Interview with Dirk Zedler,certified bike expert
BIKE: What is important when buying a childrens’ bike?
Dirk Zedler: First of all I would like to anticipate something: A childrens’ bike is nothing you buy as a surprise gift and put it under the christmas tree with a ribbon wrapped around it. Take you child with you to the shop, put it on the bike and have it thoroughly test it.
BIKE: Many parents buy a bike which is a little too large. They want the child to „grow into it“. Is this sensible?
Dirk Zedler: A bike has to fit. The distance between bottom bracket and ground is decisive. With many childrens’ bikes, the bracket is too high. The child sits on the saddle and cannot touch the ground with its feet. The reaction of many parents: They push down the saddle to the maximum. But then the pedalling distance is no longer correct. A child must at least be able to touch the ground with the tip of its toes and the cranks must not be too long.
BIKE: Many manufacturers offer full-suspension even with 20-inch-bikes. Does this make sense?
Dirk Zedler: No. A back-wheel-suspension only makes the bike unnecessarily heavy and does not work properly with such low-priced bikes. I think, good, big tires are more sensible than a lukewarm suspension fork with only two centimetres pitch. The bigger the tire, the better. Always pay attention to the right air pressure. Most of the time, the child wants a bike like the one Daddy has – with suspension. Reason contradicts being cool. If the child absolutely wants a suspension bike, take it with you to the shop in any case and check if the fork pitches.
BIKE: Where is the absolute limit in terms of weight?
Dirk Zedler: Childrens’ bikes should be as lightweight as possible as the child itself only weighs around 20 kilograms. Of course you cannot make a three-kilo-bike as the parts are almost the same. My advice: Less is more – rather abandon the suspension or the third chain ring.
BIKE: Let’s talk about safety. Are disc brakes advisable?
Dirk Zedler: No. This is rather something technology-loving Dads want to have. As far as brakes are concerned, you should, however, pay attention to adjustable lever width and check if the levers can be pulled with four fingers. My tuning-advice: Change the cables. High-quality cables reduce the friction, braking and shifting becomes much easier.