My wish list included:
- front & rear hand brakes
- rear rack
- short reach brake levers
- internal gear hub with at least three speeds
- easy to shift grip shifters
- light frame
- dynamo lights
There are a few companies in Europe that make great kids bikes with all of the above--the German company Puky, for example--but getting one to Canada is difficult & expensive. Woom & Islabikes--both American--make some fantastic models for kids that tick most of the boxes on my wish list, but they're also quite expensive given the exchange rate & shipping.
The next best option seemed to be to get a decent light frame bike & modify it to add as many of the above features as possible. I settled on a Trek Precalibur single speed. It's fairly light, comes with front & rear hand brakes. The brake levers on it have an adjustable reach & Linnaeus can use them easily. The cranks actually have two positions for the pedals to allow for more adjustment as his legs grow. I like the full chain case too so we don't have to worry about his pant legs getting grease stains or getting caught in the chain.
Trek makes several versions of the Precalibur, but the horizontal dropouts on the single speed model we bought mean we can easily adjust chain tension by moving the rear wheel back or forward, so we can add an internal gear hub. Fenders shouldn't be too bad to find in this size & hopefully we can work out a way to attach a rear rack without having any eyelets on the rear of the frame.
It looks as if Trek is phasing out this particular version of the Precalibur, so we had to hunt a bit to find a dealer with one in stock. We picked up the bike from Cap's Westwood in Burnaby on our way home from a trip to Maplewood Farm recently (with a Modo minivan). Linny tried it out in the parking lot & I have to say, I'm glad we didn't bike train bike home with it, like I was originally planning. He rode straight into a curb & nearly crashed because he has no experience with hand brakes & tried to backpedal to stop. Happy to have the option of booking a Modo minivan whenever we need to transport things like this.
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