Tag Archives: kids bike

Summer fun for you and the kids is two wheels away. Here are the best ways to keep your kid's bike working well and operating safely.

Tips and tricks for keeping your kid’s bike running smooth and safe

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Summer fun for you and the kids is two wheels away.  It a time to bond, explore a new area of the neiborhood and maybe share some life lessons? Sadly, that fun can come to a premature end if your bike breaks down, or worse, you crash. Here are the best ways to keep your kid’s bike working well and operating safely.

How much air should you put in kid’s bike tires

Nothing will spoil a fun ride faster than a flat tire, and most flats are due to low tire pressure. Take a few minutes before your kids ride to help them check the tire pressure. If your kids don’t know how to use your pump, checking pressure is a great way to teach them. When considering a pump, remember you kid’ bike tires work best around 35psi so make sure your pump can easily hit that pressure.

Adjusting your kid’s bike brakes

The biggest key to control is braking. Adjusting brakes for children is a little different than for adults. Due to children’s small and relatively weak hands it is important to focus on the brake lever position before adjusting the brake. Ensure the lever is as close to the bar as possible (see image) and the spring tension on the brakes are as low as possible. You have it right if your kids can easily reach and squeeze the brake levers.

Lubing their chain

A dry chain will wear faster than one that is properly lubricated. Additionally, a dry and worn chain can break under stress. To avoid excess wear, be sure to lube the chain periodically in dry conditions and immediately after wet rides.

Inspect you kid’s bike for bent or broken parts

Every year, bike makers change bike designs to make them indestructible for kids. The following year, kids find new and interesting ways to destroy those bikes. Pay close attention to your kid’s bike for bent or broken parts. The most common parts that get bent are rear wheels, seats, handlebars, and rear derailleurs. The parts that most frequently get broken are brake levers, shifters, pedals, and reflectors (reflectors leave sharp sections of plastic behind). If anything is bent or broken, replace it immediately.

Also inspect tires for wear

Tires are more susceptible to flats when worn. The normal wear indicator for a tire is when the tread goes bald. Beyond tread wear there are a host of other indicators. Look for cracks in the tread or sidewall, threads coming loose, or bubbles in the tire. Worn tires should be replaced immediately.

Are the handlebar grips tight?

As rubber wears and ages, it becomes harder and less elastic. For grips, the softness and elasticity is what keeps the grips in place. Put your hands around the grip and twist hard. If the grip can rotate or move, get them replaced. Also, when a bike gets dropped on the ground the end of the grip can get torn. Once torn, that grip will leave the sharp end of the bar exposed with the potential to cut small riders in the event of a crash.

Is the seat adjusted and tight?

When riding, a stable seat allows your child to control the bike with their hips. If that saddle is loose, it can be difficult to control the bike. Check the saddle by grabbing it firmly, flexing up and down, and twisting. Be sure to tighten it if there is any movement.

How to bike fit your kid’s bike

Kids grow so quickly that it’s important to constantly check their fit in the bike.  Be sure they can easily pedal without their knees going to high. Also ensure that they aren’t reaching too low for the bars.

Proper helmet fit

The final bit of safety for riding is probably the most important. A helmet needs to fit properly to work well. If the straps are too tight or the shell is too small, it will be painful to wear and your child will try not to wear it. Additionally, always check for dents or cracks in helmets. It is possible to break a helmet without crashing on it. Most helmets are relatively inexpensive, so making sure they are comfortable enough for your kids to want to wear them is a small investment to keep them safe.

The best way to verify you are buying the best bike for you is to test ride a lot.

Buying a new bike? Test ride tips to make the most of your time

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The best way to find the right bike for you is to do some research on models you like. Then verify their size to your body and test riding your choices a lot. With so many choose, how do you make the best use of your time while test riding these bikes? Read on for a complete list of how to test ride efficiently.

Test ride bike plan research

Any good test ride begin with research. First, review what type of bicycle you would like, then check out the websites of some popular brands. Pay close attention to the prices of each bike and what it buys you. A few things to look for are, the amount of gears, what type of suspension it has, tire size, frame material, and brake type. Once you have gotten a general sense for what is available, you can plan a trip to the bike shop.

