Ask Design Mom: Bike Ideas for a 9-Year-Old

April 15, 2008

Ask Design Mom Question:
Dear Design Mom, I have a daughter turning 8 on Friday! She has outgrown her 16″ wheel bike, and is ready for an upgrade. We took her to the local bike shop on Saturday, and they recommended either the 20″ or 24″ wheeled models. The brands were Specialized and Gary Fischer. We don’t know much about bikes, but the 24″ one looked massive. I’d love some input from you and your experienced readers on what size, model, brand we should buy for her. She has a younger brother and a boy-ish outlook, so nothing princess-y or pink. We were looking up kids’ beach cruisers online, and we love the looks of them but wonder if she needs something with gears. Help! Thanks, Sara

Design Mom Answer:
Oh my. The image of an eight-year-old girl heading down the road on a summer day — riding a beach cruiser — is pretty fantastic. But I don’t know a thing about gears and bike sizes. Brilliant readers, what advice do you have for Sara?

Also, I know she’s not too girly, but one of these bike baskets by Design House Stockholm would make a great accessory. The color choices (black, green and white) and plastic-ness offset the femininity of the lacy.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Motherhood for Dummies April 15, 2008 at 2:08 pm

oh I always wanted a bike with a basket! Such fun :)

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2 Lamchops April 15, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Specialized is supposed to be a nice brand that will out-last all the fun a kid could have on a bike at age 8. When I was 8-14 all I wanted was a Trek. My Bro-in-law has a shop & that was the envy bike of my young girl days. I say if you trust your local bike shop than listen to them. You can actually get online & check out http://www.bicyclesunlimited.com maybe email them & find out what they say. Good luck!

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3 smalltownfun.squarespace.com April 15, 2008 at 2:36 pm

My first comment is that I love those baskets, but try finding a basket for a boy’s bike! Depending on what you want to spend and for what reason she’s riding, you might do well with a bike that’s not quite as expensive as a Specialized. When I was 8, I had the Huffy Lil’ Gypsy with a banana seat and tall handle bars – I rode it every day until I got a 10-speed in 6th grade. So, as much as I love my Specialized Crossroads, the picture of an 8-year-old cruising a bike only kids can get makes me tear up a little. That said, the internet is your friend. Huffy has a great info piece on choosing bikes and Target has a Schwinn that got great reviews. (Any bike with handle grip gears (Specialized has these, too)is going to be an easier option than the old finger ones.: http://www.target.com/Girls-Schwinn-24-Ranger-Bike/dp/B0000BXHPB/ref=cm_reviews_dp_seemore/601-0133816-8799337?ie=UTF8&coliid=&frombrowse=1&alt%5Fview=custReviews&asin=B0000BXHPB#RJ001EEKQ7CIL
Hope this helps a little.

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4 liz April 15, 2008 at 10:12 pm

bmx all the way.

If she wants one that is. I was thinking this week about how badly I wanted a bmx at that age, but my parents insisted I get a mt. bike cos it was all the rage. I hated that bike, could never get off of it safelty and never wanted to ride it.

I wish they had let me get my bmx. I would have driven that thing int othe ground cos it was what I wanted and would have been cheaper!

I suggest you let her pick it out. take her on a suprise trip to pick it out herself then take her out for ice cream.

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5 Chloe April 16, 2008 at 12:57 am

I am loving those baskets for my own little girl…It would move us away from the ever present princess themes…

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6 Shauna April 16, 2008 at 4:00 am

We just got 20″ TREK Bikes for our 8 and 10 year old girls. They are the perfect size for them to grow with, great colors and quality. I have a Gary Fisher Bike that I love. I ride it all over town most every day as do the girls with their TREK Bikes.
Go to a small local bike shop and you will find a wealth of information.
We did a lot of Homework and the local Bike Shop ended up being our best resource.

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7 Jennifer, Snapshot April 16, 2008 at 7:15 am

My daughter has always been tall. Last spring (she was 8 1/2) we got her a new bike and went with the 24 inch. She had to grow into it a tiny bit, but it worked just fine. It’s purple and pink and white–she’s not girly either, but loves purple, and since it’s a sort of trail bike it isn’t all fragile looking.

Sounds like you’ve already gotten some good info. I guess my opinion is if it seems a little big, that’s probably okay, but if it seems WAY big, she might not be comfortable.

My daughter’s has gears, but I don’t think she’s ever used them.

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8 Travis April 16, 2008 at 8:20 am

I’m really into these Electra Bikes:
http://www.electrabike.com/kids/

And I’m leaning towards just needing one gear (as opposed to many). It could make things more complicated.

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9 Super Zoe April 16, 2008 at 9:51 am

I love that basket! And, like an 8 year old, I am getting a new bike for my birthday. I hope it’s pretty!

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10 Cathi April 16, 2008 at 9:53 am

I adore those baskets!!

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11 Anonymous April 16, 2008 at 10:19 am

Do you live in an area with any hills? If so, as cute as the beach cruisers are, they just aren’t practical. Where we live in Utah my seven year old uses his gears a lot! We’ve loved our Raleigh Bicycle and Trek. Good Luck!

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12 Kate April 16, 2008 at 12:32 pm

The Lime by Trek is darling, but I’m not sure how big they are.

http://www.trekbikes.com/lime/?step=bikeMenu

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13 Lotta April 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Those are fantastic! I want one!

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14 Cameron April 16, 2008 at 1:18 pm

From a purely astetic prospective, Electra is the way to go. Last summer I bought my daughter their beach cruiser and people stop her all the time to ask about it. She absolutely loves it!!!

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15 erika April 16, 2008 at 2:57 pm

I just bought my 2 year old a 15 inch Specialized. I went in thinking that I was going to get her a 12 inch but she preferred the 15. We went home and she zipped around the block as if she had been riding a bike for years. I am glad that we went with the larger bike too because it will last longer. they grow fast- always go a bit bigger when you can.
Also- I have the Carrie basket and I LOVE IT!

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16 Stephanie April 16, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Spring must be in the air…I just posted about these a few days ago too. I guess we’re all in love with these beautiful baskets!

P.S. I think you can find Joel Dewberry on Purl Soho’s site…

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17 Shayleen Lunt April 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm

I personally think that changing gears would be over an 8-year-old’s head. Plus, if they do try to change it and don’t understand it…it just makes for too hard or too easy pedaling. (Plus, gears occasionally need work)
I think if it is just between those two…specialized!
It can definitely be handed down for years to come…they last forever!

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18 n. April 24, 2008 at 4:58 pm

fyi… you can find those baskets cheaper at the sf moma online store: http://sfmoma.stores.yahoo.net/cabiba.html

only 50 bucks! totally cute.

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19 Anonymous July 20, 2008 at 1:44 am

Nirve makes a 3 speed beach cruiser with automatic shift.

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