Saturday, 25 May 2013

The hunt for the perfect bike - Kid's edition

After years of fixing up free bikes for my daughter, we are finally spending money on a brand new bike for her. Her current bike still works, and is the right size for her, but as out little girl becomes a more seasoned rider, she's starting to develop preferences, and knows what will be the most comfortable ride for her. So you would think that finding her a great new bike would be easy. Think again! 

There have been some specific requests from our daughter for her new bike. She wants gears, she doesn't want to lean forward but rather be more upright like mom and dad, and most of all, she wants her bike to be different and unique. The first request is pretty easy. Most kids' bikes, specifically in the 20" wheel variety, come with gear shifters. The problem is that most also come with suspension forks, a detail common in mountain bikes. This is an issue for two reasons. First, majority of the riding my daughter does is on paved pathways and city streets, so there's no need for suspension. Second, suspension usually means added weight. With her struggling to lift her current bike, a heavier bike would not be ideal, and even with the gears would make it harder for her on the occasions when she has to climb a hill. That just won't do at all.

Her second request, to be more upright, is also proving to be difficult when combining it with the request for gears. There are some fabulous upright choices out there, including the sleek Lil' Dutchi from Linus, the mini version of her dad's bike, but they all seem to be single speeds, with coaster brakes. I tend to think this style of bike would be the best for her, and not just because I have grown to really appreciate he beauty and simplicity of my own upright over the past year and a half. Think about it. Most children's first bike is a tricycle, a completely upright bike favoured because it is east to steer and pedal. They then switch to a run bike, again, sitting upright. My daughter is a seasoned rider, however she is the definition of a citizen cyclists, someone who uses a bike as a tool to get from point A to point B. So a utilitarian upright bike makes the most sense for her planned use.

Her final request is for her bike to be unlike anyone else's. We've done quite well so far with used bikes that are older, and needed a bit of rebuilding to make them perfect for her. Now that we're looking at new bikes, We are finding it quite difficult to find one that isn't similar or exactly the same as ones her friends have, or isn't pasted with licensed images. Many of the independent bike shops have very limited selection in younger kids bikes, and with the added pressure to get a bike that our son will want to ride when they've both grown up a bit, the standard pink bike just isn't going to cut it.

Well, after a couple weeks of searching, I am happy to say that we managed to get Coralie a bike that checks two of the three boxes. In order to get her an upright bike that was unique from any others she's seen, we had to forego the gears, with the promise that her next bike will likely have gears as she will almost be in adult sizes, or at the very least, a teenage size. With the help of our friends Chris and Nellija at Whoa! Nellie Bikes, Coralie is now the VERY proud owner of a shiny red Lil' Dutchi. She rode it right out of the shop and home with the biggest smile on her face, happy to know she got just what she was looking for, and we're happy to know we'll have many happy days of riding ahead!

One happy Junior Citizen Cyclist

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great bike. My daughter is 5 year olds and had been riding a balance bike the past 3 years. She's tall for her age, and the 16" bikes at the store were just the right size for her, or even slightly small. I didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a 16" only to have her out grow it quickly. Unfortunately, I couldn't find an 18" bike anywhere locally, but out local bike shop did have a 2016 model Lil Dutchi in a 20" on sale (the new 2017 colors were coming in and they had to make room). We are picking it up today and I'm hoping this works for her. My wife is excited as it matches her full size Linus. I'll have to put some training wheels on it, but hope this will be a bike she can use for a few years until she needs the next larger size.