Pick a shop

Give a call to the shops closest to you and verify they have the models you want to test ride.

Before looking further call a shop closest to you and verify they have the models you want to test ride.

Once you have researched a few bikes you like, give some local dealers a call. Most brand’s websites have a dealer locator to help you find the closest shop. Give a call to the shops closest to you and verify they have the models you want to ride. Because shops can’t stock every possible model in every possible size, call to ensure they at least have the right model in a size that is close to what you are looking for.

Make a date to test ride

Check the weather and your schedule, then pick a good time to head into the shop. Keep in mind that shops and roads are less busy during the work week. Therefore, Monday thru Friday is the ideal time to test ride bikes. If you need to go in on the weekend, call the shop and see when they are least busy and make an appointment if possible.

Dress appropriately

It makes no sense to test ride bicycles if you are not dressed for the occasion. Wear your Jersey, Shorts, bring your helmet, and bring shoes and pedals if you ride clipless. Another helpful thing is to bring your existing bicycle with you. The way your current bike is setup can be replicated somewhat for test rides.

Bring your ID

When test riding bikes, you are potentially borrowing thousands of dollars from the shop. Therefore, it’s expected for shops to ask for some form of collateral. At the minimum, bring your ID and a major credit card.

The test ride

Test rides don’t need to take hours, but a three minute spin is rarely enough time to make a real impression. Expect to take at least 15 minutes on each bike, with more time spent on the first few bikes you ride. When riding, try to focus on how the bike accelerates, how easily it changes direction, and how stable it feels. A great way to do this is to pick a set route that has some flat area, some climbs, and at least one good descent. Riding the same course with different bikes makes comparing them easier.

Narrow it down to bikes

Once you get the feel for a few bikes, you can start narrowing down your choices. I find it best to pick two and then ride them back to back, concentrating on fit and comfort rather than speed and stability. Have the shop begin dialing in your fit on these two bicycles to see which one really is the best for you. Once you have a bike that rides well and fits well, you are ready to buy.

Buy everything you will need

A bike that rides great is the key ingredient in a great bike ride but it’s not everything. Remember that your new bike needs things like a water bottle cage, kickstand, lights, and maybe clipless pedals or a better fitting saddle. Consider all the situations you may run into on your new bike and buy the products you need to be prepared.

Hopefully your next bike purchase will be fun and informative

Kid’s bikes are the gateway to lifetime of fun. What’s best for your rider?

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

When it is time to get your child on the bike for the first time, or upgrade to a bigger size, knowing the differences between kid’s bikes will make the job easier. Read below for more details.

BMX

In the early 1970’s kids began racing their bicycles on the dirt tracks of southern California. This racing led to the national explosion of the BMX bike. Over the last few years the “Bikelife” movement has given BMX a renewed interest around the world and ushered many different frame and wheel sizes into the category of BMX. These bikes all share the similarities of one rear brake, single speed, high bars, and low saddle even though the wheel sizes are different.

MTB

The Mountain Bike boom of the 90’s spread across the globe and included options for every size of rider. Today, kid’s mountain bikes live in two categories; “Off road” and On road”. The “Off road” mountain bikes have lower gearing to traverse loose trails, suspension designed for control, and lightweight components. “On road” mountain bikes are built to be ridden around the neighborhood rather than off road. They have higher gearing for smooth paths, suspension designed for ascetics rather than function and they typically weight a lot more than the “Off road” versions. Both come in 20”, 24” and 26” wheel sizes.

Balance

Balance bikes are sweeping the world as the best way to teach children to ride bikes. What is a balance bike and how does it work? These bikes look a lot like a normal bike with two wheels, frame, seat and handlebars. What you won’t see on a balance bike is a crank, chain and pedals. Balance bikes are designed to teach kids the most difficult portion of riding, balance, before incorporating pedals.

Road

This category is a bit newer to kid’s bikes, but has existed in cycling for over 100 years. More recently, parents who enjoy riding their road bikes wanted to share that experience with their young kids. Thanks to a few perceptive companies, kid’s road bikes came to the market with great acceptance. To find the size that fits your child best, try different brands to find something that fits your child well.

