A study in kids' bikes, part 2
The transition from a 20" inch bike to something bigger is often a big step for a kid and Greta was no exception. The larger bikes are often still a bit too big. They are a lot heavier and, with the longer wheel base, maneuver differently.
We looked around at the various new bike options in the local Portland bike shops. There are some nice bikes but we didn't see anything that excited us to the point that we were willing to spend a lot of money for something new. My biggest complaint was that all of the bikes seemed to presuppose that all kids want to do is dirt ride. All we saw were bikes with heavy suspension shocks on the front forks. If I remember correctly all of the bikes came with knobby (or at least hybrid) tires. I suppose if money wasn't an issue we might have settled on a Redline Conquest 24. These bikes seem to fit the bill but they are also very expensive, kind of ridiculous for a kid who still has trouble properly locking up her bike.
Jonathan Maus at bikeportland.org shared some of my concerns in a post he called "Practical Kids' bikes." His take was to ask why we couldn't find properly appointed practical kids' bikes here in the U.S. while they are everywhere in Europe. Over there almost every new kids' bike comes with fenders, a rear rack and front and rear lights powered by a dyno/generator.
I decided to search for a used bike and, if necessary, fix it up so it was a little more performance oriented. On Craigslist we came across the Euroteam Sunny. According to the seller it was purchased originally in a Swiss department store for one of their kids. We're not sure where the bike was made, but it includes some European components such as Italian Grimeca wheel hubs and German-made pedals. We liked this bike because it was a European kids' bike and, as mentioned above, came ready made with the accessories for practical urban riding: fenders, rack and lights.
The bike is very utilitarian but it also has some nice feature. It has alloy wheels and front and rear Shimano indexed gear shifters.
Here's a closer look
This is not Greta looking like the salt monster from Star Trek. She's trying to look tough on her new bike.
You can see that even with the seat all the way down it is a bit of a stretch to fit.
During our search we came across a vintage girls' Fuji 10 speed step-through and a very cool Kuwahara mixte, the kind with the two small top tubes that extend down rear dropout. We missed out on the Fuji and thought we missed out on the Kuwahara so we bought the Euroteam. As it turned out the seller of the Kuwahara had just left town and he called us when he returned from his trip. We decided that the bike was so amazing that we should buy it anyway. Buying two used bikes we were still getting off pretty easy. A typical kids' 24" non-Walmart bike store bike is around $340 to $400.
Our plan is to use the Euroteam for now. It fits and works great. It is a good transition size between her earier Jamis and the Kuwahara. The Kuwahara is still a little bit too big so in the mean time I will fix up the Kuwahara.