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Finding the ideal city bike can be tough for most adults. For children, it is no different.
Finding the ideal city bike can be tough for most adults. For children, it is no different. The search for the perfect bicycle can even be more difficult for younger riders as they have fewer options available to them than adults.
Over the last few decades, the focus in North America has been on sport and recreational cycling, and the kids’ bike market is no exception. Most bike shops offer a very limited selection, especially in 24”-wheel size. Shops stock mainly mountain and trail bikes that are equipped for rougher terrains and geared toward weekend and occasional riding, seeming to forget that even children need a practical bicycle to get to school, friends’ homes, and extra-curricular programming.
For our daughter Coralie, who is eight years old and a little over four and a half feet tall, we asked her to think about the different styles of bicycles she has ridden and how often she uses a bike. Since learning to ride, she has used everything from a cruiser to a BMX and even a few mountain bikes. She expressed that she feels best on an upright city bike. Any forward positioning is too hard on her wrists and arms, leaving her sore and tiring her out quickly. She also wanted a light bicycle with gears as we encounter many inclines on our travels and these help make uphill pedaling easier.
Encouragingly, with North America’s growing urban cycling culture, the availability of city bikes for adults has been slowly increasing and manufacturers are beginning to recognize the needs of younger riders are no different. More and more brands are beginning to offer lifestyle options for children, bikes suitable for city riding and better equipped for daily cycling. Companies like Linus and Opus are coming out with youth models of their urban lifestyle bikes, so stores carrying these brands tend to also carry the smaller versions for young riders.
Still though, challenges remain, especially for children in the 8-12 year range as they are frequently too small for adult frames and yet too large for the common 20”-wheel kids’ options. The small 24” market is growing, but options are not always stocked and can be hard to find. For children, a bicycle is an investment, a step on the path to independence, and a choice that helps foster a joy for riding that will stick with them well into adulthood.
Melissa lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and two young children. The family has been living car-free since 2010 and together with her husband, Chris, they share stories, images, and expertise through modacitylife.com. When not busy writing and working, Melissa enjoys spending quality time with her family bike riding through their city together.