Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
JW123
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Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby JW123 » 28 Nov 2010, 3:49pm

All,

I remember a while ago a couple of quality child bikes were written up in cycle magazine. I'm about to buy our 3 year old a decent bike for christmas and cannot remember the details of these bikes - can you? The bike I buy will have stabilisers initially but be good enough to be used in the longer term. If you have any recommendations for a bike based on your experience, your thoughts would be welcome. Thanks.

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531colin
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby 531colin » 28 Nov 2010, 4:08pm

Islabikes always get a good write-up.

However, I think "stabilisers" are an abomination, and the best way to put a child off bikes - the whole contraption generally weighs as much as the child.

2 alternatives;-

1) get a tiny bike from the tip. Set the saddle so the kid can get feet flat on the floor, remove cranks and chain - hey presto, a "balance bike"
The kid now learns to balance and steer (and maybe brake) without worrying about pedalling.

2) get a bike the right size. slide a broom stick between the seatstays and chainstays so it is against the seat tube, and strap it to the seat tube with toestraps or elastics.
You now have a handle so you can run along supporting the kid without stooping down. Warning - on the day they learn to ride, they will leave you behind. when they talk to you, and you dont respond (because you are way behind) they ALL fall off! Always.

BTW, enjoy them while they are young, it doesn't last.

gilesjuk
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby gilesjuk » 28 Nov 2010, 4:17pm

Isn't buying a quality bike like buying your kids designer clothes? they'll outgrow them pretty quickly so why spend so much?

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gaz
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby gaz » 28 Nov 2010, 6:23pm

gilesjuk wrote:Isn't buying a quality bike like buying your kids designer clothes? they'll outgrow them pretty quickly so why spend so much?


Have a look on ebay at secondhand Islabikes. They hold their re-sale value very well, much better than the cheaper alternatives. Above all else they have child sized components (e.g. brakes kids can actually reach) and are lightweight.

Mini-me's first bike (12"wheel stabiliser stage, approx age 3-4) was £5 from a boot fair. It held it's value (well actually we lost out as I failed to take off the Mickey Mouse bell we'd added before I sold it). It was a simple affair and not too bad weight wise, certainly better than most of the stuff available in mass market kids bike stores.

Second bike was a Giant Animator (16"wheel stabilisers/balance/riding solo, approx age 4-7), not cheap as it had quality kid sized components but it weighed a lot (although not as much as some). I thought that being a respected brand it would be reasonably attractive at re-sale, in practice it had negligible value.

He's now on an Islabike Beinn 24 (7+), it's fantastic. He loves riding it. With hindsight I wish I'd got him an Islabike earlier, maybe age 4-5.
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eileithyia
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby eileithyia » 29 Nov 2010, 7:34am

Ha Ha colin531, I remember doing exactly that when I realised my dad's voice was not immediately behind me. In those days the car park of the local pub was a good big learning space.....

For my son it was Bolton Wanderer's car park.... :lol:
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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essexman
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby essexman » 29 Nov 2010, 11:29am

Echo advice on no stabilisers. Kids should start on balance bikes. On a balance bike, they learn to steer, balance and brake. When they move to peddles, pedalling is the only thing they need to learn. My 1 yr old can pick up, straddle and walk along on my 3 yr olds balance bike! To be fair, he'll fall over a lot while doing this:-). Post a balance bike, the next step is a pedal bike. Buy bike remove pedals, get kid used to riding, balancing and braking on new bike. Then add pedals.

Back to your post. At age 3 the main cut-off is height! Isla and puky make excellent pedal bikes for 3yr olds, with ridgeback being a fair priced 3rd. But they need to be big three year olds. However. they also make great balance bikes as well. My kid has the largest balance puky which i'm glad i got. The step over design makes it very easy to mount for a little un. My son will be 4 in March and he'll get the isla cnoc 14 or 16. These bikes cost a lot, but the resale value will be nearly 80% of what you paid. I've seen ebay bids go over the new price! If you live on the flat you dont need the best bike in the world. If your kid will be riding downhill regularly and therefore in excess of 15mph, they need something that handles and brakes well.

Check your kids height, i think the isla cnoc 14 starts at a minimum of 98cm and to be honest thats a risky minimum. As i implied earlier, the lower the step-over height and weight, the easier it is for your 3yr old to mount and unmount by themselves. 99% of falls for my son were from getting on and off the bike.
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essexman
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby essexman » 29 Nov 2010, 11:35am

gilesjuk wrote:Isn't buying a quality bike like buying your kids designer clothes? they'll outgrow them pretty quickly so why spend so much?


cos they might need the quality eg good winter clothes for cold weather.

cos the higher quality gear will last through to subsequent children.

cos you can re-sell at a high value, often making it cheaper.

cos you may want them to partake in an activity you love, so you buy them gear that will make it easy for them to do it. eg cycling :D
I hate snow.

Kell
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby Kell » 29 Nov 2010, 12:01pm

I can second (or third) Isla Bikes.

We bought my little girl (now 5 3/4) a 'Dora the Explorer' bike a couple of years ago and it's probably as heavy as my bike. On top of that, no matter what I did with it, I couldn't get the brakes to work properly. And at about £70 it wasn't exactly throwaway cheap.

