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  1. #1
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    Worth spending more money on a Toddler bike?

    I want to purchase a bike for my soon to be 4 year old. I bought a Strider balance bike almost a year ago. She rides it but doesn't really coast far on it. She just moves around using her feet. She will ride it for about 3 minutes and then decide she is done.

    So I am going to get her a bike with training wheels (gasp!).
    My first instinct is to go with a bike from a bike shop, REI, or performance bikes. I like performance bikes because if we are ever not satisfied, we can bring it back, plus when she outgrows it, they will give you credit towards a new bike (i think).

    Is it worth spending $140-160 or so more on a better made bike or should I just go for a cheaper bike in the $70-100 on a bike from toysrus, Target, or Walmart?

    The advantage buying a cheaper bike is that there is a much larger selection of bikes that are decorated in something my daughter would like and be familiar with (example Disney themed bike). It is also cheaper.

    A cheaper bike probably will be harder to pedal due to cheaper parts and they may be heavier.

  2. #2
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    Plenty of kids learn to love riding on cheaper bikes. I didn't have my first real bike shop bike until I was 19! And I have always been a gear head who loves anything with pedals and you can ride. The bike doesn't make the kid, the kid decides wether or not they like something, you just provide opportunity.
    Now that being said, my kids have nice bikes but mainly because I wanted it that way. My oldest sometimes rides his bike(he is 12 and is autistic and afraid of bodily injury, so it sortof is sporadic in usage) and I bought him a 12" Redline Pitboss BMX bike when he was 3. Now my youngest son has it(he is 5) and he rides it more in one week than it got in use total by the older kid.
    BUT I have a home daycare and we have cheap bikes and trikes to ride as I obviously can't spend $150 a pop on several riding toys when I could buy a fleet for that! Point is my kids ride pretty much whatever and honestly cheap vs expensive, it really doesn't seem to matter when it comes to sidewalk riding at .2 mph and 50ft each time. Until they get to miles upon miles riding stage, the quality & weight just don't seem to matter much. My youngest rides all of them equally fast and well.

    I would make a big deal about letting her pick her own ride out. Pink sparkles with tassels or Neon green BMX monster bike(I never was much of a girly girl myself!) but let her decide. Part of interest at this age is honestly looks.....kids like things for the way they look most of the time!

  3. #3
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    I too had some cheap bikes growing up as well as some nicer bikes. The difference was night and day. Once I rode a quality bike, I never rode a cheap bike again. Night and day. I just don't know if it is a noticeable difference in toddler bikes.

  4. #4
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    For a three year old that's not all that into riding, I'd go with a $25 yard sale special. It could be years, or never, before she shows real interest or progesses to the point where equipment actually makes a difference.
    My kid had a 12" bike picked from the scrap pile at the dump when he was three that he learned to balance and pedal on, and he had a blast with it. Once it was obvious that he was into riding, he got an 'okay' bike (also a Pitboss). Then when he started to get into racing, park riding and DHing, we started spending some real money on his rides. Now at 9 he's got almost as many bikes as I do, no to mention twice the skill.

  5. #5
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    I wouldn't go from a balance bike to a training wheels, defeats the purposes of a balance bike.

    Now I will relay the story of my boss's son. It was time for a new bike and he knew I was into bikes and asked my advice. At first he was reluctant to buy his son an expensive real bike because he barely rode his Walmart bike as it was. I told my boss his lack of interest may well be because of the bike. Two weeks after his birthday my boss mentioned he can get his son off his Specialized. His son was 6 moving up to a 20 inch from an 16inch.
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  6. #6
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    If they've got a strider and can't stride then don't waste your pennies on a larger bike just yet. heres why>

    1. Training Wheels/Stabilisers teach the wrong technique and allow/encourage the rider to lean outwards when cornering. When they eventually loose the stabilisers it usually results in lots of falls and can then lead to the child not wanting to ride.
    2. Bigger bikes are heavier, and if theyve not got the basics and balance they will fid it harder.

    Stick with the stryder but introduce a more structured approach to make it fun and encourage its use.
    eg. Use small plastic cones to ride around, introduce sticker charts, ride with them, use different places (parks, paths, woods).
    Make it fun and they will do it willingly and will progress quick.
    My little girl progressed to 16" in Feb (4yrs old) and has never had stabilisers. She still has fun playing on her 12" hotwalker.

