Bikes used to be a common Christmas gift, but nowadays, more parents are getting them for their kids during the warmer months.
It kind of makes sense. Riding a bike down a hill or chasing butterflies on the way to a friend’s house is like a typical summer thing. Or going on a quest to find the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow after a storm, trying to beat the fading colors. For a kid, a bike equals freedom.
However, for parents, picking a bike can be a bit overwhelming. What size should it be? Knobby or street tires? Hand or coaster brakes? Do you go for a cheap one from a big store, or a pricier one from a specialty shop?
But hey, if you want to make it less of a headache, here are some suggestions to simplify the process and get your kid on a bike this winter.
Choosing a bike for your child
I think the best way for kids to learn to ride is with a balance bike. Training wheels can be a bit tricky because the height is often not set right, and kids end up veering to one side. Using training wheels is kind of like riding a big tricycle, and kids miss out on learning how to balance. That’s why learning to ride on two wheels can be tough later on.
Now, here are some tips for choosing a bike for kids.
Consider where your kid will ride.
Choosing between a bike with gears and hand brakes or a simple one-speed with coaster brakes can be a bit confusing. Some bikes have both. People worry that hand brakes might make a kid flip over, but with practice, kids get the hang of it. If you plan family rides on bike paths, gears could be useful. But for just cruising around the neighborhood, a gearless bike might be easier. The same goes for tires – knobby for dirt paths, and regular street tires are fine for neighborhood rides.
Make sure the bike fits.
Choose a bike based on your child’s size, not just their age. To check, have them hop on. Their knee should be about 75 percent extended when the foot is at the pedal’s bottom, according to Strang. “When that happens, the child can’t put their feet on the ground,” he said. If your child is a bit nervous, lower the seat until they feel comfy, then gradually raise it for the right pedal stroke.
Look for lightweight.
Whether you’re shopping at a fancy store or a big one, try to get the lightest bike you can afford, Strang suggests. Avoid bikes with dual suspension because they can be heavier. Cheap bikes that aren’t well-made can make riding less enjoyable, turning kids away from biking. If budget is a concern, a good-quality used bike is a practical alternative.
Consider skipping training wheels.
Bikes with training wheels teach kids to pedal first, then balance. But balance bikes, which have become popular in the last few years, change things up. They teach balancing first by having no pedals. Kids push their feet on the ground to go and use a footrest when coasting. Once they’ve mastered balancing, they can move on to a pedal bike.
Maintenance and operating tips
Here are some maintenance and operating tips for your bike:
Check the tires weekly: The main issue with bikes, is flat tires due to under-inflation. To avoid this, check the tire pressure weekly and make sure it matches the pressure rating on the side of the tire. It’s a good idea to have your own tire gauge and pump so you can check the tires at home.
Take your bike for a check-up: When you bring your bike out of storage in the spring, think about having a professional look at all the parts and oil the chain. Most bike stores will inflate the tires and check your bike for free, he said, and that can help you figure out if you need to pay for a more in-depth tune-up.
Choosing a helmet
Know the law: In the District and Maryland, kids who are 15 and under have to wear a helmet by law. Now, Virginia doesn’t have a state law for helmets on bikes, but in some places in Northern Virginia, like certain counties and cities, kids 14 and younger need to wear them, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Safe Kids suggests helmets because studies say they can cut the risk of serious brain injury by up to 88 percent.
Fit Matters: Helmets should sit level on a kid’s head and not wobble around – no moving forward, backward, or side to side, says Safe Kids. Always buckle up the straps, not too tight though. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows, and when buckled, the straps should make a “V” under your kid’s ears. And if your kid opens their mouth wide, the helmet should feel like a snug hug on their head. Safety first, right?
Best Bike For Kids of 2023
If you’re looking for a bike that can handle tricks and jumps, the Mongoose Legion L20 Kids Freestyle BMX Bike might be what you need. It’s got a sturdy steel frame and even comes with removable brake mounts for those who want to take things to the next level.
This BMX bike is part of the Mongoose Legion series, suitable for riders of all ages. Whether you’re a kid or a female rider, it doesn’t matter – as long as you have a love for BMX bikes. They offer different sizes and colors to match your preferences, so just figure out which size suits you best for a smooth and comfortable ride. Regardless of your skill level, any bike from the Legion series is considered a good buy, catering to both beginners and pros.
