The best kid’s bike might be one you build yourself

Our family biking contributor Marion Rice did a story this morning on the Front Page about finding the right bike for your kid. It made me think of an old email in my inbox from a friend of mine who made an excellent transportation bike for his son out of an old bike he found at a garage sale. Check out the bike (and its happy owner) below and then read more about the build from John below it:

“I thought you might get a kick outta this bike I grabbed for Oliver at a garage sale for $20. He’s never been into BMX or mountain bikes, so it was timely. Probably 70s gaspipe hi-ten frame, but it’s lugged! Crappy components as expected on a kids bike. Swapped out the extinct 451 steel wheels for BMX 406s, and hit City Bikes and CCC for used BMX calipers to reach down and a bash guard. At each shop, the technicians were all over it, because it’s so tiny. The cottered cranks are gonna stay. New cables, brake pads, and Conti tires which cost more the bike itself. He likes the drop bars and suicide levers, so all we have to do is wrap and cap. It takes everything in me (and the lack of funds) to not throw a bunch of pricey components at it, but Ollie just wants to ride ride ride, fast fast fast. And he does…”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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14 years ago

for zoobomb purposes the bike pictured would be a cheater bike. Lets see more 16’s! Kids arent the only ones who need awesome kids bikes

9 years ago

Pretty much the sort of thing I’ve been doing for our daughter until she stops growing. She’s got a comfy padded seat that’s gone from bike to bike about three times now…