Buying the right bike for your child

Victoria Hazael's picture
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Girl on a bike
Is this a decent children's bike or a cheap bicycle shaped object?

How to buy a children's bike that will last

Children will tolerate, even enjoy, almost any bike. If you get them a good one, however, they’ll keep using it after the initial thrill of having a new bike has faded. Good bikes get used, day in, day out, because they’re a pleasure to ride. Bad bikes, on the other hand, slowly decay in sheds and garages, then end up at the dump. So here's an impartial guide written by cycling parents to help you choose the best bike for your child. 

Cycle prices don’t simply scale down with size. A child’s bike uses shorter lengths of tubing, but smaller components are not intrinsically cheaper and unlike clothes, children’s bikes aren’t VAT-free.

However, most children’s bikes are much cheaper because they are built to a price – the kind of price that would buy just a couple of PlayStation games. So, be warned,  lots of children's bikes are little more than Bicycle-Shaped Objects, offering the appearance of a bike but none of its function.

Cheap and nasty bikes don’t last. They break down and are abandoned. A good bike will still be in use several Christmases later and can be handed down to a brother or sister. So its yearly cost can be a lot less, even if it’s two or three times the price to begin with."

Dan Joyce
Cycle Magazine Editor

Buying a secondhand children's bike

Decent children’s bicycles aren’t hugely expensive. You can get a good bike for a five-year-old for around £250, and a really nice one for a 10-year-old for £300-£400 (Prices based on 2015 prices). There are perfectly acceptable bikes available for less, of course, but with new bikes it means sorting the wheat from a much larger volume of chaff. Bargains are rare – unless you buy secondhand.

The local newspaper adverts or eBay can yield good deals, if you know what you’re looking for. If not, minimise the risk of buying a turkey by purchasing from keen cyclists. Cycling enthusiasts will probably have bought something decent in the first place and maintained it. The ‘for sale’ board on the CTC Forum is a great first stop and ads in cycling magazines may also be useful.

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