Kid’s bikes – why should I buy from a bike store?

Your household has most-likely recently been inundated with reams of Christmas catalogues, with this year’s must-have items.  But, year in, year out, the humble bicycle is always a great choice.  And, there’s certainly some low prices out there – however what are you getting for your money?  Are the kid’s bikes from a bike store really that much better than those from a chain or department store?

At Velo we love kids on bikes.  We can start you out on three-wheeled and two-wheeled balance bikes, and run through the full range up until they fit an adult’s bike.  Indeed, many families are repeat visitors, moving up to the next model/size every few years.  Of course, we’d suggest a child on (almost) any bike is better than if they have no bike at all. (If you are on a budget, we’re only too happy to help set up any new bike. Often these bikes are supplied in boxes, or they’ve been hastily assembled by a stock or salesperson at the department store – we’re always more comfortable if the bike has been built by an experienced bike mechanic).

The two key aspects of the kid’s bikes we stock, when compared to cheaper models, are much the same as what you’d look for in a bike you’d purchase for yourself – the geometry and the weight.

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Comparison of traditional kid’s bikes with a ByK – taken from ByK’s website

Most kid’s bikes are built with quite a short wheelbase, and your child will sit ‘over’ the wheels. If you think of it as a triangle, the base is quite narrow and the top point is quite high – almost an equilateral.  At the younger end, these bikes are built to be used with training wheels, and so there is no real requirement for the rider to be able to touch the ground with their feet. Unfortunately, this often means that even if you put the saddle at its lowest point, they physically cannot reach. By the time they can, they’ll have almost grown out of the bike.  Also, most kid’s bikes tend to be heavy.  Perhaps, even heavier than your own bike.  Would you want to ride a bike that weighed 60-80% of your weight?

Well-designed children’s bikes push that ‘triangle’ flatter, with longer wheelbases for better stability, and a lower saddle height for a lower centre-of-gravity, and also a greater likelihood for your child to be able to put their feet down. (Vital when learning).

Since we originally opened, we’ve stocked Melbourne-owned ByK Bikes. – we’re actually a ‘Reference Centre’ – their highest accolade meaning we stock their entire range – a range that has grown now to encompass everyone from 2 years up to mid-teens. In fact, we’ve actually put some petite adults on their larger models.  We love them because they encompass everything we strive for with a bike – the ability to match a quality bike to a rider’s specific needs.  With different gear options, and colour choices, as well as MTB, road and commuter styled models, they can cater for most.

Similarly, we’ve always had the utmost respect for Jamis bikes, and so we’ve recently also started stocking their kid’s range. From a child’s first pedal bike up until upper primary, we can now offer a range of quality bikes at a friendlier price.

So, what about comparisons? We’ll profile both manufacturers’ bikes pitched at 4-6 year olds – perhaps their first or second pedal bike.  These comparisons are similar throughout the range, but you’re most welcome to come in and see (and test ride) to see what works for you.

The Jamis Starlight is a 16″ wheeled bike that would suit a 4-6 year old.

  • When compared to a cheap department store bike, it does have
  • a longer wheelbase,
  • lower minimum saddle height,
  • and is a much lighter weight (up to 2-3kg!)
  • It’s equipped with a hand brake for the front (great to squeeze when getting on/off the bike, to make that easier) as well as the dependable rear coaster (foot) brake.

At $215, we think it’s a lot of quality for the price.

So what would the $339 ByK e350 get you?

  • It has larger, better-rolling 18″ wheels,
  • with an even longer, more-stable, wheelbase
  • and a lower minimum saddle height
  • with slightly shorter reach to the handlebars.
  • It also has both front and rear hand brakes and coaster (foot) rear brake
  • and better componentry (cranks, pedals, brakes, levers)
  • and even with all of this it is lighter again.

So, it all depends upon what works for you.  Both are great quality bikes with a geometry and weight that actually suits a small child, and will likely last a kid or two before you can move it on and probably still get some decent resale to help fund your next one.

ByK e350 and Jamis Starlite out front of Velo Cycles, Melbourne

ByK e350 and Jamis Starlite out front of Velo Cycles, Melbourne

Between now and Christmas, with any ByK out the door, you get a free ByK helmet worth $59, while stocks last.