    A few things to work though.
    1. Make it Fun
    2. Check the wheel bearings are free and the wheel spins freely. If it tough to turn then it will be tougher for little legs to push.
    3. Make sure the seat is neither too low or high. Both feet should be flat on the floor to start with a slight bend in the leg.
    4. Make it Fun
    5. Encourage them to walk/push, and use slight declines to help.
    6. On declines encourage them to lift their feet up in front a little ( 4 steps, feet up, 4 steps etc)
    7. Bars should be at a height they can control sat up, they shouldnt be leaning.
    8. Make it Fun
    9. Only increase saddle height once theyve mastered 4
    10. Teach them to stop when you say and quickly. Use a whistle and turn it into a game.
    11. Involve them in what they are doing and make it fun.

    Ive spoke with 6 sets of Parents in the last 2 months all on the verge of giving up.
    In every case within 2 weeks of following the above advice the kids had picked it up and where away.
    Stick at it its worth it in the long term, and only progress to a bigger bike once they've got freewheeling down. When you do come to the next size up read through the forum for lots of good ideas on Kid related builds.

    Good luck
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  7. #7
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    Have faith. I know others have said it as well, I would not transition into training wheels. I understadn different things work for different people. Recently I see kids on bikes with training wheels and itmakes me cry.

    Some of the things you can do to help out. a pair of gloves of any sort (especialy if you wear bike gloves) keeping the road out of their hand is a HUGE step in having them love to ride.

    As for the gliding. just let them ride, let them have fun. make sure they are always riding downhill just a little. Always carry the bike up hipp for now.

    And always tell them "sit sit run run" make sure the bum is on the seat. It will come. As others have said, I would not DREAM of taking the giant stepbackwards to training wheels.

    just have faith. Unless there is somethign wrong with the balance bike,or they have scared themselvs off of the balance bike.
    I do not believe training wheels are going to help.

    I have a friend with kids on training wheels. This week they saw my kid on the balance bike, the training wheels and the pedals are comming off of his bike.

  8. #8
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    Training wheels would be absolutely horrible. We had my son on a balance bike for a year, and when he got his 12" Hotrock, we left the training wheels on for a week- BIG mistake, it taught him how to ride with training wheels, and then he got addicted to them, in just a week, and we had to tell him "they broke" to get him to take them off. And then, he was fine.

    I would say just let her use the balance bike until she starts asking for a bike? I kinda feel like she'd not really be into it much if she only rides her balance bike a few minutes at a time? But I of course don't know her! But my son would ride his balance bike all over creation
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  9. #9
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    My DD will ask to ride her bike every day, several times a day and she knows when we go for a ride, it is at least an hour out. She LOVES her Kinderbike.

    The day she is actualy able to stop with the hand brake, She will be getting a spawn Banshee.
    The only problem I see, The pink bike is AWESOME...... and she wants the green bike. ARG

  10. #10
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    You need to make the right choices for you and your child, of course... but I would question if your daughter would have any interest in a pedal-bike if she has no interest in the strider. My two daughters love to ride on our Big Dummy with me, and my 3.5 yo has learned to balance so well in a week on her balance bike that I just ordered a Spawn Gremlin for her. But my 2yo is frustrated enough by her strider that she likes her 3 wheel scooter better right now. And that's just fine.

    Far be it from me to say DON'T buy a new bike... but I would make sure that she's interested in it first.

  11. #11
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    We're going through something with our son. The only balance bikes I found locally were pretty small, and he's 4 and too big for them. I went to ToysRUs and looked at the bikes there, and was pretty appalled at just how bad they were. Most of the money in those bikes are spent getting the cartoon licensing.

    The local bike stores with the trade-up programs also end up with a lot of lightly used bikes. So you're really better off spending the $100 there than at the toy store. We bought a Giant 16" bike from the LBS.

    That being said.... he hasn't shown a lot of interest. You can't really force a kid who doesn't want to do something, and I figure the way to encourage him is for me to get on my bike(that I haven't ridden in like 6 years) and hope he wants to follow. We'll see. We're just going to try to get for more walks and ask him to bring his bike to see how it goes.

    Thinking back, I know my first bike was a 20" Schwinn Stingray from a garage sale, so I'm fairly certain I didn't learn to ride until I was around 6-7 years old. I don't recall anyone having a 12" or 16" bike back in the 1970s. I think when i was 4 I had a Big Wheel.

