Bikes are an important social tool and the preferred method of transport for children, allowing them to explore their neighbourhood and discover their environment.
Children have always loved riding bikes. I have lots of childhood memories of riding around with friends and, with boundless energy, having adventures and fun.
At this time of year many parents who are enthusiastic about buying a new bike as a Christmas present for their child visit us. Unfortunately, many try to choose a bike by asking the wrong questions, either: What size should I buy or how much is your cheapest bike?
Of course, both questions are important and I will deal with them both below, but there are actually several equally important factors that should be considered:
It is almost impossible to safely choose a bike from a catalogue or web page. Take the time to visit a shop and let your child try some bikes. A reputable shop will have experienced staff to help you and should be willing to allow the bikes to be ridden before purchase.
Your child should be able to get a foot onto the floor when sat on the saddle and the frame should have a low stand over height in case they fall off.
Unlike adult bikes, where size is referred to by frame size, most children’s bikes are sized by wheel diameter. However, the geometry of different bikes can vary substantially. For example a child may need a 14” from, say, Raleigh but will be equally safe riding a 16” from Specialized.
For safety’s sake, make sure the bike fits. A child may tolerate almost any bike but will enjoy and regularly use a bike that they feel confident on. Avoid a bike that they will grow into.
Adults don’t appreciate how heavy children’s bikes can be. For example, the 20” wheel Python Elite weighs approx. 9kg whereas a similar sized bike from a high street multiple store or toyshop may weigh 12kg or more. That’s a whopping 30% more weight and can make a big difference to a 7 year old.
Pick up the bike. A lightweight bike gives a considerable advantage to a young rider.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
For a young rider, less is quite often more. Suspension forks are not necessary for most children’s bikes and are generally fitted for show. They can substantially increase the weight of the bike and, to keep cost down, the quality of other components may be reduced.
Likewise, it isn’t necessary for a child’s bikes to be fitted with lots of gears. Front derailleurs can be confusing to the young and should be reserved for teenagers.
One of our best selling children’s bikes is the Orbea MX 24 Dirt, suitable for most 8- 11 year olds; it has 8 gears and a rigid front fork. There are four colour choices to suit boys and girls.
HAVE THE BIKE BUILT
A professional bike shop will employ experienced and qualified mechanics to build the bike for you. To keep the cost down some stores and mail order companies will supply bikes partially assembled in the manufacturers transport box. If you decide to build the bike yourself you may be taking responsibility for the warranty and could be risking your child’s safety.
Of course price is important and everyone wants value for money. However, the price of a child’s bike doesn’t simply scale down with size. Small parts aren’t necessarily cheaper. Be warned, many cheap bikes are little more than Bicycle Shaped Objects, offering the appearance of a bike but few, if any, of the benefits.
Even a good child’s bike shouldn’t cost much more than a small selection of Play Station games and will give much more fun and exercise over several years. Our bike prices start from £84.99.
Our shop will be open every day until 23rd December and our XMAS club is open now, allowing you to reserve any bike with a small deposit. We hope to see you soon.