In the Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly, we tested a children’s bike that allowed my son to taste the joy of cycling. Not just the joy of cycling, but the joy of cycling faster and further than he had on his smaller children’s bike. He even was able to try out cyclocross on it (below).
The test bike’s price of $ 700 is very reasonable for a real performance bike without obvious and glaring compromises. Yet it is more than many people are willing to spend on a children’s bike. “I can’t see myself spending that much on a bike for my child. It’ll get ridden only a dozen times at most,” said a friend of mine.
He has a point, but that is like the famous chicken-and-egg question. If your child has a heavy bike that does not perform well and tends to have mechanical problems, you can see why they won’t ride it a lot. On the other hand, if their bike rolls well and is fun to ride, they probably would ride more. (I assume we agree that the joy of riding a bike is addictive in a good way!) So if you want to introduce your children to a lifetime of cycling, buy them a good bike!
The cost actually is lower than it appears at first, because quality children’s bikes have a very high resale value. We sold my daughter’s first bike for 2/3 of its original price. The buyer was delighted, because the bike was still in great condition. So if you sell that $ 700 bike for $ 400 in a few years’ time, then the cost is no more than a typical kid’s mountain bike that will have a resale value of close to zero.
I look at it this way: If the children really don’t ride the bike much, then it will remain in relatively pristine condition, and the resale value will be higher. If they do ride a lot, then the money spent on the bike will be well worth it. And if they have a bike that allows them to keep up with you, you may enjoy great rides together!