You always remember your first bike, whether it was a kids tricycle, in garish colours, or one that had stabilisers that you eventually got to remove, once you managed to ride proficiently enough. With the summer holidays coming up, cycling days out are a cheap way of entertaining your children, and getting them out in the fresh air and exercising, without breaking the bank. But of course, you have to stump up the initial cost of the bike in the first place, but once you have chosen the bicycle, it should last you for a fair few years to come.
So how do you set about choosing a bike that your children will not only love, but will be suitable for their age and requirements? First you have to decide what the bike will be used for. Is it going to be used for riding to school and friend’s houses, or does it need to go off road as well? The size of the bike is also very important. If your child has trouble riding it because their feet don’t touch the ground, or their hands can’t reach the brakes properly, they are going to possibly fall off and this could put them off cycling.
Also let your child have a say in the colour and make, as peer pressure is an important factor in choosing a bike. And expect to pay around £300, unless you are looking at the second hand market. Weight should also be considered, and the younger the child the lighter the bike should be, and the same goes for wheel size, don’t choose larger wheels for small children. However, when it comes to handle bar reach, children prefer a more upright riding position so they need the bars higher and closer.
We have separated the guide to buying children’s bikes into four age groups:
From the moment your child begins to walk you can pop them on a push- along bike or a tricycle. These are typically made from hardened plastic and features to look out for are wide-set rear wheels for stability, and a durable front wheel axle. From the age of around three children are ready to learn to ride a two-wheeler and if they have had practice on a trike this will certainly be easier for them. Start them off on a basic two wheel scooter then progress to a bike with 12in or 14in wheels, a low stand-over height, ball bearings in hubs and at least one working brake.
Ages four to 6Hero Evel Knievel Balance Bike £129.99
Start off with bikes that have wheels measuring 16in and come with a singlespeed gear. You should be looking for a lightweight bike that will make the bike more easily manoeuvred, and a lowish bottom bracket will enable your child to get a foot down from the saddle – which, as they can now ride properly, you’ll be gradually raising. Brakes are a must at this age so aim for a light action V-brake or sidepull is fine up front, but you should go for a back-pedal coaster brake.
Ages six to 10
With 20” wheel bikes we begin looking at gears in more detail, and a three-speed hub gear would be ideal, however singlespeeds should not be discounted, they’re lighter, simpler and rarely develop problems. Look for bikes with kickstands, as children of this age tend to just drop their bikes whether they leave them and a kickstand is useful.
Ages nine to 12
Wheel measurements are up to 24in and combine a single chainring with a decent, wide-range eight-speed cassette hub. Gears are up to seven and included are brand name V-brakes , a good set of a wheels with off-road tyres. Spend around £200 to get a decent bike with a few extras thrown in.
Ages twelve to 13Raleigh Voyager Womens 14 Mountain Bike £274.99
Some children are ready for one of the smaller framed adult bikes, as manufacturers make frames down to 14in or 15in, and some do 13in. At this age you’ll find that peer pressure is at the forefront of what teenagers want the most, so be prepared to step back and allow your child to choose the exact style and colour of the bike that they want.
All bikes and pictures available from Halfords and all pictures courtesy Halfords.