Why you should avoid Cheap Kids' bikes from Big Box Stores

eric-awwy By Eric Awwy, 10 Nov 2022

When getting a bike for your kid, it might not make sense for you to spend a lot of money. After all, all bikes are the same. Well, that is incorrect. All bikes are not the same. The “expensive” ones are usually infinitely better than the cheap ones.

This post will reveal to you how expensive bikes are better than cheap ones.

Let’s begin.

11 Good Reasons to Avoid Buying Cheap Bicycles for Kids

We have good bikes then we have the mass-market bikes that people buy for the sake of it. If you are in the market for a good bike for your kid, whether it is a gift or just something to get them active, you should consider getting a quality bike rather than a cheap one. Every parent likes saving some money when making a purchase. Unfortunately, buying some of the mass market bikes like those from Walmart or other stores could, in the end, be a nightmare purchase. We have sampled many such bikes as Walmart Kids bikes, and all we can say is that they are just an assemblage of designs and hardly have the quality, save for a few big box stores.

1. Low Quality

The number one reason you should avoid cheap kids’ bikes is that they are almost always low quality. It is virtually impossible to find a cheap but high-quality kids' bike, and cheap and high-quality are terms that generally don’t go together. If you spend pennies on your kid’s bike, it is virtually guaranteed that the bike you get will be low quality. In contrast, if you spend a good amount of money, it is most likely that the bike you get will be high-quality.

So why are cheap kids' bikes almost always low quality? Well, it is because of two reasons. The first reason is that they are typically built in developing countries by low-skilled workers and poorly paid workers. These workers often lack the skills or motivation to build high-quality bikes. Therefore, the bikes they end up assembling are often low quality. The second reason is that they are often built using cheap materials to minimize the unit cost. Unfortunately, the cheap materials used to build them usually make them low-quality.

The problem with low-quality kids’ bikes is not just that they are low quality but are often not very comfortable, safe, or durable. You surely don’t want to buy your kid a bike that is not comfortable, safe, or durable, right?

2. Minimal Safety Features

If you buy your kid a cheap kids' bike, you can almost be 100% sure that it will have minimal or no safety features. Cheap kids' bikes usually have minimal or no safety features because they are made in countries where people don’t have a bike safety culture, so they don’t pay much attention to safety during bike manufacture. This is why you will find cheap bikes frequently do not have effective brakes and high-traction tires. Needless to say, but bikes with minimal safety features are not it. They are dangerous and, therefore, should be avoided like the plague.

Non-cheap bikes usually have all the necessary safety features. They typically have very effective brakes and high-traction tires. The effective brakes are usually 2-lever handbrakes. These brakes are usually carefully designed and tested to ensure they can work, which is why they are effective. They are not ineffective and unsafe like the brakes or braking mechanisms you will find on cheap bikes. As mentioned above, non-cheap bikes also tend to have high-traction tires. These tires prevent unnecessary slipping and sliding because they grip the ground much better.

So avoid getting your kid a cheap bike because it will likely have minimal safety features. Get them a non-cheap bike with all the necessary safety features.

3. Short Lifespan

There is a common saying that cheap is expensive. You will quickly find out the true meaning of this saying when you purchase a cheap kids' bike. Because when you do so, the bike will most likely be low quality and, therefore, have a short lifespan.

Low-quality bikes have a short lifespan because they are not well-made in terms of design and materials. Since low-quality bikes have a short lifespan, the cheap low-quality bike you will get will not last long, forcing you to purchase a new bike for your kid.

Imagine spending $90 to purchase a cheap bike and then doing so a few weeks again to purchase another cheap bike. This will undoubtedly be more expensive than buying a non-cheap bike for $120 or $150.

While cheap bikes are frequently low quality and hence have a short lifespan, non-cheap bikes are not. Non-cheap kids' bikes are usually high-quality and well-made. Because of this, they tend to have a long lifespan. Therefore, avoid buying your kid a cheap bike now, forcing you to buy another one in a few weeks or two months. Buy a non-cheap bike. It may be more expensive, but it will certainly last much longer.

4. Complicated Return Policy

Most cheap bikes are available in physical or online shops with complicated return policies. For example, Walmart is one of the biggest sellers of cheap kids' bikes in the United States, and many of the company’s storefronts have a short 30-day return policy on bikes. Target is also one of the biggest sellers of cheap bikes for kids in the United States. The company also has a strict return policy on bikes; it will only accept back bikes that have not been unboxed. Therefore, if you purchase a cheap bike from Walmart, Target, or anywhere else, you will find it difficult to return when it breaks down.

