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Will Guide for Beer
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
What bike and when? As parents, by the time we know, it’s often too late. Wasting money or missing out on quality riding time and experience for the kids. Maddening.

Without a doubt, the timing of a child bike purchase is very important. In order to have correct timing, you must have some advanced information; which is difficult (or impossible) to find. So the purpose of this post is to find and pass along some wisdom: Age range, child size and other helpful information for parents. If you have older kids and past experience, POST UP!! I will be editing this post and inserting information ...

Trailer: (two wheeled basket for toddler, clamps to chain stay)
Start age: 1
End age: 3
Price: $150
Key: Get started once the child can sit up and manage the weight of the head. Not for infants.

Trail-a-Bike: (one wheel, clamps to your seat post)
Start age: 3
End age: 7
Price: $150-$200.
Key: Child's feet must firmly reach both pedals and hold the bars.
Start on paved roads but soon you’ll be rolling fire roads and single track. Once the child is 4, this setup can handle bumps, curbs, rocks and roots. Just about anything. The result is many years of memorable riding.

Stryder Bike:
Start age: 2
End age: 4
Key: Eliminates any bike with training wheels. Gets your child riding a real bike sooner and safer.

12 inch: 1 gear, coaster brake.
Start age: xxx Get a Stryder Bike instead xxx
End age: xxx Get a Stryder Bike instead xxx

16 inch: 1 gear, coaster brake.
Start age: 4
End age: 6 or 7
Price:

20 inch: 1x7 with hand brakes.
Start age: 6 or 7
End age: 8 or 9
Price:
Key: Ability to reach the brake lever with enough strength to stop, primo importance.

24 inch: 1x7 or 3x7
Start age: 9 or 10
End age:
Price:
Key:


26 Small Frame:
Start age:
End age:
Price:
Key:
 

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Were I think most parents mess up is when they try to get their children riding on the adults terms, and not on the child's terms... Using Trail a bikes and training wheels so the kid can keep up are for parents, not kids. It does not matter how many miles they can put on, just time on the bike having fun. Bikes are freedom for us all, let them be free!

Run bike until your grom can reach pedals (and has the co-ordination to operate them). 18mo to 3-4 yrs old

2 week training wheel transition period. When they can pedal, stop and turn, get rid of them as fast as possible. This period sucks.

Once they are pedalling, get bikes that are size appropriate. If they have gears great, but I would not worry about it. Simple is always better.
 

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NS-NV said:
Were I think most parents mess up is when they try to get their children riding on the adults terms, and not on the child's terms... Using Trail a bikes and training wheels so the kid can keep up are for parents, not kids. It does not matter how many miles they can put on, just time on the bike having fun. Bikes are freedom for us all, let them be free!

Run bike until your grom can reach pedals (and has the co-ordination to operate them). 18mo to 3-4 yrs old

2 week training wheel transition period. When they can pedal, stop and turn, get rid of them as fast as possible. This period sucks.

Once they are pedalling, get bikes that are size appropriate. If they have gears great, but I would not worry about it. Simple is always better.
I agree with most of what you posted, except for the trail a bike being for the parents. Parents can certainly abuse this, but if used keeping the kids in mind, it can very beneficial by showing your child what is possible. They are able to do things on a trail a bike that they cannot do by themselves. As you've mentioned, we have to keep the best interests of the kids in mind.
 

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I totally admit, I am 'unreasonably bias' towards the trail a bike. Not my cup of tea, but it does not mean I think they are a waste of time, or I look down upon those who use them (we're not talking roadies here ;).

In reality, any time spent with your kids is good time spent.
 

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"Ride Lots" Eddy Merckx
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My daughter's progression;

3rd b-day - skuut/strider
3 yrs 6mos - 12" wheel w/ no training wheels, and the strider was passed along to friends.
5ish - 16" wheel, single speed
6 1/2 - saved her money and bought herself a 20" mtb with 1x6 gearing.

Trail-a-bike - been on and off road since 3 1/2 or so...can't recall really.

For the average parent this is probably over the top, but biking is a major family activity for us. Luckily once you hit 20" wheels the bikes last a bit longer between wheel sizes.

I worked in a shop for a while and one thing I found was most kids who are well into 24" wheels can get a XS 26" bike that will get them more years for the $$.
 

