a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Apr, 2011

Best place to buy kids bikes in Ottawa?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Oh! Things!

We had a doozy of a thunderstorm early this morning. It crashed and flashed right over our heads, illuminating our bedrooms. Both girls and the dog came into our bed, although the dog didn’t stay for long as she seemed to prefer to pace nervously… click click clicking across the hardwood between all of our bedroom doors. I’m not sure what she though about all that racket.

Piper wouldn’t settle down so she and I eventually fell asleep on the living room couch, only to awaken to Mark standing over us saying: DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS?

I had sleepily reset the alarm to 6:59 P.M. (note to self: I should never be trusted to do this) and as a result we all managed to oversleep. This created a bit of havoc this morning, but, whatever. The thunderstorm was a good way to officially ring in Sarah’s birthday. She is 10 today.

Sunday was sleepy. I was too pooped to do much of anything. We spent the day at Mark’s parents and had a celebratory dinner there too. The birthday girl got to pick the menu, and it was flank steak (!), french fries, and salad. Dessert was vanilla cake with chocolate icing, and there is a large part of it sitting in the kitchen right now. I’m trying to pretend it’s not there. :)

photo of kids bike Ottawa

Sarah’s 10th birthday gift from Mark and I, was, er, is going to be a bicycle. She should have had it by now. We naively thought it’d be a cinch to buy a kid’s bike in Ottawa but so far it hasn’t turned out that way.

I don’t often find myself lamenting the 1970s, but this week, I am. I am sad that I can’t get a stylin’ 1970s bike for my kid. Like practically everyone of my vintage, I had a banana seat bicycle with long handle bars. I’m not sure of the name brand anymore, but they were the best bikes; easy to use (no gears, and a backwards coaster/push break), and a seat that was perfect for doubling your best friend. What’s more, the bike seemed to be virtually indestructible. I was forever tossing it on the ground, skidding and wiping out, and performing Evel Knieval tricks of all kinds. (Ha. Check this out.) It’s amazing that I even survived.

My bike was purple and had a basket on the front, long shiny streamers on the handlebars, and the occasional hockey card stuck in the spokes for excellent putt-putt sound effects. I think it *almost* made up for the fact that I never got a Big Wheel or Green Machine.

I spent hours on this bike and had many adventures, and I want my kid to have the same experience, but we’ve had a devil of a time finding the perfect bike.

Going the used route is a great option and it’s been recommended to me by several people already. There is a giant category on UsedOttawa just for bikes (and there are some good finds in there) but poor Sarah has been getting hand-me-downs and secondhand bikes her whole life. It’s time to go new. Besides, we pinkie promised.

Our journey, of course, started at Canadian Tire. For some reason it is deeply ingrained in me to go there first. In fact, our car practically drove itself to Canadian Tire. That’s where everyone used to go to buy this kind of stuff.

Canadian Tire, at least the one we went to, had a pretty small collection of bikes for a 10-year old girl. The one she liked was $99.00, but had really cheap components and didn’t look like it would last. After that, we went to a bunch of different bike shops in Ottawa. We’re still looking.

She’d like a hybrid. Suffice it to say that we are quite dismayed.

Here’s the problem: I am expecting to pay around $200-$250 for a decent children’s bike, and there really isn’t much available in this category. Am I being unrealistic? The industry seems to be fulfilling the cheapie-cheap-disposable-bike side and the pricey how-long-will-it take-before-it gets-stolen side. But there isn’t an awful lot in between for people who just want their kids to have a decent quality bike and not have to pay an arm and a leg for it.

We’ve gone to Bushtukah, Tall Tree, Westboro Sports, Fresh Air Experience, and Kunstadt to look at kids bikes, and have seen LOTS of great adult bikes, racing bikes, and toddler bikes, but we’re still empty-handed. Still on our list, Cyclepower, Sport Chek, Foster’s. What am I missing? (Please don’t say WalMart. I’ve pledged never to cross their threshold.)

Do you have a purple banana-seat bike in your basement? Because if you do, I’d like to make you an offer. :)

18 Responses to "Best place to buy kids bikes in Ottawa?"

1 | julie

April 11th, 2011 at 12:10 pm


I know the dilemma of getting a new bike for a second/third child. Right now, we have three bikes in use with two ‘stepping stone’ bikes in the shed for the next stage for the youngest one. Kunstadt has always served us well, and it may be worth asking them if they have anything different at their other stores.
Last year, we went to the Kanata cubs sale of used bikes and came up with a trustworthy bike. For the price of a tune-up and some flashy add-ons, it was a perfect fit. It was a used bike, but it was a 300$ bike new and when they are growing through a bike every two years…it was 75+50 well spent.
Good luck and happy birthin’ day!

2 | binki

April 11th, 2011 at 12:15 pm


I’ve been looking for exactly the same thing although mine is for a 9 year old girl. There are some cheap bikes out there but the parts are low-end, and not well assembled. After looking around, I found that the best bike for your money is at Costco. $159 for a nice hybrid for girls around the 10-12 year old age. A lot of bike (good parts) for not so much cash. Really good value. The only thing that might stop you from getting this bike is that it’s not a recognized name brand, like Giant, Norco, Raleigh, Peugeot, etc. There are deals to be had on UsedOttawa or Kijiji, but you have to check daily and move quickly.

