Good bikes for children

Discussion in 'Family and Recreational Cycling' started by Mister Paul, 26 Feb 2012.

  1. Mister Paul

    Mister Paul Legendary Member

    People often ask what bikes are good for children. Here are a few of my random thoughts-

    • Bike manufacturers often farm out design of children's bikes to their new staff -the result being that children's bike design often isn't as good as it should be.
    • Consider proportions. You may be able to pick a bike up easily and it might not feel heavy to you, but imagine how it would feel if you were half the size.
    • Similarly, little people with smaller dimensions fare better on machines with smaller dimensions. Is the bike you're looking at built with adult-sized components, tubing, handlbars, grips....?
    • Simple is best. It might look fancy to have full suspension, a plastic exhaust pipe and a dolly strapped to the back, but if your aim is to get a child into cycling rather than playing then it won't help.
    • Children will do what they find easiest. Give them the easiest, most comfortable bike to ride and they're likely to last longer on it.
    • Don't buy bikes with loads of growing room. Buying an adult's MTB for a child who can just touch the floor with their toes might save you some money, but the poor child will be wobbling around on a machine which is far too big, harder to control and more dangerous.
    • Childrens bikes are generally referred to by wheel size rather than frame size.
    So, what's good?

    1. Starter bikes. If you want to get them on two wheels as early as possible, then these days there is a good range of 'walking bikes' available. These are stripped-down bikes with no pedals. They're design so that you just sit your toddler on the bike, with their feet flat on the floor, and leave them to it. They'll start to walk the bike around. After a while, and maybe with the minimum of encouragement, they'll find themselves lifting their feet up for longer periods of time. Within a very short space of time, and with no anxiety, they'll have learned to ride on 2 wheels. And then when they're big enough for bikes with pedals the transition will be easy.
    2. In my view the best brand of bike for children is Islabikes, without a doubt. Islabikes are committed to addressing all of the issues mentioned above. So you'll get light, appropriate and easy to ride bikes. They might be expensive, but when you sell the bike on you'll get most of your money back. I've just sold a 4-year-old 16"-wheeled Islabike for £20 less than I originally paid for it.
    3. Below 24"-wheel sized children's bikes there isn't much to match Islabikes. There are some European brands, but other than that you get what you pay for. All decent bike brands do a childrens range, but you'll compromise quality and suitability with any price saving.
    4. 24" wheel and above and your child is getting nearer to adult proportions and there are plenty of decent bikes around. Remember though that front suspension is heavy and adds to the cost of manufacturing a bike, and I really don't think it brings any benefit unless you're going properly off-road.
    Those are my 5 minute ramblings. Incomplete, but here's where others get to add their views and experience.....
     
    BrianEvesham likes this.
  2. arallsopp

    arallsopp Post of The Year 2009 winner

    Location:
    Bromley, Kent
    I'll echo your recommendation for walking bikes, and progression to islabikes.

    Ted started on a generic balance bike when he was coming up two. He didn't really get on with it at first, but we left it with him and he soon started tearing around the house on it. We had a sweet spot about 3 months after his second birthday, where he could ride on the bike at adults walking pace. We took him to the shops most days on it. Having learnt how to navigate doorways and the cat, his low speed control was pretty much perfect.

    Towards the end of summer, we couldn't keep up on foot. I'd chase him to the local park on Panzerfiets. Ted is two and a half in the video below.


    For his third birthday, we bought him an Islabike. Although he could balance on it from the outset, it took him 3 months to accept that pedalling might be faster than running astride it. After playing on a tricycle at the local dads club, Ted said "take me home" and mimed a pedalling motion all the way back with his hands. When we got home, I took the video below. His first time. 3 years, 3 months.


    That evening, he put in a mile and half tour of local friends. He logged over 300 miles with me by the time the summer drew to a close (most of them are tagged in my mycycling log account!). His balance bike has gone to another cyclechatter.

    Now his younger sister (Darcey) has a balance bike of her own. This is her at 17 months.


    I'd offer the following tips, that are less to do with "which bike" and more to do with making a success of whatever you choose.
    • Ride with them, and let them see you ride. They want to copy you.
    • Try to avoid using the car for local trips. When we integrated cycling into our daily routine, both kids really began to pick things up quickly.
    • Resist the pull of stabilisers. There are kids in my street who are still on stabilisers, and are coming up 6.
    Andy.
     
    Alan O, JoeyB, Mice and 3 others like this.
  3. MickL

    MickL Über Member

    Toddle Bike is good as well, it acts like a trainer for balance bikes, my 2yr old whizzes about on his now, he has been using it since he was 17mths old.
    http://www.toddlebike.co.uk/
     
    Gregcycle likes this.
  4. DP

    DP Chasse patate

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I think coaster brakes are helpful for children; my children at least have found those easier to deal with than regular hand brakes.

