Recreational & Family - First Kids Bike: LBS or ???
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07-23-06, 12:39 PM
I have a LBS that I really like and am planning to buy a new bike for myself when the 2007s come in. Since i have been commutting by bike nearly every day my kids have been excited to get bikes (5 year old and 3 year old boys). I went to my LBS to have my wheel trued and the kids started getting on bikes at the store and were really excited. I asked a guy that works there if it was stupid to buy a kids bike from a LBS over getting one from Walmart, Target, Sears etc. I know the "quality" won't be as good but my kids are small and growing and why spend a chunk of change on a bike that they will grow out of shortly. His response was, "the Specialized frames are really light weight which is easier on the kids when they are learning and if you get the older boy one of these bikes the younger one can enjoy it when he gets older." I'm not sold. I was thinking of checking Craigs List or going by some chain store to see what they have. Thoughts?
Buy a better bike if you want the kids to enjoy cycling. It'll stay ridable and reliable longer, you can recycle from one kid to the next as noted, and it will have a little resale value when the second kid grows out. Buy a little large to start with to maximize your time with the bike. I'd try to get about 3 seasons per kid on a bike.
I got burned with an XMart bike when it was a couple months old and the freewheel gave up the ghost just before a ride. My daughter was very disappointed, almost to a point of tears, to not be able to ride. is that worht the $50 you'll save to you?
07-24-06, 05:48 PM
depends on your level of comfort wrenching on the thing. I bought my daughter one of those cheap Pacific 18 speeds. (She is 10 and only stays with me for the summer) It is fine as long as I don't mind adjusting it before (or after) every ride.
07-24-06, 07:50 PM
i just bought my 4 yr old a trek mystic 16 at my lbs. it is great. I recently saw a friend who bought his 4 yr old a target or walmart bike and was incredibly sorry he did. he was salivating over the trek's more rugged frame and training wheels. my 4 yr old loves riding the trek.
for 3 and 5 year olds, cheap bikes are fine. but by the time they are commuting to school, like at age 8, they need LBS bikes.
07-25-06, 09:59 AM
I think I'd agree with kf5nd that for really young kids an Xmart bike is fine. Before they use it make sure you (or your LBS if you're not comfortable wrenching) go over it to make sure everything is assembled correctly, tightened up correctly and in good order. My son has had a few Xmart bikes and all of them had parts installed wrong or poorly. As they get older Craigslist is a good bet for upgrades. We picked up an old 20-inch Schwinn 6-speed when my son had outgrown the X-mart bike. It has done 300+ miles on family rides, riding to school and mini-tours with no problems -- not bad for $50! I would say somewhere between 8 and 10 kids are ready for a real quality bike like you find at the LBS. At that point all the things the guy at the LBS said are true and actually meaningful to you. Good luck with your search.
07-25-06, 10:25 AM
I have no doubt that a LBS-quality bike is better than a bike purchased from a discounter. That said, I am not convinced that the difference in quality on kids' bikes is as great as it is for adult bikes. Moreover, depending on where your child is in her growth cycle, the period during which she'll be able to enjoy a higher quality bike may be limited.
Ideally, you can let someone else take the hit on depreciation and pick up a kid's bike from Craig's list. Based on my non-scientific review, it seems like that LBS-quality bikes for kids run about $10-$25 more on Craig's list, whereas they run up to a $100 more at the LBS.
07-25-06, 10:36 AM
My mom got my then 4-yr old a Giant bike from a l-to-her bs. I have a hard time picturing it as measurably different from one from target, but who knows. I do know that it is at least a third of his body weight, and it is hard to get him excited about it for that reason. He has mastered the coaster brake at least, it's just hard to get him to want to go even as fast as adult walking speed on the thing.
07-25-06, 04:16 PM
I agree with Albino; used LBS-bikes would be a good price compromise. Whether from a yard sale, craigslist, or even someone's garbage. (in the spring around here, people are *always* throwing out decent -- non-broken -- kids bikes). All of my childhood bikes were yard sale bikes, and the only problem I ran into was when I got my first geared bike, and it never shifted properly (which could've been fixed had I or my dad known more about bikes at the time).
Imho "recycling" by buying a bike for an older child and handing it down to the next isn't as much fun for the younger kids, as it's not "their" bike -- even a used bike is bought for them, as their own bike.
07-25-06, 11:52 PM
Lots of good advice. Thanks folks.
Depends on you and your kid. My kids first two bikes where from Toys-R-Us, I did the assembly. Are you comfortable assembling a bike out of the box? I didn't trust the 5 buck an hour kid at the store to take any type of care in the assembly. My daughters 'Barbie bike' had no grease in the headset, I had to completely rebuild it, out of the box.
What is you kid like? How will he take care of the bike? My kids are lacking in this department, my bad I guess. But anyway, I get home one day and my son is riding his new bike through the mud, repeatedly.
I ask him what he is doing, "I want my bike to look like yours".
So the Toys-R-Us bikes where good for us, and if we can't sell them or give them away, it's less money down the drain.
But now that they are older, it LBS bikes, as the quality and ridability are more important.
The choice is yours.
08-03-06, 02:59 PM
My 5 year old is 4'7" tall, and 85 pounds of pure muscle. She rides a 20" wheel bike. We broke 2 xmart bikes, before I got smart and bought her a good bike. I got her a specialized hotrock 20. It is much better made and very sturdy. Forget that xmart stuff, all it is, is cheap chinese junk.
Just gave my 4-yr old her first bike for her birthday this weekend. I debated the question of x-mart vs. LBS vs. used long and hard.
Ended up buying a 16" Schwinn from Performance.
I would have looked for a used bike, but, since it was her birthday present, I couldn't bring myself to do that. And, I've had such bad experience in the past w/ X-mart bikes both in overall quality and assembly, this gave me a bit more piece of mind.
My mother in law bought my kids first bike from a department store. It was a Schwinn and I was never able to get the rear wheel to spin right, it always dragged. Once he outgrew it, I went to my lbs and got a Fuji. His riding has really improved since I got him a better bike. I never really thought of a Schwinn as being that poor of a bike, but if I had bought it from a shop, I'm sure that they would've taken care of the rear wheel without argument. I'm planning on bringing the Schwinn to a shop once my second child is ready.
As others have said, it all depends on how important cycling is to your family and how many children you have. We have 2 kids and one more on the way, and it's really important to me that my kids enjoy cycling, so I would rather pay once for a really good bike that will last as a hand me down.
If you are a little handy and can oil a chain and tighten brakes, your best bet is craigslist. Get a really good bike though because kids outgrow bikes very quickly and the good ones will last for many years. I recently sold my daughter's bike on craiglist for about $50. It was a 10 year old Trek that I got used. And I'll bet that person will be able to sell it for $50 in a few years and get her money back. Try that with an X-mart bike.
I'll second Totoro's recommendation. I'd rather give my kids a really good second hand bike than a department store brand.
08-08-06, 04:30 PM
I faced this same dilemma with my daughter this spring. I found a great solution: I paid $75.00 for a Specialized on e-bay. This was about the same price as the x-mart bike and is much better quality. When she outgrows it, I'll probably sell it on ebay myself.
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