This bike is a memory-maker: seeing your child ride their bike for the first time is something you'll never forget. This bike is hand-me-down heaven: it's built to last, so younger siblings can inherit this bike and it'll still feel like new. You shouldn't buy your kid's bike where you buy your cereal—Unlike big box brands, Trek kids' bikes are assembled by people who know bikes. Like all Precaliber bikes, the frame is lower so it's easier for kids to stand over and hop on and off.
I shopped all around town for my 2 year old sons very first bike. I looked at everything from box bikes, balance bikes and of course this Trek Precaliber. We took him around and had him try out all the above. He loved them all and was as happy as a boy on a bike would be but what it came down to was this. (Disclaimer, this all applies to my kiddo specifically.)
Box bikes were less than half the price so it seemed like an easy choice for a first bike. "Buy cheap now and upgrade later". The problem with that thinking is when you buy cheap, you get cheap. The tires on a majority of the box bikes we looked at were solid hard rubber/plastic and the steering was super stiff. Hard tires means hard ride- if the bikes not comfortable its not enjoyable to ride thus doesn't promote the joy of being on a bike more than 5 minutes. Once the training wheels come off I thought it might be tough for a 30lb kid to control a stiff 30 bike. Scratch out box bikes.
Balance bikes were a close second. We were on the fence for a while and since Balance Bikes were between the cost of a box bike and this Trek it almost took the cake. This is where my specific kiddo tipped the scales. Every time we put him on a balance bike he went to put his feet where the pedals would be; kid wanted to pedal, how can I deny him this essential joy?! I know a few kids who successfully rode a balance bike and transitioned seamlessly into a two wheeled without training wheels but my kid wanted to pedal.
With a Trek I know we are getting quality components that he can grow into and we can rely on for years to come. It's easy to adjust the stem height. Tires are soft rubber and steering is very fluid. I love the handle on the back of the seat that gives me something to hold onto and help propel him without him knowing I'm "helping". Everything on this bike looks and feels like quality you wouldn't expect. We love everything about this bike. It's not a beginner bike, it's a bike for beginners to grow into.
Our 36 month old has never ridden a peddle bike before but has spent time on a balance bike . We gave him the bike without training wheels ( stabilisers) . He was riding the bike unassisted within 2 mins. Our local LBS set it up. The bike is great.
My twin boys started on a balance bike and when we upgraded to pedal bikes they were a little big for them and required training wheels for them to even get on the bike. They are 3 years old and were riding the precaliber 12 without training wheels the day I brought it home. I will likely end up buying another one so they can ride at the same time.