Bike season is here at last in New England. Since kids grow year-round it may be time to buy your child’s first bike or upgrade their old one. Although I’ve had luck getting bikes for my children as hand-me-downs and buying them off Craig’s List, not everyone wants to shop this way or happens on a bike when they need one. For those in the market for a new bike or who want to know more about what to look for in buying a bike for their child, Matt Bodziony, owner of NBX Bikes in Narragansett, RI, shares his experience. Matt’s been involved in the cycling industry for more than 20 years in retail and the competitive and promotional sides of cycling. Matt and NBX Bikes participate in the Go By Bike initiative, a pledge to help the world by encouraging biking for everyday commutes with Trek’s Bicycle program, 1 World 2 Wheels.
Here are Matt’s tips for buying bikes for kids and the advantages of shopping at a specialty bike shop.
1. The ability to fit children to bikes that will not only fit them well but will allow them to grow into the bike through adjustable systems like Trek’s Dial concept, “Bikes That Grow as Fast as They Do.”Â Trek kids bikes are built on the premise that kids don’t have to outgrow everything. They call it Dialed Fit Specific – components that adjust to fit growth spurts – you dial in the perfect fit no matter their leaps or bounds. This is very important for the confidence of the user because it helps them become proficient sooner and their skills dialed in quicker.
2. The importance in building a bike that is an appropriate weight based on the size of child. The light-weight materials like aluminum are being used to help with the strength-to-weight ratio for a child who only weighs 45 pounds. In the past kids might be riding bikes that were double their weight; now that weight has been reduced by a significant amount.Â All of this has made the handle of the bike a huge plus. The kids love the lighter weight bikes when they have to pedal up hills, and parents appreciate the lighter weight as they load them on and off the car bike racks!
We all want to get our kids on a bike as soon as we can, and there are some great choices! Children’s bikes start at 12″ to 16″ with training wheels (if needed) and go up to the 20″ wheel size. A really fun way to get your little one riding is called “striding” or “floating.” Instead of using training wheels to learn balance, a striding or floating bike is one in which the pedals have been removed. The Float by Trek Bicycles is a 16″ version; it is light weight with a low stand over for the kids, which allows them to create momentum by paddling their feet and “striding” along.Â This, in turn, will teach them balance and control in a very fun way, without the need of training wheels! The great thing with this method is that kids can start “riding a bike” to build their confidence at a very young age.Â Then, once they have mastered the balancing part of bicycle riding, the pedals can be added on, and your young rider will be keeping up with the big kids!
The bicycle industry has lots of great choices for kids these days, ranging from simple, single-speed bikes to geared mountain bikes and even junior road bikes for the young Lance Armstrongs.Â The BMX bicycles have multiple choices in this category as well.Â From racing, freestyle and dirt, they all may look the same but are built for specific agendas for the kids whether they are riding around the neighborhood or going to the local park and learning the latest trick, or competing all over New England.
The mountain bike is a multi geared bike that introduces the shifting concept to kids for the first time.Â They start in the 20″ wheel size and come in 24″ with a fitted frame to the 26″ wheel and multiple sized frames for a better fit are “mini” adult bikes. Built with the same emphasis on the light weight and performance in the quality of parts and the durability over time, these bikes are great to get the kids really moving on the longer adventures as a family.
Whichever of these categories of bicycles is right for the child in your life, keep in mind the two most important considerations: a proper fit and the service relationship with the bicycle shop you are spending time at. These are important for adult or children’s bicycles. The fitting of a bicycle is important whether it’s a child’s first bike or an upgrade for an older child. The purchase of a bike is a long-term investment and we want you to know that you may need things over that time, maybe some adjustments on the bike to make your child’s ride more comfortable, maybe to upgrade a few parts; whatever you need it’s the old-fashioned customer service that your independent bicycle shop can offer that is so important when thinking about purchasing your child’s next bicycle.
1153 Boston Neck Rd.
Narragansett, RI 02882