Photo Courtesy of Giant Bicycles
From Tickle-Me-Elmo to the PlayStation, Christmas gift crazes come and go. But there's one holiday present that consistently tops the list of every tween or teen at some point: a shiny new bike. So how do you select the best bicycle for your kid? We asked Tabetha Kay, event coordinator at Giant Bicycles and a mom of two, for some tips.
1) Focus on Fit.
While most kids typically begin the selection process by picking the color, graphics and handlebar streamers they want, fit has to be the number one priority. Selecting the right size bike overall (frame, wheel size and touch points) is critical to ensure that your kid will be comfortable, confident and safe. You want her to have the best ride experience possible to develop the skills she'll need to enjoy a lifetime of fitness and fun. Since almost all youth bikes are fitted by wheel size—not by frame size—simply knowing your child’s height will allow the retailer to recommend the correct size. Most brands offer a youth bike (by wheel size) fit chart.
2) Consider the environment.
Where will your kid be pedaling? Assuming your child will be riding on his own, make sure the style or type of bike matches what he likes to do best. For example, a general-purpose bike for riding around the neighborhood should have a stable, upright and centered riding position. You'll also want general-purpose street tires that grip the pavement and gravel well but also provide stable handling. If your kid will be going on off-road adventures, it's important that the bike have appropriate off-road tires, good brakes and easier gearing for the up-and-down terrain. If your kid's a beginner, look for a starter bike that allows your child to stop and go easily and is comfortable overall. At that stage you want to build confidence.
3) Pay more for quality.
Kids can be rough on things. Having a bicycle that will withstand this level of use (dare we say abuse?) and not need repairs all the time will ensure a positive experience for both of you. And it'll be easier on the pocketbook in the long run, especially when you're able to pass the bike on to siblings.
4) Build a relationship.
There are countless places to buy youth bicycles. The most important factor to consider in choosing where to purchase is customer service. Find a good retailer that can guide you through the proper selection process and give you information about cycling as a healthy family activity. I'd recommend someplace small and local over a big-box store, where post-purchase service may be lacking.
Do you have a tip to share about picking the perfect bike for your kid this season? Post a comment below and tell us!