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Not sure about your time-line for the trailer. My oldest is a (admittedly tiny) 3 1/2, and while she might be a happy on a trail-a-bike for short distances, there's no way she'd be comfortable over the kind of distances we cover with the trailer. It's basically my family car, so there's the added inconvenience of also having to accomodate my 20mo, and having no fall-back position if she fades 10km from home!
I reckon my trusty trailer will keep seeing a fair bit of use for a while yet...
 

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Toadfather
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My son is a normal sized kid. He was riding a 16" wheel bike with coaster brakes and training wheels at 3 yo. The training wheels came off at 4 yo and he could do 5 miles of flat trail easily. At 4.5 yo he is now riding a geared 1x9 mountain bike with handbrakes and 20" wheels. He is just big enough with the seat all the way down and 135mm cranks. My daughter at 7 yo is also riding a 20" geared mountain bike. Next year I will build her a 24" wheel geared mountain bike.

Point is....you can start on the real 20" wheel mountain bikes as early as 4, depending on the kid and the bike.

Your point about the brakes being useable for small hands on the 20" bike is a very important one. The bike my 4yo rides was a custom build and I paid careful attention to making sure everything (especially brakes) was smooth and easy to use...even for small hands.
 

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I'm hoping to transition my 3 yo to a pedal bike this season. He has been on a strider for a year and tears it up. So much so that lately I feel like he is really over riding the strider. With the steep head tube angle, that thing gets twitchy at speeds and no brake always has me a little nervous.

Anyway, I'd really like to go right onto a 16" wheeled bike since those 12" look like he would only get a few months out of it.

Can anybody suggest a 16" bike which maybe has some of the lowest standover height/seat height or are they all pretty much the same?

Also, what do you guys think as far as the transition to pedal, let him use the training wheels or skip them all together?
 

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yo EDDY said:
I'm hoping to transition my 3 yo to a pedal bike this season. He has been on a strider for a year and tears it up. So much so that lately I feel like he is really over riding the strider. With the steep head tube angle, that thing gets twitchy at speeds and no brake always has me a little nervous.

Anyway, I'd really like to go right onto a 16" wheeled bike since those 12" look like he would only get a few months out of it.

Can anybody suggest a 16" bike which maybe has some of the lowest standover height/seat height or are they all pretty much the same?

Also, what do you guys think as far as the transition to pedal, let him use the training wheels or skip them all together?
My 4 year old son has a Hot Rock 16. I am not sure if it has the lowest standover height though. He learned keeping balance on a wooden balance bike and we skipped the training wheels altogether.

Kind regards,

Clemens
 

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My daughter was TALL, but I still wish they had the strider bikes when she was 1.5

12" w/ training wheels at ~2yrs. As soon as her feet could touch the ground, the training wheels came off along w/ the pedals. Walked / ran around the block w/ her everyday for a few weeks. Great exercise, but hurt my back a bit from running bent over over. She was riding w/ no pedals by 2.5 and never looked back... Kept this bike until the seat was raised several inches and the handlebars tilted out..

16" upgrade ~ 3.5yrs. Bought it used on craigslist. Princess bike came w/ coaster brake and handbrake. The handbrake had a little screw adjustment to decrease the reach..

20" ~ 4.5. Only handbrakes on this one. Again had to tighten up the reach on the handbrakes. 7 spds on the rear cog, this was a fun bike

26" XS @ 8yrs. Triple on the back, and 8 spds on the back...

My boy just inherited her 20" , he's 6yrs old... He grew a little slower, so he took a few more months all around...

Both kids were done w/ the Trail-A-Bike by 5. They were too heavy for it. But they loved it, and sometimes were too lazy and wanted to only go in that.

Burley Trailer: Is still awesome for carrying things around town. We'll never get rid of this thing. Both kids were in this early, pre 1yr. And if one was riding and got tired, just strapped the bike to the stroller bar, and the kid got in... Looked like a bike on a hitch rack.. :)
 

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At the transition from balance bike to pedal bikes....do you guys feel like the child should be able to touch the ground while on the seat? Or can they immediately catch on to the move forward of the seat and stand over the top tube when stopped?
 

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I think they should be able to touch the ground. Lower centre of gravity, it helps them learn to stand on their pedals and stops a lot of wipeouts.
 