Sizes

Most kid’s bikes are sized by wheels size. As an example, a child from 32”-42” tall would ride a 16” wheeled kids bike. That does not mean that all 16” wheeled kids bikes are the same size. Where they differ is the overall height of the frame, and the distance from the seat to the handlebars. When getting a new bike, try a few brands to see which frame fits best.

Brakes

Smaller kid’s bikes (>16” wheels) usually use a pedal brake. Therefore, to have the child stop, they pedal backward. Once you grow into kid’s bikes with 20” wheels most manufactures use a hand brake and a pedal brake so that kids can get comfortable with hand brakes. At 24” wheels and above, bikes are almost exclusively built with hand brakes only.

Materials

Thanks to the increase in aluminum production and costs for the material coming down, many kids bikes are now made out of aluminum. This is great news for kids of the world because aluminum frames are lighter than steel. Steel frames are not always a detriment to kids bike though. In the case of BMX bikes, Steel’s durability and strength end up being a huge benefit for riders doing more aggressive moves.

Attributes

-weight

Kids bikes typically weigh a lot in relation to the child. But that is not to say these bikes are heavy. As an example, a 25-pound bike is proportionally heavier to a child who weighs 40 pounds than to a 150-pound adult. Getting your child the lightest bicycle available, will go a long way to make it easier for them to ride.

-durability

Durability is a difficult metric to qualify when buying a bike for a child. Something that will be durable enough for path riding, might not hold up to the rigors of off road use. Durable things to look for are metals rather than plastics in the braking and shifting components, and aluminum rims rather than steel. Beyond everything else, take into consideration the child who will be riding the bike when determining how durable it needs to be. Some kids are gentle on their equipment while others are far more kinetic.

-gears

Gears are great for neighborhoods that have hills or for riding off road. Multiple gears give kids a mechanical advantage to ride steep grades or high speeds with relative ease. On the other hand, if your typical riding locations are completely flat and paved, gears will probably just add undue complexity to your child’s bike.

How to buy

Now that you know all about what makes a kid’s bike, let’s talk about how to buy one. I cannot recommend your local bike shop highly enough. A child’s enjoyment of riding a bike is hugely effected by the quality of the bike, fit of the bike, and function of the bike. For those reasons, no entity does a better job of getting your kid on the right bike than the local bike shop. It is not a secret that there are less expensive places to buy a bike than a bike shop. Even though others may sell bikes for less money they are not the same product in fit, function, or service.

Additional materials

When going to get your child a new bike, remember to look for a few other products as well. First and foremost is a Helmet. Helmets have limited lifespans and should be replaced frequently. Also consider the things that will go on your kid’s new bike like a bell or bottle. Round out the purchase with gloves or a jersey and your kid will be looking forward to mile after mile of great riding.

Balance bikes are sweeping the world as the best way to teach children to ride bikes. What is a balance bike and how does it work? Balance bikes are designed to teach kids the most difficult portion of riding – Balance.

Balance bikes are a great way for kids to adapt to a life of riding

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Balance bikes are sweeping the world as the best way to teach children to ride bikes. What is a balance bike and how does it work? Balance bikes look a lot like a normal bike with two wheels, frame, seat and handlebars. What you won’t see on a balance bike is a crank, chain and pedals. Balance bikes are designed to teach kids the most difficult portion of riding – Balance.

Balance bikes for fitness and fun

The best way to get kids excited about their balance bike is to make sure it fits them and it’s fun. To adjust the fit, start by loosening the seat and dropping it all the way down. Next, have your child stand over the bike and lift the saddle until it makes contact with their backside. Tighten the seat at that height. Once the seat height is set, adjust the handlebars to a comfortable position for your child. They should be able to reach out normally and hold the grips. If they look as if their arms are too high (this will fatigue them prematurely) lower the bars. Inversely, if the child is reaching too far down, raise them.

balance bike sizing

So once the bike is fit right, be sure to make it fun! In short, make sure the bike is what the child wants it to be. Stickers, colored tape, bags, bells or horns work great to customize your child’s balance bike for them.

