Picking the right bike will help your child feel safe and comfortable on their next bike ride.
Buying a bicycle for your child is an exciting time no matter what age they are. But how do you know what size bike is right for their age and size? Below are some things to keep in mind when selecting a new bike for your little one.
Is Your Child Ready to Ride?
There is no standard for deciding what age or size child should be riding what type of bicycle. Most children are ready to try a bicycle with training wheels around the age of 3. If they are still riding a tricycle, consider a bicycle to help your child learn balance and coordination. Of course, it will always depend on what your child is comfortable with.
Training wheels are great tools to help a child learn how to balance the bike on its main wheels. The training wheels still give support to prevent your child from tipping over. Once your child can keep balance, especially on turns, it’s a good indicator you can take off the training wheels.
Most kids between ages four and eight have enough physical coordination to be able to start and stop a bike without much trouble. However, riding a bike takes more than physical skill; a child must also be mentally confident enough and motivated to learn how to ride a bicycle. Keep this in mind and be patient when trying to teach your child to ride.
The Proper Fit
Lets face it – it can be daunting to buy new bicycles each spring when your child is growing like a weed. When choosing a bike, it can be tempting to get the “next size up” so that your child can grow into it. But a bike that is too tall for a child can be unsafe as it makes it harder to control, pedal and brake safely.
Guidelines for choosing a bike size vary greatly on the height of a child. Have your child straddle the bicycle you’re looking at with feet shoulder width apart and flat on the ground. Clearance between the highest part of the horizontal front tube and the crotch of the rider must be at least one inch. If you’re shopping for a bike as a surprise, you can use a tape measure to measure the child’s inseam (distance from the crotch to the ground, when standing), subtract an inch or two and then use that as the “standover height” (distance from the ground to the top tube) for the bicycle. Make sure you measure to an imaginary, horizontal top tube on girls’ bikes.
Children’s bike sizes are broken up by wheel size. In general, a 12″ bike fits riders that are ages 3 to 5 with a height of 37″- 43″. A child who is 37″ or taller will fit in a 16″ bike. The next larger bikes to try are 20″ for children 45″- 52″ or a 24″ bike if your child is 51″ to 63″. Keep in mind height is the main factor in choosing which size bike is correct for the rider.
Keeping it Safe
Look for bikes with chain guards. This safety feature will keep loose clothing or shoelaces from getting caught in the chain while the bike is in motion. Also, ask about easy to use rear coaster brakes. These ensure your child can easily stop. Keep in mind many children do not have the mental capability or strength to control hand brakes until they are 5 years or older. Bikes with cross bar pads will also ensure added protection.
After you buy the bike, you will always want to make sure you have the right protective gear to keep your child safe. Always make sure your child is wearing a properly fitted bike helmet. For extra protection, we recommend that children wear knee and elbow pads with the helmet.
When your child is riding, always be sure they are wearing good shoes. Flip-flops or loose shoes can fall off and become tangled in the wheel spokes causing injury to the rider. Make sure your child also avoids any loose clothing that might get caught while the bike is in motion.
Keep these tips in mind when your child is moving up to a new bike and out on the road. You’ll breathe easier knowing you have prepared all you can to keep your child safe while biking.