For every kid his bike is the embodiment of freedom and some sort of maturity, just like the first own car for a teenager. What do parents look at while choosing a bike for their kid? Obviously, it should be safe, reliable, and durable enough for heavy use, and will not break when, inevitably, it gets banged up or outgrown. We have questioned professional experts from several New York City bike stores and asked for their advice and recommendations on how to choose the best bikes for children of different ages, who either just begin to learn how to ride or practice extreme riding.
Most of the adults remember tricycles as their first experience in learning how to ride a bicycle. Tricycles, as a manager at Danny’s Cycles states, nowadays have been replaced by balance bikes with no pedals. According to him, children younger than three developmentally are still learning to walk and run at this age, and may not manage to pedal. Therefore, the small pedal-less bike can help the kid to get used to balancing himself on a bike seat before smooth transition to a regular two-wheel bike. Affordable and lightweight, colorful balance bikes from KaZAM are perfect fit for parents, introducing their kid to the exciting world of cycling.
However, kids outgrow balance bikes very quickly, says the owner of Bellitte Bicycles. As a result the purchasing of two bikes over a short period might be very expensive. A perfect alternative could be removal of the pedals from a traditional bike that fits the size. As soon as the kid masters the balancing skills the pedals can be reinstalled back. The suggested Raleigh Jazzi model, designed for younger riders, has extra-small 12-inch wheels.
Sooner or later, when kids are able to pedal, they move to larger size bikes. Since the basic shape of kids’ bikes remains the same, the parents should still focus on high-quality bikes with spare parts which can be repaired or replaced easily, says Ian Tsuji from Danny’s Cycles. These Metro Bicycles models are for kids who are almost ready to take a regular two- wheeler and come with the removable training wheels.
As Bellitte says, usually, kids of elementary school age have a simple bicycle with one speed and a coaster brake (a foot brake when you spin your pedals backwards to stop the bike), and, sometimes with a hand brake as well. At this age range children are still mastering basic riding skills; therefore, they should not be distracted by multiple gears. Moreover, unlike the hand brakes, the foot brake is much more intuitive to them. These two necessary requirements are perfectly met in colorful kids’ bikes from Kent.
Ian Tsuji is a big fan of “very refined” kids’ bikes from Trek, even though they are from the category of the expensive ones. This is because this bike producer uses materials and parts of a high quality, as well as provides with a lifetime warranty, which covers not only the standard breakage, but also repairs beyond normal wear and tear. Moreover, it has the adjustable seat, so the bike will grow with the kids. Having 20-inch wheels, these bikes are a perfect fit for the kids at the upper end of this age range.
Kids start experimenting with the multiple gear bikes, as they grow older and fill more comfortable and confident riding a bike, says Tsuji. Very often kids are riding to school or around town on hilly terrain, and they will love the ability to shift into a lower gear. Woom, the Texas-based company that produces exclusive kids’ bikes, suggests this eight-gear bike for them to try out. Equipped with off-road tires this bike is very durable and can handle children’s all-terrain rides.
Since the bikes from leading brands are usually made of the lighter materials with and use components with higher performance, Bellitte recommends checking out kids’ bikes from their model line. As he says, parents should keep in mind that the bike with lighter weight is easier to ride and to lift, if needed. He really enjoys well-build bikes from Giant. The suggested Escape Jr. model is equipped with a range of gears, along with hand brakes, which are the next step from the foot brakes installed on bikes designed for little kids.
Equipped with small sized wheels knobby tires, and rigid frames, BMX bikes are a perfect match for jumping and other tricks, says Tsuji. This type of bikes is very popular among kids with extreme riding style. SE’s heavy duty BMX bikes that he recommends, can withstand a rough riding style.
For those who need more affordable BMX bike Bellitte recommends Kent’s X-Games series as an option. Unlike an adult rider who can purchase a high-quality bicycle and use it for 15 years, or even longer, kids outgrow their bikes pretty fast just like they outgrow their clothes or shoes. And most parents realize this, says Bellitte. Therefore, a bike for less than $150 is the best and less pricey way for their child to try and explore riding BMX style.