I’ve spotted a few posts on cycling forums recently, from parents looking for information on cycling clothes for their children.
What are the essentials? The bare minimum for any cycling, even riding around the garden or up and down the street, would be:
If your child is wanting to ride a bit more than just around the garden or the park, then you might want the following:
* Padded shorts
* Cycling top
* Thin base layer (to wear under cycling top)
As they become more keen they might need:
* Padding cycling tights
* Long sleeve cycling top (for layering)
* Cycling jacket (wind and/or water proof)
* Range of gloves (mitts and long finger)
* Cycling shoes
* Thin skull cap (for wearing under helmets on cold days)
This might sound a lot, but think about what your child would need for taking part in other sports? Sure you can kick a football about down the park in jeans, t-shirt and trainers, but if you want to play football properly you need the right clothing. The same applies for cycling.
But you really don’t have to spend a fortune these days. Kids cycling clothes used to be really expensive, with limited choice. But the arrival of Decathlon into the UK from France has paved the way for inexpensive, good quality, children’s cycling clothes. My children have Decathlon shorts, tights, gloves and jackets — all the items which are grown out of quickly or easily ruined in a crash. Quality is just fine for the money and all the features you would expect are there. We offset the savings by spending more on cycling club jerseys, which tend to have a higher cost associated.
I’ve noticed that Islabikes are now doing children’s clothing, alongside their bikes. I’ve not seen any but I’m assuming the quality is good (perhaps better than Decathlon but the cost is greater too).
Children’s cycling shoes are particularly difficult, but I’ll cover that in a separate post.
The availability of junior road bikes has been up and down over the past 10 years or so. There was a time when manufacturers (Giant, Bianchi etc) had a single 24” wheel version of an adult road bike in their range.
These were great bikes; aluminium frames, well put together and a good component spec. Many are still being used by young cyclists today, and will continue to be used for years to come. Over time many manufacturers stopped making them, I expect as the demand was not there as kids wanted MTBs and road bikes were not cool. You could still find junior road bikes from Felt, Kona (cyclocross bike), Fuji, but they were rare and priced accordingly. Islabikes stole a march on the market and became the place to get a small wheel road bike if you wanted one.
Fast forward to now and road bikes are cool again. Manufacturers who stopped making their one junior road bike in the range are starting up again. Yes, they are still expensive, especially when compared to an equivalent (or better) specced Islabike. But the more kids road bikes on the market the better in my opinion.
After much thinking of options we bought my daughter an Islabike Luath 24 off eBay. It is the older silver colour scheme, which strangely she seems to prefer.
The bike was in great condition when I bought it, and the only addition has been pink handlebar tape(!) and a set of cyclocross tyres. The girl has used the bike on the track and at 2 cross races, and she loves it.
It has been interesting to compare the Luath with the Moda, and see the differences. Using my trusty bike weighing scales, the Moda is a few grams lighter, which surprised me. The Moda has a double chainring, which is a waste as with age gear restrictions he can’t put it in the large ring anyway. The Luath only has one front ring, and one shifter, compared to the Moda, but is still a fraction heavier.
I thought I might have a little more time before looking for new Junior road bikes. But alas, not to be.
My daughter now wants a new road bike, after racing at Hillingdon last weekend on her brothers old 20” wheel Peugeot. Still a great bike, but under-geared and heavy for the ups and downs. Fair enough I thought, and she is tall enough to go up to a 24” wheel. This has started discussions in the house over what to do:
* The girl really wants a Giant T-Mobile 24” wheel road bike. I suspect because it is black and pink, more than a desire for that specific model.
* There is the option for her to have the boys Moda Minor, and he has a new one. But I don’t want her to have his hand me down bikes all the time, and a new bike just for her, will encourage no end.
* Looking on eBay Moda Minors are going for more than we paid for ours, so I might sell the boys and get him something like a Felt or Scott 24”. Or an Islabike if he fancies doing cyclocross.
