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How To Buy Bikes For Children

The Consumer Federation Of America recommends that, when buying bicycles for their child, parents remember the following:

  • Size. It is very important to purchase the correct size bicycle for your child. Don't be tempted to buy a bike your child "will grow into." A bike that is too big will be hard to mount and dismount, hard to control and unsafe.

    • For a boy�s bike, there should be about two inches of clearance between your child's crotch and the horizontal bar when he straddles the bike with both feet flat on the ground.

    • For girl's bikes, use a yardstick or tape measure to simulate the horizontal bar.

    • Typically, 16-inch bikes are suitable for children aged 4-6 (inseam 17-22 inches), while kids aged 7-15 (inseam 23 inches or larger) move up to 20- to 24-inch bikes.

  • Brakes. Children under age eight should only have bikes with coaster or foot brakes; older kids can safely operate hand brakes.

  • Training wheels. Look for a bicycle that comes with training wheels-chances are your child will need them, at least at the beginning.

  • Speed. Buy single-speed bikes for kids under age 10.

  • Spoke wheels. Wheels with spokes are better than plastic wheel rims; which are prone to cracking. The greater the number of spokes the better. Less expensive models have 20 spokes per wheel; better children's bikes have 28 spokes.

  • Pedals. Look for metal foot pedals that provide a good grip and do not have sharp metal teeth; avoid slippery plastic pedals.

  • Used bikes. When buying or using a secondhand bicycle, be sure to see if it has been subject to a recall. Hundreds of thousands of unsafe bicycles have been recalled, yet still may be available in the used bike market.

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