While most cheap bike sellers have a complicated return policy, most non-cheap bike sellers do not have a complicated return policy. They do not have a strict return policy because they sell quality bikes that do not break down easily. This makes them confident that the overwhelming majority of their customers will not want to return the bikes they sell to them. So buy your kid’s bike from a non-cheap bike seller to avoid the cumbersome return policies associated with cheap bike sellers.

5. Heavy

Cheap kids’ bikes are often heavy, making them difficult to maneuver and control. This means getting your kid a cheap bike will make their biking experience less fun and enjoyable compared to getting them a non-cheap bike that is lightweight and easy to maneuver. Moreover, getting your kid a cheap bike (often heavy) means you will also find it challenging to put the bike in the trunk as opposed to getting a non-cheap bike (often lightweight).

As you can see above, cheap bikes are usually heavy and, therefore, less fun to ride and cumbersome to put in the trunk. In contrast, non-cheap bikes are very lightweight because they are made of aluminum or aluminum alloys and often weigh less than 15 kilograms. This makes them easy to control, fun to ride, and less cumbersome to put in a trunk. So don’t buy a cheap bike if you want your kid to have fun and you want an easy time putting their bike into your car trunk whenever necessary.

6. Ineffective Brakes

Most cheap kids’ bikes have ineffective brakes. For this reason, you should avoid them altogether. The biggest issue with the brakes on cheap kid bikes is that they are usually not adapted for use by children, and they require big and strong hands to apply effectively.

When children try to use them, they often don’t have enough power to move them even a bit, which means they cannot apply them quickly and effectively, creating a dangerous situation.

In contrast, brakes on non-cheap bikes are usually very effective. They are effective because they are kid-sized and adapted for easy squeezing by kids.

This makes them very easy to apply. And the fact that the brakes on non-cheap bikes are easier to apply makes the bikes safer to use than cheap bikes with brakes that are difficult to apply. Therefore, if you want to ensure the bike you purchase for your kid has effective brakes and is, therefore, safe for your kid, you should avoid cheap bikes.

7. Frequent Breaks

Kids are kids. Kids, especially boys, usually don’t have slow gear; they don’t know how to play nice with their bikes, scooters, toys, etc. This is a good reason why you should avoid cheap bikes. These bikes break easily because they are low quality and poorly put together. Therefore, getting your kid a cheap bike, yet you know they are clumsy or doesn’t have slow gear, is not wise.

The bike will most likely break down within a few days of you gifting it to your child. Furthermore, after that, the bike will most likely break down every few days. This is an experience you definitely do not want for yourself or your kid. So make a wise choice and avoid cheap kids' bikes because they break down frequently. Go for higher-priced kids' bikes because they are usually better made, so they don’t break down easily.

8. Poor Design and Geometry

One of the biggest reasons why cheap bikes are cheap is that the manufacturers usually do not pay top dollar to have them designed, tested, or refined. They just make the most basic bikes and sign deals with companies like Walmart and Target to sell them quickly.

Since cheap bike manufacturers do not pay top dollar for design, the design of the cheapest bikes on the market is usually average or poor. This is the reason why the bikes have inefficient brakes and break down more frequently than non-cheap bikes. It is also the reason why the bikes are often not very easy to peddle or do not go very fast. So if you didn’t know, you now know why cheap bikes are not the most fun, even for adults.

On the other hand, pricey bikes are usually much better designed. Of course, the enhanced or better design is often part of why they are pricey.

By just looking at a pricey bike, you can usually tell it is much better designed and justifiably more expensive. Furthermore, the typical expensive kids' bike often has excellent brakes, an efficient pedaling system, and an outstanding top speed. Since they are very well designed, bikes are also usually enjoyable for kids.

9. Not Durable

An excellent reason why you should avoid cheap bikes is that they do not last long. Most cheap bikes are designed for a few months of use; they are not designed to be used for a long time and handed down to the next child. So if you are buying a bike for your kid and you want it to be used by their sibling a few months or years down the line, you should avoid buying a cheap kids' bike because it won’t last very long.

