But how do you know you’re buying the best bike for kids training bike child, that will still be loved once the summer months are here? Fear not, here’s the Cycle Sprog guide to buying a kids bike.
Children’s bikes should be light enough to lift and handle easily. Generally, an aluminium frame will be lighter than a steel one. If you struggle to lift the bike, then think how had it is going to be for your child to control. It’s not just the material of the frame, but the design that is important too. A low step-through frame allows a child to get on and off the bike without difficulty.
The Frog Road 58 is one of the smallest kids road bikes available. A road bike has a high top tube and this can cause issues for smaller kids, so make sure your child is ready for the move up to a road bike. I know this sounds obvious, but as your child gets older, the type of cycling they’re doing will influence the type of bike they need. Don’t buy them a mountain bike if they’re going to do most of their cycling on the road. Vitus is a new range of kids hybrid bikes that are very reasonably priced and will allow your kids to ride comfortably on all but the most rocky terrain. Alternatively, a cyclocross bike can be fitted with both road and knobbly tyres and is a great all round choice if you’re not going to be riding serious downhill routes. The Cuda Performance range is a new range that’s worth taking a look at too.
Kids bikes are bound to get thrown onto the ground when it’s time for dinner, not to mention a few crashes here and there, so the sturdier the better. As mentioned above, sturdy doesn’t mean heavy. If not protected steel will rust, so expect steel frames, seat posts, nuts and bolts to corrode quicker than their aluminium counterparts. You can see the rust starting to form on the steel seat post on this balance bike.
Read our blog on why the type of bike you buy for your toddler really makes a difference. The smallest kids bikes don’t need gears as they confuse young riders and just add weight. Once your child is tackling hillier terrain, then of course gears become important. 21 or more gears, will just confuse a 7 year old and add unnecessary weight. It’s surprising how many gear shifters are difficult to operate.
Good quality kids bikes will fit child sized components that can be operated more easily by small hands and thumbs. There are various types of shifter available, so make sure you know which type is on the kids bike you’re buying. The alternative is lots of moaning as they have to push up hills. Again, brake levers come in different sizes. Some kids bikes come fitted with adult levers that are far too big for small hands to reach and operate. Check that the bike you’re buying has child friendly components, or there’ll be tears when they can’t stop the bike.
Coaster brakes can be found on smaller kids bikes, and can make it easy to slow down or stop by pedalling backwards, rather than having to use a handlebar brake. Remember coaster brakes tend to add weight and your child will still need to learn to brake when they move to the next size bike, or borrow a friends bike which has handlebar brakes! The Specialized Riprock comes with a coaster brake and stabilizers. If you’re buying a drop handlebar road or cyclocross bike for the first time, consider whether your child can operate the brakes on the drops. A chainguard will protect little hands and legs from the bike chain, keeping your child from injury and reducing the chance of clothes being ruined. The Crazy Stuff kids cycling helmets meet safety standards and provide some fun too!
For mountain biking, BMX and jump parks it’s especially important that your child wears a helmet as crashes are inevitable. Some kids also wear elbow and knee protection that help minimise cuts, grazes and knocks. If you’re buying a kids bike during the winter months, it stands to reason they’re going to want to go out and ride it IMMEDIATELY! This time of year it can be really cold, so a pair of kids sized winter cycling gloves can be a useful stocking filler. Check out our post on keeping kids warm when cycling during the winter for more useful ideas on kids sized kit designed for winter. The rest of the year a pair of fingerless cycling mitts is an excellent way to prevent scraps should they fall off.
Remember, if your child is cycling in low light conditions they need to be visible to vehicles and pedestrians. Bike lights don’t need to cost a fortune, neither does a hi-visibility vest. If you’ve spent your hard earned cash on a bike for your child you don’t want it getting stolen. Purchase a bike lock and teach your child how to use it! If you’ve bought a good quality kids bike then keep it clean and maintained and it should be grown out of and be in a good enough condition to be passed on, or sold second hand to recoup some of your costs. Teaching your child how to look after their bike will reap you these rewards.