Many parents start Christmas or a Birthday bike shopping for their child with a host of questions already spinning in their heads - which kids bike is best? How do you know which kids bike is the safest? Which bike is the easiest to learn to ride on? And how do you tell if a bike will be the right size for your child?
At the bike or toy shop, parents are faced with long lines of colourful children's bikes - and very little guidance on what they should be buying. It can become all too confusing.
I went through this frustrating process myself buying my daughter's first bike, and failed miserably. The bike I bought was a reputable brand. It looked the part, nice and bright with streamers - but in reality it was just a smaller version of an adult bike, and not designed specifically for a small child's body. She had a great deal of trouble handling it, and so after a few short weeks, her new bike stood abandoned in the garage.
Three weeks ago, my girls Brooke (6) and Samantha (4) were each offered a new bike from ByK Kids Bikes, an Australian kids bike company, for trial and review. Having already spied ByKs at our local bike shop, the kids jumped at the chance - these are not your average kids bicycle!
The first thing you notice about ByK Bikes is that they look noticeably different from other children's bicycles. Stylish and sleek, longer and lower with bigger wheels - they really stand out from the kids-bike-crowd. From the look-at-me pearl white paint work with colour-pop accents right down to the colour-coded bike seat and pedals, ByK Kids Bikes are not your boring, mass-produced children's bike. They look - well, as the kids put it - cool!
But the main attraction of ByK bikes for me as a parent was how ByK prioritise safety in their design. ByK Kids Bikes are purpose-built, quality kids bikes. They are ergonomically designed for children's smaller bodies, and have amazing stability due to the unique low and light-weight alloy frame design. Larger wheels with smooth tyres roll easier, and so give better control and response, and a dual braking system designed especially for children make ByK Bikes the safest kids bikes around.
Working out the right ByK Bike model for the girls was reassuringly simple thanks to the Byk poster guide (found wherever ByK Kids Bikes are sold). This child height to-Byk model guide takes the guesswork out of getting the right sized bike for your child - and there's a ByK Kids Bike to suit all aged kids, big and small. There's even a ByK kids mountain bike!
Samantha's bike from the ByK range was the Ergonomic E-350 kids bike in "Pretty Purple" (which also comes in Pink, and also "Soft Orange" and "Racing Red" for the boys). This model came with a very sturdy set of training wheels that we could not fault.
Brooke's bike, the Ergonomic E-450 kids bike is designed to win any little girls heart. "Baby Blue" (this model also comes in the colours "Grunge Blue" and "Sublime Lime"), it sports cool retro features such as a mudguard on the rear tyre and a good-sized basket on the front - after all, what little girl doesn't like a basket to put their toys and treasures in? Brooke found the basket almost as exciting as the bike!
When we got the bikes home, the girls were really eager to try them out right away. Helmets were donned in record time, and while I was busy adjusting Brooke's seat height (a simple Allen key adjustment), I suddenly realised that Samantha had already got on her bike, and rode off down the driveway on her own! Although her bike had training wheels, she had never ridden a bicycle independently before, and had no idea how to use the brakes. I sprinted off after her, and luckily the bike was low-slung enough for her to simply drop her feet down as an improvised braking system when she got to the gate. She had already come to a stop as I reached her, and gave me that smug "what's the fuss about Mum?" look that only little kids can pull off!
When it came to riding her new ByK Bike, Brooke was a little hesitant at first. She had lost interest in learning to ride thanks to her negative experiences with her first bike. Although her first bike was supposedly the correct size for her, she had found that it was difficult to get going without help, and even with training wheels it still tipped over easily. Once the bike was down, Brooke had found it too heavy to pull back up without help. She quickly became discouraged, and gave up trying to ride.
But once Brooke saw her gorgeous new Byk bike, it was easy to convince her to get "back in the saddle" - even though this bike had no training wheels!
I took the kids into a paddock for their first few rides in case of falls. Right from the start, it was obvious that Brooke's problems with her old bike were not going to be issues with the ByK bike.
Even on rough grass, Brooke found her new bike not only lightweight enough to push when she was off it, but also light enough that she could pull it up off the ground on her own if she needed to. If she wasn't feeling confident when riding, her ByK Bike was low enough for her to easily drop her feet down to the ground for extra stability when slowing to a stop, just as her sister had done - perfect!
It was at that point that I realised that Brooke's faltering bike progress of the past was perhaps not so much a lack of confidence or balance issue, but the fact that her previous bike design was just all wrong for her.
Samantha was taking to bike riding like a duck to water. Her super-stable ByK training wheels have never let her down, and to this date she hasn't tipped over once. At first she didn't know how to use the front hand-brakes, and on a standard children's bike this would have been a problem, however Byk Bikes have a dual braking system which meant that until she learned to use the front hand brakes effectively she could still operate the pedal brakes. It was comforting to know that once she had mastered the basics, she had two different braking systems at her disposal - this is yet another great safety aspect of ByK Bikes.
The whole process of getting the girls to gain confidence on their new bikes was made so much easier by the unique design of the ByK Bikes. With their long, low frame it was a much quicker process to get the children comfortable with pedalling, balance and braking due to the enhanced stability - the children felt more secure closer to the ground. They could use their feet to steady themselves like a balance-bike whenever they felt wobbly or were trying to get going or slow to a stop.
It was really great to witness how the girls could propel these bikes with relative ease, despite their small body size. What a difference good design can make. The lighter, lower frame and easier-rolling big wheels allowed the children brilliant stability, and far less effort to get their bike going all by themselves - a real bonus for those little kids just starting to learn how to ride a bicycle.
Brooke's now having a ball on her Retro Girls ByK Bike!
I'm really pleased with how ByK Bikes have performed for us. We had a difficult children's bike agenda with one child an absolute beginner, and the other scared off bike riding altogether. In the weeks since the girls got their ByK Bikes, they have come a long way. Brooke's attitude to bike riding has completely changed - she now adores learning to bike ride, and improves in confidence and skill every day. Samantha zooms around on her bike with her training wheels still on, but with ever-increasing confidence and great enjoyment - both girls love to go riding every day if they can!
For me, once I had compared ByK Bikes with an ordinary kid's bike it was clear to see the differences between them. Standard design children's bikes seem to work against kids as they try to learn to ride. ByK Kids Bike design makes it far easier for small children to learn how to bike ride, and are vastly more stable than traditional design too. But above all was the one important fact that outweighed all the others - ByK Bikes are simply the safest kids bikes.
So if you're looking for kids bikes for Christmas, or your child's birthday, from a parent perspective I would definitely recommend a ByK Kids Bike as the best choice.
ByK Kids Bikes are an Australian designed and owned bike company with a focus on quality, safe bikes that are easier for children to ride. To view their full range, and for your nearest ByK Kids Bike retailer you can visit the ByK Bikes website here, or phone them on 0458 026 397