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How To Choose Bike For Your Kids: The Ultimate Guide

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Friday, December 09, 2016
One of the most thrilling and pleasant things about childhood is riding a bike, at least at was for me. Nothing beats the fun, adventure, and independence that riding a bike brings.

However, buying a bike for my kid the other day, I have come to realise how much things have changed. Having had older siblings, made it such that I do not remember my parents buying me a bike. The whole exercise of getting a new bike involved picking out the least rusty mountain bike from the garage that my older brothers had gotten tired of, and my father would fish it out for me.

However, as a modern parent, how to choose bike for your kids can be quite an overwhelming task.

While there are so many things to take into account when buying a bike for you kid, age, design, weight, budget, and longevity are some of the most important considerations.

1. Age

The age of the child is important since it has a significant influence on many important aspects such as comfort, safety, and confidence of the child. Buy too large a bike and the child will find it heavy, unwieldy, and difficult to control, which could destroy their confidence. Buy a bike that is too small and the child would feel awkward and even embarrassed to ride it. Buying a right fit is particularly important for children between ages 4-8 that typically have not developed sufficient balance, agility, physical coordination, and confidence in riding.

2. Design

Just as important as age is the design of the bike you are buying. The design will usually include the shape of the bike frame, the handlebars, and brakes. The shape of the bike is fundamental in the handling and manoeuvrability of the bike. I have found that a good bike will usually be one with a longer wheelbase, as these tend to have a lower center of gravity. For kids under 10, bikes with too low handlebars or too high seats are inappropriate, since they have a high center of gravity. I always recommend bikes with handbrakes rather than coaster brakes, as it is almost impossible for the child to fall over when the brakes are applied, since they do not stop the bike instantly as compared to coaster brakes.

3. Weight

Weight is an important consideration when choosing a bike for your kid since it plays a critical role in manoeuvrability and control of the bike. Unlike adults that usually drive bikes that are approximately 20% of their weight, children will typically ride one that is 30% or more of their weight. To make it easier for your child to learn and ride their bike, find one that is lightweight and no more than 40% of their weight. Steel frame bikes are typically heavier and hence, if you can afford it, you should go for the lighter alloy frame bikes that are easier for your kid to control.

4. Budget

How much you want to spend is one of the most important aspects when it comes to how to choose bike for your kids. While I initially had some hesitation investing in an expensive bike, particularly for my kids on their first bikes, I reasoned that investing in a high quality bike might be worth it if I need your child to enjoy riding their bike. Higher end bikes are made of higher quality parts and are usually lighter, making them easier to control and maneuver. However, if you prefer a cheaper bike, you could always get a high quality one at the department or big box stores.

5. Longevity

Given that kids grow so quickly, I always find myself thinking of how long they will ride the bike before they have to get a new one. One of the most common reasons kids outgrow a bike is the lack of knee room between the handlebars and the seat. While I could always raise the seat, I have found that if the child is below 10, they may lose their confidence as maneuverability becomes harder due to the high center of gravity. To ensure that the kid uses the bike for as long as possible, I usually go for bikes with a longer wheelbase, as this ensures that the problem of knee room will not arise.