Part 3 – Our Final of the Kids Bicycle Buyer’s Guide

What size bicycle should my child ride?

Getting the right fit for your child is so important for their safety but also their comfort.

  • Can they safely stand over the bike? At least an inch between rider and the bike.
  • How is the reach to the handlebars? Can the rider safely turn the handlebars while maintaining a safe grip on them?
  • Can they operate the braking and shifting?

12 inch bicycle – 35-40”

16 inch bicycle – 39-46”

20 inch bicycle – 45-52”

24 inch bicycle – 51 -63”

When talking about sizes in children’s bicycles we talk about wheel size. This is different from adult bicycles were we talk about the frame size.

What type of bike should my child ride?

  • What type of riding does your family do and how often?
  • What are the other children in the neighborhood riding and where?
    • BMX style, versus a more traditional bicycle.
    • Dirt versus pavement.
    • If your child will be riding mainly with them then that style of bicycle might be the best choice.

If your family rides longer distance then comfort and type of bike will be important.

Longer distances:  Family rides more than just around your neighborhood. You seek out places to ride as a family like bike trails etc.

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Part 2 of our Kids Bicycle Buyer’s Guide

(If you missed Part One check it out from yesterday.)

Weight: A few pounds give or take may not seem like a lot of weight difference in an adult bicycle but it can be a world of difference for your child’s bicycle. A three pound difference on a bicycle with a 30 lbs. rider is 10% of the rider’s body weight. Where with an adult 150 lbs. rider that would be a 15lbs difference. Adults wouldn’t enjoy riding a bike that was an extra 15 lbs. heavier proportionally why would our children?

Extra weight can come from not only the frame but the materials used in the components. Steel vs. aluminum. Example: A three piece crank using alloy crank arms will not only be lighter than a one piece crank set but it uses a higher quality bottom bracket that will make pedaling easier and smoother for the rider.

Sizing

When talking about sizes in children’s bicycles we talk about wheel size. This is different from adult bicycles were we talk about the frame size.

Kids bicycles come in 12 inch wheels, 14 inch wheels (generally not a bike shop size) 16 inch wheels, 18 inch wheels (generally not a bike shop size accept in a BMX style) 20 inch wheel and 24 inch wheel.

2017_Trek_Kids_Dialed_Girls_HR-resizePosition: A more upright position is certainly the preferred position for the 12 inch and 16 inch size. When you get to the 20 inch it tends to be a crossover size as far as position. Some manufacturers stay with a more upright position where others tend to go towards a more adult like position. The belief is that the adult like position is a little easier to ride. Offering more comfortable riding longer distances and easier when transitioning to a larger size. Neither is right or wrong but something to consider. A less confident rider will likely benefit from being a little more upright.

Frame: Not all frames are created equally. How do the welds look on the frame? Especially at the drop outs. Are the drop  outs stamped or welded to the frame?  Does the manufacture stand behind its product with a warranty? Most major manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on their frames. If you were to need the warranty how is that handled? Do you work direct with the manufacture or does the retailer take care of it on your behalf?

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Kids Bicycle Buyer's Guide Ad

Everyone remembers their first bicycle ride and the feeling they had.

Selecting a bicycle for your child should be a fun and memorable experience.  Hopefully this Kid’s Bicycle Buyers Guide demystifies this process. Please reach out to us with any questions you may have.

Your child will enjoy riding their bike more if they feel they are in control of the bike and not the bike in control of them. When you purchase the next bike for your child please consider;

  • proper fit
  • proper assembly
  • and quality.

By considering the above items during your purchase you will be well on your way to finding a bike you and your child will love!

If your child requires training wheels be sure to check compatibility prior to purchase.

There is a lot that goes into making a kids bike what it is yet if you focus on three things and check one thing

The Big Three

  • Fit
  • Proper Assembly
  • Weight

Check This: Training Wheel Compatibility

The Importance of Fit on a Child’s Bicycle:

Getting the right fit for your child is so important for their safety but also their comfort. The first thing to look at is can they safely stand over the bike. There should be at least an inch between them and the top of the bike to allow the rider to safely dismount the bike.

Reach: The reach of the bicycle needs to be proportional to the rider for both children and adults. Proper reach will allow the rider to have proper control over the bicycle.

