It Pays to Invest in Quality Kids' Bikes

Many years ago we started out buying and acquiring cheap quality kid's bikes. A 12" solid wheel Little Mermaid bike when our eldest son Daniel was 2 (cost a fiver from a carboot), a charity shop 18" wheel (£8) buy when he was 5 years old, and later on a heavy MTB with suspension (from Halford's, about £90 new) when he was 6.

I don't regret those purchases. They have been fit for purpose, but over time we came to want quality kids bikes too. Kid's bikes that didn't weigh a tonne, bikes with decent mudguards and components, bikes that would last and be handed down through the family and even still have some re-sale value at the end of it.


The compelling reason to buy quality is weight. Dan has a racing BMX bike (20" wheels) that weighs about 5 kg; his Halford's MTB weighs maybe 20kg. When a child himself only weighs about 20 kg, that weight difference is collosal. You won't be surprised to hear that after we got the racing BMX Daniel never wanted to ride his Halford's bike any more (although John sometimes bums around on it!).

Now we are looking at 24" wheel bikes for Isabel; the lightest (an Islabike Beinn 24) is 10.3 kg, the next lightest comparable models (eg., Dawes Tracker) are mostly 12.2kg+; that extra weight is almost 10% of her body weight! It's like asking me, a 60 kg adult, to consider two otherwise similar bikes, one that weighs 25 kg and one that weighs 30 kg. Would anybody seriously think twice about that?

It's bad enough that even the best quality kids' bikes need to be so heavy relative to the weight of the child, but don't make this weight disproportion even worse than it has to be.

Why not?

Of course the biggest problem with forking out a lot for expensive kid's bikes is getting value out of them. Paying £250 or more for a bike that your child might only use for 12-18 months is gut-wrenching. Even if you think you might have the chance to re-sell it for nearly half the original price, or trade it back in (as you can do with Islabikes). That's assuming your child doesn't trash it, lose it or have it get stolen.

I totally understand people who don't want to pay out even when they know about the quality difference. But if you can afford it or make it economical in the long run (lots of siblings to pass the bike down to!), it's a nice thing to treat your children to -- and essential if you want them to enjoy the habit of regularly riding long distances with you.


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About the author

My name is John Swindells and I'm a keen recreational cyclist with a preference for long one-day rides. I've also previously dabbled in time trialling and cyclo-cross. See more of what I get up to on Strava!

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