A first bike, a classic present. If you’re looking to promote an active lifestyle for your child, a new bike can’t be beaten. However, when buying your child their first bike, take a moment to find the right one.
Unfortunately, buying kid’s bike is not as simple as it used to be, and the size, colour and style are all things that you need to carefully consider before making any bike purchase.
The most common mistake made by parents wanting to encourage their kids to live active lifestyles is buying a bike that their child will ‘grow into.’ Whilst this may make fiscal sense, it actually discourages your child from actually riding their bike. This is because, for young children, the bike makes up a much larger proportion of the combined weight of the rider and the vehicle. Therefore it requires a greater percentage of the child’s strength just to maintain an upright position. If you tip the scales even further by purchasing or handing down a bike that’s too big for them, you’re increasing their risk of scraped knees and bruised palms until they grow big enough for it. This in turn leads to kids who don’t want to ride as much, and a bike that ends up just left out in the rain.
Kids’ bikes come in a multitude of sizes, starting at 12 inches moving up to 24 inches.
When choosing a bike, there is some leniency in sizing, i.e., if your child is at the upper end of a size, you can generally move them up a size without any issues. Additionally, if your child is already confident on a bike, and you are just looking for an upgrade, you can also push them to a larger wheel diameter. A seven year old can easily ride a 24 inch bike, but they will struggle to learn on one.
When a child is first learning how to ride, it’s important that it’s easy for them to plant their feet on the ground. Keep the saddle low, and make sure that they can stand over the top tube with both feet flat on the ground before purchasing any bike.
Children first begin to show colour preference at 12 weeks of age, with the favourite colour of a child being able to elicit a strong positive emotional response. It stems from when bright colours such as the blue of water or the reds and yellows of fruits were imperative for survival. So if you want your child to get excited about their new bike, get it in a colour they like.
For bikes with wheel sizes less than 20 inches, there isn’t much difference between the styles. You’ll get a choice of colours and frame material, alloy or steel. Alloy is slightly more expensive, but lighter, and when it is inevitably left out in the rain, it doesn’t rust.
If you’re looking to get your kids into mountain biking, you can get them a kid’s mountain bike when they’re as young as seven.
However, in the larger sizes, there’s hundreds of varieties to choose from, as BMX bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes and even fat bikes all have child variants. At as small as the 20- or 24-inch range, a bike can have suspension forks, disc brakes, or even proper drop handlebars so they can really feel like their pro peloton idols.
For those looking for value for money, BMX bikes are a great option; they’re single speed, durable, and more importantly, the kids won’t grow out of them. 24-inch BMX bikes are as big as they come. BMX bikes have the added bonus of being relatively cheap, because they won’t cost thousands of dollars as your child progresses to an adult bike that continually needs upgrades and repairs.