There’s something I see quite often which irritates me. I usually see it at least once when I take my son to the park to play, and there are other kids there, riding their bikes.

I blame Argos, and Halfords. Probably Tesco too, but I blame them for most things.

When I see this thing, I want to stop the person riding the bike and let them know, but I don’t.

I see bikes which have been assembled with the forks the wrong way round, and it makes me scream on the inside. It annoys me because it’s usually young kids on little bikes. Maybe it’s even their first one. Their first taste of two wheels is on a machine which someone has put together wrong.

Bikes with the forks on backwards don’t feel right. They don’t steer how they’re supposed to. They’re more difficult to ride, and therefore they’re less fun. A bike with a fork the wrong way around is like a games console with a joypad where the B button doesn’t work. It’s a blunt set of colouring pencils with no sharpener. I’d imagine it’s a good tool for convincing a child that they don’t like cycling. They’re also dangerous. More likely to make the rider crash.

See, told you it was Tesco’s fault… (Image from Flickr, if it’s yours and you want it removed, let me know)

I’d like to tell the people I see riding these bikes that they could be having a much better time if they let someone who knew what a bike is supposed to look like spend five minutes sorting it out. But I don’t, because I assume most of them have been built by the kid’s dad. I also assume that pointing out their bike wrenching shortcomings would be seen as an attack on their maleness.

Really, it’s not their fault. Most children’s bikes are cheap. Nasty, heavy monstrosities built from the lowest quality materials that will scrape their way through a safety assessment. They are bought from high street retailers whose staff don’t know anything about the products they’re selling, or aren’t paid enough to care even if they do know. They are sold in boxes, part assembled, with instructions in broken English.

If I didn’t already know how to put a bike together, I sure as hell wouldn’t be confident in learning it on the fly, cobbling together something for my son to ride.

Putting a bike together isn’t difficult, but that doesn’t mean everyone can do it. If you’re not convinced by the instructions, have a look online for better ones. Search Youtube for helpful videos. If you still don’t think you’re going to get it right, take it to a bike shop. One that only sells bikes. The people there care about bikes, because bikes are all they do. In fact, if you haven’t already bought the bike, maybe you could buy one there too.

Backwards forks: irritating, dangerous, depressingly commonplace and completely unnecessary.


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