A quintessential part of growing up is getting your first two-wheel pedal bike. The freedom that zooming around on two wheels can give you is amazing and opens up all sorts of adventures and fun times with friends and family. For our first kid, we never went the balance bike route and instead just started her on a two-wheel pedal bike when she was 5. No training wheels, just an old man hunched over helping her learn the basics of balance, steering, and pedaling. By the time our 2nd girl was ready for a two-wheel pedal bike, she was zipping around on her balance bike and adapted even quicker to her new ride. For both of our girls, we settled on the REI Co-op Kids Bike, buying both the REV12 and the REV16 models. Here are my thoughts on these bikes after 2 years of solid use.
The bikes are very simple in design. No gears to shift, just a single speed bike. No brakes other than reverse pedaling. Even though we did not use them, they do come with training wheels that you can attach. The bikes are solidly built from aluminum and while not ultralight, they are by no means a heavy bike. Some Huffy bikes can push 25 lbs, whereas the Co-op bikes come in around 15-17 lbs depending on the size you settle on. It just is not as lightweight as some other (more expensive) bikes like a Woom. Heavier bikes can pose some challenges for your kids. It can make balancing and pedaling that much harder and crashes are a bit more dicey. They might hang onto the training wheels (if you use them) for that much longer. Falls are just part of the process though and the bikes are not so heavy that they are dangerous. I think the REI Co-op strikes a nice weight balance and my kids transitioned pretty quickly to riding without assistance and yours can too!
One other feature I liked when I bought these bikes were the color options. The colors are not over the top and bright neon. That’s more of a personal preference, but it was something that drew me to the REI Co-op kids bikes. My girls have the lavender and powder blue variants and they are very muted and understated. If you want bright pink unicorn rainbow glitter (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this bike is not for you. I will say though that the colors are a little brighter these days, which I’m not as crazy about. The bikes also come with stickers to decorate them with, but I opted to let the kids use them on paper and crafts instead. I just had a feeling they would start to peel with use and look terrible. Maybe they are more durable than I give them credit for, but I chose not to test it!
In terms of design features that I am not crazy about, its pretty minimal to be honest. It would also be nice to have a kickstand come standard with the bike, but an aftermarket one fit just fine. Part of me wishes there were hand brakes on this bike. Jason raised a good point to me when I was discussing this with him and mentioned that lots of kids bikes do not come with hand brakes. I did notice that the Woom bikes do come with hand brakes, but others do not. I can understand that when kids are first starting on a bike, you want to make sure they do not slam on their brakes and either flip over their handle bars or skid out with the back tire. Then again, the backpedal-to-brake took some getting used to for my kids and they ended up ruining a pair or two of shoes because they would drag their toe to slow down. In any event, I’m not going to ding REI on that point, but it is something I would have liked to see.
Our kids have run into bushes in the Co-op kids bike. They’ve fallen off of it onto the asphalt. They’ve carelessly slammed them down before I decided to install kickstands. Despite this, they have held up! At this point they are showing their age a bit and have some rust spots, but overall they are in great shape. REI also has a program where you can trade in bikes, which I am going to have to take advantage of soon and see how much I can get back for them. Overall these bikes have held up and stood the test of time. The girls love them and have had countless hours of fun on them. Other than inflating tires and adjusting the seat because my kids have grown, I have had to do zero maintenance on these bikes due to simplicity of design and durability of materials.
Pricewise, I wouldn’t put these as budget bikes. It fits somewhere between a more expensive and high end kids bike like the Woom and a less expensive bike such as a Huffy bike. Overall though, my kids have definitely gotten good use out of these bikes and it remains to be seen how much of the investment we can get back through the resale program with REI. REI also has lots of brick and mortar stores so if you have problems, you can bring it into the store more easily for help. Plus, as an REI member, I get 10% back as dividends, which I’m always happy to put into buying even more gear!
- Extremely durable bike
- Minimal extras means there’s less to break and fix
- Muted colors are easy on the eyes
- Medium weight bike makes transitioning to 2 wheels a little more difficult
Would I buy another one of the REI Co-op kids bikes? Probably. My kids became adept pretty quickly at using the pedal brakes, so the lack of a hand brake was not that big of a deal. I do love the durability of this bike, so I do think it’s solidly a 4/5 option.
Have your kids tried the REI Co-op kids bike? What did they think?