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Brand reco's for kid's bike

Old 06-21-21, 02:40 PM
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bassJAM
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Brand reco's for kid's bike

Looking for a recommendation for something my 5 year old can use that can later be passed on to my other 2 kids. If a $50 Huffy from walmart will last through 3 kids, that's great. But wondering if it's worth spending a little more (or significantly more, could probably swing $300) for something else? Probably a 16" bike. I know little to nothing about what brands are bad, decent, or good these days, and often kids equipment isn't even in the same league as adult stuff from the same company.

Or is it just better to buy a "disposable" bike for each of them because they'll grow out of them so quickly? Because after the 16" there will probably be a 20" bike. Then a 24".
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Old 06-21-21, 03:51 PM
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The $300 you spend on one will buy six $50 Huffy's. So each of your potential 3 kids could completely tear up one bike and get another.
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Old 06-21-21, 04:01 PM
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I'd buy a Fairdale Macaroni. Give the landfill a break.


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Old 06-21-21, 04:09 PM
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If you can afford it, buy one of the nicer brands of kids bikes. The better bikes are lighter, easier for a kid to handle, have hand brakes without a coaster brake, and have kid-sized components, which makes riding more fun and less frustrating for a kid. Don't get training wheels. The good bikes will easily last through 3 kids - there's not a lot a kid can do to wreck a good quality bike. At worst they'll scratch it a bit from falls and maybe wear through tires if they insist on skidding. I have a 4- and a 6-year old and have now bought, used: a Woom 2 (14"), Spawn Furi (14"), Cleary Hedgehog (16"), and Islabikes Beinn (20"). (The only reason for buying the second 14" bike was it was so cheap I knew I could resell it for more, but it's ended up on continuous loan to friends and nieces). My kids have been equally happy on all of them. There are several good sites reviewing kids bikes so no need for me to go into details here; I recommend Two Wheeling Tots, Rascal Rides, and The Bike Dads. There's a pretty good resale market for higher-end kids bikes, so you're likely to recover some of the cost later - at the moment there's such a shortage that I've even seen used kids bikes listed on Craigslist above their original price because they're not available new. Here's my kids from last August - the blue bike in front is the Spawn Furi, the red one behind it is the Islabikes Beinn.

Last edited by nathand; 06-21-21 at 04:14 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 06-22-21, 02:47 AM
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When my grandson was five I bought him a nice 16 inch BMX bike. Forgot exactly which one but it was in the $300 range with a chromo frame. It was a hair big for him, he's a smaller kid but the saddle goes down plenty far enough and he had room to grow on it. He would have outgrown a 12 inch too fast. I bought him a bigger bike when he was 8 and my now 3 year old grandson will inherit it.

Something like this:

https://us.sourcebmx.com/collections...4&currency=usd

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Old 06-22-21, 04:08 AM
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We had a good experience with the Early Rider brand of kids bikes. Top quality and very good resale value. Overall they didn’t cost any more than the cheap disposable bikes. I really liked the belt drive too for the smaller models. Both our daughters, 3 years apart, used them and then sold for about 75% of what they originally cost.
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Old 06-22-21, 05:02 AM
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The brand you should be looking for is "Used"

​​​​​​https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/bik...336471372.html

​​​​​​https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/bik...329404280.html
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Old 06-22-21, 05:41 AM
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Wait, can you really get a Walmart bike, Huffy or otherwise, for $50? If so, I’d do that and be done with it; no brain-er.

For my kids, we bought used mostly, but were given a couple 2nd handers, too. Kids’ bikes are bountiful on Craigslist around here. Once they got past their first couple of bikes, though, they got new store-bought, so 16” and 20” wheelers were hand-me-down and CL, and at 24”, they got to go shopping with Dad.
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Old 06-22-21, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by bassJAM View Post
Looking for a recommendation for something my 5 year old can use that can later be passed on to my other 2 kids.
Are there any families in your neighborhood with older kids, who might have outgrown their bikes? Kids grow so fast it makes little sense to be constantly buying new bikes.

