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  1. #1
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    Need bike recommendation for 4 year old

    Hey,

    I'm sure this has been beat to the ground, but tough to wade through all the posts and search terms are not bringing up specifically what I need.

    My daughter is about to turn 4 and desperately wants a pedal bike. I tried, like a good bike-riding dad, to get her to learn on a Strider but she just had zero interest. I know that training wheels are not ideal, but I'm afraid that if I stand strong on the "balance bike first" premise, that she'll lose interest altogether and I'll lose a possible biking buddy for the future.

    With that, I'm looking for a recommendation for a halfway decent bike (either one that comes with or is at least compatible with training wheels).

  2. #2
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    All 3 of my girls learned on a pink Trek Float w/ 16" wheels:

    Trek Product Reviews and Ratings - Ages 4-6 - Float from Trek

    the cranks come off to make it a balance bike, so "when you can scoot around the yard 3 times, I'll put the pedals on" or something like that. they picked it up quick. My youngest is very cautious, so I had to convince her she was ready for the pedals, then she just took off without me.

    Spray-painted it black for Secondus, and green for Tertius.
    My bike MCA kinda climbs like a billy-goat. WOO WOO!

  3. #3
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    4 year old, depending on the size, still a fan of the spawn bikes.

  4. #4
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    I have a Spawn Banshee, there is also Islabikes and a few other premium kids brands, but I'd really just recommend something like a Specialized Hotrock or Trek etc equivalent. My son got a Spawn Banshee but he had a Hotrock 12" before that (age 3-4).

    Only after he turned 4 and was specifically asking for hand brakes did I upgrade him.

    So that being said, most 16" bikes come with training wheels.

    My son learned on a balance bike but when he turned 3 I got him the Hotrock 12 with training wheels. But after a week, the training wheels "broke" and had to come off. Like, seriously as soon as she has pedaling down, take the training wheels away before the bad habits form.
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  5. #5
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    the 12 inch bike I got I got for free. most normal sized 4 year old will be big enough to the banshee in short order.

    My Small daughter has a free 12 inch, she will not be on it long.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by XJaredX View Post
    I have a Spawn Banshee, there is also Islabikes and a few other premium kids brands, but I'd really just recommend something like a Specialized Hotrock or Trek etc equivalent. My son got a Spawn Banshee but he had a Hotrock 12" before that (age 3-4).

    Only after he turned 4 and was specifically asking for hand brakes did I upgrade him.

    So that being said, most 16" bikes come with training wheels.

    My son learned on a balance bike but when he turned 3 I got him the Hotrock 12 with training wheels. But after a week, the training wheels "broke" and had to come off. Like, seriously as soon as she has pedaling down, take the training wheels away before the bad habits form.
    Cool. The Spawn stuff looks awesome, but I think a "boutique" kids bike is a ways off - gotta get her riding first. I'll probably stick with the Hotrock for now and then look for something nicer later...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by trumpus View Post
    Cool. The Spawn stuff looks awesome, but I think a "boutique" kids bike is a ways off - gotta get her riding first. I'll probably stick with the Hotrock for now and then look for something nicer later...
    to get them riding, and the smallest of the bikes.
    Pretty much anything will work.

    Raleigh makes "proportionate 12 inch bikes"
    Norco makes a shogun.

    but the 12 inch bike really anything on kijiji. I am all for buying good stuff. The 12 inch stepping stone. it does not feel viable to spend much.

  8. #8
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    I think most 12" bikes should be compatible with training wheels but am just guessing on this.

    It's funny because I mentioned this to my wife just within the last couple of days.

    As big of a rage that balance bikes are supposed to be, I actually don't see too many in my area and a lot of people ask me about it and I have to explain how it works.

    Also I take my kid out to some playgrounds in areas where people with higher income live and I always check out what type of bikes the kids are riding. And almost all of them are big box store bikes. ie I don't see any Specialized or Giant bikes. Maybe saw a Trek a couple of times.

    There are people in this area that do get those bikes for their kids. For example in one craigslist buy I did, the seller was making a big deal how they only buy brand name and quality items and pointed out their Trek and Giant bikes that their kids had.

    So I told my wife how the people on this board are probably already bike enthusiasts to begin with and are why they are willing to spend a higher amount of money on a bike.

    Long story short, I'm sure that those big name brand bikes are built a bit better. ie lighter and better handling. But I'm sure any bike would be good enough for your kid.

