Back in the day … we had to pedal uphill for miles on our silly coaster-brake bikes. Not anymore. Maybe kids these days are spoiled, maybe they’re soft or maybe they’re just lucky, but kids today are getting some serious goods when it comes to bikes for all different disciplines.
Manufacturers small and large have figured out what was wrong: Kids’ bikes were either too heavy, the geometry was contorted or the components cracked out before the bike.
Today, supped-up youth bikes are coming in more lightweight, body-conscious builds, made for specific styles of riding or designed to cross over, along with some of the sweetest styling known to, well, kid-kind.
Here are six that will yank your chain.
Cleary Starfish balance bike ($199)
Use: Learning to get rolling and stay even-steven on two wheels.
Specs: 12-inch kick bike for tykes as young as, well, parents are ready to let them fly. Available in rad colors like Super Cream, Deep Blue, Sorta Pink and Very Orange.
Innovation: It’s a ridiculously light 12-pound kick bike that’s perfect for pre-pedaling action, with an adjustable saddle and handlebars that raise for those inevitable growth spurts.
Trek Fuel EX Junior mountain bike ($1,890)
Use: Getting jiggy in the mountains, especially on the downhills, where kids can leverage the fun factor of a full-suspension trail setup.
Specs: Mountain bike multitasker with 26-inch wheel base for kids up to five feet tall, featuring solid components and hydraulic disc bakes.
Innovation: Trek’s trademark full-floater suspension applied to a youth ride, complete with kid-specific geometry that still works on a good old-fashioned 26-incher.
Giant TCR Espoir road bike ($710)
Use: Pounding the pavement for the aspiring road racer whose dad most certainly shaves his legs.
Specs: First serious road bike with 24-inch wheels and wide-range 2-by-8 gearing for simple shifting that can handle a variety of grades.
Innovation: Ergonomic short-reach handlebars and top-lever brakes to keep training time in the saddle more comfy and less confusing, all at an affordable price point.
Isla Beinn multi-purpose ($440)
Use: Cruising the neighborhood or fiddling for the first off-road.
Specs: Age 5+ for the small, but also comes in a large with a 20-inch wheel. There’s a ProSeries Benin for kiddos who really want to get after it and for parents who are sold on hip look, but don’t care as much about a heftier price tag.
Innovation: Intentionally lightweight, proportioned for kids’ bodies and stylish at the same time. Also can be customized to suit (tricked-out with mountain bike tires for those first forays in the woods, or outfitted with fenders and a rack for getting to and from school).
Specialized Riprock semi-fat bike ($450-$1,000)
Use: Youngsters ready to shred just as hard as any adults on the trail … any season, any time.
Specs: Comes in 20 or 24-inch wheel size, all with 2.8-inch-wide plus-size tires.
Innovation: Bringing the fat-bike phenomena into the kid zone. Why shouldn’t everyone get to experience the fun and confidence that comes with grippy, wide tires that can tackle any terrain like a dream?
Slater custom-build park bike ($425/Frame)
Use: Made for dirt jumping or full-on mountain biking, plus getting inspired in the parks.
Specs: Single-speed or geared custom-build frames with convertible configurations for 16 to 24-inch wheel changes.
Innovation: The bike grows with you. BJ Slater, director of manufacturing for Never Summer Snowboards in Denver, decided (in all his free time) to design, cut, weld, test and re-design a truly progressive ride for his own little rippers, who just can’t get enough hits.
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