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Choosing the best kids' bike should start with a trip to a local bike shop. It may be tempting to buy online, and this is certainly a viable option, but visiting a bike shop instead will ensure your child gets the right size bike that was assembled professionally. This is especially important because an improperly assembled bicycle can be dangerous for the child to ride. Buying at a big box store is another way to risk getting an improperly assembled bike. If you intend to buy online, visit a bike shop first to get as much information as possible about the best kids' bike for your child.
Children tend to outgrow their kids' bike fairly quickly, which means you may be tempted to buy a bicycle that is larger than your child currently needs. While this does make sense in terms of saving money, it can be dangerous for the child. Riding a bicycle that is too large can throw the child off balance and cause them to lose control of the bike, and since many children have not yet developed an efficient sense of balance, they are more at risk of injury by riding a kids' bike that is too large. Get your child properly fitted to a bicycle at a bike shop to ensure he or she stays safe while riding.
Smaller bicycles will feature training wheels, but larger bikes may not. If your child needs a kids' bike to include training wheels, ask the bike shop about installing them. They can always be removed later, and they will help the child learn how to ride on two wheels more quickly. If the smaller bike already includes training wheels, be sure to examine the quality of those training wheels carefully. Some kids' bikes will feature training wheels made from exceptionally weak metal that can bend or break, potentially leading to a fall. Be sure the training wheels are made from heavier metal that will support the weight of the bike and the child riding it.
Consider your long-term budget before you go shopping for a kids' bike. Many bike shops will feature bikes that are more expensive than bikes found online, but remember that a bike bought at a shop will be assembled correctly and will often be sold with a warranty or maintenance package. Some shops even offer free tune-ups on the bike if it is bought at the shop. Be sure to inquire about such add-ons and features.
@pleonasm - I absolutely adored my bicycle when I was a kid and it was a secondhand one my father bought from an ad in the newspaper.
Something I think people should remember is to teach their kids how to look after the bikes themselves. Filling the tires, oiling the chain and so forth. Maybe even fixing a puncture for the older kids.
Bike maintenance isn't difficult but it's a really good habit to get into, especially if you have a secondhand bike rather than a new one.
If you do all this stuff for your kids instead of letting them learn how to do it themselves, they could end up spending lots of money taking their bikes to the shop for fixing rather than spending a few minutes on preventative care.
Plus kids are happy to do that kind of work. When you are proud of your bicycle everything about it seems like an adventure, even filling the tires.
@bythewell - If you are going to be handing down bikes from child to child as they outgrow them then make sure you get a neutral kind of bike in the first place.
All too often bikes for younger kids are very gender specific and no little boy wants to be riding around his neighborhood with pink streamers flying behind him.
I would also suggest that you look on auction websites. As long as you know what to look for, you can find some real bargains as everyone has the same problem of their kids quickly outgrowing the bike.
Look up how to fit the bike to the child, and make sure it doesn't have any obvious problems. You might even ask to have a mechanic look at it before buying. I think even if you do that, you'll probably still get a better deal than if you buy it new.
Even though kids grow really fast and you might be worried about them outgrowing their bikes too quickly, there are ways around this.
For one thing, try to get a bike that will be able to be passed down to each child as the older ones outgrow it. Make sure it's still in good condition and maybe paint it a different color so that they don't feel too short changed.
Another thing you can do is get bikes that can be adjusted easily for height. Most of the time the seat is the important part as you want it to come to just below the hips so the legs can extend to the right length when pedaling.
If you get a bike with a seat that can be adjusted you'll be able to keep it longer. Just make sure it doesn't take it to an extreme as it's also important that your child can reach the handlebars comfortably.
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