Video: Top 10 Tips For Buying Kids Bikes

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The holidays are here and what better gift is there than buying your young one a bike. A bike is often a child’s first sense of freedom and independence. So get them a bike that fits and get them on the path to a cycling lifestyle.

At Mtbr we strongly oppose the use of training wheels. It has been proven time and time again that they do not help a child balance on two wheels. In fact, it actually delays a child’s ability to ride a bike because the natural instincts to steer in to a lean or stick feet out when falling are discouraged.

Start the learning process on a balance bike or push bike. These bikes have no drivetrain or pedals and instead rely on pushing (or gravity) to propel the bike. The child can then focus on the balancing aspect of riding a bike.

Also, since we have an audience of enthusiasts who know how to fix, tune and fit bikes, we recommend buying a used bike. Goodwill or many second hand stores are goldmines for inexpensive bikes. It’s good for the environment and it will allow you trade up for the right size bike as the child grows.

Read our article How To: Teaching Your Kid to Ride a Bike for more information.

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Video courtesy of Global Cycling Network.

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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • MissedThePoint says:

    Why’s the method of learning so controversial?

    Does anyone really consider the fit and ride handling? Considering how much I know about geometry, I would like to be able to dial in the bike to how the kid wants to ride it and what terrain he has available to ride, from HA, mechanical trail, wheelbase, bar and seat height, reach, wheel size, etc.

    The vid has some good tips.

  • Karl says:

    Great video and information.

    I purchased a bike for my 6 year old girl last month and found this site to be an invaluable resource as it specialized in the size range of bike that I was looking for and gave me the information in needed. The site was called http://www.16inchgirlsbike.co.uk/ if your daughter is 4 to 7 years of age then I highly recommend it.

  • ernie says:

    Never been a big fan or strider bikes. They do have some positive things to them but also some negative. Kids try to brake with their feet a lot. We used the tradditional route (training wheels ) with our son. He we took them off slowly at 3 years and and be has been racing in fun races on weds night every week on 2 wheels at 4 years old. Progression went very well for him. All kids are different you have to find what works for your kid and he will gain confidence.

  • GradyG says:

    Advantage of balance bikes is of course balance but also weight. Balance bikes seem to have figured out a bike should not weigh as much as the kid riding it, can find ones with foam wheels that weigh in at 7-8 lbs, not so with pedal bikes. My son was on a balance bike and trike by 2, got the lightest 12 inch bike we could find (specialized but still like 16 lbs) when he was 3 and rode it immediately, I mean immediately, no issue hopped on pushed his feet like a balance bike then pedaled like his trike. Now at 4 1/2 he is riding bumpy rooty single track, down limited stairs and scaring the hell out of me and his mother. My only gripe with the pedal bike is weight of course, believe spawn bicycles also makes somewhat lighter pedal bikes for kids. Training wheels are more like un-training wheels the more you use the crutch the harder it is to learn to balance.

  • Ray says:

    Myself, the neighborhood kids, and now the kids of my friends have all learned the same way, for better or for worse.

    Throw the kid on a bike with training wheels, they learn the mechanics of pedaling, braking, and steering while not falling off the seat.

    When they’re comfortable, bend the training wheels up about 2 inches. Bike won’t fall, and it’ll still hold them up when they stop, but they balance going forward and in wide turns on just 2 wheels. They feel far more comfortable having the safety net, but in reality, they’re not using it anymore.

    When they’re used to that (honestly, usually only an hour or two, every kid that had ridden previously was same-day), pop off the trainers and let them try it solo. Every kid was able to ride doing this. Last summer, I helped 3 kids (3-4years old) make the transition in the same day. Once one did it, the others were more than excited to ride like “big kids” as well.

    It’s transitional and less abrupt, and the kids feel safer doing it step by step. A little encouragement and confidence boost, “You’re doing great! You just rode the whole block on two wheels! Lets get those little kid training wheels off big boy!” works just fine.

  • superfly says:

    #1, money! At least $100

  • Mike vw says:

    Striders are the best. They blow the rest out of the water for light weight, cost and maneuverability. My daugher had a Skuut and it suucked.She got it for her second birthday because they said it fit two year olds…she was the tallest in her class and it didn’t fit her until she was three. That said, she learned quickly and was on the pedal bike at 3, but needed the training wheels to learn the act of pedaling. That said, she learned to ride without the trainers as soon as she learned to pedal. She started racing BMX a few months later and at 6 has almost classed up from Novice with wins.
    At the BMX track we were introduced to Striders. Don at Bethel BMX gave us one to try out and afternoon with our son who was 16 months at the time. He could wheel it around and turn it. He got his own at Christmas last year. He raced through the summer in the Strider class, learned to balance through the jumps really well, though he would brake with his feet, but it was really effective (though his shoes got destroyed) as could balance with his feet up through an entire BMX track and he learned to check his speed a little at a time. I’ll tell you, the first time he decided to coast down the first straight from the start gate was s c a r y ! He was winning races against 5 year olds some times, other times he would just stop at the top of the jumps in the rhythm section and wave at people watching.By September at two and a half he could ride his pedal bike (a 12″ Specialized Hot Rock) really well. He learned to pedal by putting the pedal bike on a trainer in the garage while we were skating the mini ramp, he’d go over there when we weren’t skateboarding. The wheels were so tiny that they didn’t hit the roller drums, but it kept him in balance so he could spin the dickens out of the pedals and learn the movement. This Christmas he got a Powerlite micro mini that I got off Craigslist for a couple hundred bucks that weights 12lbs… he weights 29.
    I mean, seriously, I realized last week that when someone asks him when he is older about learning to ride a bike, he might not even remember it! He will only know that he has been riding bikes his bikes forever.

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