Buying your child their first bike is an exciting milestone! Follow the following tips will help to ensure that your child has a great first time on two wheels!
Size and Fit
Head into a specialty bike shop to get your child professionally fitted for their first bike. Avoid the temptation to get a bike that they can grow into, as it can be dangerous, as well as unenjoyable for your child, as they will find it difficult to control the bike.
To purchase a bike for a 3 – 5 year old with training wheels of reasonable quality will cost approximately 140 – $200, whilst for a 12year old a bike can cost upward of $240. If these prices are out of your reach, then consider a good quality second hand bike that would still be safer for your child than a poor quality “new” cheap bike.
The Australian standard requires that children’s bikes should have at least two braking systems, of which one must be a back-pedal brake (where brakes are activated when you pedal backwards). In any case, pedal brakes are usually recommended for beginners, especially very young children who don’t have the hand and arm strength to operate handbrakes safely. There’s usually a handbrake for the front wheel too — check its quality and make sure it’s not a flimsy plastic lever that bends when squeezed.
Choose aluminium rims over steel rims as the braking distance with steel rims is 5 times greater than with aluminium. Use a magnet to determine if the rims are steel or not (a magnet won’t stick to aluminium). Avoid quick release wheels, as they are not necessary and may be dangerous, if not installed properly.
Training wheels have a number of pros and cons for young riders. Training wheels may cause the bike to tip, when turning corners at speed; however, for children having difficulty balancing, the aid of training wheels is invaluable.
All children’s bikes should have a chain guard, which covers the chain wheel, as well as the upper run of the chain. If the bike does not have this, insist that one is put on.
Whether you purchase a bike with or without gears depends on the experience your child has with riding, along with the terrain they are going to be riding on. Beginners are better with no gears, however those who will be tackling rough terrain would benefit from this addition.
Pedals and Handlebars
Both sides of the pedal should have tread and the ends of the handle bars should be covered so raw metal is not exposed and the handgrips should be secure.
As you can see there is a lot to consider when choosing a bike that is safe for your child, so never be afraid to ask for help and head on into your nearest bike store to get some friendly advice.
Trent is the Manager at the leading bike shop Melbourne, Australia, has to offer. He is an expert in bike fittings and often helps parents choose the best bike for their children.
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