So I took the plunge last year and bought her a CNOC 16. We were advised against the stabilisers for all the reasons mentioned above and I think if you get the kids early enough to teach them with a balance bike, then great. But because she'd had a bike for a while, she didn't really want to go back to not being able to get on and ride. So we went with them. TBH, they're a mixed blessing. Obviously, they mean she can get on and go, but once she started to get a bit of speed up, they make turning corners at speed very difficult and they're more likely to fall over by tipping the bike.

Anyway, we got it last Christmas and she finally had the time to learn to ride it properly over the Summer. Now she can't wait to go out on it, and I know that it's easier to pedal for her and that when she needs to, she'll be able to stop.

The only problem with it is that last year's colourways were hardly girl friendly, but this year they seem to have a few more options.

You'll note that the seat is really low down on the pic below, but that's because she's still a little unsteady and it was sat at that height when I took the pedals off to try and get her to use it as a balance bike. I might try moving it up 2mm at a time so she doesn't realise.

Image


Image

Is it strong?

It'll take my weight and also my wife:

Image
Last edited by Kell on 29 Nov 2010, 12:11pm, edited 2 times in total.

eileithyia
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby eileithyia » 29 Nov 2010, 12:03pm

The type of bike a 3-4 will ride is notthe type of bike that will stand in use on a family cycle ride.
My 3-4 year old was on the back of a tandem until at least 9/10, and stayed on it for longer rides/touring. His own bike was for riding around the park/campsite etc and latterly the local off road track when he was ready to learn extra bike handling skills.
I honestly believe a bike from a LBS is perfectly adequate for a 3 yr old to learn to cycle on, of course it will have re-saleability around the local community.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

fatboy
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby fatboy » 29 Nov 2010, 1:11pm

Stabilisers aren't so terrible as they get to learn how to pedal. Once my twins got the hang of that I took the pedals and stabilisers off and let them scoot around the block. At the end of the weekend I put the pedals back on and that was that, but for this to work the bike needs to be small. Also worth noting that for starting off they will need help with for a while to come which was fun with two!

I would advise that wasting money on balance bikes is just that a waste of money. One weekend was all it took.

P.S. the bikes were second hand bog-standard Raleigh 12" bikes which are fine IMHO
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Vee
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby Vee » 29 Nov 2010, 9:51pm

I 100% agree that an Isla Bike is worth every penny. They are great to ride, children love them, have fun and get off to a great start with their cycling. And it is VERY difficult to get hold of a second hand one! I was unable to find one at any price. If you phone Isla bikes they are very helpful re measuring the child and giving sensible helpful advice re size of bike without any pressure.

eileithyia
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby eileithyia » 30 Nov 2010, 7:31am

I've NEVER found Isalbikes helpful and that goes back to when they made their trailers, they then re-invented themselves as Ilsabikes. Their rep at York Rally (x2) and Mildenhall (x1) was most unhelpful and rude.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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Kevin K
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby Kevin K » 30 Nov 2010, 1:28pm

eileithyia wrote:I've NEVER found Isalbikes helpful and that goes back to when they made their trailers, they then re-invented themselves as Ilsabikes. Their rep at York Rally (x2) and Mildenhall (x1) was most unhelpful and rude.

That's surprising and not something I've ever experienced. I can't speak for her staff, but Isla herself has always been helpful and polite in my dealings with company.
Kevin K. Glasgow

eileithyia
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby eileithyia » 30 Nov 2010, 11:39pm

When we were looking at ways of carrying a child, their trailer bike fitted to a Blackburn style rack only, now being a bit old fashioned all my panniers did not use blackburn style fittings but a strap looped through a metal loop, not wishing the expense of also changing my panniers I asked if they would weld something on for this purpose (remember they are engineers manufacturing this stuff) and was told most defintely not!

When they launched their bikes I wanted a bike with double chainset (after all son had been riding a mtb with a triple for a few years) again No, children cannot cope with double chainsets and I was told they utterly refuse to put one on regardless, their bikes came as is! Though I do believe they are now supplying double chainsets if requested.

Personally I felt if they could turn away custom and good money that was their problem, there are other outlets selling small children's road bikes.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

Abu Milhem
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Re: Bike for 3 to 4 year old.

Postby Abu Milhem » 1 Dec 2010, 2:20pm

My son (recently turned 7) is on his 3rd Islabike (Cnoc 16, Beinn 20 and now 24 with racing tyres) after starting out learning to pedal and brake on a 35 year old Pashley Pickle tricycle(longest ride he achieved on that was on disused railway paths at 7-8 miles at the age of 4). Every one of his early bikes has sold very well and they have all worked perfectly. He also rides tandem with me for longer 20m + rides or when cycle camping. I've never found Islabikes staff rude at Mildenhall but they are certainly a no nonsense crowd. Coming from the North East this does not bother me in the slightest. The other lovely bike I once had for an older daughter was a much updated and modified Universal (Polish origin, I think) which although crude was light enough and rode very well on new wheels.

Stabilisers were not used for any of my 3 children. I found that the Pashley Pickle tricycle was a far better introduction to the basic skills so that balancing on a solo was the only new skill to learn. Gears came much later.

As you see there are a lot of consistent recommendations in the replies.

Best of luck with whatever you choose.