How is the reach to the handlebars? Can the rider safely turn the handlebars while maintaining a safe grip on the handlebars? Or do they have to let go of the bars a little to turn the handlebars? If they do this means the reach is too great. Sometimes you can adjust the position of the handlebars and sometimes you need to pick out a different bike.

Right Size Components: The next part of fit is making sure that the components are properly sized. As humans grow their body proportions and bone structure changes. When looking at a brand of children’s bicycles you should see a progression of changes to features of the bicycle to make it proportional for the intended rider size. Are the brake levers easy to get their hands around? Many brands don’t very the size of important components that will make it easier for your child to ride and control their bicycle. Properly sized components will make your child more comfortable while riding.

Is the saddle the right size? Are the grips the right size? Are the pedals the right size? Wrong size components can be a safety issue as well as a comfort issue. Grips that are two big won’t allow the child to properly and safely grip the bars. A saddle to large may not be comfortable for their bone structure.

A properly fit bicycle will increase the riding enjoyment for your child and be safer.

Proper Assembly

Assembly: Proper assembly of a bicycle is critical to its safe operation. Making sure parts installed and adjusted properly are essential to the bikes safe operation. Bicycles arrive to stores in boxes and require assembly to install the parts, adjust the brakes and gears making sure everything is tightened to specifications and the systems are working properly.

A bicycle store has trained mechanics that assemble their bicycles. Many other stores use the same people who assemble the grills and furniture to assemble the bicycle. We’ve seen front forks on backwards, stems on backwards, brakes not hitting the rims to name a few.  A bicycle is not like other pieces of sporting equipment that arrive to from the manufacture ready to be used. They require proper assembly with the final and most important step setting it up for the rider.

Training Wheel Compatibility

Precaliber12Girls_21909_A_Alt9-resize-weebTraining Wheels: If the bicycle you are selecting does not come with training wheels and your child needs training wheels you want to make sure the rear wheel axle is long enough to accept training wheels. Training wheels vary in quality and thus durability. Some attach with just a single arm down to the wheel while others have a strut that attaches to the chainstay to offer a stronger more solid system. Most training wheels are bolted on but some have been designed with a hand removal able nut making for easy removal when the time comes.

Here we have covered three of the most important items to look at when selecting a bike. There is much more to consider. Please come back tomorrow for the next installment of the Kids Bicycle Buyer’s Guide.

Do you become overwhelmed when you have to find a gift for that certain someone? Especially a cyclist. We’ve got you covered with our Cycling Gift Guide and are here to assist you.

Cycling Gift Guide FB PostGift buying for the cyclist should never be a challenge. There are certain things a cyclist can never have enough of. Then there are the things the cyclists’ wants but often won’t treat themselves to. In many cases they simply aren’t aware of what they are missing by not having the item.  How riding is much more enjoyable or getting to the trail is made easier. Some of the gift items fall into multiple categories.

Having the right accessories can make all the difference in riding enjoyment.

Cyclists can be defined in many ways for simplicity we broke them into three groups and included a category for small gifts such as stocking stuffers’ office gifts or those for friends.

Beginner Cyclist – BC

Every cyclist should have these Essential Accessories – A person who is just getting started. Maybe they recently bought a bike or are getting back into it. The right accessories can really increase the cycling enjoyment

Frequent Cyclist – FC

A person who’s cycling is a regular activity for them. Riding a few times a week or several times a month. Might do an organized ride or two in a season.

Cyclist Who Has Everything- CE

This is the cyclist who rides several times a week and it is a big part of their life. If you have a cyclist friend you’ll know if they fit this category.

Stocking Stuffers Small Gifts – SS

When you need a gift for a cyclist but don’t want to spend a lot.

Gift Guide

Some items may show up in multiple groups. Certain items you can never have to many of.