    Each kid is different. We also have a 5 month old girl, and even the first day she was born you could tell she was more aggressive. Now that I know about the balance bikes, I'll get her one when she turns 2 years old.

    It's funny... I'm the oldest and it always seemed my younger brother got things I didn't get. Now I know why.

  12. #12
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    It's a tough call for several reasons. I'm in a similar situation. From my experience, the issue is more the weight to size ratio of the bike. I started my son on a balance bike and it worked out really great, meaning he could coast on the bike with ease and had the balance thing down.

    However, moving him to a 16" bike was difficult due to the weight. He didn't quite have the strength/confidence to get the bikes momentum going so we ended up using training wheels. It also didn't help being in an area that's hilly, making it more difficult to get the bike going. I'll also add that the added dimension of pedaling a bike can also be an issue. My son just wasn't used to pedaling and that impacts the way you balance on a bike. I would have liked to see him go from balance straight to 2 wheel pedal, but the time on the training wheels worked out o.k.

    Anyhow, he rode with the training wheels a while and I eventually encouraged him to try without training wheels on a 20" specialized hotrock. To my amazement, even though it was larger he was able to get it going and things have been good since.
    I think the 20" is actually a couple pounds lighter than the 16 inch steel bike I had him on.

    I'd recommend finding the lightest bike you're willing to buy to help things out, but expect to struggle at this 4 to 5 age range and don't be scared to try more than one option.

  13. #13
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    Regarding the weight issue... I agree completely, especially given the math on gear inches and effort to pedal. I did some off the cuff math in my thread here.

    I would recommend checking out Islabikes and Spawn Cycles for lightweight designed-for-kids bikes. Islabikes is a well known vendor of kids bikes in Europe, and have recently opened a US branch. Spawn is based in Calgary. I went with a Spawn 14" bike for my daughter due to it having a freewheel. While there is some stuff I don't like about it, it's mostly due to fundamental problems with small bikes. It's hard to put a long crank on one, for example. I really like the Spawn Gremlin and would absolutely get it again if I had to do it over.
    Last edited by evandy; 06-10-2013 at 05:33 PM.

  14. #14
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    I've started with Strider bikes, then moved to bike shop 12" and 16" bikes. With my older son quickly outgrowing those, I had pretty much resolved to go to department store bikes--the kids are growing so fast at this stage, and the bikes are so simple, I didn't see much merit in spending more on a simple bike that would only be used one season. On Saturday, I was planning to take my six year old out to Target or wherever for bike shopping.

    Of course, that day, I came across a great deal on a nearly new 20" Specialized Hotrock at a garage sale. Now we're both happy with his new bike!
    WTB: Specialized AWOL frameset, XL

  15. #15
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    Take her to the bike shop and let her pick out some accessories for the strider!! My daughter (2yo) wasn't really into her bike till I took her to the LBS and let her pick out some pom poms for the handle bars and a basket!! Now she's all about it!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by joepa150 View Post
    ...
    Is it worth spending $140-160 or so more on a better made bike or should I just go for a cheaper bike in the $70-100 on a bike from toysrus, Target, or Walmart?
    Have you considered second hand? You could get a better bike. Meaning aluminum frame for the $70 to 100 price range. You'll just need to be patient.

    Quote Originally Posted by joepa150 View Post
    The advantage buying a cheaper bike is that there is a much larger selection of bikes that are decorated in something my daughter would like and be familiar with (example Disney themed bike). It is also cheaper.
    That's true, but you could always decorate the other bike. It just really depends on how you daughter feels about the bike. Does she really care? Or would she be happy to just have a bike?

    Quote Originally Posted by joepa150 View Post
    A cheaper bike probably will be harder to pedal due to cheaper parts and they may be heavier.
    This is the $64K question, if you daughter is strong and athletic enough, maybe you could get by with the steel bikes. I'm just not sure how much fun that will be for her. IMHO a lighter bike would be more fun due to less effort and ease of use. If you're just going to have her do street biking on a flat surface then steel may work out just fine. If you want to do "challenging" trails, I'm just talking small dips and rocks and gradual slopes, a lighter bike makes more sense.

    The lighter bike will also make the transition from training wheels or glider to two wheels easier.

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