We’ve all been there:
You roll up to your local road/crit/cx/xc/tri race. You pull your bike out of the car and ride it around the parking lot. You make sure everything shifts well and you hope that on the car ride over your bottom bracket somehow magically stopped creaking. It’s still creaking. You make your way over to registration, look up your USAC license number on your phone (because you can never remember it), get your number, and grab a spot on a picnic bench to pin your jersey with the appropriate number of safety pins (at least 7, I prefer 9).
You look up and suddenly see something that makes you roll your eyes so hard they almost get stuck in the back of your head. A father of a U13 racer pulls their kids road/crit/cx/xc/tri bike out of the back of their King Ranch XXL Platinum Raptor Pickup Truck. The bike has got to be worth at least $10,000. It’s made of the highest modulus carbon fiber. The also carbon wheels are at least 60mm deep because a 10 year old needs every aero advantage they can get. The bike lacks mechanical shifting, opting for electronic everything and not one, but two power meters. Their child hops out of the passenger side and stretches his legs. He’s already wearing his all black aero skinsuit, aero helmet, and aero shoe covers that silhouette those s-works shoes that you missed out on last year because your wife says that your kid HAS to go to daycare and can’t stay at home and watch TV all day.
This begs the questions:
Is it okay for kiddos to have bikes like this?
Of course it is. If you have the means, why wouldn’t you want your kids to ride the nicest, coolest, bikes you could afford them? I know that if I had money to burn, my child would be on some 9 pound, mostly robotic, bike.
But is it GOOD for them to ride these bikes? Does it help their riding?
We think not. If a kid can pedal a heavy bike well, they can definitely pedal a light bike. Think about how stoked they would be when they finally do get a super nice, high-tech bike after a couple years of learning to ride your old hand-me-down or parts-bin bike (professionally assembled by your local bike shop, of course). It gives them a goal to strive for, another reason for them to be stoked on riding bikes with dad (or mom)! Also, kids grow like weeds! It just doesn’t make sense for parents to be buying a new bike frame to fit their kids every year. While most components are not height specific and can be transferred from frame to frame, does it make sense to have to buy a new, proper fitting frame every year for your up and coming super star bike racer? To this note, what if they lost interest? Your kid shouldn’t be riding bikes because they have a really nice bike, they should be riding bikes because they are stoked to get shreddy!
Merckx said it best:
“Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades”
(and now we have a series of Original StemCap Covers to help you remember this!)