Kids Bikes: The Early Years
Kids bikes is a category that has seen so much change in recent years. Bikes are now designed and built for kids as opposed to shrunk down from adult sizes. What that looks like is a much more fun experience for kids and the opportunity to start kids biking at a much younger age. Today, bikes are specially designed for ages one-and-a-half on up including balance/push bikes. The benefits of having legitimate bike brands intentionally building kids bikes extends beyond the great experience for kids—these bikes are built to last. What that means is they can be reliably passed down to siblings and that they hold their value for resale.
Our son is five, and he’s currently in the process of outgrowing his third bike, a 16-inch Commencal. To back it up, it all started with a brand new 12-inch red Commencal push bike that we bought for his second birthday. This bike saw some action, from learning in the driveway, to leisurely push bike trail rides, to backyard mini pump track sessions, to drop ins and endless laps at our neighborhood Phil’s Trail pump track here in Bend. The knobby tires never let him down in the dirt and the experience hooked him on the fun of riding bikes. We were even able to add a handbrake to get him ready for his next bike—a pedal bike.
As a biking family in an avid bike town (Bend, Oregon), the push bike was one part of his biking experience, we also bought a used iBert front-mounted bike seat. This was the start of his biking experience and allowed us to get out as a family on bikes.
His next bike was a 14-inch Commencal pedal bike that we also bought new in the summer after his third birthday. The bike came with training wheels, but after a few laps in the cul-de-sac, he was convinced he didn’t need them. Once again, we loved the knobby tires, sturdy frame, and hand brakes. His friend’s had similar bikes, because he now had a mini bike posse at the pump track, including Woom, which makes a great line of off-road bikes (and kids e-bikes!) and Cleary, which also both make great kids bikes and are equally popular among his crew.
Around the same time, we resold the iBert bike seat and bought a Macride, which is similarly a front-mounted bike seat, but allows him more freedom of movement, so he could continue to ride with us but get a little rowdier.
Ahead of his fifth birthday, it was time for the 16-inch bike—his Christmas wish fulfilled. We kept the 14-inch until he fully mastered the 16-inch bike that summer, and then sold it to a little girl who had graduated from her strider bike straight to the 14-inch bike.
I’d love to tell you we sold off his original strider bike, but it’s still in the garage. It continues to see action on days when we’re doing yardwork or doing chores outside and especially on snow days when he rips it around the driveway in his snow boots—go figure. As he gets bigger, it’s days are numbered, but it’s true that we’re all a little emotionally attached to his little red strider.
This past summer, our five-year-old has gotten stronger on his 16-inch bike. He’s now able to pedal uphill with us and hammer laps on the beginner blue trails at Mt. Bachelor. He’s getting bucked around on the rocks a bit—suspension would be nice, and he could probably use some gears as he gets better at climbing. Looking ahead, his next bike will likely be a 20-incher with suspension and gearing, which is getting into adult pricing, so we’re already starting to keep our eye out for used bikes. We’re also looking for a used bungee bike tow like the TowWhee so we can access some of the better local trail rides as a family.
This sounds a little crazy, but it’s only been possible because we’ve bought quality bikes knowing that we could resell them at a price where it makes it possible to keep sizing up. We’ve also bought the accessories used, including the iBert bike seat and, oh yeah, a Thule Yepp seat that lives on our cargo e-bike. All of this comes at a cost, but there’s no price you could put on the amount of fun and joy it’s brought to our family.
Annie Fast writes about winter sports and outdoor adventures from her home in Bend, Oregon.You can read more about her and her work at anniefast.com
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