“ Do you have any great advice you wish to share regarding issues to consider when buying a first bike for your child? „
Being a super cool Auntie for my youngest little niece I decided to buy her what is in effect her first proper bike for her birthday recently, she has had three wheeler bikes and the sort which you propel with leg power on the floor when she was really small but up until now she has not had a proper bike. The fir priority I had was to ensure that the bike was the right size for her and that when at a stop she is able to place both feet flat on the ground while staying seated, this will help prevent her toppling over even though initially the bike will be fitted with stabilisers while she learns to ride. The second priority was to esnure that the breaks work and that they are not too tight making it had for little hands to squeeze them however you do nbot want them to be too loose that the slightest pressure brings her crashing to a halt especially as initially she tended to squeeze really hard on the front break only puttig her at risk of going over the handle bars. My third priority is to ensure the bike is nice and bright with some reflectors on it so that she is as visible as possible even though she will not be out at night or near and main roads the more visible the better. Naturally you want a nice sturdy construction with no sharp edges or protruding screws and bolts on the frame. Anyway she is very chuffed with her first bike and despite the nasty weather has ridden it every day for the past three weeks and by summer will definately be rid of the stabilisers.
When I was young buying your first bike was a big thing. These days it usually happens while you are too young to remember anything about it. I like to let my kids try a few bikes before they choose so we usually try halfords or toys r us first. I usually ask for advice on sizes of bike and helmet but anything else is left to the kids. After all they are the ones who will be riding it. If my local bike shop has a suitable bike they like I will buy from there rather than a big store as you get a much more personal service and aftercare. For a young child a trike is best until at least two. Some children are ready for a proper bike by then but if not don't try to force them just because "our Johnny can ride a proper bike now". If they are not ready the bike will just be outgrown before it is used. When choosing a first bike the only thing more important than the child's preference is safety. The bike must be the right size. Don't be tempted to buy one a size too big to save money. Even with stabilisers on the child's toes should be able to touch the floor while sitting on the seat. If all your child's friends can ride without stabilisers and he can't, don't worry or try to force him to try. He will know if he is ready or not andbalnce is the key. My daughter was only 3 but my youngest son was nearly 6 when they learned. This surprised me as my son walked at 10 months so we assumed he had better balance but has only just learned to stay on a scooter. If you make sure they wear a safety hat from an early age they are less likely to complain about it. My second son was very reluctant until his friend's father refused to let him go on a bike ride without one. Although he prefers not to he does use one now but I think it is sad that children get laughed at for wearing safety gear when they are the ones being sensible. Bikes are expensive and it is tempting to bu y used but please make sure you check them thoroughly. A 10 year old bike can look fine if it has been looked after but it may not be up to the current safety standard. This applies especially to places small fingers can be trapped in. When your child comes in with a competely mud covered bike and clothing and all you can see is a toothy grin in a muddy face please don't shout. They have had great fun and it is now time for them to learn to clean and oil their own bikes. After all, mud washes off - boredom doesn't. One problem you need to face is where they will ride their bike. Toddlers are no problem as they can ride in a small space as long as it is flat. When children get to 5 or 6 it is still acceptable to ride on the pavement but then the problems start. There is always somebody who will complain about bikes on the pavement (usually the same woman who says you are irrisponsible if same child rides in the road). If the roads are quiet you could teach your child a basic version of the highway code and allow him to ride there but most roads are far too busy. I am afraid this is where you need to be hard faced about it and stand up for your child. In this day and age children need to play where they can be seen and older people must understand that the world has changed. Teach your kids to be polite and respect other people but point out that their safety is the most important. If children are careful and look where they are going there is plenty of room on the paths and pavements for them and pedestrians. When your child gets to the age he has to ride in the road make sure he either wears reflective clothing or has reflective stickers on his bike. I also recommend the cycling proficiency course. Maybe your local school could organise it.
