When it comes to choosing a bicycle for a child we have a lot of experience and lessons learned by parents in helping you to decide which bike is best. One of the common statements I hear is, “I’m going to buy cheap bikes (discount store bikes) when they’re young because they’re just going to tear them up or outgrow them. That statement has always bothered me. Not because bicycles sold at discount stores cost less than the bikes I sell but because the quality of the bike is substantially less, and in my opinion not safe. Last year I helped out with a bicycle safety program for kids sponsored by the local police department. I provided inspections and minor adjustments of bikes for free. We tightened handlebars and seats, aired up tires, and bent reflectors back into position. We also checked out their helmets which they had to have in order to participate. We looked at over 75 bikes that day and 90% or more were purchased at a discount store. Of every bike purchased at a discount store, not one of them had properly adjusted brakes and several of them had brakes not installed correctly. Several had forks put on backwards and some had the pedals cross threaded on the wrong side of the bike.
Discount store bikes either come un-assembled or are assembled by the workers at the store who have little or no experience setting up a bicycle properly. Another observation we made was with a brand of bikes with a common cartoon theme. We saw six or seven of those bikes that day and after we adjusted the brakes properly we were unable to make the brakes actually lock up the wheels on any of these models. In other words, if your son or daughter were traveling down a hill and they had to come to a stop at the bottom of the hill, they and the bike would travel through the intersection unable to stop. The helmets that we saw most of them had been purchased at a discount store and at least five of them had been recalled by the manufacturer and the parents were unaware of the recall.
Here’s the simple truth and you can decide which bike is better for your child. Bicycles sold at discount stores are not the same bikes that are sold at bicycle shops. They don’t cost less because they’re at a discount store, they cost less because they’re made from inferior parts and they are not assembled by qualified mechanics. Bicycles sold at bicycle retailers are properly assembled and fitted to the young rider. At our shop all bicycles include minor adjustments for the first year and a free tune-up at the end of the first year. We also fit all helmets that we sell and adjust them properly for a perfect fit. We also accept trades on the bicycle you purchase from us for the next larger size. I believe that you’re money ahead and your children are safer when you buy good bicycles and trade them off as your child grows.