When I was little, there was a family nearby with eight kids, all of them older. My brother and I inherited ALL their old stuff, and most of it was really ancient by the time we got it. But it was functional and my parents loved it because it was free.
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Old 06-22-21, 06:14 AM
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Get something used from your local CL. Your kids quickly go through the sizes.
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Old 06-22-21, 07:12 AM
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Not withstanding the recommendations to buy a second hand bike in the first place. BYK is a good brand for children's bikes. Giant are making some excellent children's bikes these days as well.
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Old 06-22-21, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
Giant are making some excellent children's bikes these days as well.
Giant is great for geared kid's bikes. We got my son a 7 speed Giant for considerably less than what the other Big Bike manufacturers were offering (part of that was likely the rigid front end, but I didn't really want suspension anyway). IIRC, it was right around $300.
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Old 06-22-21, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by bassJAM View Post
Looking for a recommendation for something my 5 year old can use that can later be passed on to my other 2 kids. If a $50 Huffy from walmart will last through 3 kids, that's great. But wondering if it's worth spending a little more (or significantly more, could probably swing $300) for something else? Probably a 16" bike. I know little to nothing about what brands are bad, decent, or good these days, and often kids equipment isn't even in the same league as adult stuff from the same company.

Or is it just better to buy a "disposable" bike for each of them because they'll grow out of them so quickly? Because after the 16" there will probably be a 20" bike. Then a 24".
- quality kids bikes can last for years and years, making the initial cost relatively low in the end.
- quality kids bikes can be sold on CL or FB for more than the big box kids bikes, making the final cost smaller.
- quality kids bikes can be set up to work better, making a more enjoyable experience for the kids.


Trek, Specialized, and Giant all sell kids bikes that are a step above big box bikes, but are tough to categorize as quality. Nutted axles, absurdly heavy and overbuilt frames, stamped steel 7sp shifting with grip shifters that are tough for small hands to use- none of that, to me, is quality.
If you go the route of a kids bike from one of those brands, just buy used. Heck, buy used and replace some of the components(handlebar, tires, pedals, seatpost, etc) and for an extra $50-100 the bike is both personalized and lighter. A lot of kids will want to help customize it too, so its an activity as well as improvement.

If you buy a quality kids bike, its usually $300-800 depending on what you get and if its new or used. That may not be worth it unless your kid shows a lot of interest and ability in riding either distance or singletrack or bmx.
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Old 06-22-21, 08:46 AM
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I've looked on craigslist but honestly I'm not up on what's quality. I see Huffy's for $50 which seems about what they go for new, Schwinn's for $150 and based on the Schwinn I bought my wife 5 years ago it's probably not worth $5, and brands I've never heard of between $80-150. I'm just suspicious of what's decent or crap. I got my stepdaughter a Diamondback Tess 20" may years ago which IMO was a piece of crap which ended up frustrating her and she's disliked riding bikes since. No matter what I did I never could get the brakes adjusted to where even I could easily pull them and the tires gave me issues too until I replaced them, not what I expected out of at $200 kid's bike.

Right now I see a Raleigh MXR listed at $80 and a Giant Animator at $95 at distances I'm willing to drive for, either of these halfway decent? I'm too new here to post the links apparently.
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Old 06-22-21, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by bassJAM View Post
I've looked on craigslist but honestly I'm not up on what's quality. I see Huffy's for $50 which seems about what they go for new, Schwinn's for $150 and based on the Schwinn I bought my wife 5 years ago it's probably not worth $5, and brands I've never heard of between $80-150. I'm just suspicious of what's decent or crap. I got my stepdaughter a Diamondback Tess 20" may years ago which IMO was a piece of crap which ended up frustrating her and she's disliked riding bikes since. No matter what I did I never could get the brakes adjusted to where even I could easily pull them and the tires gave me issues too until I replaced them, not what I expected out of at $200 kid's bike.