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at least for my kids, it has been a requirement. I've been trying to show them to how stand over the top tube, but they're not interested.
 

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"Ride Lots" Eddy Merckx
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yo EDDY said:
Also, what do you guys think as far as the transition to pedal, let him use the training wheels or skip them all together?
Skip! That's the whole point of the stryder/balance bikes.
 

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A lot of people downplay the 12" bikes because they have a limited lifespan but I disagree. My son was on a Strider from 1-3. He was really good by his third birthday so I had a 16" bike waiting for him, at the advice of the bike store. They said that he would outgrow a 12" bike too quickly. He's a pretty tall kid and could ride the 16" bike without training wheels if I helped him get started but it was so big, he couldn't start and stop on his own, he'd just fall over. So he had developed all this confidence on the Strider but it was all washed away once he started riding the 16" bike, which was more than 1/2 his body weight.

One day, I saw a 12" bike in my neighbor's trash down the road so I grabbed it. Turns out the bike wasn't in bad shape so I cleaned it up and gave it to my son that afternoon. He saw that thing and just lit up. It was just the ticket. He could control it easily and get his feet on the ground. Now he's turning 4 in a couple weeks and can ride the 16" bike very well but it's still relatively big and cumbersome. I have a set of ramps that we ride in the driveway and I take him to the skatepark quite a bit. For all that "technical" riding, he still prefers the 12" bike and I'm sure he'll continue to use it after he turns 4. If I knew one year ago what I know now, I definitely would have gotten him a 12" bike for his 3rd birthday. Probably not an expensive bike store bike, just something from the dept store because that's all this bike is and it's holding up just fine.
 

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Bear
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"12 inch: 1 gear, coaster brake.
Start age: xxx Get a Stryder Bike instead xxx
End age: xxx Get a Stryder Bike instead xxx"


This part of your post is 100% pure bullsh**. You look my kid in the eyes and tell him that for the past 1.5 years he should not have been riding his 12" bike......good luck. He started on that bike with training wheels and then rocked it for a year without them.
 

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Will Guide for Beer
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
sbaryenbruch said:
"12 inch: 1 gear, coaster brake.
Start age: xxx Get a Stryder Bike instead xxx
End age: xxx Get a Stryder Bike instead xxx"

This part of your post is 100% pure bullsh**. You look my kid in the eyes and tell him that for the past 1.5 years he should not have been riding his 12" bike......good luck. He started on that bike with training wheels and then rocked it for a year without them.
Let us know when you have something nice to say.

Does every parent need to buy every bike on the list? Is there one bike that could be skipped??
Perhapse it's the 12" that is a good buy, skip the 16" and get onto the 20" bike with gears (1x6) and hand brakes sooner.

IMO, the sooner you get your kid onto gears and hand brakes, the better: Age 7, 20" bike???
 

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Not too sure I 100% agree with you, I think which bike when really depends on the ability and the size of the kid.
for example...My son's progression:
18 mo started on a Kinderbike Strider with a handbrake and pneumatic tires.
Age 2.75 he (not us parents!) insisted on a pedal bike. He is small, so a 12" wheel was the only option, chose the Opus Dash as it was the lightest available in Canada. Has coaster brake and a hand brake. He was riding it unassisted after a couple of hours and racing it at cyclocross (kids) races within a month.
Currently age 3.5 regularly rides the Dash in the trails, on the road, and along the bike path for 1.5-2 hrs (up to 5mi is normal). We do still have the 1 yr old in the trailer so can always throw the 3 yr old and bike in too if he runs out of steam...rarely happens though!
His bike handling skills are unreal, he shifts his bike under him when required, carves turns and 'bumps' over roots...always in control. Highly recommend run/balance bikes and a transition to a pedal bike (no training wheels!). We have a 16" Early Rider Belter (no coaster, just handbrake) on order for this summer and he can't wait! It will likely last him awhile as he is just 30lbs now.
My advice...you as the parent knows your kid and their abilities best...getting them out on a bike (with a helmet on) having some outdoor fun with you is the most important thing, they all figure out how to ride eventually, just enjoy your play time!
 

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just turned 6 and upgraded to a 20" Marin. made it 7 miles, including one small stream crossing.

lots of water and snack breaks were key to keeping it fun.
 

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