About 4 years ago, I published a post on LinkedIn, expressing my disdain for what was currently available in the world of lightweight and affordable, age appropriate kids bikes. I did two things wrong, and one thing right: 1. I chose LinkedIn as the forum to publish my thoughts, thinking maybe someone would connect me or pass the ideas on and inspire someone to do something about it, and 2. I framed my thoughts as an open letter to “the bike industry.”
It seems the bike industry is mostly concerned with selling $12,000 Peter Sagan signature model 12 lb road bikes to aging venture capital bros. With how low margins are, you actually have to sell a few bicycles that cost more than motorcycles to make any money. They also seem intent on capitalizing on the worldwide desire to see one’s name on a Strava leaderboard without putting in any actual effort or work, i.e. e-bikes.
So where does this leave us, in terms of putting more effort into developing kids’ bikes that are age-appropriate, help them enjoy the sport at an early age, and don’t feel like they are dragging a millstone uphill when they are pedaling?
The one thing I did right was allowing comments, and the original post still gets comments whenever someone discovers a new (small) company focused on what matters most when talking about kids’ bikes: KIDS. The latest company I have been made aware of is .
You can read the original post here, with all the comments, and if this topic interests you, feel free to leave one here or there. Original article is also posted below, since I wrote it, I might as well share:
An Open Letter to the Bike Industry
Dear Big Brands of the Bike Industry,
Please make mountain bikes for kids that don’t suck. I know there are a few of you out there doing the best you can, given what adults are willing to pay for a 24″ wheel mountain bike. Scott, for example, seems to always offer a 24″ mountain bike that I can actually pick up with one arm. Maybe there are others out there that I don’t know about. It seems like an industry-wide conspiracy to make sure kids hate riding bikes with their grown up parents and siblings.
I’ve heard all the arguments of why they don’t exist: too small of a market (no pun intended). Adults won’t spend money on something kids will grow out of in one or two years. I bet they will.
Let’s put it this way: if you keep making bikes that weigh 35 to 40 lbs for kids that weigh 70 to 80 lbs, I doubt you are doing much to “grow the sport.” Here’s my challenge to all the product managers out there: take your current mountain bike and add weights to it so that it equals exactly half your body weight. Forget about Strava KOMs, that is not what this is about. Go out and ride your 75 to 85 lb bike, and tell me if it was fun.
Another thing that is interesting to me is how the industry has moved away from 26″ mountain bikes in favor of 27.5 and my personal fave, the 29er. You know what? 26″ wheel bikes are perfect for kids that have outgrown 24″ bikes. Too bad the only ones you can find these days are entry-level boat anchors.
I know enough Moms and Dads in the mountain community I live in (Park City, Utah, still the only IMBA Gold ride center community that I know of) who comb the annual bike swaps looking for old forgotten (but high-end) 26″ hard tails, but usually the parts are so outdated, or the frames are too large to be repurposed for a growing child. They spend hours in the garage putting together Frankenbikes for their kids, to shave off a pound here, a pound there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s kind of fun. I just think there is a better way.
Someone out there is going to figure out how to make a reasonably light, inexpensive or at least modestly priced line of kid’s bikes that the kids actually enjoy riding and propel them forward, and help them enjoy the thrill we all feel shredding down our favorite single track. They will be lifelong mountain bikers, and years later, they will be using their college student loan money to buy the high end, full suspension, 1x, electronic shifting, latest and greatest whizz bang scoots. Wait a minute. Never mind. Please keep offering the heavy rides. Maybe this was a bad idea.