Kids will need a bike frame that properly fits their height with at least seven gears in good working condition. No fixed gear bikes.
Find a reputable bike shop you’re comfortable with. If they make you feel stupid because you’re not a bike geek, find another shop. If they make you feel like you and bicycling were made for one another give them your credit card and thank them very much. Ask as many questions as necessary in order to know what you’re doing. You may choose to buy a used bike off a friend or Craigslist, but you’ll return to that shop many times for tune ups, gear, energy bars, spandex products and just to hang out. There are a lot of bike shops in the area, and several of them have proven to be good friends of Easy Street Cycling. See our partners list here for a guide to these shops. And remember these nice folks at your local shop won't be able to stay in business if you look at their items and then purchase them off the internet.
Lastly, be careful of department store or discount store bikes (places that don't have their own mechanic for tune ups). The frame may be fine (maybe) but the equipment may not be – and you’ll spend more on replacement parts and repairs than you saved in the first place. We've seen many kids with bikes from discount stores with brakes that are not able to tighten accurately, gears that are hard to get into place, etc. These things all make for a frustrating experience for your kid. It's worth getting a good bike that will last.
Here is our Bike Buying Guide page if you need to buy a new one.