My daughter is 3 years old. I had bought here a plastic tricycle for her a while ago for £10 from the local paper. This has a bar to help push her along, but it isn't much good for riding under her own power. She wanted another bicycle and was quite specific about what she wanted. It had to be pink and it had to have a seat on the back to put a doll. I had a look around for a while to see what was available. She needed a bike with 12 inch wheels. All the decent bike shops I tried had basically the same (not very good) quality of bike. I asked the owner of a reasonable bikeshop the features that marked out the £100 bikes that he was selling and he said they were all basically the same quality, and the differences were in the number of accessories and the intricacy of the paint jobs. If you spend more and get one from a good bike shop, then they might give it a once over to check its adjusted correctly. However, this isn't difficult to do yourself. With kid's bikes, there isn't much that you can adjust in any case. When things break on them, its quite rare that you can buy spare parts separately- you often need to cannibalise another broken bike to get the bits. In the end I visited a police bike auction where they sell stolen and recovered stuff. I bought a pink bike with 12 inch wheels and a rear carrier for £6.60 as well as a 14 inch wheel BMX bike for £26. The pink bike was a bit worn, and it had a broken saddle and a front wheel that squeeked if you lent on it. I bought another bike for £2 from a council refuse site and swapped over the saddle and front wheel from that. My daughter hasn't noticed the small scratches on the frame. Similar bikes in local bikeshops were about £50, or about £35-40 from discount WWW sites. The BMX bike was hardly used, and still had the moulding flash on the tyres. It is missing one pedal, but as the bike will be too big for my daughter for a while yet, I'm just keeping an eye out for a cheap one, rather than spending money on a replacement at a bike shop. Similar bikes to this were £80-100 in bikeshops, or £50-60 on the WWW. As far as my daughter was concerned, the best thing about this bike was the Barbie bell, so I've swapped that onto the pink one for now. http://www.bargaincrazy.com/ (in the nursery & toys section, select outdoor) has a couple of cheap young kid's bikes. http://www.sterlinghouse.co.uk/ also sell cheap catalogue return bikes. http://www.woolworths.co.uk/ also sells some reasonably cheap bikes. For older kids (say 6 years and older), then it may well be worth spending more on better quality bikes. These may well have components which are more durable and better suited to the size of the bike. Older kids are also more likely to wear out a bike, which often doesn't happen with younger kids as they don't get to ride them enough to cause a lot of wear. I bought a cycling helmet for £6 in a bike shop. I would also like to buy some cycling gloves that would fit, but I haven't found and decent ones. You _never_ see professional cyclists riding without gloves, although some don't wear helmets.
We have now had to buy two “Real” Bikes for our eldest and there are few things that we found out when we were looking for a first bike for our sons fourth Christmas. I looked out some bikes that I liked to look of in the catalogues and was going to get one, when a friend informed me that bikes from catalogues do not always meet Safety Standards as they are in need of some construction!!!!! Well I would never have thought of that. I now wouldn’t think of getting a bike for my child from a catalogue, as their safety is paramount, and even though I have had to put my bike back together again a fair few times I do not feel that I would trust my kids on one that I had “made.” ******************************** But Catalogues are cheaper Not always, the bikes we had been looking at in the catalogues were £100+, as was the one we got, but the dealer had knocked 20% off the RRP on most of the bikes in his shop, making the one we got only £86. ******************************** Where should I go? The simple answer to this is ask around. Ask friends for recommendations. Ask around some local bike shops that don’t cater for young children, there is normally somewhere they recommend. When you go to a shop where children’s bikes are sold, ask questions. Do they have qualified staff and a workshop where the bikes are “set up?” , can you take the bike “off the shelf?” , do they offer any kind of “back up?” Take a good look around. Do they only sell bikes and basic accessories? Do they have other accessories? Do they sell other things than just “bikes?” If you can buy a bike and take it straight away, then the chances are that they are not set up 100% unless it is a very small shop, as most bikes are set up for display and the nuts and bolts are not completely tightened, the saddle and handlebars may not be completely fixed, however if they offer a “back up” service for any teething problems you might have, and they have a workshop, offer repairs and maintenance etc., then the chances are that a bike will not be allowed out of the shop unless it is in a roadworthy condition. ********************************* What do I need to know? If possible take the child with you, that way, they can try the bike out for size. When sitting on the saddle, they should be able to get one foot flat on the floor or both feet touching the toes on the floor. If you can’t, or don’t want to take the child with you, measure the inside leg, from the crotch to the floor, not the trouser length, and take a note of it with you. Also measure the child’s head circumference and buy them a good helmet that meets all the safety standards. ******************************** I’ve done all that but I'm not sure... If you are not sure, then visit the shop on more than one occasion, browse through, see if there are many customers at different times, if there seems to be a steady flow of customers then they must be doing something right. Keep asking questions. Make sure that all your questions are answered properly, and to your satisfaction, After all your children’s safety depends on you. Finally, you know your child better than anyone, don’t let an over eager salesman convince you into buying something you are not happy with. The cycle shop we have used for our bikes leaves us as long as we want to look around, someone will normally ask if we are looking for something specific, and then either offer advice, or leave us to carry on browsing, but they are there when we are ready. When we got our son’s last bike, we were asked to come back In an hour, when the bike had been in the workshop and made road worthy, We didn’t mind as we now are sure that the bike is totally safe, w e were shown how to use the gears, how to tighten the seat, handle bars and brakes, and have a phone number to phone if we have any problems. You don’t get that with a catalogue bike. ******** UPDATE ******** I have recently found out that some ToyMaster shops display the prices of their bikes including a Make up fee of £5, but you can request the Flat Pack version if you require it.