Many a great childhood memory involves a bike! When it comes to buying kids bikes, there are all different sizes and all different types. BikeExchange is your online marketplace for everything kids bike! Check out the huge range of kids bikes and products from independent retailers and private sellers on BikeExchange.
As a guide to buying a bike for your child, the following is a fairly good rule of thumb. However, we strongly recommend you visit your local bike shop before you make your purchase and get their advice.
2 – 4 year olds: balance bikes (see below) or 12-inch wheel bikes
3 – 4 year olds: 14-inch wheel bikes
4 – 7 year olds: 16-inch wheel bikes
5 – 10 year olds: 20-inch wheel bikes
8 – 14 year olds: 24-inch wheel bikes
If your child is perhaps shorter or taller than their age average, this rough guide could also be useful:
85 – 100cm tall: 12-inch wheel bikes
95 – 110cm tall: 14-inch wheel bikes
110 – 120cm tall: 16-inch wheel bikes
120 – 135cm tall: 20-inch wheel bikes
135 – 145cm tall: 24-inch wheel bikes
145cm+ tall: 26-inch wheel bikes
Don’t go by size charts alone when determining the right bike size for your child. Ultimately it’s about how comfortable they feel. It’s really important not to buy a bike for your child to ‘grow into’. At best this could make it too uncomfortable for them and therefore deter them from riding. At worst it could actually make riding dangerous for them. We therefore recommend you and your child head to your local bike store for a fun test ride!
If your child has to lean the bike one way or another before they can rest their foot flat on the ground, then the bike is too large for them.
If they straddle the bike and stand with both feet flat on the ground, and they don’t have at least an inch or two clearance between them and the bike, then it’s too large for them.
If when riding your child’s legs are far too stretched out and not properly reaching the pedals, the bike is too large for them.
If when riding your child’s knees are almost hitting the handlebars, the bike is too small for them.
A balance bike is a bike without any pedals, meaning your child needs to use their legs and feet to balance properly. This is a great training bike as it helps really fine tune your child’s balance and gets them predisposed to the concept of riding before they actually graduate to a ‘proper’ bike.
If your child didn’t use a balance bike at an early age then chances are they will probably want to start riding with trainer wheels. Indeed balance bike riders can also transition into trainer wheels, but it is said they do away with them a lot faster. Trainer wheels can be attached to the rear of the bike and basically serve to keep it balanced so that your child doesn’t have to get too nervous about riding in the early stages (see below).
Haha – how many home movies capture this moment? Some parents might like to take the advice of removing pedals and essentially having the child use the bike much the same way as a balance bike. This may only happen for a couple of hours, maybe even less, before they get a great feel for the bike and pedals can go back on.
At some point however, they are going to have to get used to the bike as it would normally be ridden. Here some parents like to go behind the child and hold the bike. This is usually more for psychological reassurance than necessarily physical need, so the ‘holding’ need only be light if at all.
Aim for a good clear stretch ahead with no obstacles. Ideally do this in the garden or in a park, but not on asphalt or dirt, which could potentially hurt should a fall occur. It’s a good idea that before taking off down that stretch your child firstly gets a good sense of how to stop and why. This way when they’re hurtling towards the end of the stretch and you’re yelling ‘Stop! Stop!’ they hopefully won’t have too much trouble doing just that!
It’s normally around the size of a 20-inch bike that gears are introduced. If your whole family is into riding and/ or if your child has really taken to getting out and about on the bike, then it’s a good idea to transition them to gears as soon as they can and as soon as a geared bike that fits them is available.
It’s up to your child and the riding that they – and the whole family – like to do! Whether they’re into mountain bike riding or road riding, BMX riding or downhill riding, they need to be comfortable and safe as possible. Accessories and time in the saddle aside, it goes without saying that a sound understanding of road rules is going to help any young rider. Head out on the bike with your child and teach them road rules as you go – there’s no better way to learn than by example and/or experience!