable for them to ride and that they have been properly instructed on how to use the bike.
These moments are even more special when it is a child. Making sure a child has the right bike for them is important for their safety but so is making sure they have a bike that is fun to ride. If not for these two things the child won’t enjoy the sport as much as they could.
To make sure that you are getting the right bike for your child there are a few things that you should be aware of.
The Importance of Fit on a Child’s Bicycle:
Getting the right fit for your child is so important for their safety but also their comfort. The first thing to look at is can they safely stand over the bike. They need to have safe distance between them and the top of the bike. This should be at least an inch to allow the rider to safely dismount the bike.
Right Size Components: The next part of fit is making sure that the components are properly sized. Is the saddle the right size? Are the grips the right size? Are the pedals the right size? I see so many bikes that are using the wrong size components on the bike. This can be a safety issue as well as a comfort issue. Grips that are two big won’t allow the child to properly and safely grip the bars. A saddle to large may not be comfortable for their bone structure.
Reach: How is the reach to the handlebars? Can the rider safely turn the handlebars while maintaining a safe grip on the bars? Or do they have to let go of the bars a little to turn the bars? If they do this means the reach is too great. Sometimes you can adjust the position of the handlebars and sometimes you need to pick out a different bike.
Saddle Height: Setting the saddle at the proper height will make the bike easier for the child to ride. I see a lot of bikes where the saddle height is above the proper recommend height for safety. If this is the case it is time for a bigger bike. You want to make sure that the bike you select gives your child room to grow.
Gearing: It is also important that the bicycle has the appropriate gearing for the rider that the bike is designed for. You want your child to be able to easily pedal the bike.
Weight: Something many people don’t think about is the weight of the bike. How much does the bike weigh in proportion to the riders weight? Will the rider be able to easily handle the bike? Or is it going to weigh too much and have the rider struggle? The more it weighs the harder it will be for them to ride it and pick it up off the ground.
Sizing: Youth bike sizing is referred to by the wheel size (up to a 24 inch wheel) where adult bicycles are sized in either inches or centimeters depending on the style. Just like shoes not every size is going to fit the same, they will vary by manufacture. We can help you make sure your child is on the right size bicycle.
Proper Assembly of Your Child’s Bike:
Fit is a critical part of the selection process when choosing the right bike for your child. The proper assembly of the bicycle is as important if not more important! You will want your bike to be safe to ride and proper assembly is a must. I see so many bikes come through our door that aren’t properly assembled. Many of them are downright unsafe to ride. I’ve seen bikes with the front forks that are on backwards which will greatly affect the way the bike handles. I see brakes that aren’t properly adjusted and don’t even work. We see improperly routed cables that may hamper the operation of the bike. It’s not uncommon that bolts aren’t properly torque when the bike was assembled. An example of this is the bolts for the handlebars or stem that are so loose the handle bars could spin while being ridden.
You want your bike assembled by a professionally trained bicycle mechanic and these are found at your local bicycle shop. You really should consider if you want the same person who assembles the grills and the furniture at a department store to assemble your child’s bikes. There is a lot that goes into making sure that a bicycle is properly assembled, some obvious and some not so obvious. One thing for sure is a properly assembled bike will be safe to ride and last a lot longer than an improperly assembled one.
The overall quality of the bicycle will lead to a safer bike for your child to ride and less of a headache for you. A good quality bike will be a lot easier for your child to ride and properly function so you can spend time riding it instead of at your local bike shop getting it repaired. So many times we see bikes that come in that even when they are properly adjusted still don’t work the way they should.
A good quality bicycle will also come with a lifetime frame warranty and a parts warranty of a year or two because the manufacture believes in and backs the quality of the bicycle they are producing for you.
A quality bicycle will also last longer for you to pass down to a younger sibling or have a higher resale value for when you are ready to upgrade.
We believe in the quality of the children’s’ bicycles that we sell, so much, that we offer a Youth Trade Up Program. We will offer you up to 40% of the original purchase price in trade to the next size bicycle.
You will want your child to feel they are in control of the bike and not the bike in control of them. When you purchase the next bike for your child please consider; the proper fit, proper assembly and the quality. By considering the above items during your purchase you will be well on your way to finding a bike you and your child will love!
Now that you have selected the perfect bicycle for your child don’t overlook the accessories that you need to go with it: Helmet, Bell, Gloves, Shorts, Hydration and Protective Gear
See my article: Bicycle Accessories for Kids