Buying the right kids bike can be challenging – especially considering the fact that often kids don’t know what they want or need.
This article details the path I followed while researching and buying bicycles for my 5 and 7 year old children. Navigate the article using the links below:
My Kids Weren’t Interested in Riding Their Bikes
Neither of my kids (7 year old girl, 5 year old boy) were interested in learning to ride a bike. We had a couple of department store bikes lying around but that didn’t help much. My boy had a 12” spider man bike with fat tires and training wheels. It looked cool, but weighed a ton – not far off his weight at 3 or 4 yrs old. My daughter had a similar bike with 16” wheels, princess-theme, complete with streamers, basket, chain guard, and training wheels. These bikes were given as christmas gifts from grandma and grandpa a couple years prior.
For two years, my kids occasionally pedaled around on the driveway, but would lose interest within 15 minutes with no desire to jump back on the bikes. This was frustrating because my wife and I really enjoy bicycling and we wanted to get the kids interested so we could ride together as a family.
I decided to research higher quality kids bikes thinking better equipment may spur their interest. This article details my journey and the results.
It Started with Department Store Bikes
Department store bikes are what most kids start with. As parents, we don’t want to spend a fortune on a bike only to have them grow out of it within a year or two. I was in this camp too. However, the first attempt with department store bikes had proven unsuccessful.
I took a closer look at these bikes to understand why they are so heavy and bulky. I noticed several contributing factors:
- Thick metal frames and forks – made from heavy, low grade steel
- Suspension in the forks – adding more weight
- Wheels have steel rims – made from heavy, low grade steel
- Thick, bulky tires
- Training wheels with steel attachment bars – heavy
- Coaster brakes – heavier than hand brakes
- Bulky plastic chain guard
- Unnecessary accessories (basket, action figure tool box, bells, tassels, horn, etc.) – all adding weight
They are really heavy for what they are. Their frames are made with low-grade steel, and many accessories on the bike are not needed. This means the coaster brake, training wheels, fancy saddle, pegs, fat tires, various spider man (or princess) doodads, and thick forks and handlebars. Over 20 pounds, fully loaded, for a 12” kids bike. Add a few more pounds for the 16” bike. Knowing a child rider on one of these bikes may weigh slightly more than the bike itself, is started making sense why my kids weren’t very interested in riding. Would a 180lb adult want to pedal a 130lb bike? No way!
The best feeling about riding a bike should be when you jump on, start pedaling and the thing just goes! It doesn’t get in the way, it doesn’t fight you, but enables you to glide and enjoy the experience.
Finding the Right Bike for My Kids
I decided to look at popular, “nice bike”, brands – Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, GT, Jamis, etc. Most offer a range of kids bikes, available exclusively through local bike shops. Price points start around $250. While I was not blown away by any particular model, there are some notable advantages of these bikes over department store models:
- Superior overall build quality – tighter frame assembly, higher precision welds, pieces just fit together better
- Aluminium frames and rims – considerably lighter
- Better, lighter components such as brakes, saddle, pedals
- Proper length seatpost allowing you to raise the seat – department store bikes have really short seat posts to save money
- No unnecessary accessories
- Interesting technologies, such as Trek’s “Dialed Fit Design” that provides adjustable pedal positions to accommodate your child’s growth
Knowing that bike shops each carry several major bike brands, I could have visited a handful of shops to have the kids try out various bikes. This would be a perfectly good approach.
Instead, I continued my research to see if I could find something online, through Amazon, an online bike retailer, or direct from a manufacturer.
This led me to the kids-only bike maker Woom, available from Amazon and direct online. The geometry on these bikes is designed 100% for kids’ body types, with high end components and materials. They are super light and more expensive when compared to most other brands of kids bikes. I was curious. I wanted to dig in further to understand why they were more expensive and how it could possibly be worth the extra money.
Woom Bikes – a Compelling Option
After watching some YouTube videos and reading more about the specs of these bikes, I started thinking about my overall goal of this exercise – which was to get my kids riding bikes – and whether a nicer quality, more expensive kids bike could actually make that easier. I was intrigued for many reasons:
- It became obvious my kids wouldn’t ride a heavy bike
- Woom makes bikes exclusively for kids. I liked this idea.
- I liked the advanced features on kids bike (hand brakes, no coaster brakes, internal 2-speed hub on a 16” bike, 8-speed grip shifter on 20” bike, Shimano components)
- Hand brakes sized according to frame size to accommodate smaller hands
- Super light aluminium frame and rims – 13lbs for 16” bike, 16lbs for 20” bike
- Seat adjustment with a simple lever, long seat post to adjust as needed
- Quality components – brakes, saddle, pedals, wheels, tires with all-terrain tread
- Smart, functional tires – 1.25” thick with all terrain tread – good for paved trails or dirt
- I realized the overall quality of the Woom bike was better than similarly priced adult bikes
It didn’t take long to convince myself that a high quality bike would make a big difference for my kids. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.
Why Spend More on a Kids’ Bike?
Removing the budget constraint for a moment, I considered if Woom bikes could be the answer. If my kids really like them, learn to ride them, and we can go riding as a family, is the cost really a barrier? I put a lot of intrinsic value on family activities, especially ones that are healthy, fun, and outdoors. The increased cost of the Woom bike quickly became a non-issue, as I sold myself on the idea of frequent bike rides with my kids.
Another useful comparison I looked at was kids activities that cost money every month, such as soccer, lacrosse, baseball, karate, dance, etc. These can add up to hundreds of dollars every month and will continue as long as my kids participate. Quality bikes would be a one time cost and free every time we use them, for as long as we have the bike.
Selection, Sizing, and Ordering Online
Figuring out the right size Woom bike was easy. They’ve got a really simple sizing system – Woom 1 through Woom 5. I also confirmed the tire sizes using eBicycle’s kids bike size calculator as a cross reference. I needed a Woom 3 (16”) and Woom 4 (20”). Frames and colors are unisex while the bike design is clean and simple. My kids (boy and girl) both chose the same color – Blue.
The only decision I had to make on the Woom 3 was whether to go with an internal 2-speed hub that would allow my 5 year old to go a bit faster without having to worry about changing gears. I opted to spend the extra $60 knowing if he really liked riding, the 2nd gear would come in handy.
I threw in a couple nutcase helmets and water bottle cages, and the order was complete. Free shipping was included, which I would have expected considering the price paid for each bike. Shipping took about 5 days.
Arrival, Unboxing, and Assembly
The bikes arrived in sturdy cardboard boxes, well packed, in perfect condition. Simple instructions were provided to set the handlebars and prepare the rest of the bicycle for riding. It took about 15 mins per bike with no special tools or knowledge required.
The bikes are really well made, and it was immediately clear to me how much better the riding experience would be on these bikes. Both kids were super excited too.
This post is based on my own experience researching and purchasing a Woom bike for my kids. I used my own money (all $900 of it), and have received no compensation of any kind from Woom. There may be affiliate links in this post when referencing 3rd party websites. They have no effect on your research or shopping experience when visiting other sites, and may result in nominal compensation to eBicycles if you end up purchasing any products referenced in this post.