Declan is only five years old, and hand brakes are not a good option for him at this point. It will be a few more years before he has strong enough hands to use hand brakes, especially when we are beginning to teach him how to ride in bicycle lanes and how to ride between neighborhoods with us.
I have looked around and have not been successful in finding anything like this in the US. Forget the bells and whistles, I can put lights on a bicycle and Declan isn't quite ready for cargo so a rack is not necessary at this point. He does need some minor gearing to make the hills around our neighborhood more easily negotiable (the typical 7 speeds with external derailleur you find here are too complicated for someone so young) and he needs reliable coaster brakes that will keep him from flying into traffic. This is not a combo that you can find here in the USA.
The smile Declan is exhibiting in the above picture is the result of him riding the whole way from our home to the Farmers Market almost three miles away. We were able to ride in the street the whole way there including crossing three very busy intersections. He was so proud of himself. He was also a little disappointed that he could not ride home. Because his bicycle is a little small for him, hills are that much harder for him and it was uphill a great deal of the way home.
So now, I find myself looking for a needle in a haystack. I could have a bicycle like the Dragon shipped to me, but the price would be so hugely prohibitive it would be silly. I don't mind the shipping, but the bicycles themselves are pricey. Had I been able to buy one with my first child to pass down, the expense wouldn't be so bad, but Declan is the last one. I have looked on Craigslist in several regions with no luck. Ebay has been a bust. All I have found is a larger version of what he already has, a single speed with coaster brakes ranging from $50 to $500.
With the City opening up to more and better cycling, and with the future of Declan's world being one where he will need to be independent of oil based transportation (much like me at that age during the OPEC oil crisis in the 70's) we need better options for children's bicycles.
Anyone out there have any ideas for a kid's 20" 3-speed with coaster brakes? Please share!