Saftey

A balance bike is a bike and should be treated as such. This means, you want to practice in a flat safe area free of traffic, wear a helmet and be careful of obstacles.

Start out fun

Starting out on the balance bike can be intimidating for your kids. Try to keep it fun. Kids love motorcycle sounds and wheelies. In my 15 years working in a bike shop, I never once ran into a kid who didn’t like getting pushed around on a bike while making motorcycle noises. If you can add a wheelie to the mix, all the better. Even if the first rides aren’t very long, be sure to stop as soon as it’s not fun. 5 – 10 minute rides may seem short, but are totally acceptable.

Support the child not the bike

While helping your child with their balance bike, remember that the goal is for your children to understand how to balance WITH the bike. This is different to balancing ON TOP of the bike. A great way to help this is to support the children by the shoulders rather than holding the seat and handlebars. If you support the child, they will learn to use the bike to help them balance. If you hold the bike stable, the kids have more trouble feeling what real bicycle balance is.

Pedals aren’t all bad

All our talk about balance makes it sound like pedals at the young age are a bad thing, That’s not the case. Bikes with training wheels or tricycles have a great place in teaching kids how to pedal. The action of pedaling forward is not as difficult to learn as balance, but the frustration of not being able to do it can hamper a child’s move from balance bike to pedal bike.

What age

Balance bikes come in many different sizes. The smallest sizes can accommodate kids as young as 18 months. Before picking a bike try to have the child stand over it. You want some clearance between the child and the bike, and a comfortable distance from the seat to handlebars. Most Balance bikes will top out sizes for kids around 6.

Transitioning to a full size bike

In a few stories you will hear about the kid who got off his balance bike, onto his pedal bike, and pedaled away. It’s a great story, but not too common. Transitioning to a pedal bike takes a little effort. Start in a similar fashion to the balance bike – Fit and Fun. Adjust the pedal bike’s seat and handlebar. Next step is to explain how the bikes brakes work. With a balance bike kids can become accustomed to stopping by dragging their feet, so it’s important to show them how the pedal bike stops. Next step is to let them ride while supporting them by the shoulders and let them pedal around. Once they feel comfortable pedaling, you can let go. You will find they have almost no issues riding and the transition from balance to pedal bike will happen within a day.

Make your bike a balance bike

After all this you’re probably asking yourself “Why can’t I just pull the pedals of my child’s bike and use that as the balance bike?” The truth is, you can do that.

Pulling the pedals off a bike will give you a lot of the same benefits as a balance bike. The shortcomings of doing that are pedal bikes are wider than balance bikes and make it more difficult for the child to push off. Pedal bikes are also heavier than balance bikes. Pushing around the extra weight of a pedal bike can be difficult for smaller riders.

However you choose to teach your kids to balance, keep it fun.

The Strider 14X is a really cool new balance bike that incorporates an install-able drivetrain for when the kids have learned balance. Read on to learn more

Strider’s 14x is a new breed of balance bikes and out of the box

By John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

We’ve talked a lot about balance bikes in the past, and with good reason. Balance bikes teach children the most difficult aspect of riding in a fun and easy way. By doing away with the pedals, a balance bike allows kids to scoot along sidewalks and paths with relative ease while learning how to balance a two wheeled machine. In the world of balance bikes there is no bigger name than Strider. Strider has been at the forefront of creating affordable, lightweight, and adjustable balance bikes since their inception in 2007. What is new to the Strider world is the 14X, a really cool new balance bike that incorporates an install-able drivetrain for when the kids have learned balance. Read on to learn more

The 14x is out of the box

Our 14X arrived in a large brown cardboard box (common for all forms of bicycles). The frame of the bicycle, and the fork were separate, but both were protected and stabilized well. I took all the components out of the box and removed the packaging in a few minutes. Once I had everything out, I saw that building the bike was as simple as installing the fork, handlebar, and seat. Happily, Strider included easy to read instructions as well as all the tools necessary for assembly. Now before you run for the hills at the word “assembly”, realize that to put the bike together you only needed to tighten two bolts. It was so easy in fact, I had my 5 year old son do it. As the recipient of the new bike he was happy to pitch in.

