How to buy a child's bike

Getting the right bicycle for your child can help make cycling fun — and safe.
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Bikes that you put together yourself need some technical expertise if it’s to be done correctly and safely. For safety’s sake, the Australian standard recommends you have the bike assembled by a qualified bicycle mechanic. Bikes that come fully assembled should meet the standard for assembly — look for a checklist or certificate that confirms this.

When we last tested adult bikes, we found several of them not properly assembled — with, for example, loose handlebars or headset (the bearing assembly that connects the front fork to the frame). So check that things like handlebars, brake pads and pedals aren’t loose and that the wheels spin true (look at the spinning wheel from the front with the bike upside-down).

Instructions and labelling

The Australian standard for bikes requires certain instructions, labels and warnings be included with the bike when applicable. If you’re buying secondhand, some of them will be missing, but it’s useful to know what is expected.

  • All bikes should come with use and maintenance instructions.
  • Bikes styled to look like off-road or stunt bikes (such as ‘BMX’ or ‘mountain’ bikes) but which aren’t suited to such use should carry a warning label. Of course if you want a bike that suits these purposes, make sure it’s the real McCoy.
  • If the bike is only partially assembled, simple, clear and adequate instructions for putting the pieces together, as well as which tools should be used, should be included.
  • Assembled bikes with misaligned handlebars and/or pedals removed (for fitting in a box, say) should have a label warning that adjustment is required and/or pedals need to be attached.
  • The bike should carry a permanent marking with the name and address in Australia of its manufacturer, importer or distributor, and an identification number.

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