Remember when we were kids and there were banana-seat bikes…and that was about it?! Much like every other aspect of childhood, buying a kids bike has become infinitely more complex. Until now, we have naively headed off to Canadian Tire and bought the tricycle or little kids’ bike that is the appropriate height for our kids.
Our eldest is nearing 6 years old and lives on his bike. A day does not pass where that kid isn’t pedalling around the back lane with his buddies. We had been grossly negligent in not purchasing a bike sooner; he looked like a giant riding his bike. One day, as I headed off to an appointment, I instructed the 3 men in my life to go and purchase a bike! What seemed like an easy errand turned into an all-day extravaganza.
I can’t get over the amount of money one can EASILY spend on a kid’s bike. Seriously…these kids grow, why spend so much? I estimate the best case scenario is each bike will last each child 1 year of riding, so I choke on the idea of spending $500+ on a bike that will get treated as only children know how to treat bikes. When they are older and express an interest in serious cycling? You bet! But when covering their bikes in sidewalk chalk, hurtling them to the ground in exchange for a scooter, or crashing into a massive kid pile-up what the children do with their bike, an expensive one is not in the cards.
Tips for saving money when choosing a bicycle
First, set a budget. Figure out what price point you are willing to spend. For a brand new bike, don’t get any illusions of getting anything for less than $100. That being said, Craigslist, Kijiji & UsedEverywhere are fantastic resources, and June is a great time to find fantastic bike deals. And never overlook the beauty of garage sales and rummage sales. Just give the bike a good going over before the child rides, including oiling everything up, checking brakes and tightening fittings as needed.
Next, you move on to style. There is a multitude to select, from BMX, mountain, racing, retro…the list goes on. The big thing to remember is that style doesn’t really matter to most children. The ability of your child to get on and off the bike safely matters much more. The crossbar’s height and angle play havoc with the type of bike you purchase for your child. While we wanted a bike that barely fit now, hoping we might get more than one season out of his bike, we did need to ensure the kid could dismount. Ideally, your child should be able to stand, straddling the crossbar, with both feet flat on the ground.
Another factor to consider is the weight of the bike. General the cheaper the bike, the heavier the bike. Rarely will your child need to actually lift the bike, but there is the reality that they need to propel the bike forward. Be kind, get a slightly lighter bike as they are more likely to ride it. In our case, we hang the bikes on the garage wall, a heavy bike means more awkward lifting for me every time the kids want to ride.
Summertime bike rides are a staple of childhood. Whether you purchase from a big box store or a boutique cycling salon, be sure you have your kid in tow. Everybody is different, and just because they are a certain age doesn’t mean they will fit a specific type or bike size.