Expensive bikes tend to be generally infinitely more durable than non-expensive bikes, and this is because they are usually very well-made using high-quality materials. Thus, if you want a bike that will still exist even two or three years down the line, you should avoid cheap kids' bikes and get a non-cheap one for your kid.

10. Not Well-assembled

A big issue with cheap bikes is they are usually poorly assembled. If you purchase a cheap kids' bike, you will most likely discover issues such as loose handlebars, loose wheel nuts, non-adjusted brakes, and so on.

Poor assembly frequently makes kids' bikes unsafe and even dangerous. Imagine your kid pedaling fast down a steep street on a cheap bike without fully functional brakes. Sounds dangerous, right? Well, it is because it is.

Avoid the unsafe nature of poorly assembled, cheap kids' bikes by getting a non-cheap kids bike for your kid. It is pretty unlikely that the non-cheap kids' bike you will purchase will be unsafe for your kid because such bikes are usually well-made and well-assembled.

11. Unwanted Features

Most of the time, cheap kids’ bikes have unwanted features – training wheels and coaster brakes. While some parents and kids love these features, most people find them very inconvenient. For example, most parents and kids nowadays don’t like bikes with training wheels, and this is because they have been found to be a hindrance to quick mastery of bike balancing.

This is why many parents nowadays opt to start their kids with balance bikes or scooters before transitioning them to bikes without training wheels.

Many parents and children also hate coaster brakes, and this is because they are not so easy and fun to use.

Furthermore, they are not as safe as handbrakes or footbrake because they can cause an accident, especially when used to bring a speedy bike to a sudden halt.

How to Get a Good Kids’ Bike?

The section above explains 11 reasons you should avoid cheap kids' bikes. In this section, we will reveal to you how to get an excellent non-cheap kids' bike.

By following the tips that we provide in this section, you should be able to get your kid a bike that is fun, safe, and efficient.

Before we delve deeper, go through our guide on the best places to purchase kids' bikes.

1. Check out our recommendations

Our blog contains great recommendations for parents looking for quality kid bikes. All you need to do to find them is to browse our websites and the dozens of posts on them. Many of the posts are kids bike reviews and comparisons. Read the reviews and comparisons to discover the best kids' bikes on the market.

2. Visit eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace

There are many genuine sellers of good-quality bikes on websites such as eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook. All you need to do is to visit these websites and browse the kids' bikes you will find there. Don’t just rely on what the sellers have written about the bikes you find. Do independent research to determine if the bike you want is good enough. Only buy it if your independent research tells you the bike is good enough and its price is right.

3. Talk to non-profits

Many non-profits across the United States run programs that collect old bicycles, repair them, and sell them for cheap. You should check out the local ones in your neighborhood and your city. You could find and buy a high-quality kids' bike for pennies.

4. Check bike manufacturer websites

There are many kid bike manufacturers in the US. Most have websites where you can see and read details about the bikes available for sale. Check out these websites to find and compare the best kids' bikes. Choose the right one for your kid using the knowledge you have gained so far in this post. Many such websites usually have discount offers. Do not be afraid to take advantage of these offers to lower your total cost.

5. Check for quality bikes

Amazon is a big website with all the things you need. The website has both cheap and non-cheap kids' bikes. Check out the non-cheap bikes and the cheap bikes. The non-cheap ones are almost always good quality. Find one for your kid based on the features, the reviews (from verified purchasers), and so on. The information you discover should help you to select a good bike for your kid.

Parting Shot!

In our guide to buying a kids’ pedal bike, we talked about some of the things you need to look for when shopping for the best bike. We’ve done the same on our balance bike buyer’s guide and a guide on choosing the best BMX bike for a child. These guides take you through the step-by-step process of purchasing any kids’ bikes.

Even if you are struggling financially and want something to get, your kiddo going, buying a cheap bike should not fall among your options. You are better off purchasing a well-fitting second-hand kids’ bike that will leave to serve your kid better.

Buying a cheap bike can cost you in the long run. Many reviews we’ve read and received from parents who chose cheap kids' bikes indicate that they ended up either breaking down or being abandoned for being heavy. Buy a good bike and keep your kids safe on bikes. Good bikes are also fun to ride. The kids will ride a rad and quality bike with pride to the extent that it provides value for money.

Although the bike aisle at big box stores like Walmart can be tempting, especially during holidays and special occasions shopping for kids, be wary that some of the bikes could be low quality. Purchase a bike from your local store, the manufacturer's website, or your local bike shop.

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