The steel frame adds durability, ensuring the bike can handle a few bumps without any problems. The 20-inch wheels, measuring 2.3 inches wide, provide extra maneuverability and durability on various surfaces. Plus, the removable brake mounts add a touch of customization. However, it’s worth noting that this is a single-speed bike. The Legion L20 is recommended for more intermediate riders who are at least 56 inches tall. If you’re looking for a BMX bike for a younger or shorter rider, the Mongoose L10 model is designed for beginners.
Quality components are essential for a bike that’s easy to control. Fortunately, this bike meets the criteria for a controlled riding experience. It has a lightweight frame, excellent brake systems, and good quality rims and tires – everything you need for a confident and controlled ride on any terrain.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – assembling this bike is not a walk in the park. Many parents have expressed concerns about the difficulty of putting it together. Some even had to call a bike shop for help with the brake line, and the total assembly time exceeded an hour for some. If you’re not up for the challenge, we suggest taking the Mongoose L20 to your local bike shop or opting for an in-store purchase.
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The Schwinn Koen boys bike series is a good starter bike for boys in five different sizes. It’s designed for casual neighborhood rides, like going over curbs or biking to a friend’s house or the park.
Overall, the Koen is what it’s meant to be – an affordable, kid-friendly bike for cruising around the neighborhood. It’s not the lightest or the most agile 20″ bike, but it’s reasonably priced, enjoyable to ride, and should hold up for one or two kids.
A notable feature of the Koen line is that it comes in various sizes – 12″, 14″, 16″, 18″, and 20″. All sizes, except the 20″, come with training wheels.
If you’re looking for a sturdy bike that won’t cost a lot but is still fun to ride, the Schwinn Koen is a good choice. It’s not competing with high-end bikes, but it’s much more affordable and built to last through multiple kids, handling the neighborhood’s curbs just fine.
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The JoyStar Beach Cruiser Kids Bike is designed for kids aged 6 to 10, suitable for both boys and girls. It’s made of high-tensile steel for durability during the learning phase.
Equipped with training wheels, coaster brakes, and a front basket, this bike comes in three sizes: 20 inches, 24 inches, and 26 inches. It’s also pretty light, weighing between 18.5lbs and 21.5lbs, depending on the frame size. There are six colors to choose from: Aqua, Black, Beige, Blue, Green, and Pink.
When it arrives, it’s 85 percent assembled, and you only need to put together the training wheels, front tire, and seat. Simple enough. But, if you’re eyeing the adult version, be prepared for some assembly work.
The bike offers good braking power, allowing kids to have control when needed – just pedal backward to stop. The detachable training wheels make it kid-friendly, and there are DIY decal stickers for a personalized touch. Kids can stick their names on it to make it a bit more unique.
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This bike is pretty versatile with five wheel sizes, catering to a wide age range. Parents seem to like it because it’s quick to assemble in about 15 minutes.
Now, the steel frame makes it durable, but some find it a bit heavy and not so easy to handle. If you’re looking for a beginner bike that won’t break the bank and has a variety of sizes, the Royalbaby Freestyle Kids Bike could be a decent choice. They offer it in 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20-inch wheel sizes. The smaller ones (12, 14, and 16 inches) even come with training wheels and a kickstand.
It comes in eight colors, making it a good unisex gift. The standout feature is the easy assembly promise – it arrives 95% assembled and takes about 15 minutes to finish up with the provided tools and instructions. Plus, there’s a water bottle holder behind the adjustable seat. It’s got hand brakes to ease kids into biking, and there are coaster brakes too.
But, keep in mind, the steel frame adds weight. Some reviewers mention that the smaller wheel sizes might be a bit too heavy for little ones, especially the 16-inch model, which weighs 25 pounds. It might be a bit much for a child in the recommended height range of 41 to 45 inches.
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Redline’s BMX race bikes have been popular with new racers for a while, and the MX Rival is no exception. It’s designed for riders between 4-foot-6 and 5-foot-1. If your kid is shorter, there’s the MX mini; if taller, they can jump straight to the Rival 20. Racing is a breeze – just throw on a number plate, and you’re good to go. The skinny wheels and tires make it fast, but daily use might take a toll on durability.
- Good for starting racing
- Lasts a long time and is durable
- Not great for street use
- Don’t even think about taking it on a mountain bike trail
I’m Amelia! A passionate foodie, avid home cook, and your go-to guide for all things kitchen. From sizzling pans to innovative gadgets, join me on my flavorful adventures as I whip up honest reviews and delightful dishes, making every meal a masterpiece.