Right now I see a Raleigh MXR listed at $80 and a Giant Animator at $95 at distances I'm willing to drive for, either of these halfway decent? I'm too new here to post the links apparently.
I can’t address those models specifically, but I will say that, for a 5yr old’s 16” wheeled bike, keep it simple and stick with a coaster braked model. Cheap caliper brakes common to kids bikes rarely work well and scarcely constitute an upgrade from a coaster brake…and as you know, can be really frustrating.

Same with gearing; keep it single speed.

When the kid is experienced or older, gears and hand brakes can make sense and be worthwhile.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bassJAM View Post
Right now I see a Raleigh MXR listed at $80 and a Giant Animator at $95 at distances I'm willing to drive for, either of these halfway decent? I'm too new here to post the links apparently.
I wouldn't get either of those bikes - you really don't want a coaster brake and training wheels. You can learn to ride that way - most of us did - but the hand brakes and freewheel make it so much easier for a kid to learn, and modern V-brakes are plenty powerful for a kid to stop themself. I'm also pretty suspicious of any bike for which the manufacturer won't quote a weight (as is the case for the Giant). I don't really care if my bike weighs an extra 2 lbs, but that same 2 lbs is a much bigger fraction of a kid's weight. I highly recommend one of the kid-specific brands (which you might not have heard of) - Woom, Clearly, Prevelo, Spawn, there are lots more, see the review sites I linked in my earlier post - for a 20" or smaller bike. I got a 20" bike for my older child around when he turned 5 and he's on the shorter side, so there's a good chance you could start with a 20" bike for your 5-year-old, but make sure it fits - a too-large bike will be frustrating.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:04 AM
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It really depends on the kid. I got a used 20" geared Hotrock for <$100 for my oldest kid (a year ago at age 6) and put maybe another fifty bucks into it making it better, and he is just anxious about riding and that's probably all he needs. But for the twins we are getting better bikes already because they are just crazy good. The girl got a Spawn Banshee (also used), and it's just awesome. Even when she gets too big to sit and pedal on it, it will be a great bike for the pump track or dirt jumps.

The $50 Walmart bikes are bad tricycles pretending to be bikes. But you don't need to pay Woom money either, a few companies listed above have stepped in to fill the gap.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:12 AM
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Having put three kids through the balance bike thing, my opinion is mixed. They do get the balance down but they have a hard time with the pedaling unless they also have a pedal toy like a Big Wheel or a tricycle.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by nathand View Post
I'm also pretty suspicious of any bike for which the manufacturer won't quote a weight (as is the case for the Giant).
its their practice for any bike, adult or kid.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:33 AM
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Woom bikes- the best kids bikes hands down. All they do is kids' bikes in fact.

But if you're on a budget, look for a used Specialized Hotrock bikes. These are reasonably good aluminum bikes which are a mile better than the heavy cheap steel Walmart bikes. They come in 12", 16" and 20" wheel sizes. You do have to replace the crankset with a shorter crankset and replace the chainring with a smaller one. You can lighten these Hotrock bikes quite a bit by putting BMX race parts on there.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:34 AM
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I got a used Giant Pudd'n 16" bike for my daughter when she was 3 for I think $45. She eventually outgrew it. I pulled the pedals and my son used it as a balance bike in addition to a 16" bike I got for him (Trek this time, also used, also about $50) when he was 3. My daughter moved on to a 24" bike at age 6 - she was tall but it was too much for her for the first year or so and my son moved on to a 20" bike at age 6 (a better fit). Those first 2 16" bikes, I spent about $100 on total for the pair and just got $50 back by selling them on Facebook Marketplace. The kids' current bikes were also used (both Giants), that I got in like new condition for less than 1/3 retail and will probably both be sold when the kids outgrow them (my daughter's might get handed down to my son first). Since those were birthday presents, my kids, not me, will get the money, but they'll probably sell for not less than half what I paid for them unless the kids totally trash them. Buying decent quality used means you'll get something that lasts and might get a chunk of that back when your kids outgrow them. A Huffy is more disposable, and you won't get as much back.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:34 AM
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I can't find the thread but a few years ago someone asked this and I suggested they look at Cleary Bikes based on nothing more than a couple articles I'd read. Basically a guy started a company specifically for kids bikes, they have some upgrade-ability built into them. Of course the downside being that they cost more than the $50 Huffy. Apparently the OP of that thread was interested, bought one for his kid, came back to the thread and reported that he was very happy with the whole process.

