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What Size Bike Does My Child Need?

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kid playing on bike

One of the most common questions that parents ask when buying a bike for their children is “what size bike does my child need?”

Finding the right size for your child’s bike is one of the most critical decisions that you have to make before buying one. This is because size doesn’t only affect your child’s comfort and fun, but also his or her safety!

A suitably sized bike will help your kids gain more confidence while on the wheels and allow them to ride the bike for longer without fatigue, and that’s what this guide is all about!

Today, we’ll show you how to choose a suitable bike size for your child in simple steps. Let’s dive right in!

How Do You Measure a Kid’s Bike Size?

Although adult bikes are measured by the frame, things are a bit different when it comes to kids’ bikes. Instead of frames, the size of the wheel is the primary aspect to determine a children’s bike size.

Ideally, a kiddie bike will have wheels as small as 12 inches and as large as 24 inches. Adult bike wheels start at 26 inches.

Some people try to size a bike for their kids based on their age. However, age isn’t a reliable factor when it comes to choosing a bike size because kids grow at a different rate and in various torso and legs proportions. For that reason, two 6-year-old kids can ride completely different bike sizes.

With that said, you should know that the size of the wheels on its own isn’t always enough to choose the right bike size for your child and should never replace a good test run of the bike. In other words, your kid will still need to try the bike out and make sure that it’s ideal for them.

Is There a Universal Sizing Chart for Kids Bikes?

There are plenty of sizing charts out there that you can use to estimate the right size for your child’s bike.

However, these sizing charts aren’t universal and shouldn’t be taken as is. This is because each chart might suggest a different sizing option for your child, depending on the bike type in question.

Ideally, we recommend that you take your child’s measurements and compare them to these charts to get a “rough estimate” of the sizes you need to consider, but not as a definitive answer.

The only case where you should rely on a sizing chart is when it’s the provided size chart of the bike you’re planning to buy.

A Step By Step Guide to Find the Right Bike Size for Your Child

Now that you have a better understanding of bike sizing and how it’s rated for children, here’s what you need to do when choosing a bike size for your child:

Step 1: Measure Your Kid’s Inseams

soft tape measures

First, you’ll need to get a reliable measuring tape in order to measure your kid’s inseams and height.

Allow your child to wear shoes while measuring to get an accurate measurement of their height while on a bike. Here’s how you should take their inseam measurements:

  1. Ask your child to stand against any flat wall in a natural posture without bending knees or back.
  2. Make sure that both of your child’s feet are flat on the ground
  3. Check the distance between their legs and make sure that their feet are a few inches apart at max.
  4. Put a hardback book cover between your child’s legs and make sure that the book’s spine meets their crotch
  5. Measure the distance from the ground to the book’s spine, that’s your child’s inseam – Alternately, you can skip the book step and take measurements from the floor up until their crotch level, although the results might be slightly inaccurate.
  6. Write down the original measurement before doing any approximations so you don’t forget it.

Step 2: Take Your Child’s Height

measuring tape

While you’re at it, you should also use your child’s height because it can be a determining factor in many size charts of certain manufacturers.

To do that, simply measure the distance from the ground all the way up to the top of your child’s head, and write the measurements down.

You could also have them stand against a wall and use a pencil to mark the wall, then measure from the ground to the pencil mark. This can be more accurate than trying to eyeball the top of their head when using a measuring tape from the ground next to them.

Step 3: Consult a Suitable Size Chart to Pick the Most Suitable Wheel Size

As previously mentioned, there are plenty of sizing charts online that can give you an estimate of your child’s suitable bike size.

Although the most accurate one is the chart that is provided by the manufacturer of the bike, here’s what a standard bike sizing chart looks like:

Kid’s Inseam SizeKids Age RangeKid’s Height RangeBike Wheel Size
14 to 17 in (35 to 42 cm)2 to 32 ft 10 in to 3 ft 4 in12 in
16 to 20 in (40 to 50 cm)3 to 43 ft 2 in to 3 ft 7 in14 in
18 to 22 in (45 to 55 cm)4 to 53 ft 7 in to 4 ft16 in
20 to 24 in (50 to 60 cm)5 to 73 ft 9 in to 4 ft 2 in18 in
22 to 25 in (55 to 63 cm)6 to 84 ft to 4 ft 5 in20 in
24 in and above (60 cm and above)7 to 124 ft 6 in and above24 to 26 in

If you’re stuck between two size options, you should always go for the larger one because kids grow up quickly and it’ll suit them for much longer.

Step 4: Choose the Right Seat Height for Your Child

The seat height is the distance measured from the ground to the highest flat point of the bike seat.

While it’s not a major factor in figuring out the size of the bike, it plays a major role in figuring out how comfortable your kid will be while sitting on the bike.

Ideally, there’s no size chart for how high your child’s bike seat should be, as it’s dependent on your kid’s height as well as their experience.

Yet, for most kids, the height of the seat should be anywhere between 2 to 4 inches above the inseam of your child while they’re not sitting on the bike. Additionally, here are some important tips to keep in mind while sizing a bike for your kid:

  • The best way to test a bike is by riding it, so make sure that your kid sits on the bike and sees if it works for them. If you’re ordering a bike online try sizing one in-store before ordering the specific one you want online.
  • Your kid needs to be able to hold the handlebar firmly at any point without having to overly stretch their arms or slouch their shoulder
  • Your kid should also be able to touch the ground comfortably while not sitting on the seat.

Step 5: Consider Other Features and Aspects That Appeals to Your Kid

colorful bike

Now that you’ve figured out the right size for your child’s bike, it’s important that you pick the right set of features while choosing your kid’s bike. Make sure that you pay extra attention to the following aspects while picking the bike:

  • The frame design
  • Head and tail lights
  • Reflective pedals
  • Brakes and support wheels

You should also make sure that there is proper safety gear included or bought separately, including a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, etc.

On top of all that, you want your child to love their bike, so make sure they like the design or colors on the bike!

Wrap Up

With that said, you now have a brief guide that walks you through everything you need to know in order to choose a proper bike size for your child.

While picking a bike size, remember that different kids have different physical capabilities, so it’s always important that you factor in your child’s comfort while riding a bike.

Riding bikes is a great hobby to get your child into in order to promote a long-term healthy lifestyle. If your child grows up on a bike they will be more likely to ride bikes as they get older and this can be a great means of staying in shape.

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