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.


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?

Braking: Most children’s bicycles use a coaster brake system for stopping. When you Precaliber20SSCSTBoys_21887_B_Alt4reach the 20 inch size many companies add a rear hand brake. The purpose here is to start to teach the child to use a hand brake while offering the comfort and safety of the coaster brake for the rider. Some companies will offer both of these brakes as early as a 16 inch. When looking at the braking systems for bicycles you’ll want to check to make sure they are easy to operate. Are the brakes easy to squeeze for the rider? Do the brakes hit the rims properly? An important feature that you want to look for is the ability to adjust the reach of brake levers. Being able to bring the levers in for smaller hands will offer the rider more control when braking.

Gearing: Smaller size bicycles are all single speed bikes. Single speed gear ratios can vary to make the bike easier or harder for your child to pedal. When you reach the 20 inch size this is where you have models with multiple gear options. For families that ride further distances or want to multiple gears will be a huge advantage for the young rider. Planning on riding terrain that is hillier in nature? Gears will make everyone riding happier. Be aware, bikes with gears use hand brakes only. Is your young rider ready to transition over to hand brakes exclusively? There might be a very rare case that a bike with internal gearing would have a coaster brake. Possibly found in a beach cruiser style bike.

Precaliber2421SpGirls_21891_A_Alt4Shifting: Grip Shift is the preferred shifting method for children’s bikes, considered easier for younger riders to operate. Checking the ease of this operation is important. There are different levels of shifting quality for these shifters and the derailleurs they are attached to. The routing of the cable housing along with the quality of that housing can make a big difference in the overall shifting performance.

Wheels: If you’ve had to look at the wheels to make sure they are capable of accepting training wheels it is a good idea to look at the materials the wheels are constructed of. Steel rims are heavier and will take more effort to keep rolling. If the bicycle has rim brakes steel is not as easy of a braking surface as aluminum especially if it is wet. The quality of the hubs will also play a role in how easy the wheels roll. The easier the wheels roll the easier it will be for the rider to pedal.

Tires: Looking at the tires on the bike will give you an idea how the bicycle will ride on different surfaces. A smooth tire will roll easier on paved surfaces. A knobby tire will offer more resistance on paved surfaces but more traction on dirt or gravel surfaces. Consider this based on where your child will be doing most of their riding.

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!

Now that you have selected the perfect bicycle for your child don’t overlook the accessories that you need to go with it: Helmet, Bell, Gloves, Shorts, Hydration and Protective Gear

Bike Doctor Purchase Advantage

When you purchase a bike from the Crofton Bike Doctor we will be with you the entire time. Any questions you have we will be happy to answer them and help you pick the perfect bike for your child’s and families cycling needs.

It will be properly assembled, properly fit and ready to ride with any accessories you selected for your new bicycle. One of those items should be a helmet, we will show you what a properly fit helmet looks like and fit the helmet to the cyclists head while showing you how to make any future adjustments. You’ll be ready to head straight to the trails.

Our journey with you doesn’t stop there. Your new bicycle comes with Lifetime Basic Adjustments. To ensure your bicycle is ready to ride when you are we provide safety inspections and gear and brake adjustments for as long as you own your bike.

When your child outgrows their bicycle take advantage of the Youth Trade Up Program. You’ll get up to 40% of your purchase price based on condition. This lowers your total cost of ownership and ensures the bicycle your child is riding is the proper size. Having your child on the proper size bike will make it easier and safer for them to ride.