Everyone remembers the day they got their first bike – both kids and parents. The pure joy of a child of seeing the big bow on the shiny chrome handlebars, glistening underneath the Christmas tree captures everyone in the room! It’s a moment treasured by all who get to witness it!
But when it’s time for parents to do that big shopping trip – how do you the best and safest option? Here are some areas for you to consider.
When it comes down to it, the right bike for your child is going to be the one that provides the most safety for them. And for that, you really want to focus on making sure you get the correct size bike for your kid.
A bike that is too big or too small can cause some serious injury, and while bumps and bruises are par for the course when you’re learning to ride a bike, precautions are a must!
Kids’ Bike Sizes
Manufacturers size kids’ bikes by wheel size, beginning with 10-inches and going all the way up to 26-inches.
Wheel size is determined by the diameter of the tire, which manufacturers and designers then use to size the frame on top. However, because each frame is unique, the actual size of the bike isn’t necessarily going to match up with your child’s height.
How to Size Your Child for a Bike
The best way to figure out which size bike your child needs is to use their bike inseam measurement. This is not necessarily the same as their pants inseam. It’s also pretty easy to measure.
With shoes on, have your child stand against the wall with feet shoulder-width apart. Have them hold a book between their legs to get the most accurate measurement. Then measure from the floor to the top of the book. This will give you your bike inseam measurement!
Now, when shopping for a bike, you can be sure that the one you choose will be the appropriate size for your child.
A factor that is often overlooked by parents and adult shoppers alike is the weight of the bike itself. Unlike many models of adult bikes that take weight into consideration when designing, kids’ bikes are often made of steel and can be heavier than you’d expect. Manufacturers take advantage of this lesser-known feature consideration since steel is a cheaper material.
Not only is the weight of the bike a safety concern for your child, but it could also be a dealbreaker for their burgeoning bicycle hobby. A bike that’s difficult to wield isn’t so much fun to play with!
While it might be difficult to find lightweight options and they’re typically more expensive. However, when all things are equal, it’s always better to spring for the lightest model you’re looking at.
You can introduce your kids to a bike as early as you want! Bike carriers and trailers are perfect ways to introduce young children to biking adventures. And when it’s appropriate, there are a variety of different bike types for all different ages.
Balance bikes are great options for young kids. These bikes are meant to help develop coordination with balancing and steering since they don’t have gears or pedals to worry about. Balance bikes are a better option than tricycles for young children because they’re typically lightweight and without the pedals in the way, they fit their little bodies better. Balance bikes are perfect for toddlers!
Tricycles are another great entry-level option but for kids a bit older since they do have pedals. You want to make sure that your child can reach the pedals of the trike before you get it. These are great options because they add a third wheel for stability.
A word of caution though – avoid any trike with plastic tires. While they’re more affordable, they’re not as smooth and don’t provide as much traction as rubber.
Entry-level bikes with training wheels are perfect for an older child who still needs to work on mastering the basics of balance and steering. Whether or not your child has had a balance bike or not, training wheels are great for building confidence in young riders while providing their first foray into “big kid biking” independently.
Typically, these bikes are single-speed, and perfect for a kid who’s ready to get out on their own but needs a little help getting there.
Mountain bikes and other specialty bikes are suitable for older kids who have mastered the single-speed and are ready to try something else. These are great adventure bikes and introduce riders to multi-gear models and how to make gear changes.
Truly, the only way to make sure that you get the right bike for your child is to take them shopping with you. When you have them in the store with you, they can sit on the floor model and you can see whether or not the size is appropriate and which comfortably fits. There are a few comfort and size checks that you can do.
Make sure that the seat is at the correct height or can be adjusted to it. Your child should be able to have the ball of their foot on the ground while sitting comfortably on the seat. If it’s too tall, it’s a safety hazard and can cause problems when stopping.
Watch your child while they pedal. Neither should your child’s knees touch the handlebars nor should they be hyper-extended. Both of these issues indicate the bike is the wrong size – either too small or too big.
When your child straddles the bike, there should be a 1-inch to 2-inch clearance between the top of the crotch to the bike’s middle bar. If the bike is tilted or the gap is too large, the bike is also not the correct size.
Finally, check that the handlebars are at the appropriate level. They should be able to grab them and turn without overextending. If they appear to be overstretching while turning, you may want to size the bike down or look at another model.
As you can see, there’s a whole lot more to choosing the correct size bike for your kid to ensure that they have a fun and safe experience. Kids’ bikes come in a variety of styles and sizes, and while they are supposed to be pretty standard, there are too many variables to take into consideration when it comes to each one.
Therefore, the very best way to choose the right bike for your kid is to bring them along for the ride and have them try it out! Happy riding!