Dear Dr. Laura,
The other day I was watching my 12-year-old grandson at his home. He told me his bicycle tires had been flat for over a year and, besides, his bike was too small. I was going to fix his tires, but father's tools were pitifully inadequate for the job, so I brought the boy and the bicycle to my house and talked him through changing the tubes. Until then, he had no idea bicycle tires had inner tubes.
That got me thinking. The boy shows a great understanding of mechanics, and his bicycle is too small. Over the years I have assembled 5 or 6 bicycles for fun, including building wheels, and I have lots of bicycle and other tools. So I made him a deal. I told him I would buy him a very nice new bicycle, but there was a string attached. The string was that he had to build it himself with me only giving instructions. He agreed.
I had him pick out a well-fitted bike at the local shop where I have bought many bikes and parts. Then I told them to order the parts. Unfortunately, parts and prices have changed over the years, and building one only from parts nowadays about doubles the price, and I was not going to spring for the $1000 it would cost. So, out of earshot of the boy, I told the store manager to take it apart, even the wheels.
Today my grandson laced 2 wheels and is in the process of learning to "true" (align) the first one. It currently looks like a huge, metal potato chip but it is slowly beginning to look like a wheel. I know he will take care of the bike because of he is so proud to be doing this project, and doing it with Grandpa. I think I will wait a few years - maybe decades - before I tell him this is the original bike he picked out in the first place.