December 17 2013 Tuesday at 05:55 PM

Used Kid's Bikes

Coco's does not sell very many kid's bikes. The short reason, we don't make any money on them and if we don't make the money, the wheels fall off the wagon, we topple out, fall down the hill and lick our wounds without the comfort of extended unemployment benefits.
The medium length answer is a six-parter:
  1. Most kid's bikes are purchased from big box stores as they are much cheaper than bike store grade bikes. Coco's does not sell big box sourced bicycles.
  2. Most kid's bikes are not maintained in a prudent manner. By the time a child has outgrown the bike, the plastic-y parts are faded, steel parts are rusty and the soft parts - saddle, grips, tires, tubes - are cracked and baked.
  3. Though often still functional, a faded and rusty bike is not a good gift and many kid's bikes are gifts.
  4. There isn't a huge delta between a big box kid's bike and a bike store kid's bike. In adult bikes, the extra money makes a HUGE difference in quality, ride-ability, durability and repair-ability. Kid's bikes, without hand brakes or shifting, there just isn't that big a difference.
  5. Like many things, kid's bikes are very cheap, are considered disposable and are not handed down.
  6. We can not economically fix a faded, rusty, cracked tire, flat tubed kid's bike and sell at a price lower than new big box bikes.

What should you do? I don't know, I abhor the disposable bike concept. I think it is unconscionable to build semi-durable goods, not maintain them and then throw them away.


A five-parter alternatives section:

  1. Buy a used bike store grade bike from Coco's Variety or another square shooter. We DO have kid's bikes sometimes (example) but it is rare for us to find a bike store grade bike that is in good enough condition to warrant refurbishing.
  2. Buy a used kid's bike from a thrift store. They are clogged with them. The above picture was taken at Rescue Mission Thrift. Buy the best one that works perfectly as even replacing tubes, chain and grips will make this uneconomical. That said, the karmic debt has already been paid on these bikes and to save them - at more than new retail price - is a noble thing to do.
  3. Don't make a bike a gift. Don't make it a shiny gift. Let the bike be a modest appliance and don't worry about the impact under the Christmas tree - worry about a safe bike that fits, has a helmet, have a pump at home and keep it working.
  4. Buy a new big box or bike store grade kid's and commit to it. Keep it clean, dry, out of the sun and functioning. Always know that you will find it a home when your child has outgrown it and maintain it so it can be handed off proudly.
  5. If you buy a bike from a big box store, assume that you will need to take it to a real bike store or to a real bike friend to have it safety checked. I can't tell you how many Target bikes we have seen with the fork on backwards.

I really, really like the idea of generational bikes. From comparatively richer families to comparatively poorer families and from comparatively older kidded families to comparatively younger kidded families.