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Purchasing Advice -- Kid's Bike

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

My son just turned 6 and has outgrown his first bike.  Since he's just about 4 feet tall, we've been told that a 20" wheel would be the most appropriate size for him, until he reaches 5 feet.  My question is this:  Are the bikes that one can purchase from the big box stores -- Wal*Mart, Target, Toys R Us -- significantly enough inferior to or somehow more "unsafe" than what one could buy from an independent bike shop that there would be a concern that the bike would not last long enough for my son to outgrow it?  I'm concerned about shelling out money for a product that a 6 year old is going to be using and eventually outgrowing, much the way I would feel about buying a toddler designer label clothes that get outgrown too fast and stained on first use.  I'm interested in reading what others have to say, thanks.

post #2 of 9

Good question.

 

If you buy a big box store bike I highly recommend that you double check all the fasteners to insure they are properly tightened. I would also recommend that you select a bike with pedal and hand brakes for a little added safety. Stay away from multiple speed bikes because they generally have very low grade components which wont stand up long to the abuse of a kid.

 

The LBS (local bike shop) route will give you a higher quality bike for around three times the price. The bike will be better assembled and built with higher quality components. The LBS can also help you select the proper size bike for son.

 

If your son is indeed tall enough for a 20" bike he could very well be riding that bike until he is old enough to drive. My grandson is six years old and I have him riding a 16" Spyderman bike which he will still be riding for at least two more summers. When he grows into the 20" we will be getting him his first bike from the LBS.

 

If you have the means involve your son in the bike selection. Kids tend to use things they decide on more than things they don't. And yes kids like having the same and better than their friends.

 

This is a great age for kids to get into cycling. Good Luck and enjoy.  

post #3 of 9

Cycling is a sport. Bicycles are also very popular as a kids toy. If your trying to introduce the child to one of the "cycling sports" he/she will need the proper equipment. Cycling isn't the most expensive sport... but it ain't cheap ether. 

 

However... if the child is just getting another toy. I think the toy and/or big box stores sell fine toy bikes.

 

 

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by EffEwe02 View Post

 My question is this:  Are the bikes that one can purchase from the big box stores -- Wal*Mart, Target, Toys R Us -- significantly enough inferior to or somehow more "unsafe" than what one could buy from an independent bike shop that there would be a concern that the bike would not last long enough for my son to outgrow it? 


In a word, yes. Well, if you're looking at cruisers with coaster brakes, some of the big-box bikes aren't all that bad. I got my daughter a 20" Next that she rode pretty enthusiastically, and it held up well enough to bring a few bucks at a yard sale.

 

But as soon as you get into hand brakes, derailleurs, and shifters, the difference is significant. Bikes that are maintainable and repairable beat something with bolt heads that round or break off, and threads that strip.

 

At bike shops there are some good buys, though. Raleigh is moving aggressively into family biking, and their products are significantly less expensive than, say, Trek or Specialized. The quality and fit are good, although some of the issues like gearing aren't as well thought out. And they still beat the big box bikes by a mile. Ask shops if there is a kids' bike trade-up program, too. We offer it and it's well used.

 

post #5 of 9
I feel that buying a department store bike for your kid is fine. I would only buy a single speed though. For him biking is probably equivalent to using a toy. Once he really starts getting into biking and considers it a sport, you should buy one from a bike shop. I made a terrible decision to buy a department store bike, and it broke within two weeks. A single speed would be durable...
post #6 of 9

I have also made good experience with kids bikes from a department store. My nephew has got one for his birthday last year and he's fine with it. when it comes to safety, I think you can always expect a basically good standard with the products. However, if the bike is used more for a difficult cycling tour, it is a good idea to "pimp" the bike with extra equipment. And I think, it is also important that the child - no matter how you he or she is - should have a say in the decision on the bike to be bought because the child can test whether he or she feels comfortable with it and can handle it. 
 

post #7 of 9

I am of the notion to spend a bit more than average on my kids bikes. When my oldest daughter was 6, I bought her a Specialized Hotrock ($260) with rim brakes and 6 gears. She learned how to use it in a matter of minutes. My oldest son was riding without training wheels before his third birthday, I bought him a performance burnout ($200) when he was 5, he loves it and at 6 can ride circles around older neighborhood boys.

 

He did have a Trek Jet 16 before that, its an OK bike - but not really and better than the big-box coaster brake bikes.

post #8 of 9

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by maydog View Post

He did have a Trek Jet 16 before that, its an OK bike - but not really and better than the big-box coaster brake bikes.

I used to assemble bikes at Wal~Mart, and now I work for a Trek dealer. I had Huffys that came apart on the bench. Next was actually pretty good brand. The Trek Jet may be overkill, but it's a bike that can be passed down to several little brothers and then sold at a garage sale.

 

post #9 of 9

I recommend Mongoose Override 20" Boys' Freestyle Bike. It's a 20" bike. This is made of high tensil steel. Perfect for your little boy. It is a New boys bike in the market.

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