If you’re passionate about cycling, chances are that you want your children, nephews and nieces or grandchildren to follow the same path. Cycling is a great way to get kids outside and active, going on regular rides will improve their skills and confidence, meaning you can look forward to some amazing adventures together.
It can be difficult to take them on a bike, contending with busy roads, expensive equipment, and the lure of screen time! Therefore, you should take extra care when choosing a suitable bike for them, to ensure that it won’t be forgotten about and collecting dust in the garage in months to come.
Choose the right size
From bikes to 2-year-olds to 12-year-olds, choosing a children’s bike means considering balance, learning, size, safety, and comfort.
The correct size depends on age and height. Don’t just buy a bigger bike thinking that they’ll grow into it eventually. A bike that fits well will be much more comfortable and easier to maneuver, helping them gain the necessary skills and confidence faster.
It’s worth asking your local bike shop about any trade-in scheme they may have, so that your child always has a bike that fits correctly.
- Kids bikes are measured by wheel size, not frame size.
- Adult bikes are measured by frame size, but kids’ bikes are measured by wheel diameter. Sizes range from 12” to 26”.
- Age and height help determine size.
- Knowing your inseam measurements helps you find the most suitable bike. When you have an idea of the size of the wheel, consider measuring your child’s inseam as well, as it’ll help with finding a bike that they can mount and dismount with ease.
Children’s bike size chart
Size brackets are broad and tend to overlap, plus, all bikes fit differently (even if they have the same wheel size), so we recommend visiting your local bike shop with your child to do a few fun test rides.
How should a kid’s bike be adjusted?
A well-fitting bike makes learning to ride a bike easier, and ultimately more fun from day one. In general, you can tell if the bike is the right fit if your child feels excited and confident on the bike.
Here are some indicators to help you decide whether a bike is the right fit:
- Seat height. This will be adjusted as skills and confidence improve. Generally, for a child’s first bike without stabilisers, feet should be flat on the ground while sitting on the bike, as they get more comfortable, only the balls of their feet should be able to touch the ground.
- Knee position. Just like the seat height, as kids begin to learn, they need to be able to bend their knees more so that they can put their feet on the ground, as they get more comfortable you can raise the seat so they can fully extend their leg for better pedalling.
- Crotch height. You want to make sure that your child can stand up with their feet flat on the ground, with an inch or two of space between them and the top tube of the bikes, this will help them feel more confident when braking and mountain and dismounting the bikes.
What’s the best children’s bike to give?
Just like adult bikes, the options are endless when it comes kids’ bicycles. The most important thing is to make sure that the purpose and features of the bike match their skill level. For example, younger children won’t be doing the Tour De France any time soon, so they’d benefit from a simple, hybrid-style toddler bike without the bells and whistles. As children get older and more skilled, they can choose from a wider range of bike.
FYI ‘girls’ and boys’ bikes are essentially the same – they might just have different colours/graphics.
What about stabilisers?
Stabilisers are a great way to get children comfortable pedalling and get them hooked on the feeling of freedom that a bike can provide. They’re a good choice for kids who are too old for a balance bike or just need more time to gain confidence.
Remember when teaching your kids how to ride a bike, the emphasis should be on balance, not pedalling.
Should my kids’ bike have gears?
Not at first! It’s essential that children learn how to balance and pedal properly. That’s why beginner bikes usually only have one speed.
You can start to introduce bikes with a few gears only after their bike handling skills improve, so that they feel more comfortable progressing towards a ‘grown-up bike’. More gears mean more versatility and reduced fatigue, so your child will be able to ride for longer or tackle a different terrain.
What else does my child need?
This goes without saying, a helmet, it will keep your child safe and will teach them about bike safety.
In addition to a helmet, children should always wear proper equipment when riding. Depending on the situation, this may mean bright, reflective clothes-particularly in low light conditions. Or it might just mean wearing clothes that allow comfortable movement.
Check to make sure that your child’s clothes don’t present a danger when riding. Long or baggy clothing can get caught in bike chains or the spokes, causing an accident.
Make it fun
Kids just want to have fun! Be careful to introduce them little by little and avoid making it feel like an obligation or chore- otherwise they could end up hating it and your dreams of family bike rides will vanish before your eyes!
Choose a route that’s doable for kids; short, without too many obstacles and ideally without cars. Gradually work on increasing the distance and repeat the route to help them gain confidence – you can also use a secondary route so that they don’t get bored.
Watch your own behaviour!
As an adult, it’s easy to slip into bad cycling behaviour- like not wearing a helmet, hopping on our bikes without doing a safety check, or even wearing headphones that prevent you from hearing the traffic around you. Remember that your kids are like sponges – watching and learning from you, even when you aren’t explicitly teaching them about bike safety. Get back to fundamentals and do the kinds of things that you’d want your child to do.