What is different about the 14X

So what makes the 14x different? To start, this bike incorporates the features that Striders are known for. It is lightweight, has foot platforms for coasting, and a great fit and finish. Additionally, it has a massive amount of adjustability In the bars and seat so your child can really grow with the bike. Where the 14X really sets itself apart is its ability to transition your child onto a pedal bike. As an example, in the story of Strider, Ryan McFarland taught his son balance on a prototype Strider, then transitioned him onto another bike with pedals. For some kids, that change of bikes is difficult. For the 14X, one simply needs to install the pedals once their child is ready for them. That way the child’s position on the bike stays the same, his comfort is high, and he can focus only on the new propulsion system. Brilliant!

Who does it fit

The 14X is designed for kids from about 3 years to 7 years old. Overall, reviewing the amount of adjustments tells me that this range is totally achievable, although if your 3 year old is on the small side, or your 6 year old inherited some Sasquatch genes, you may not quite fit.

Pedal installation

Like building the bike itself, installing the pedal system is really simple. A few bolts secure the cranks in place, the chain goes on easily, and the included chainguard is easy to place. Once everything is installed, this bike looks like a normal bike with a few great features. First, the cranks are narrower than most other bikes, so they match the narrow width of kids hips. Also, the low overall stance of the bike is really confidence inspiring for riders just starting out.

Moving on

I plan to really try this whole system with my younger son. As of now he isn’t riding on two wheels, and I would love to get him started. We will progress from the balance features, into the pedal features and really test this concept. Stay tuned for more on his progress and how well the Strider worked for him.

Riding to school can be easy with these tips and tricks

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

All around the country, bike paths are being built as quickly as possible. Many of these paths are routed from neighborhoods to nearby schools in an effort to get more kids riding to school. To get your kids riding to school safely and comfortably look at our helpful tips below.

Riding to school safely starts with a helmet

First and foremost, a well-fitting helmet cuts down the risk of serious injury by half. As a result, helmets are the single most important piece of cycling gear for kids. Sadly, many bicyclists under the age of 14, are not riding with a helmet that fits properly. As an example, a well-fitting helmet will be snug on the rider’s head. When fitted properly, the strap toggles should be located about a ½ inch below the ear lobe with the chin strap tight enough to hold the helmet on your head, but not so tight it chokes you. Important to realize, is that helmets lose effectiveness over time, so review its production date. Therefore, be sure to consult the manufacturers recommendations for when to replace your existing helmet.

Why is riding to school good.

There are tons of organizations that encourage children to exercise. In the US, child obesity is a real issue, and any activity goes a long way to help. In studies, it is shown that activity before school increased attention span, boosted mood, improved fitness and BMI. And it only took one ride to start to see those results! In fact, based off these results, Specialized Bicycles have invested a substantial amount of resources to develop programs for kids suffering with ADHD to substitute exercise for medication with great results. Overall, the quick trips of riding to school help kids kickstart their metabolism, gain focus, and learn valuable skills.

Bike Maintenance and safely

Be sure that your child is comfortable on their bicycle and it is sized properly. Bikes that are too small or too large are difficult for children to control. If you have concerns about the fit, visit your local bike shop to have the bike adjusted.Verify that the brakes work, tires are inflated and controls are tight. Be sure that your child can squeeze the brake levers easily and stop the bike. Additionally, kids bikes are required to be sold with reflectors on the bars, seatpost, wheels, and pedals. Those reflectors should be considered the most basic level of visibility. Add to that visibility, by having your kids wear brightly colored clothes, installing lights and a flag on the bike. With young kids try to avoid riding at night or at twilight.

Riding skills

Teaching basic skills can be fun and easy. Find a flat section of low grass (like a high school football field) and have them practice riding with one hand off the bar. Use the Board Trick to learn how to handle riding over obstacles. When riding a bicycle on the road, you are required to follow posted traffic laws as well as signal your directions. Teach your kids the basics of signaling turns and navigating on roads.

