Hi! I discovered this website by Google's directing me to one of your posts about the quality of Wal-Mart bikes. I was hoping my question would be answered by reading that, but it really wasn't. So, I hope you don't mind a similar question, after some background:
I love to bike-ride, but am limited as to how often I can do it because I have two young children at home. Whenever my husband is available, my usual route is 8.5 miles around my very hilly neighborhood. Recently my 7-year-old daughter (tall for her age) has shown more and more interest in riding with me. I had her try just the first stretch of my route - a very long but not too steep incline. She was riding a 20" bicycle with no gears. She made a truly valiant effort. She would ride a bit, stop for a rest, repeat. At first I was thinking that she was just not strong enough. Then I remembered how tough this route was when I used to have a bike with no gears - and a 26" bike at that!
I brought her to a bicycle store, and the knowledgeable saleslady said that she fits very nicely into a 24" bicycle. I asked if the gears would be doable by a 7-year-old, and she said they would be. THE only model they had cost $199. I have seen models that are MUCH more attractive that are MUCH cheaper - in the $50 to $100 range. First, I'd like your opinion as to whether or not such a young child can even build the muscles and stamina to go on such a ride. (She really, really wants to. I have already tested her on-the-road smarts and she knows how to ride on a road with cars. We are talking about very nicely paved rural roads, where 3 cars might pass us in an hour.) Second - if you think it's worthwhile for her to try - what style of bike should she get? (So far, all the 24" bicycles I've seen offered have been mountain bikes.) Third, would it actually be that bad to get a cheap bicycle? Her previous bicycles have been cheap and have worked just fine. They were assembled correctly and never needed repair. Is there a way to tell by LOOKING at a bicycle if something is wrong with it? Would a more expensive bicycle actually be easier to ride up hill? I'd really appreciate your advice.
Thank you very much!