Navigating the children’s bike market with Prevelo

The children’s bicycle market, dominated for several years by chains, is bouncing back with the independent store. Now a wind wave worn mark, Prebikeit is Jacob Rheuben explains why a quality product appeals to parents in stores…

Tell us how Prevelo was born?

When I was teaching my eldest son to ride a bike, it was very difficult to find a quality bike with kid-friendly geometry. At the time, the high-end kids’ bike niche was in its infancy, and quality bikes were in short supply. So I had this vision for a brand and I talked to my wife about it over dinner. Normally, in times like these, my wife’s role is to exercise her authority as a partner in life and stop me. I expected this idea to evaporate after this conversation. But when I told my wife the idea, she loved it. Now we own a bicycle company; it’s all his fault!

Kids’ bikes aren’t just small adult bikes – what have you done to adjust the geometries and components and what research is driving these changes?

I’ve taught so many kids to ride a bike that I’ve lost track of it. The biggest thing I notice is that youngsters learn to roll easier and roll better when they are low to the ground. There is some physics involved – when the rider is lower they have a lower center of gravity and become more agile. With a young driver, it is really important to give him confidence. The key to bringing a rider low to the ground is a low bottom bracket. We also use short cranks with narrow Q factors. In addition to being ergonomically correct for small legs, these cranks preserve ground clearance and lean angle with the low bottom bracket.

We also select every detail of the bike to try to optimize everything for children. We use rounded axle bolts instead of nuts on the axles to reduce hard edges. We use small diameter grips and short reach brake levers so the cockpit fits small hands. We also know that children are tough on bikes in ways that adults are not – for example young children tend to drop their bikes to the ground much more than adults (often not gently), so our single speed bikes have forged dropouts that wrap around the rear axle. We even worked with a pedal manufacturer to design special narrow pedals that fit kids’ feet while maximizing ground clearance and lean angle.

The kids’ bike market has been a notoriously tough place to compete in the past where major retailers have introduced their own ranges – how did this particular focus on quality give the bike shop a product worthy of again stored in number?

There may be differences between the US market and the UK market in this area. In the US market, I would divide the children’s bike market into three categories. The first is the mass market (bikes sold at big-box retailers like Walmart). Second, the independent bike shop for mainstream and finally premium bike shop brands (that’s the niche we’re in).

The premium kids’ bike niche is the smallest of these three segments. In the United States, this segment is dominated by small, niche brands that focus on children’s bikes (some of the bigger brands are just starting to enter this market). There is little industry data available on this niche, but anecdotally my observation is that it is growing rapidly.

I have theories on why this happens. Many of today’s parents have been lifelong bike enthusiasts and want quality bikes for their kids (and they recognize quality when they see it). Also, many parents see their children glued to screens. They want their children to be outdoors and active, and believe that if they buy their child a good bike, they will be more likely to choose the bike over the screens.

Tell us about build quality and the idea that resale value can be factored into buying a quality kids bike:

This is a point often overlooked by parents. Prevelo bikes are built to adult bike standards. Our frames and components are tough, and our bikes are easily serviceable by bike shops, so they’re easy to fix if something goes wrong. Parents of multiple children will find that the bike lasts through more than one rider. When it’s time to move on, our bikes often resell at a price that allows parents to recoup a good portion of the purchase price. At the height of the COVID supply shortage, I saw the sale of used Prevelo for more retail, but that was an anomaly. When you factor this in, the annual cost of owning a quality kids bike is actually quite low compared to the cost of other activities like soccer, camp, music lessons, and other extracurricular activities. .

Does the market suffer from the same supply issues as adult bikes, or is it less affected?

The children’s bicycle market has been affected by supply disruptions. Like all bike manufacturers, we are at the mercy of the slowest component supplier. However, we were lucky. Some of the longest parts right now are transmissions and brakes. Coincidentally, before Covid, Microshift started working on kids’ bike drivetrains with short cage clutch derailleurs and Radius was developing kids’ hydraulic shifters, so we were already planning to move specs. Switching to these suppliers has isolated us from the ultra-long lead times we currently see from some of the larger transmission and brake suppliers. Delivery times are still long, but not as long as they would otherwise be. Although we are not out of the woods, the deadlines seem to be improving.

prevelo children's bikeHow deep is the range and is the range unisex, or are there separate lines?

We have a 12 inch balance bike. We have our Alpha Series hybrid bikes in 14″, 16″, 20″ and 24″ and our Zulu Series trail bikes in 14″, 16″, 20″ and 24″. The entire range is unisex. We don’t believe young girls and boys need functionally different bikes.

What advice would you give to the bike shop staff member who wants to introduce the parent to a quality kids bike for the first time?

I think it’s important to know your customer. For the mountain biker parent, the benefits of Prevelo bikes are easy to explain. We have trail bikes up to 14” that have loose geo and hydraulic disc brakes. Parents who hike the trails themselves often immediately recognize the benefits here without me even having to open my mouth. Parents who haven’t given much thought to bikes can see the benefits of a quality bike. I’ve never met a parent who didn’t want their child to enjoy riding a bike.

Buyers of premium children’s bikes understand that by buying a quality bike for their child, they are providing their child with the best cycling experience. Parents who remember how bikes were an amazing part of their childhood are more willing to invest in helping their child have an amazing childhood biking experience.

Those who understand that a bike can weigh 70% of their child’s body weight understand that it will be difficult and less fun to ride if its weight and specifications are not carefully considered. Those who are helped to imagine how much they will enjoy time spent with their child on the bike are more likely to spend money on a high-end bike that will allow their child to enjoy that time more.

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