5 Reasons Not to Buy Your Child a Mass Market Bike for the Holidays
With the holiday season upon us, many parents are hitting the stores searching for that perfect gift to surprise their child. What better surprise than a brand new bike?
While you may be planning to look for this gift at a well-known retailer, like your local Walmart or Target, there are a few reasons these mass market bikes aren’t the best Christmas gifts for kids.
In fact, there are five big reasons.
#1: Low Production Cost Means Low-Quality Bikes
Big box store bikes are cheap for a reason. Here are a few ways mass market bike sellers cut corners:
- Unskilled Assembly: Stores like Walmart typically stock their aisles with products manufactured in their warehouses, including their bikes. This means that the same employees assembling furniture and electronics are also assembling your child’s bike. Based on this fact alone, it’s safe to say that a Walmart bike wasn’t built by a specialist. That means it can have improper, and potentially dangerous, mechanics.
- Cookie Cutter Builds: Mass market department store bikes lack variety. From the materials to the framework, most of the children’s bikes you can purchase in stores like Walmart and Target are going to be nearly identical. Unfortunately, bikes aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of product. If it doesn’t correctly fit your child, that new bike won’t be fun or safe.
- Lackluster Designs: Mass market bikes offer designs and paint jobs that tend to be commercialized and gimmicky. Your child may want a Frozen-themed bike now, but what if it happens in a few months when they have a new favorite movie? When making a large purchase like a bicycle, it’s better to stick with high-quality designs that they won’t quickly outgrow.
#2: Mass Market Bikes Offer Minimal Safety Features
Big-box store bikes offer the bare-minimum when it comes to safety features. With few advancements made in the past decade, these bikes come with only the most basic elements:
- Pedal brakes or two-lever hand brakes
- Minimal tire traction
While these features seem like the standard in a kids bike, they can actually result in many preventable accidents.
Pedal braking can be confusing for young kids learning how to ride, and it only stops the rear tire (which is half the braking power they actually need). Two-lever hand brakes on the handlebars are more reliable, but controlling the front and rear tires separately and modulating them correctly can be a challenge for a child. Squeezing too tightly on the front brake can result in a head-over-handlebar accident, while relying only on the rear tire brake can cause skidding.
In contrast, our bikes come with SureStop brake technology. This patented system combines both hand brakes into one smart alternative. It’s easier for kids to learn, and significantly safer than the brakes on mass-market kids’ bikes.
#3: A Good Fit Is Hard to Find
Most Walmart bikes for children come with identical frames, meaning the only size difference is the wheel diameter. This often means you end up purchasing a bike that’s the wrong size for your child, compromising safety and comfort.
We have eliminated this sizing conundrum with our groundbreaking RideSizer tool, which lets you find the perfect bike for your child in minutes. Just answer a few key questions:
- Height: The first step is finding your child’s height. It’s important to note that you’ll need to measure this in inches, with shoes on. Afterall, your child won’t be riding their bike barefoot!
- Inseam: Next, the RideSizer asks for your child’s bike inseam. This is different from their pants inseam, as it’s specific to figuring out how tall the bike needs to be. To get this measurement, simply have your child stand against a wall and hold a book between their thighs, as a placeholder for the seat. Then measure the length from the ground to the top of the book.
- Experience: You’ll also answer a few questions about your child’s personal comfort level with cycling. These factors include how many bikes your child has owned, whether or not they started on a balance bike, and their age and athletic ability.
Kids bike sizes and safety go hand-in-hand. Mass market bikes just can’t provide this kind of detail in finding the correct bike for your child. If you buy a bicycle online from a company like Guardian Bikes, you’ll get a more personalized experience that will ensure a safer bike for your child, and less anxiety for you.
#4: Cumbersome Return Process
While mass market department store bikes typically have some sort of return policy, each store will enforce different rules and regulations. For instance, most Walmart storefronts have a 90-day return policy on bicycles, but some have a tighter 30-day restriction. Target’s return policy is even stricter, limiting full refunds to items that haven’t been unboxed. How are you supposed to choose the perfect bike for your child before they even ride it?
Shopping online for your child’s bike provides more wiggle room with returns. We have a 100-day return policy that allows your child to fully experience their bicycle after unwrapping it on Christmas day (read our guide on how to wrap a bike if you need tips).
Big department store retailers like Walmart and Target don’t understand the nuances of finding the right kids’ bike, and it shows in their return policies. Instead, go with a company that values the importance of your kid’s comfort and safety.
#5: Lower Quality Materials, Shorter Bike Lifespan
If there’s one thing Walmart bikes can’t promise, it’s longevity. The cheap manufacturing of a mass market bike will leave you needing a replacement sooner than your child will grow out of it. Walmart kids’ bikes are made of a lower-grade aluminum that’s not only too heavy for a small child, but also more susceptible to cracks and rust. Finding quality, sturdy bikes for your children will ultimately save you time and money.
Although you may not want to overspend on a bike your child could outgrow, it’s important to take safety and comfort into consideration in addition to price. Yes, your child is still growing—but that doesn’t mean they need an ill-fitting bicycle.
Guardian Bikes: Keeping Kids Safe and Bikes Fun
The bike aisle at Walmart may be tempting when holiday shopping for your children. They can’t compete with a truly safe bike that lasts for years. The peace of mind you’ll get from investing in a top-quality bike is a gift to yourself. How’s that for Christmas spirit?