Truckee based husband and wife duo John and Jessica Groom started toying with the idea of creating kids bikes five years ago, when their son Finn became old enough to start riding bikes. "We felt like there wasn't really a bike we liked enough for him," says Jessica, "I was really stuck on this idea that we were going to have to buy a bike every single year and I was like, how can that be the case? Nothing fit him very well either. Jon's always been really interested in mountain biking so we started looking into it. Could we build a bike that fit kids better, that was light and that helped them be better riders?"
• Converts between 16" and 20" wheels
• Customizable colors and decals
• 3 build options
• Reach adjust headset
• MSRP: $950 - $1400 USD
Five years on, after many design adjustments and prototypes later, their first shipment of aluminum convertible hardtails arrived. By switching between two sets of drop outs, the bike can accommodate 16" and 20" wheels. On top of that, the bike also features a reach adjustable headset so as the kid grows you can rotate the headset cup to increase the reach. The bikes are sent out with either a 30 mm stem or a 50mm stem depending on the size of the child, so ultimately the effective reach growth is 28mm.
The bikes come in three different builds: single speed, a SRAM GX ten speed, and then the ten speed plus a carbon Answer bars and seat post plus BOX wheels. There are three different frame colours and the graphic kits are interchangeable. Parents and kids can get online, choose the colors, reach, wheel size then chose the fork suspension setting. All of the bikes including the wheelsets are then assembled in their Truckee, California, location before rolling out the door. "We're creating the best bike we can at the best price we can offer. If people think that's reasonable then their kid gets to custom design their bike. We haven't sent out one bike that's been the same" says John.
To make the bikes especially light, the rear bracing was removed from the frame which also maximized tire clearance. The tubes were thinned out and close attention was paid to the CNC'd parts to make sure they were light too. The frame alone including drop outs and the front headset weighs about 2.11 pounds. A full bike weighs around 20 pounds and the 16" wheel bikes much less.
Every bike ordered in the16" size is sent out with 20" wheels as well. "Every kid is going to eventually need them," says John. "That way they don't have to pay double shipping and they don't have to search for it and if they want 16 or 18 inch we have those available too."
The bikes range from between $950 - $1400. That might seem like a lot of initial money to pay, but the goal is to have a custom built bike that should grow with your child for around four years. The couple have other designs and plans in the works but are taking it one step at a time. "Our goal is to make affordable bikes for parents who want to go biking with their kids. We are trying to be slow and steady so customer service is truly there."www.flowkidsbikes.com