So, they've got that going for them.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Having put three kids through the balance bike thing, my opinion is mixed. They do get the balance down but they have a hard time with the pedaling unless they also have a pedal toy like a Big Wheel or a tricycle.
My kids both had a 16" pedal bike that I'd removed pedals from and a pedal bike with training wheels at the same time (they usually preferred the bike set up as a balance bike because they could go faster on it). My son also started a bit earlier with a 12" balance bike. My son's 16" bike also was set up for a while to be hooked up to my bike with a followme tandem setup so he could learn to pedal. Let me tell you the learning process on that (when he tried to "help" by pedaling backwards - he couldn't figure out the direction - as we went up hills) was a challenge. But it got him to practice pedaling, we got to spend time together as we went farther and he got to explore parts of the neighborhood he never got to see on his own, and he got to control the speed a bit if we got going faster than he was comfortable with on a downhill.
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Old 06-22-21, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
I can't find the thread but a few years ago someone asked this and I suggested they look at Cleary Bikes based on nothing more than a couple articles I'd read. Basically a guy started a company specifically for kids bikes, they have some upgrade-ability built into them. Of course the downside being that they cost more than the $50 Huffy. Apparently the OP of that thread was interested, bought one for his kid, came back to the thread and reported that he was very happy with the whole process.

So, they've got that going for them.
I found the thread where the guy bought the Cleary Bike: why are kid bike brakes always rear?
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Old 06-22-21, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by nathand View Post
I wouldn't get either of those bikes - you really don't want a coaster brake and training wheels. You can learn to ride that way - most of us did - but the hand brakes and freewheel make it so much easier for a kid to learn, and modern V-brakes are plenty powerful for a kid to stop themself. I'm also pretty suspicious of any bike for which the manufacturer won't quote a weight (as is the case for the Giant). I don't really care if my bike weighs an extra 2 lbs, but that same 2 lbs is a much bigger fraction of a kid's weight. I highly recommend one of the kid-specific brands (which you might not have heard of) - Woom, Clearly, Prevelo, Spawn, there are lots more, see the review sites I linked in my earlier post - for a 20" or smaller bike. I got a 20" bike for my older child around when he turned 5 and he's on the shorter side, so there's a good chance you could start with a 20" bike for your 5-year-old, but make sure it fits - a too-large bike will be frustrating.
I'd actually prefer coaster brakes, I like the reliability and simpleness of them them and my daughter already knows how to use them. You should have seen my wife trying to figure out coaster brakes at 30, she'd never had a bike with them and when I got her a beach cruiser at her request she bailed off the bike about for half a day to stop before she figured it out. And as I said, training wheels would come off anything immediately, she already knows how to ride and balance on a pedal bike.

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Having put three kids through the balance bike thing, my opinion is mixed. They do get the balance down but they have a hard time with the pedaling unless they also have a pedal toy like a Big Wheel or a tricycle.
I'm a big fan of them. My step daughter just had a traditional pedal bike to learn on and there was a ton of tears and "I'm never trying to ride AGAIN" statements when I was teaching her, she was 6 1/2 before she finally learned to ride. So I got a Strider balance bike for my oldest daughter and by the end of the summer she was balancing fine, and then I got her the Strider 14x which converts from a balance bike to pedals. Once she was used to balancing on the larger bike and I added pedals it took her all of 30 minutes to figure out how to use them, and she didn't have any other pedal toys. She was riding like a pro 2 months before she turned 5. My son just turned three and can already balance really well on a Strider, I suspect by the end of the summer he might be pedaling.
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