    The Dutch brands make good childrens bikes - Gazelle, Batavus and Sparta, for example - although I am not sure how easy these would be to get in the UK and they are not cheap.
     
    Michael86 likes this.
  5. Sara_H

    Sara_H Guru

    Loved the video of Ted - brought a tear to my eye!

    We were a bit traditional, our son had a trike, then a crap bike with stabilisers. One day we took the stabilisers off and drove to the park. Got bike out of car. Closed boot. Where is son? Look on the horizon - he's ridden far away just like that!

    Aged 9 He currently has a BMX a GT something or other. But fir every day cycling he has a Dawes Tracker 24" hybrid, very simple and fairly light.

    He goes to a cycle speedway club but he doesn't have his own speedway bike, they loan him one.
     
    arallsopp likes this.
  6. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander New Member

  7. Luv Handles

    Luv Handles Active Member

    Location:
    Wandsworth, London
    Yes, the Electra brand is brilliant. We sell them here in London, U.K., and the neat thing about the design is the 'Flat Foot Technology' so kids as they are learning and gaining confidence, can feel comfortable without the TIPPY TOE stops. They have a wide range from 16", 20", 24", 26" wheels and then into Adults ranges. You get cool colours and good quality so it does come with a price tag that some may not appeal to.

    The bike in above listing is called the 'Sparker' and 20" tire anda single speed. Perfect Learner Bike! You can call us if you need advice on kids bikes :smile:
     
  8. johnnyh

    johnnyh Veteran

    Location:
    Somerset
    Decathlon sell great kids bikes. We bought one for one of the kids whilst on holiday a couple of years back and it has just been replaced for a 24" wheeled variant.
    Well made, well sized and a good standard of component.

    No daft suspension forks either, just a good honest kids bike at reasonable money.
     
  9. Psycolist

    Psycolist NINJA BYKALIST

    Location:
    North Essex
     
  10. Sandra6

    Sandra6 Veteran

    Location:
    Cumbria
    One thing I really hate to see at work is people buying bikes for children without the child! How can you possibly tell if it's going to be the right bike if you don't sit the child on it?!
    The carrera range of children's bikes are quite good, and I'm a fan of bmx's as a good one can take some battering. I don't like to see very small bikes with hundreds of gears though.
     
  11. uphillstruggler

    uphillstruggler Veteran

    Location:
    Half way there
    i am looking for a reasonably priced well spec'd bike for my 10 soon to be 11 year old daughter. i cant see much past the decathlon ladies rockrider http://www.decathlon.co.uk/rockrider-50-womens-id_8202061.html i've been in to have a look at one, and will take the little lady in to try it out for size but unless you wise people know differently?

    she will not be needing the 'suspension' forks prevelant on most kids bikes and i like the semi slick tyres rather than the speed killing knobblies. Also the fact that the components are actually half decent too helps. it seems to show that they are actually thinking about the bike rather than the price point they are trying to achieve.

    anyone have one of these for their children?
     
  12. Electric_Andy

    Electric_Andy Heavy Metal Fan

    Location:
    Plymouth
    We bought a bike for my step-son for his 4th Birthday. Unfortunately it was a last minute rush, and also a surprise so couldn't test him on it. Because it was bought at Halfords and was a "themed" bike (Rory the Racing car) it was nothing more than a toy. The cranks are tiny and extremely hard to pedal because you can't get any mechanical advantage from a 2 inch crank. The plastic brakes are too far away from the handlebars so he hasn't been able to brake on his own until now (he's 6). Will be buying a proper bike for his 7th Birthday, as he does love riding it.
     
  13. subaqua

    subaqua Guru

    Location:
    Leytonstone

    we got youngests bike from decathlon. we visit it fairly regularly so got to see him on various bikes so we knew what size we needed. then when he was in nursery we went and bought to keep the Santa surprise .
     
  14. MrJamie

    MrJamie Oaf on a Bike

    Hmm for some reason i remember you being from MK too? I was looking at a Rockrider for my 9.5 year old nephew they looked pretty good although annoyingly really heavy and the Alu frames have front sus., only didnt go for one because the nearest store isnt that close. If you are in MK ive heard Pink Bikes in Newport Pagnell are decent for kids bikes, but didnt get round to going myself. My nephew really appreciates his mtb knobblies on account of him riding over grass, mud, hopping on and off the path etc - moreso than i think he would a little speed increase from slicks, just something to think about. :smile:
     
    beastie likes this.
  15. uphillstruggler

    uphillstruggler Veteran

    Location:
    Half way there
    thanks jamie

    i know pinks, i bought my giant from there.

    the semi slicks they have on are knobbly on the outside, city tyre type on the centre and this daughter is the more cautious of the two so probably wont go off path! ^_^ imagine miss marple on the rock rider and your getting close.

    Still in MK too, New Bradwell to be precise!
     
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