Remember your first bike? The sense of freedom and adventure? The thrill of moving faster than your feet could carry you? Yeah, we do, too. We still love that feeling! And as parents, we all want that same thing for our kids. We also want a bike that provides safety, comfort, reliability, and ease of use without breaking the bank. We want your child’s first riding experience to be as memorable as yours, and that’s why every child’s bike that carries the Trek name is held to the same rigorous standards as all of the products we make. The bottom line is that getting your child on a well-designed machine is more economical for you in the long run, is easier to learn to ride, and ultimately more enjoyable for your kid from day one.
Bikes are not toys
This may go without saying, but we believe a bicycle is not a toy. While the prices of big box stores may seem enticing, these bikes are often poorly designed and were not assembled by certified mechanics. A bike that may seem "pretty" or "cool" standing next to the toy aisle will often not retain resale value or remain functional for a younger sibling, and is ultimately a bad investment. Trek bikes are engineered and crafted by people who care about bikes and their riders. In the end, a good rule of thumb is that you should never buy a bike where you buy your toilet paper.
What is dialed?
We're parents, too. We get it—you don’t want to buy a new bike every year. That's why Trek came up "Dialed Fit Design" – bikes with saddles, grips, handlebars, pedals, brake levers, and cranks all designed to fit the appropriate age rider for that model. Some Trek kids’ bikes come with adjustable crank length to fit a child’s growing legs and extend the bike’s lifespan.
What size bike does my child need?
Kids' bikes range in wheel size from 12-26?. And while there are charts out there (see chart below), we think there is no substitute for letting your child try out a bike. Bring your kid in, and we'll help you determine what is perfect for them.
Kids' bikes are optimized around these wheel sizes in terms of fit and performance level. As wheel size increases, so do the number of options to accommodate the additional skills and riding preferences of older children. While Trek offers one awesome balance bike for the youngest tots, larger wheel sizes include multiple models optimized for road, mountain, or city riding.
Beyond wheel size, the factors driving your decision should be color/style, training wheel compatibility, brake type, gearing, and finally category.
What’s a balance bike?
Balance bikes have become popular in recent years as savvy parents have recognized that balance, rather than pedaling, is the most essential component of riding a bike, and should therefore be the starting point of any instruction. They allow small children to push the bike with their feet, and then place them on stationary platforms to coast and practice balancing. It’s easy to think of them as a cross between a scooter and a bicycle. Trek’s Kickster is the best option for the youngest riders, and teaching them to balance early on will make their transition to a bike with pedals all the more easy.
What's with these different brakes?
Most bikes designed for the youngest children feature an easy-to-use braking system where simply pedaling backwards engages the brakes. You'll hear this system referred to as "pedal brakes" or "coaster brakes." Quite simply, it is easier for the youngest children to use their feet for both acceleration and braking, allowing them to focus on more essential skills like balance as they are first learning to ride.
As with training wheels, pedal brakes are only best for children who need them to ride confidently. Hand brakes designed for the size of a child’s hand and reach are easy to use, and are far more effective in all riding situations. This means hand brakes are ultimately the safest choice for children able to grasp their operation. Those who fit on a 20? bike are generally old enough to use them effectively, so we introduce hand brakes at this wheel size.
As your child grows older and begins riding at faster speeds, it may be worth considering a model featuring disc brakes. Trek does make bikes with disc brakes that provide more stopping power than traditional rim brakes, and are more effective in adverse weather conditions. Beginning in the 24-inch wheel size, Kids’ Neko, Kids’ Dual Sport, Superfly 24 , Farley 24, and Fuel EX Jr are offered with disc brakes. The dedicated mountain models come equipped with hydraulic discs, which offer even more stopping power and variability in braking intensity. (These bikes are available by special order.)
So do yourself and your child a favor; buy a quality bike that is built to last, and designed and built by folks who know their bikes.