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Buying a bike for your child

When you can pick up a kids’ bike for £50 at the supermarket, it’s only fair to ask: “why pay more?”

At Bigfoot Youth CC we’ve got experience of a wide range of kids’ bikes, both as parents and as coaches, and we thought it might be helpful to share what we know.

Why your child needs a good bike 

There are lots of reasons why that £50 supermarket special isn’t the bargain it first seems. Unfortunately, the price of a good bike doesn’t really scale down that much with size, so you can expect to pay a similar amount for a good quality kid’s bike as you would for an entry-level adult bike – a price of between £200 and £400 would be about right.

Spend that sort of money on a good quality bike and you’ll find that:
  • it will be much lighter, and therefore easier to ride: weight makes a bigger difference to the fun and manoeuvrability of a child’s bike, because children are smaller, lighter and weaker
  • components such as gears and brakes will be of higher quality, and as a result will work better (we’ve seen brakes on cheap bikes that barely work at all), will be easy to adjust correctly, will last longer, and when parts do fail they will be replaceable
  • wheels will be lighter, stronger and more likely to stay true
  • parts such as cranks and brake levers will be proportionately-sized or adjustable to fit smaller bodies
  • although your child will enjoy riding it and get much more use out of it, it will still last long enough to pass onto a sibling
  • it will hold its value and be worth something when it comes to upgrading to a new bike (while the supermarket bike will have long ago gone to the recycling centre or been abandoned at the back of the shed)
  • if you buy a bike from a decent bike shop or good online supplier you’ll know that it’s been put together properly and that they’ll be happy to repair it in the future.

Buyer's guides

There are some very useful articles on choosing the right bike for your child online:

So what bikes would we recommend?

From personal experience at the club we can recommend bikes from a few manufacturers, and suggest a few other routes to explore as well:

Islabikes. A UK company that specialises in children’s bikes, Islabikes has got to be on any shortlist. They’re not cheap, but you get top quality bikes for your money, and there is a huge range to choose from to suit all sizes of child and styles of riding. Lots of Bigfoot Go-Ride members ride them, and the club owns quite a few too. They are always in demand secondhand (just try buying one on ebay to see how popular they are).

Dawes. This historic bike manufacturer has undergone something of a revival recently, and although the range of children’s bikes isn’t huge they have a few models that are worth a closer look. The Espoir (a dropped handlebar model) has been tried and tested as part of our fleet of club bikes, while the Bullet and Paris models are good entry-level mountain bikes. Dawes junior bikes.

Other options

There are plenty of other options out there, as most ‘serious’ manufacturers are now offering something for junior riders, and new ranges are popping up all the time. While we haven’t necessarily tested any of these ourselves, we know that the adult bikes made by these companies are very good indeed, so they’ve got to be worth a look:

Further advice

If you want more advice on buying a bike for your child, then do please speak to any of the coaches on a Saturday, preferably at the end of the session. We also now have a range of club bikes so we can always let your child try a few of our bikes to help you decide what to buy.

If you have any suggestions of your own, why not share them by posting a reply?