Putting training wheels on a bike is the usual solution for getting young riders on the road. But that's not all it takes to make a bicycle truly kid-friendly, says Brian Riley of Guardian Bikes.
“A lot of bikes are not actually designed for kids,” says Riley, whose company only makes children’s bicycles. “They’re like miniature adult bikes that are at a cheap cost, and the quality is not good.”
Guardian's bicycles are lighter, about 20 pounds instead of the usual 30, and easier for a child to control. “A 40-pound kid riding a 30-pound bike is difficult,” he says. “That 10 pounds makes a world of difference.”
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Riley also incorporated the SureStop brake technology he invented for adult bikes. The system controls the brakes with one handlebar squeeze instead of two. Training wheel bicycles don’t normally have hand brakes, Riley says, and learning how to control two can be hard for kids.
“When a car has one brake, you don’t need to think about how to slow down,” Riley says. “We wanted to make riding a bike that easy. You don’t have to think about how to stop.”
The brakes also make it less likely that the bike will stop too fast and a child will flip over the handlebars, potentially causing a serious injury.
Two models of six-speed bikes ($399) are now available. Two single-speed bikes ($369) will go on sale Nov. 16.
"The kids don’t know all the technology, they just love the bike,” says Riley. “But the parents do. Parents are blown away by the bikes."