Perfect Bike for a 5 year-old Beginner: Schwinn Gremlin
Written: May 18, 2009 (Updated May 19, 2009)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Looks great, solidly built, sturdy frame, coaster brake, detachable training wheels
The Bottom Line: The Schwinn Gremlin is a great for kids 4 to 6 years old learning to ride a bike.
I purchased the Schwinn Gremlin bicycle at the end of last summer for my (then) 4 year old son. It cost a little more than I had intended on spending, but in the end I think it was money well spent. My son really wanted a red bike. Thinking that this would not be hard to find, I set off looking for a bike at stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys-R-Us and saw a few 16” bikes in my $100 price range, but the only ones in red were the much cheaper ($40-$50) put-it-together-your-self models that come in a box. It’s not that I am unable to put something together myself, I just wanted him to be able to try it for size. I also wanted to make sure that this bike was well-made since it will probably get passed down to my younger son. We were looking for a boys 16” bike that had removable training wheels, a coaster brake, and a kick stand (hopefully in red).
Deciding on a Schwinn
After shopping various big box stores, I took my son to a local bike shop that specializes in Schwinns. I have a Schwinn and while I don’t ride it much, I do really like it. I also had a Schwinn when I was a kid that was a hand-me-down--it seemed to last forever. To me, Schwinn was a brand of bike that would be solidly built, but still fairly reasonably priced. I knew I would pay more for a bike at a bike shop as opposed to a toy or discount store, but my son would get a nicer bike and we would get great service.
The shop only had two 16” bikes in stock (which was the best size for my 4 year old), a pink girl’s bike, and a lime green boys model. My son was immediately drawn to this green bike, the Schwinn Gremlin. He absolutely LOVED it! It is mostly bright lime green with cobalt blue and black accents. Once he saw it, he no longer cared about getting a red bike. I found out after the fact that the Gremlin comes in red, according to Schwinn’s website. The Schwinn Gremlin came with training wheels, pads on the center handle bar, a coaster brake, a kick stand, and a water bottle. My son got on the bike to see if it was the right size. He rode around the store until it was time to leave--with the bike, of course!
I paid $130 (still not outrageous) for this bike which was a little more than I had planned on spending, but if my son uses it for two years and his younger brother uses it for another two (maybe three since he’s smaller), I think that it is worth the price. Based on what I can tell after eight months (three months of actual use), the Gremlin is sturdy and well-made and should easily last that long. There are certainly less expensive and more expensive bikes than the Gremlin. Most of the less expensive bikes I saw seemed too cheap, and the more expensive bikes seemed either overpriced, or the price was unjustified for normal neighborhood riding. Since we bought this bike from a bike shop, the handle bars, seat, and training wheels were adjusted to fit my son. They also made sure the brakes, tires, and all other components were in perfect working order. I can also bring the bike back to the shop for free tune-ups for a year.
Appearance and Quality
The Schwinn Gremlin looks great. It looks as if it is intended to be a boys model, but is listed as a kids bike, not necessarily for boys only. My son’s bike is mostly electric lime green, with cobalt blue and black accents. The center bar is slightly angled to make it easier for young kids to get on (step-through frame). The handle bars have hand grips and a pad on the bar that connects the handle bars. There is also a chain guard which is essential on a bike made for 4-6 year olds--they won’t get scrapes on their legs or get their pants caught as easily. The tires are on alloy rims, which means they can take more abuse than lower quality rims. The tires have a medium tread which is great for riding on pavement and on gravel or dirt trails. The bike itself is pretty heavy, which is the only downfall of this bike. It hasn’t been an issue for my son, and it isn’t so heavy that it can’t be picked up and put in the back of my car, so all-in-all the weight is a very minor issue.
Learning to Ride
My son rode his bike at the end of last summer with the training wheels. We had them positioned a bit higher so my son doesn’t learn to completely rely on them for balance. He rides mostly in our driveway or on the sidewalk, but has ridden on a gravel trail a few times with training wheels and had no trouble. The coaster brake (reversing pedal direction applies brake) was easy to figure out. My son was shown once or twice, and was able to stop easily every time after that.
We have recently removed the training wheels, and while my son hasn’t mastered riding without them, he is catching on. It has a kickstand, but my son is so used to having the training wheels keep it upright that he forgets to use it from time to time. He has dropped it a couple times now and I am pleased to say, I can’t find a scratch on it. The kickstand is a little difficult for him to kick into place, so he usually puts it down with his hand. Hopefully with repeated use, it will loosen up a bit.
My son LOVES his bike. Every time he plays outside, he is on it. I’m happy not only because he loves it, but because it is a quality bike. If you are looking for a quality first bike, consider the Schwinn Gremlin for your 4 to 6 year old. My Schwinn bikes have never let me down--this one is no exception!
For more information, visit Schwinn's website at www.schwinnbike.com
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