Beginner Cyclist

BC – Helmet – Need we say more? It’s a law for children under 16 years old in Maryland. Helmets should be replaced every 3 – 5 years. PRICE RANGE: $40 – $200   Learn more about helmets

BC – Bell or Horn – In Maryland it is a law that you have a bell or horn on your bike. Many will say that your voice counts, but it doesn’t meet the requirement of the law. A bell is such an easy way to let people know you are approaching them.  PRICE RANGE: $7 – $20

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5 Steps to Start Bicycle Commuting to Work

1.       Set a commuting goal

2.       Plan your route.

3.       Check your bike over.

4.       Plan your clothing and gear needs.

5.       Commute by Bike Your First Time

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Set a Commuting Goal

One of the easiest steps but also the most important. Set your goal of how often you want to commute to work by bicycle. Is it once a week, giving you flexibility in your schedule and weather? Is it so many times of month? Set one and then write it down and create a way to track it. Goals that are written down and tracked are more likely to get completed. Share your plan with your friends and co-works, this will create some accountability. Maybe you’ll even have some people interested in joining you.

Plan Your Route

You may or may not be able to ride the same route you drive to work every day.

When you’re driving to work look at the shoulders and road conditions. Do you see other cyclists on the roads you use? Drive other routes to work and see if they are better. Ask others who bike to work how they go.

Use Google Maps with the bike feature for some inspiration if you are not sure about the best route. Strava heat maps are another tool to help your planning.

Maybe you don’t commute the full distance to work. We know of several people who drive to a certain point and then ride the rest of the distance in to work on their bike. They enjoy the benefits of riding and often save a lot on parking.

Do a dry run one day when you are off. You’ll familiarize yourself with the route and not be as worried the first time you’re doing it for real. Bring some friends along for the ride and have fun with it, get breakfast or lunch close to your work and then ride on home.

Check Your Bike Over

Just like you maintain your car to make sure it is reliable you’ll want to make sure your bike is ready for its new roll. Check the conditions of the tires and the gears and the brakes. A bell on your bike will come in handy to alert others of your presence. If you are going to ride in low light or darkness you’ll want lights. If you have any questions come by the store and we can go over your bike together. Do you have a way to fix a flat if you were to get one?

Here is a link to help you inspect your bike.

If you increase your bike commuting there are accessories that you’ll want to consider but aren’t necessary to get started.

Puncture Resistant Tires – These reduce the likely hood of getting a flat. If your route has rougher roads or sections with debris you’ll want to consider these.

Fenders – If you ride in wet conditions or after a rain shower these will help keep you dry and your bike a little cleaner.

Clothing – There really is no bad weather to commute in just poor clothing choices. Cycling apparel has come so far from gear to keep you dry to apparel to keep you warm. If your desire is there you can commute in temperatures below freezing to over a hundred degrees.

Plan Your Clothing and Gear Needs – So how are you going to get your stuff to work?  Can you ride to work in the clothing you work in? An easy solution is to drop off some extra clothes when you drive to work one day. Many commuters bring in their cloths for the week and drop them off the first of the week and bring the dirty stuff home at the end of the week.

Pro Tip: If your clothes are dry cleaned find a cleaner near work to take your clothes to or have your clothes picked up and dropped off at work.

Lots of bag options are available to get your gear to and from work. Many commuters use a messenger style bag to carry their clothing and electronics in. It can be multipurpose on and off the bike. Backpacks are popular as well.  You can install a rear rack on your bicycle and attached bags. Panniers are popular but there are also briefcases for laptops that attach to the rack and bags made to carry dress clothing.

When starting out you want to keep it simple to keep it fun. Just drop off your clothing prior to the day you plan to commute to work.

Commute by Bike Your First Time

You did all the preparation and the hard stuff now do the fun thing and enjoy your commute to work by bicycle. Have a great ride. Don’t forget to take a few photos to document the occasion! Congratulations on your accomplishment!

A bike is 30 times less expensive to buy and maintain then a car.Last year I wrote the Bicycle as a great solution. It was full of compelling reasons the bike is a great solution to a lot of our countries issues.

Check it out here.

With Bike to Work Day this Friday May 18th I wanted to share a few reasons why you should considered riding to work at the least, some days.

  • It’s Fun
  • You’ll arrive feeling better
  • You Save Money

It’s Fun

Riding is certainly more fun than sitting in your car. Set a goal for yourself. Maybe once a week, two or three times a month. Then be sure to track it. Goals that you track are more likely to be accomplished. Make your initial goal something easy for you to achieve. Picking a modest goal will allow you to ride to work on the “Chamber of Commerce Days” so you get comfortable with it.