Starting to cast the net again for what is out there. Plenty of new bikes, such as the ones from Raleigh, playing on the Olympic theme. Pity they are not that good in spec and are heavy.
Over the past few months we have had a bike change around within the family, as the children have got taller and more experienced.
My son was rapidly out-growing his 20” wheel Peugeot. The saddle was not at full height, but he was struggling with the reach, which made him too cramped. Riding on 20” wheels with children on 24”, 650c and 700c bikes left him at a disadvantage on the track, so I started looking for a 24” wheel.
At the samer time we looked for a 20” wheel road bike for my daughter, as the PPV club bikes were all being used. She fitted his Peugeot perfectly, so we did a swap.
After lots of looking, and really thinking we would get an Isla, we ended up with a Moda Minor Junior. A lovely bike. I’ll post a full review once he has had time to ride it.
Thanks to Tri Kudu for the quick delivery.
The Btwin is produced by Decathlon and for the money (£199) looks great value. I have not seen any reviews to know how it rides though.
Weight looks to be 10.7kg
7 gears with handlebar stem shifters.
40 tooth single chainring, crank length length 152mm.
rear cassette 14 - 16 - 18 - 20 - 22 - 24 (I’ve heard this is actually a freehub and not a cassette)
Initial thoughts on the spec are:
* Handlebar stem shifters are not a great option
* Gear range is not ideal, as it feels a bit high. It also needs to have a lower gear than a 24.
* Weight is good
* Great value for the money
If anyone has one of these and can give a review please do so in the comments!
The Bikeradar forums have had a few threads about junior road bikes:
I will be posting about 24” wheel road bikes later, but what if you are looking for a 20” wheel? What choices do you have?
It turns out, you have very little in the way of choice. If you have a child up to the age of 7, and they want to ride a road bike you are a bit stuck. It really boils down to:
Islabike Reis 20” track bike
70s/80s era bike off eBay
The Reis track bike can be run as a fixed wheel, or it can be turned into a freewheel and have brakes added, giving a single speed road bike. The frame has a dropped top tube, and isn’t too long, meaning children from about 5 upwards can ride them. The Reis really is a great bike, and if you can afford it, something to consider. However it is only a single speed, and while ideal for the track, is not so good if you are wanting to take a child on the road.
The alternative is to have a hunt on eBay for a vintage steel framed road bike from Peugeot, Raleigh etc. In the 1970s and 1980s both manufacturers made 20” wheel versions of their adult bikes, and you can often pick them up for reasonable money. They are not as light as an Islabike (by a long way), but with a few modifications can work just as well.
We ended up going for the vintage bike option, and I will be documenting what we bought and the modifications we made shortly.
At the start of 2011, my two children (Arlo aged 6 and Greta aged 5) started attending Palmer Park Velo (PPV) cycling club. They have always loved being on their bikes and were keen to have a go on the track at the velodrome.
As most young children do at PPV, they started riding sessions on their mountain bikes. Key bike handling skills were taught in a safe, controlled environment by the wonderful coaches.
However, it wasn’t long before Arlo wanted to have a go on a road bike. You could see him watching the older children riding the track and longing to have a go. Luckily PPV has a supply of bikes in a variety of sizes for children to have a go on. They don’t charge for using the bikes, and it helps children give it a go, before parents have to pay out for one of their own!
Arlo started out by riding the smallest road bikes they have at the club — an Islabike Reis 20 converted into a freewheel with brakes. They are fantastic bikes. Very light and easy to ride, which is ideal when the riders are aged 5-7.
After a few weeks of borrowing a club bike, it was obvious Arlo was keen to continue going to training and I started to look around for a bike of his own. He could have continued to ride a club bike, but with the club having increased membership almost every week, and the small Islabikes in high demand it didn’t seem right. He now has his own junior road bike, as does Greta who still rides the club bikes whilst gaining confidence.
This blog will record the problems I had finding road bikes for children, how I fixed up battered eBay purchases, what bikes are on the market and more.