    But having said that, if it were me I'd keep an eye out for a used Hotrock. Where you can maybe get it for about the same or lower price than new bikes at the big box stores.

  9. #9
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    I am one of the few here, when someone sais they put an xtr kit on their child's 12 inch hotrock, I face palm. (and it is my right) They have the right to do it, they have the money to do it, they have the availability to do it..... and I have the right to think it is stupid. as is the 1400$ balance bike.

    My child does have a banshee (and my wife thinks it was crazy) and my child will be getting a savage, (oh yeh CRAZY)

    However, the LIL shredder is just a little bit outside of the realm of crazy. IMHO.

    I think the spawn banshee is plenty good enough as a 16 inch bike. And the 12... I am sorry but pretty much anyting is good enough. But if you realy want to spend the money, I would nto go more than a gremlin? or whatever spawns 12 inch / 14 inch bike is.

  10. #10
    CDK
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    Quote Originally Posted by northernblades View Post
    I am one of the few here, when someone sais they put an xtr kit on their child's 12 inch hotrock, I face palm. (and it is my right) They have the right to do it, they have the money to do it, they have the availability to do it..... and I have the right to think it is stupid. as is the 1400$ balance bike.

    My child does have a banshee (and my wife thinks it was crazy) and my child will be getting a savage, (oh yeh CRAZY)

    However, the LIL shredder is just a little bit outside of the realm of crazy. IMHO.

    I think the spawn banshee is plenty good enough as a 16 inch bike. And the 12... I am sorry but pretty much anyting is good enough. But if you realy want to spend the money, I would nto go more than a gremlin? or whatever spawns 12 inch / 14 inch bike is.
    There really is nothing crazy at all about buying a child a very good piece of equipment such as a banshee, savage or even a lil shredder. Your child can get 2 years out of one of these bikes easy and will ride it every day if you are anything like me and my daughter. Consider that a ton of people spend $20 or more a week on gymnastics, ballet or anything else. @$20 a week that is $1040 a year or $2080 for 2 years for them to do something once a week week. They get more out of a very good bike imo!

  11. #11
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    yes and some parents spend 10k a year on hockey.
    it does not make my beliefs any les valid.
    but guess I should stop now, as any comments re: a 6 year old doesn't;t need a $4000 bike are wasted on deaf ears, and I am talking to the wrong people. And such beliefs make me a minority in these boards. As well as resulting in posts like the one above.

    everyone here seems to have no problem justifying "money is no option" Yet anyone I talk to in real life, responds very clearly with... (lets not get myself in trouble here)
    "da fuq" 99% of the people I have talked to even regarding a $400 spawn banshee, shake their head. "whats wrong with you"
    but for some reason, any comment here that in any way suggests that one might not agree with it, is met with extreme opposition, Emotional outcry, almost like questioning ones religious or political affiliation.

  12. #12
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    the problem with the idea of "cheaper bikes worked for us" is that I learned to ride when i was almost six.

    my (then) 3 year old has benefited from a (much) lighter bike with a (much) better fit.

    she can put her feet on the ground on her banshee, but her 12" kmart bike is too tall.

    by a significant margin.

    i love my girls' spawn bikes. a banshee and a savage.

    but keep an eye out for the Cleary Bikes

    even tho i spent a ton on a "boutique" kid's bike (and a ton to "upgrade" it), im still tempted to get her a 12" from cleary and remove crank and pedals for the trail.

    my 3 1/2 year old not only rides a pedal bike with no training wheels, but she's started on light trails.

    some of the kids out there started @ 2 years old on the 14" furi.

    heck, some kids started @ 2 on 18" bmx bikes.

    with enough patience and motivation, you CAN use "any" bike to get em to pedal.

    but its a lot easier to get them riding on their own if you put them on good equipment.

    plus, the "boutique" kid's bike resale market is non-existent.

    not because demand is non-existent, but because demand is so overwhelming that the bikes don't make it to the market.

    if i wanted to, i could bust my spawns back to stock, sell em for 80-90% retail, buy some cleary's and still have money left over for weinhard's.

    but i'm not going to

    because spawn bikes are worth the price.

    but 'dem cleary's.

    it'd be a tough call if the cleary bikes were actually on the street.

    as it sits, you wont regret a spawn cycle.
    crap! i gotta learn to climb.

