My son turns 4 next month, and we bought him a 16″ bike as a present. We bought a cheap one from our friendly neighborhood toymart since odds are good that he’ll use it for two years at the most, and if it gets 100 miles on it, I’ll consider myself fortunate that my kid loves biking. The next bike will be a higher-quality one, but for this first one, I figure I’d roll the dice and get a $60 cheapie and put it together by myself.
This particular model has both the skid-brake as well as hand brakes, but the hand brakes are almost totally worthless. I spent more time trying to get the cheap, stamped-metal sidepull brakes on my kid’s new bike working correctly than I did working on the brakes on my refurbished early 90s Schwinn Searcher. Tighten things up, but not too tight, or nothing works. The cabling keeps popping out of the guides, etc. I had foolishly planned on quickly putting the bike together and then washing & cleaning the gunk out of the Schwinn’s drivetrain. Silly me. An hour later and I called it a night.
Looking at the Schwinn in some detail, I’m guessing that I’ll be installing a new chain & new cassette at the end of the season anyway, since the cogs on several gears are really worn down. There fore I thin I’ll be skipping heavy-duty bike maintenance until the fall when I can take it into the basement, put it up on the repair stand, and strip it apart. I’m just getting back into biking after a long hiatus, so I bought this model from the good folks at the Sibley Bike Depot. $150 for a quality steel frame, fenders & Blackburn rack. Can’t beat the price, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to learn bike repair on that then on something new from the store.
Perhaps in a couple of years I’ll be able to shell out the dough for a nice Atlantis or something, but in the meantime, the Schwinn will do fine.