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  1. #1
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    first bike for kid - recommendations

    So my 2.5 year old wants a bike (he makes a beeline to a particular bike at the LBS) and I looked them over today. I think I'll go with a 16" so he can grow into it and use if for a few years more.

    I could get a $40 wally world bike but it would probably be a boat anchor and a frustration, so I'm thinking of a nicer one, with aluminum frame for weight and better mechanicals.

    Any recommendations?

    I'm notoriously cheap so I really hope to find one on CL locally but I can't afford to buy crap that I'll have to replace all the time either. So a smarter move is to buy a good bike that will last through my son and any other little ones in the family (we'll see).

    I see the specialized hotrock is a nice one but for $200 at the LBS it's steep. Any hidden gems or tips on low priced stores?
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  2. #2
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    2 things to look for in a childs first bike:
    1) Look for one that uses a bottom bracket with bearings. There are many child size bikes on the market that use friction bushings. Children's bikes usually have a one piece (Ashtabula) crank. Look for a nut on the crank on the non-drive side. Bikes with friction bushings usually have a pin through the crank.
    2) look for a headset that uses bearings rather than friction bushings.
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right

  3. #3
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    For a 2.5 year old you are likely a little early on the bike. They typically don't start pedaling until they are about 4. There are some that start earlier, but for the most part you won't see them have enough strength and coordination to pedal and steer a bike until around 4.

    I think you'd be better off with a scoot type bike. It will be propelled by their feet. There are ones that have 3 or 4 wheels so balance is not part of the equation.

    If you do get a bike, get one that they can put their feet on the ground. Get one that fits. My guess is that 16" won't fit them until they are at least 3 more like 4.

  4. #4
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    They have the 12" bikes I looked at for nearly the same price as the 16 so I figured he'd like to get pushed around on it and grow into it.
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    I'll see about the 12" bike too, maybe fit him up to it. I just don't want to spend money on a nicer bike that will only last a year. Then again, i can't 'yet' bring myself to buy the wally world special.


    Maybe 12" cheapo and then go to nicer 16"?
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

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    A cheapo 12" is a much better idea. I think the only reason to get a nicer 12" is if you find a used one at a good price or you have other kids that will inherit it. Don't be surprised if he does not get on the bike at all or infrequently this year. And be less surprised when they aren't strong enough to move the bike very well by pedaling. Really think about the push/run/balance bikes.

    I have a really nice tricycle that has about 4 hours total time on it from 4 kids. Even with the push bar on the tricycle, money would have been better spent on a little sit and scoot thing.

  7. #7
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    He runs for the 12" bike and hops on when we're at the LBS. He'll stay on it the whole time. I think its the riding in the trailer behind me that has him wanting to ride.

    Wow, just looked into the "balance bikes" and they run from $60 - $110 without shipping included. Jeeze, maybe I'm better off just getting the 12" bike and taking the pedals off...
    Last edited by thenomad; 03-30-09 at 08:24 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Yeah, taking the pedals off is the better way. It really is what I meant to write..."make your own push bike". It works even better if you take off the crank as you wont have the crank arms and chainring hanging around to poke and jab your little guy. Makes the bike lighter also. Just make sure the bike you get lets the seat go down far enough that they can comfortably put their feet flat on the ground (slight bend in the knee).

  9. #9
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    I just "modified" a little bike "thing" someone gave him last year, I'll see what he does with it tomorrow. It had pedals on the front wheel so I took them off. May not have to buy the 12" one then.
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    Quote Originally Posted by masiman View Post
    For a 2.5 year old you are likely a little early on the bike. They typically don't start pedaling until they are about 4. There are some that start earlier, but for the most part you won't see them have enough strength and coordination to pedal and steer a bike until around 4.
    My kids started riding when they were around 2.5yrs old. Course it was also a 10" bike, but they pedaled and controlled it just fine.

    IMO, I would just get a cheapo, they're gonna grow out of it in a cpl years and its goin to see a lot of abuse when they start learning to ride w/o training wheels. I just bought my twins $45 16" bikes from WM. I couldnt see spending $200+ at my LBS. Not even 15min into riding them for the first time my daughter wiped out. One thing I saw that I may get down the road is spring tensioned training wheels. Looks like they would be great for uneven surface and maybe it will allow them to lean to one side or the other to get the more nature feel of leaning a bike into a turn.

  11. #11
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Well, "Grandma" came for a few weeks and was going to buy him a motorized car but I convinced her a bike was a much better investment. So we headed off to the LBS where she bought him a 16" Specialized hotrock. I figure he'll grow into it and be able to use it for a good while. Also, because of the good components and bearings, it'll last a good long time so future tikes will be able to learn with it.
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    So my 2.5 year old wants a bike (he makes a beeline to a particular bike at the LBS) and I looked them over today. I think I'll go with a 16" so he can grow into it and use if for a few years more.
    NO. no no no no no no no

    Get a small bike or a glider. Most kids I know can ride a like a bike at 2.5 years. None can ride a real bike without training wheels. Buy a user glider or a smaller bike where he can comfortably "scoot" with his feet. a 2.5 year old can ride a pedal-less bike, and they LOVE it.

    Or buy a 16 inch wheel and watch them wobble for 3 years on training wheels. BTW, who came up with "training wheels" - what do they even "train"?

    Watching a 2.5 year old on a like a bike cruising around is magic. Watching a 4 year old still struggling on training wheels is depressing.

  13. #13
    Pint-Sized Gnar Shredder Zephyr11's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    So we headed off to the LBS where she bought him a 16" Specialized hotrock. I figure he'll grow into it and be able to use it for a good while.
    Little advice...if he has to "grow into it," put it away for a few years and find him one of those little pedal-less bikes like the Hotwalk. Putting him on something too big makes it more likely to turn him off to bikes, take him longer to learn, and sets him up for injury.

  14. #14
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    I have a little bike thing that I took all the pedals off of and it's essentially a push bike. He's getting the hang of riding it around although he's wondering why it wants to fall over. He'll do that for a while but he does love to mount up on the bikes in the store so I couldn't resist.

    I may take the training wheels and pedals off the 16" bike too and let him play with it once he gets the idea of a balance bike, but I wasn't about to spend $200 on a balance bike I can't convert to a real bike.
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  15. #15
    AKA Papaver Cyclemaniana's Avatar
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    This is the best way to start!

    http://www.kokua.de/Seiten/KOKUA.html

  16. #16
    Senior Member Jeffbeerman2's Avatar
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    No question. Get a Skuut. i posted a long review here a while back with lots of details on it (and copied it to Amazon). A search should turn it up.

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