These are fun goals that you should look forward to completing. After all, work may not be fun, it should be, but riding to work will certainly start the day off right.

You’ll Arrive Feeling Better

“Increased Productivity – Bicyclists and walkers arrive at work with less stress than those who commute by automobile. The Berkeley Wellness Letter reports that “chronic exposure to traffic congestion produces an increase in baseline blood pressure, lowering of frustration tolerance, increases in negative mood, and aggressive driving habits.” In contrast, bicyclists and walkers often report feeling relaxed and more alert after arriving at work, ready for a more productive day.”

Source: biketoworkmetrodc.org.  http://www.biketoworkmetrodc.org/employer-resources/benefits-of-bicyling-in-the-workplace

Feeling better and being healthier is always a good thing.

You’ll Save Money

You’ll also save money. Both on your medical bills and on your parking costs.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, moderate physical activity (such as bicycling to work) saves 5 to 12 percent in annual medical costs, compared with a 6.5 percent savings from employees who don’t smoke.” Biketoworkmetrodc.org

Increasing your activity will decrease your absenteeism at work. While that may not sound like a great reason it does mean that you’ll be healthier when you’re not at work allowing you to have more fun.

Fewer miles on your car, especially commuting miles in traffic means less wear and tear and maintenance.

Be sure to check out tomorrow’s post. 5 Steps to Start Commuting to Work.

Our fifth and finale Blog in Our Year In Review Series

Saddle Bags

Saddle bags: Fit nicely under your saddle and come in a variety of sizes. The most popular use for these are for fix a flat kits. Your spare tube, tire levers, inflation device, patch kit, tire boot, multi tool.

If you use a saddle bag have you checked the contents to make sure they are ready if you need them? Is everything there? Is the glue in your patch kit dried out? Are your tire levers worn out? Do you have a spare tube in good shape and CO2 cartridges if needed?

Enough space to carry your stuff?

Having places to stash your stuff is key. When you need something you need it. Of course having too much just weighs you down.

The good news is there are lots of ways and bags to carry your gear. Cell phone bags are very popular, perfect to carry your phone on your handlebars and a few credit cards.

Top tube bags are also super handy. They mount on the top tube of the bike right behind the handlebar. An ideal place to stash nutrition. Which is what the bags were originally designed for. Often referred to as Bento boxes by triathletes to keep enough fuel on hand during their event.

While they work great for food they are also well suited for tissues, lip balm and just about anything else you can imagine.

Have larger items to bring along? A rack trunk is an ideal bag and after the saddle bag is our most popular bag. This sits behind your saddle and on top of a rear rack. Rack trunks come in all

Rear Rack Trunk Bag

different shapes and sizes with different pocket options. Pockets make it nice to keep stuff sorted and easy for you to find. Many of these have straps on the outside to stash items of clothing under it. With a shoulder strap option you can easily take the bag along for your explorations.

Rack trunks can also offer expandable pockets when you just need more space. Top expanders are popular or even a side pocket that opens to a side pannier.

Many of the bags like this are soft padded making safe areas to store a camera or slide in an ice pack or two for a picnic lunch along your adventure.

Handlebar bags

One of the best features of a handlebar bag is the access it offers you while riding. Many of the designers were thoughtful and have the bag zipper open in the direction of the rider. These bags generally have a clear plastic area on the top for your cue sheet or anything else you need to see while riding.

Most will come with a shoulder strap so you can bring it along with you off the bike. A basic handlebar bag may only have a single area to store stuff, where others may have side pockets, front pocket and an extra top pocket. Often they have mesh pockets on the side to stash your trash.

One of my favorite bags is the Topeak TourGuide….

Car Rack – Does what you want, easy to carry your bike?

Making your bike easy to transport means you’ll be more likely to want to take your bike different places to ride. A car rack is the best way to transport your bike. It protects your car and your bike.

Dragging your bike in and out of your car can not only damage your car’s interior but also your bike. We’ve seen damage to rear derailleurs that leads to shifting issues and damage to other areas of the bike.