3 | Karen at Virtually There

April 11th, 2011 at 12:17 pm


Maybe this seems like an odd recommendation but we did quite well on a new kid’s girl bike at Toys R Us. It’s worth lOoking at their website anyway.

4 | Judy

April 11th, 2011 at 12:23 pm


We didn’t check prices but we walked over to our local bike shop yesterday as I needed new tires. It is called Cyclogic near the corner of Pleasant Park & St Laurent. Locally owned, maily service & special orders but has some for sale. May be worth giving them a call.

Have you checked out Joe Mamma in the Glebe?

5 | Elizabeth

April 11th, 2011 at 12:24 pm


We just went through the same process too, for our 8 year old daughter. It seems we went everywhere, and the only bikes we really liked were over $500; too much for us. We also ended up at Costco, and got a very sturdy hybrid bicycle that our daughter just loves. It has quality components (Shimano derailleurs, for example) and should last through to daughter number two. As a bonus, it was last year’s model, and was now under $100, although even this year’s models are very reasonable. The only potential downside is the weight, but we had already discovered that we couldn’t afford the really lightweight models elsewhere anyway. Good luck!

6 | Vicki Thomas

April 11th, 2011 at 12:28 pm


Try The Cyclery. They stock a range of kids bikes.

7 | Paula

April 11th, 2011 at 12:47 pm


It’s a bit of a trek for you, but maybe Orleans Cycles? I was in there last week to buy a new bike for my son and we were pleased with the selection. Ask for Lino.

8 | Sheila D.

April 11th, 2011 at 1:48 pm


Try Dave’s BikeDump at 407 Catherine St. Mostly used bikes but you never know what they’ll have. They have a website too.

9 | Ross Brown

April 11th, 2011 at 2:18 pm


Last year, for my daughter’s 9th birthday, my wife and I also scoured Ottawa for a bike. I thought we got it at Canadian Tire, but after checking with my wife she reminded me that we got it at Sport Mart on Merivale Road (at Meadowlands).

It’s a very girly bike, but tough, and the folks at Sport Mart did free adjustments. I think we paid less than $200 for the bike.

Best of luck!

11 | DaniGirl

April 11th, 2011 at 3:00 pm


Oh, us too! So funny, we are having exactly this convo about my middle boy who just turned 7. He’s never had a new bike and we’ve been recently looking exactly what you describe — one of those good old coaster bikes with the push-back brake, no gears or BMX shocks or hand-brakes. Why is that so hard to find in an 18″ frame??

(Mine was blue, with a white banana seat and Charlies Angels stickers all over it. I have never loved a bike like I loved that one!)

I’m thinking we’ll end up with the $99 job at CanTire, as we’re hoping to spend a little less for a bike that he’ll inevitably outgrow in a year or two. At least we’re guaranteed to get one more kid of use out of it! Do let me know if you have success on your search, though.

12 | Jen

April 11th, 2011 at 3:21 pm


Joe Mamma’s on Bank St in the Glebe

13 | Darcy

April 11th, 2011 at 5:29 pm


You could always check out Re-Cycles:


They have overhauled bikes (not new but totally re-conditioned by a bike mechanic) that are (according to the website) completely taken apart, cleaned and greased, and then reassembled. Every part and assembly is itemized and checked on a worksheet.

14 | Julie

April 11th, 2011 at 6:28 pm


We always go to Westboro Sports first. They know how to fit children, and what components are important. We get bikes that aren’t inexpensive, but are sturdy enough to last through all three children (or six years). So far, so good…

15 | Jay

April 12th, 2011 at 6:19 am


I was going to suggest Joe Mamma’s on Bank St in the Glebe too. I’ve never been in – but they often have a retro bike in their window:)

16 | Mary @ Parenthood

April 12th, 2011 at 7:18 am


Won’t a ten year old outgrow the bike before it falls apart? (That $99 special might not be such a bad idea). Personally though I’d prefer a used bike to a Canadian tire bike but that’s because I have fond memories of repainting my frame.

If you like a bike but not the components, you could always upgrade the components…

Our automatic first stop for a bike is MEC, so I was surprised
it didn’t make your list.

17 | andrea

April 12th, 2011 at 9:20 am


Wow. Thank you all for your comments!

Mary: The CanTire bike was really low low quality. I think it would be a waste of money. We wanted something a little better, something she can get a lot of use out of for at least a couple of summers, and maybe sell it when she’s done with it.

But a bike has been bought! I was prepared to make our way through the list of remaining bike stores in Ottawa but we hit the jackpot at Sport Chek on Merivale Road and there was no need to go any further.

This is the one we bought.

Sarah is thrilled. They had a very good selection of bikes (for all ages) and the service was great. We snagged a promotion so the bike was $199 and with that we received $20 to put towards another purchase, so we got some splash guards for her as well.


I think the next time we need to buy a bike (it might be one for Mark or myself) I am keen to check out the rebuilds. I love the retro bikes with the big baskets!

18 | Ann

April 5th, 2014 at 9:36 pm


Useful post and comments Andrea, thank you. We are going looking for a bike for my daughter this weekend. We have no idea how to “fit” a bike for a four year old, so we’d like to go somewhere where someone knows.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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