Did you know the average child gets through around five bikes during their childhood?
I don’t even want to think about how much this is going to cost us, given that my eldest three children are so close in age that they double up on bike sizes. I think I need to start taking out shares in Isla Bikes.
I heard about the Bike Club from a friend a while ago and immediately thought it made sense. Why not hire your children’s bikes rather than buy them? Surely this is a more sustainable way to get your children cycling.
I had lots of questions, though, which is why I set up an interview with founders Alexandra Rico-Lloyd and James Symes.
What made you decide to set up the Bike Club?
Consumerism within the UK has grown rapidly in recent decades, resulting in unsustainable levels of waste and pollution. With the average kid going through around 5 bike sizes throughout their childhood, the current kids bike market is part of the problem.
Hoping to change the “throwaway culture” and give more families the opportunity to experience the many benefits of riding, we came up with the idea of a subscription service model for kids bikes that offers a sustainable and efficient use of resources to meet current demand and grow the number of children cycling.
With the likes of Netflix, Uber and Airbnb, the ‘access economy’ has revolutionised the way we travel, eat and consume media, and the time is right for these changes to arrive in the bicycle industry.
How much money do you think you are saving parents per child?
That is a really tricky question to answer accurately because there are so many variables in play including how long they are a member and whether they decide to go for a new vs a recycled bike.
We believe members of the Bike Club save roughly £100 compared to going out and buying a new bike. Just to highlight though, our aim is to offer our members value in terms of cost but also in terms of experience. We enable parents to offer their children the best riding experience possible, all the time, as their child will always have the perfect sized bike as they grow up.
Plus our high quality service makes exchanging the bike a seamless and hassle free process… perfect for busy parents!
Which do you think are the best bikes for children?
– The Bike Club offers a huge range of kids bikes, across a number of different age ranges and riding disciplines. Our partners include market leaders like, Frog, Squish, Forme, Tadpole, Cuda and Islabikes.
What is the most important thing to consider when buying a new child’s bike?
Correct bike sizing is crucial to learning and enjoying cycling.
Children simply can’t enjoy a bike that’s bought to be ‘slightly big’, so that they can eventually ‘grow into it’.
We put a big emphasis on the bikes and brands that we choose for subscribers to the Bike Club, picking the best bikes for every stage and activity. As parents we’ve thought about practicalities – like how heavy is it to lug in and out of the car – as well as choosing bikes that have the best child specific components.
Where do you stand on the balance bike vs stabilisers debate?
For a first bike, a balance bike gets my vote over stabilisers as they really help build the skills that children need to ride a bigger bike with pedals.
They learn how to balance and steer on two wheels and put their feet down, rather than relying on an extra set of wheels to support them.
All of the bikes we stock are fantastic but the Squish Balance bike is one of our favourites for beginners as they’re lightweight for toddlers and young first time riders to control and maneuver.
When it come to larger frame sizes something like the Forme Cubley 18 is a great option. Lightweight with child-specific sizing and components, a bike like this will help develop confident young riders in no time at all.
Do you have any tips for getting your child to ride safely?
One of the reasons we think our subscription service is a great option is because of the sizing issues faced when buying a bike.
Understandably parents want to get the most for their money and with children growing out of things so quickly they often opt for a bike that is too big for them in hope to get a few extra months or years for their money.
Or the other end of the spectrum is that they’re riding bikes that are too small believing that they can squeeze another year out of an old model before finally resigning to the fact their child has outgrown it.
The problem with this is that a poorly sized bike can be difficult to handle, making kids wobbly on their bikes and having an impact on their confidence. When their confidence is knocked during this vital learning stage, it can really impact their enjoyment of cycling for years to come.
What age do you think a child should start thinking about riding a bike?
We’re big fans of a balance bike over using stabilisers and children can start riding a balance bike from around two, my two year old is already getting to grips with his.
The benefits to children of using a balance bike is that they can often go straight from a balance bike to pedals confidently.
We all remember being terrified that our mum or dad would let go of the saddle when we first took off our training wheels. With the balance bikes this transition is a lot more straightforward.
What kit does a child need to ride safely and have fun?
For us, ensuring that your child has a helmet is really important.
We respect that ability for adults to choose whether or not they wear one in later life, but we believe that all children should be properly protected when riding. That’s why we’ve decided to sell a selection of high quality options on our website.
Perhaps most important though is a positive learning experience.
As mentioned before, ensuring that your child learns to ride on a high-quality and correctly sized bike is imperative to their enjoyment of cycling. It’s something parents only get an opportunity to get right once, so it’s important you nail this.
Would you ever consider running the same service for adults too?!
Great question! We are trialing this at the moment with 250 parents so watch this space