A good car rack with protect both your car and your bicycle. Making it easy to get your bike on and off your rack and to all the great areas there are to ride in the area.

With today’s cars it is more important than ever to make sure the rack you are using is a recommended fit for your car. With all of the plastic on today’s cars it is super important to make sure your rack and bike are securely fastened to your car.

Looking for an upgrade that will increase your speed and improve your ride? Wheels! Wheels offer a big return on your investment. These are often an overlooked component when selecting a bike and are usually not spec’d to the quality of the rest of the bike. Stock wheels are generally heavier and more basic so they will last longer for the manufacturer. You don’t have to sacrifice quality and durability on your wheels.

Upgraded wheels can be:

  • Stiffer – Climb better, more power transferred to the bike
  • More Aerodynamic – Faster with less effort
  • Roll Better – More comfortable ride, less resistance
  • Accelerate faster
  • Lighter Weight – Climb better

Aerodynamic features of the wheels can be more important then weight from a performance standpoint at certain speeds.

We continue our Year In Review with Part Four. Please check out the other posts if you are just joining us.

Shorts

Did you have some shorts that aren’t quite as comfortable as others? Maybe they work for shorter rides but not the longer rides. Cycling shorts do wear out. Their chamois breaks down and leads to less support and even chaffing. How you clean and care for your shorts greatly affects their life span. The most expensive shorts are designed to last five years or so but the average short has a year and a half to three year lifespan depending on the amount of riding you do. Once you start to hit six or seven thousand miles of riding you could see your short wearing out. Yet if you still ride frequently just in much shorter rides the cleaning of the shorts could reduce the life of the shorts. Wear a pair four or more days a week and you still may see lifespan issues at a year and a half or so.

One of the biggest threats I see to cycling shorts are saddle bags. Sounds odd doesn’t it?  Well it is the Velcro strap that attaches the bag to the seatpost. The Velcro tab rubs on the inside of the thigh on the short and pulls at the material causing it to wear and possibly tear.

Helmet

If you purchased your helmet in the last three to five years or more it is time to replace it. The materials that the helmet is constructed with breaks down over time from, sun, heat and your perspiration. Not sure how old it is? Most helmets have a date stamp/sticker on the inside indicating the manufacture date.

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You’ve checked over your bike now it is time to check over your accessories.

Do you have everything you need in one in place? Can you find everything? Are they working properly?

Keeping all of your cycling gear in one place makes it easy for when you want to ride. I’ve arrived to a ride missing something and it is no fun. It also reduces stress on ride days knowing everything is in one place a ready to go.

Floor Pump

Are you having any issues with your floor pump? The head is staying securely on your valve during inflation. Is there any air leaking from the house or any other areas of the pump? Is the gauge working properly? Is it easy enough for you to get your tires to the proper tire pressure?

Lights

Bontrager Daytime Lights

If you have lights are they working? Are the mounts secure? Are the batteries charged? Did they provide you with enough light for your rides last year? Do you use daytime lights for your rides?

Daytime lights provide increased visibility of the cyclists by cars and other road users. Motorcyclists and cards have been using them for decades, cyclists should be too. Learn about the ABC’s of cycling here.

Computers/Electronics

Check the operation of your computers. When was the last time you changed your batteries? If you have a wireless system there is a battery in the head unit and the transmitter. If you have a wired one is there any damage to the wire?   Is it securely fastened? Are your magnets securely fastened and lined up with the sensor?

Sensors not properly lined up are the number one reason we see for computers not working properly.

It’s always a bummer to lose your computer during a ride. Taking a few moments will ensure that you have a functioning computer for navigation and to record your rides.

If you have other electronics like GPS units or Power devices make sure you have updated them to the latest firmware to ensure they keep working up to there potential.

Always bring enough hydration with you.

Hydration

Did you have enough ways to carry hydration with you last season? Cyclists should be consuming a bottle of water an hour during a ride. Many bicycles have places for two bottles but if yours doesn’t or you need more there are more options to attach bottle on the handlebars or behind the saddle.

Are your bottle cages intact? We see lots of broken cages. A functional cage will hold your bottles securely and ensure you have plenty of hydration for your ride.

Our Next Blog Continues on with Accessories & Clothing