Riding to the right is the most basic rule of riding on sidewalks and bikepaths. What is more important than that rule is the courtesy of riding around others. Being courteous is the best way to make sure everyone has fun. It’s tempting for kids to try and bring a phone or iPod on a ride with them. Those distractions are a detriment to your child’s safety. Keep your digital toys in a backpack or better yet at home.

 Figuring out the course

For your kids to be comfortable riding to school, it is very important that they are familiar and comfortable with the route. An easy way to practice the route is on the weekends. Weekends are free from school traffic and give plenty of time to explore alternate routes. Look for clear roads and intersections with lighted crosswalks. Even if the route is not the most direct, as long as it is safe and clear your child can feel comfortable. Additionally, try to avoid large hills (either up or down) as not to exhaust your kids.

Locking the bike during class

With the route, and skills covered, let’s talk about how to keep the bike safe during the school day. The easiest way to protect your bike is to lock it up properly. Locking a bike in the same place for extended periods of time makes it a target for theft. The best locks are also some of the heaviest and burdening your child with that weight as well as the weight of school books is not an option. For that reason, I recommend you lock your lock to the bike rack and leave it there rather than carrying it back and forth each day. Periodically lubricating the lock mechanism will keep your lock working well year-round.

Putting it all together

After teaching your kids how to ride, equipping them, and working to create a safe course, continue to reinforce all those things throughout the school year. Evaluate their equipment frequently to ensure its working properly. Additionally, ride with them to reinforce their signaling and riding safe. Finally, be cognizant of traffic patterns as the year progresses. Above all else, make riding to school fun, your kids will appreciate it.

 

Balance bike offers wooden frame natural suspension

C.C. Weiss, Giz Magazine  

Among the many bicycle designs we have looked at here at, I see a fair number of balance bikes, including the multifunctional LittleBig Bike at Gizmag. We’ve even seen a wooden one or two, but we’ve never seen a balance bike quite like the ZumZum, which is built around a curved wooden frame that serves as its own suspension system.

ZumZum design features and specs

ZumZum design features and specs

New York-based ZumZum wanted to design a balance bike that could do more than just give kids something to putter around on on a Saturday afternoon. It wanted a design that would get kids excited about biking from an early age while giving them balance skills to take with them onto pedal bikes. To meet this goal, they reached out to a multitude of designers and manufacturers and put together a team centered around pro mountain biker Steve Peat.

ZumZum claims frame can support an adult without cracking

ZumZum claims frame can even support an adult without cracking. Here MTN biker Steve Peat is pictured.

The ZumZum’s mountain biking roots shine through the minute you realize what you’re looking at. In place of the single down tube of other balance bike designs, the bike’s signature birch frame is curved, resembling a stretched bobby pin. The upper prong of the frame has a curvature at the end to accommodate the seat. The design gives the bike a unique look, and it provides natural suspension. You won’t want to send your child barreling into the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, but the give of the birch plywood adds some cushion to make him or her more comfortable on uneven ground. ZumZum claims that it’s so flexible, even adults can sit on it without breaking it in two.

The ZumZum bike is on Kickstarter now

The ZumZum bike is on Kickstarter now, see below.

Via its multi-position fork and dropout mounts, the ZumZum can increase 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in height and stretch out in wheelbase, growing with the child. ZumZum estimates that it can accommodate children from 18 months to four years of age. It weighs 7.5 lb (3.4 kg) and has non-marking pneumatic rubber tires for friendly indoor/outdoor use. Buyers can choose between 10- and 12-in wheels.

ZumZum's birch frame offers natural flex and suspension

ZumZum’s birch frame offers natural flex and suspension

The ZumZum also includes a sort of digital ID tag. An NFC chip inside the headset delivers owner and warranty information to a compatible smartphone app. ZumZum is also considering programming a biking game for use with the chip.

ZumZum is currently working to raise money on Kickstarter. It’s offering the ZumZum balance bike at pledge levels of US$149, estimating that the retail price will eventually be set around $249. If all goes swimmingly, the first backers will receive their bikes in March.