  13. #13
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    I'll hazard a guess and say my kid (who's now 10 and got off training wheels at 3) has, since he started, ridden a lot more and at a much higher level than an 'average' kid. No balance bike ever, and though he's had a number of bikes that I found to be very good quality and totally up to anything he's ever thrown at them (which is more than a lot of adult mountain bikers for sure), I've yet to see any need to spend more than $400 on a bike for him (and that was for a Big Hit Grom 'DH' bike). I've think I've spent maybe $2k over 7 years on 2 16" BMX park bikes, a BMX race mini, a 24" Hotrock, an 18" park bike, and his 24" DH bike, and the vast majority of that was because anything lesser would have been unsafe for the level of riding he was doing. He started with a free hand-me down 12" with training wheels; I really see no reason any kid would need anything more to get started with. If the kid really gets into it, then there's some benefit to a nice bike, but still really no reason at all to spend a ton of money. I think the fancy equipment thing tends to be more important to the parent than the kid.

    At 5, on a handed down old Haro 16" that weighed more than your typical 26" XC bike...clearing doubles a whole lot better than I do...

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  14. #14
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    Just for the comparison.
    I bought a Spawn banshee. $400 I found it for 2,
    the Idea of spending 4 was quite a bit.
    but if I realy wanted the swag. I was trying to talk my wife into

    Early Rider Belter Bike, would have been the coolest thing ever.

    I don't want anyone here to misunderstand me. I have no question that the new, bikes / boutique bikes help exponentially. Next time I am at mom's I will post my first 2 wheel bike, and then I will post my daughters.

    I close n the apology, I am sorry that my opinion differs in such a manner that I do not see xtr parts beneficial to a 4 year old.

    If I had bought a $600 early rider belter.... it would not have been beneficial. Having cool bike is cool.... still having a dad is good too. Looking back, My daughter had loads of fun on her

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    but the Spawn is a beautiful step up.

  15. #15
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    As much as I acknowledge slaphead's perspective...

    (His kid is definitely an "advanced" rider)

    ...I cant help but notice his kid gets some awesome "hand me downs".

    I will admit that the bike quality is alot less important than the example we set.

    Slaphead's kid is hardcore because slaphead is hardcore.

    My girls are kinda typical girls.

    Both of them are a bit of a "wuss".

    If my wife didn't ride, it prolly woulda been impossible getting my girls to put up with the "pain" (really its the "scariness") of crashing, no matter the quality of the bike.
    crap! i gotta learn to climb.

  16. #16
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    We kind of derailed this post.
    For my little girl, I got rid of the "scary"
    with knee pads, elbow pads, always ride in pants, and long sleeves and gloves.

    Little bugger goes and breaks her collar bone, last summer. That slowed her down for a while. as well as she is much much more careful. she does nto GO GO unless she knows she can stop stop

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilmfat View Post

    Slaphead's kid is hardcore because slaphead is hardcore.
    I only wish that was true - I dunno where he got it, but it sure wasn't inherited from me; he's been better since his first year off training wheels.



    Though we do try to have decent fitting and functioning bikes, I sure as hell wouldn't ever spend a bunch of money on bling parts. If I have something laying around the garage, I'll put it on (kid does have some pretty nice bits here and there, but that's because they were just collecting dust otherwise). Personally, I wouldn't even waste the money to XTR or carbon anything for my own bikes, let alone a kid's. I just don't operate at a high enough level where it makes any difference whatsoever, so I would consider it wasting money just for bling's sake. We try to match the equipment to our needs for the most part. Which is why I think almost any little 12" bike is fine for a kid that isn't even pedaling yet.
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    I'll buying my youngest a belter 16, expensive yes but light and cool looking which is important for a 4 year old lol. I've got no issue spending money if the item is quality. No doubt the resale value will be good. I've got a good bike, his brother has a decent 24 inch bike so why shouldn't Samuel.

  19. #19
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    some of the kids out there started @ 2 years old on the 14" furi.

    heck, some kids started @ 2 on 18" bmx bikes.
    And some of them started at 1 year old on a steel bike with 10" plastic tyres

    However I do think that building my son a bike was the best thing I ever did for his riding. However if I could afford a LIl Shredder I probably would...

  20. #20
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    There's definitely nothing wrong with having a sweet bike for your kid. I think as parents that are into it though, there can be a tendency to...err...overprescribe a bit. For a kid isn't even riding yet though, it's probably a little early to start buying high end stuff.

    Personally, once in knew mine was into it and was riding well, I kind of leaned more towards trying to get him set up with a bunch of decent but different style bikes rather than just one super nice one. (I tend to do this for myself too - just a different symptom of the same disease I suppose ).
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    I'm lucky that mine is still at the age where when he says "I'm going to ride my BMX/mountain bike/trials bike today" he is talking about the same bike

  22. #22
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    OP, if your daughter isn't into the balance bike, this may work... It did for me.
    I was going to buy my son a balance bike but my wife "surprised" us and bought a 16" Schwinn Gremlin that weighed about 36 pounds. Training wheels and all. I was pretty mad. Anyway, he rode around on the training wheels for a few months and I could see it was time for them to come off. My wife said NO! He needs his training wheels!.
    One day, I come home and my son is in the living room alone. Where's mom? Sleeping. His older brother was in a Facebook induced coma so I was good to go. C'mere... We're gonna do something. I removed the crankset, chain and training wheels from his bike. We went to the church parking lot and did the balance bike thing for 30 minutes. Put the bike back together and he instantly rode it.
    I like turtles

  23. #23
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    Going back to the balance bikes, I've mentioned how I had issues with my kid getting the grasp of balance bikes in other threads. Like the OP's kid, my kid wanted to ride a bike and would always climb on them and try to pedal. But I think part of the issue is that he didn't understand the concept of balance bikes. And trying to get him on a balance bike had the potential to get real ugly and put me in a real bad mood.

    A bunch of things kind of happened around the same time.

    I started to make it a point to take him out on my own bike. Although that kind of caused some issues previously because he would demand that we ride on my bike and not ride his balance bike.

    Then I found a video on youtube of a kid riding a balance bike and showed him that was how it was supposed to work. This video also showed me that the approach that I was using in teaching him how to ride a balance bike wasn't correct. Where I initially assumed that walking with a bike should be a natural thing. So tried to get leave him on his own which I think might've discouraged him. Watching that video showed me the holding the shoulder technique, which I later found mentioned on Sheldon Brown's website as well.

    Around the same time we finally saw another kid with a balance bike at a playground and I pointed it out to him so he could see it work in person.

    Then based on a recommendation from this forum, I also got him a scooter. Ended up getting one of those three wheeled scooters on sale. After messing with it for a day or two, my kid was ready to hop on a balance bike.

    In general I'm not sure if he just hit some milestone, because around the same time he became more confident on some playground equipment. Although I'm not sure if some things lead to another. ie the confidence he gained from riding a balance bike lead to more confidence in general or vice versa. Or he just might've reached the point where everything clicked.

    I found some of the other posts that people on here and other websites about balance bikes to be kind of discouraging when people mention how their kid only needed to mess around with a balance bike for a day or two and could jump right onto a pedal bike afterwards. Because that definitely isn't the case for my kid. But over time I think he's been slowly and surely picking it up. My wife originally thought that he was too young for that kind of thing but eventually saw it working as well. And in his defense, we're not really bike riding family, and since he doesn't see us riding a bike on a regular basis it might take him a bit longer to pick it up. We only go out for maybe 15 minutes a time and I try not to fight him (too much) when he doesn't want to ride anymore.

    I like balance bikes and all and would definitely get one again but am not totally sold on them as a necessary training tool to teach a kid how to ride a bike. If my kid was tall enough I'd use the holding the shoulders method on a 12" bike but he's still a bit too short. And in looking at the other bikes at the playgrounds we go to, there are a lot of bikes with training wheels out there.

  24. #24
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    Just for reference and change in the times, this was my first 2 wheel bike. Your guess would be as good as mine as to my age at the time.

    I am pretty sure I was not 3-4 years old in this picture
    if the bike was even a pound under 35 lbs I would be shocked. We still have the bike maybe weigh it tomorrow.

    Need bike recommendation for 4 year old-img_20131019_0106.jpg

    This is my daughters first bike, never has had training wheels
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    and this is what she had last year
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    anyone know the best place to host videos?

  25. #25
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    Need bike recommendation for 4 year old

    Fwiw, we picked up. 16" Hotrock today. Will report back as to whether the outcome is any better than with the Strider.

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