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A Guide To Choosing The Perfect Bicycle For Your Child

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A Guide To Choosing The Perfect Bicycle For Your Child

Riding a bike sans training wheels is a pivotal childhood moment—and it was the top desire on my daughter’s summer wish list last year. It took some time, but one fine Sunday in early August, she requested her father to remove her training wheels. After just two shaky attempts, she was on her way. She savored a fresh form of liberty, and I relish observing her beam with pride over her feat. I must confess, I beamed too. My partner and I completely bungled the entire bike procurement process for our eldest, initially acquiring a bike too large for our daughter and one equipped with gears, rendering training wheel attachment impossible—#parentfail. We swiftly realized that there’s a myriad of aspects to mull over when selecting the perfect bike for your child.

If setting your little one on two wheels is a forthcoming endeavor this summer, fret not. Continue reading for a comprehensive rundown on choosing the appropriate bike for your child.

Opting for the Correct Dimensions

First and foremost, children’s bikes come in varying tire sizes. You will typically encounter 12”, 14”, 16”, 18”, and 20” tires. Some sizes extend beyond these dimensions. This measurement pertains to the tire’s diameter and is the prime method to gauge the suitable bike for your child. Manufacturers frequently furnish age brackets, in addition to height or inseam specifications, for children’s bikes.

Here are the approximated age and size guidelines for children’s bikes. There is an overlap, so while seeking the appropriate bike for your child, other pertinent deliberations might encompass finances, favored brands, and product availability.

  • At 18 months – 2 years: Opt for a Balance bike
  • At 2 – 4 years: Choose a 12″ Bike
  • At 2 – 5 years: Recommended is a 14″ Bike
  • At 4 – 6 years: Elect for a 16″ or 18″ Bike
  • At 7 – 9 years: Find a 20″ Bike
  • At 9 – 11 years: Look for a 24″ Bike
  • At 11+ years: Select a 26″ Bike

Additional Sizing Considerations

Beyond guideline considerations, several other thumb rules should be borne in mind whilst bike shopping. Firstly, it’s essential that your child can straddle the bike and stand flat on the terrain. This implies no tippy-toes or relying on the saddle to touch the ground. Regarding the handlebars, they should be able to grip them effortlessly. It’s advisable to allow a slight elbow bend whilst gripping the handlebars, rather than fully extending. Lastly, the seat height should facilitate an upright riding posture for the child. When their leg reaches the bottom pedal, there should be a subtle knee bend.


Possibly even more crucial than advised dimensional guidelines is your child’s comfort aboard their bike. It’s optimal to engage in physical bike trials when feasible, as this will aid your child in determining the most comfortable option. They should evaluate the seat, handlebars, pedals, and brakes.

Determining the Perfect Helmet

Ensuring the safety of our young riders is paramount, and a well-fitting, quality helmet plays a vital role in this. To ascertain the appropriate helmet size, commence by measuring the circumference of your child’s head one inch above their eyebrows. While sizes might fluctuate across brands, according to Schwinn, the following serves as a typical helmet size reference:

  • 17¼ – 19¾”: Infant Helmet Size
  • 19 – 20½”: Toddler Helmet Size
  • 20½ – 22″: Child Helmet Size
  • 21¾ – 22¾”: Youth Helmet Size
  • 22¾ – 24″: Adult Helmet Size

Additionally, it’s advised that if your child falls between sizes, opting for a larger size is preferable. The helmet should rest approximately one finger above their eyebrows and fit snugly on their head. The side clasps should be positioned below their ears, and the straps should be tightened enough that only one finger can fit underneath when fastened. Ready to procure a helmet for your little one? Discover the finest helmets for toddlers and children here!

Training Wheels versus Balance Bikes

Many of us acquired bike-riding skills by virtue of training wheels. Nonetheless, there’s a debate suggesting that they might delay children in mastering biking. Ultimately, the choice of utilizing training wheels or not rests with individual families on what’s best for their child. Should the decision be to forgo training wheels, there exists the alternative of introducing your child to a balance bike, devoid of pedals yet sporting two wheels. The intention is to assist them in finding their equilibrium, a technique proponents of balance bikes contend will aid them in biking in the long haul.

Braking Alternatives

By and large, two brake options prevail. Coaster brakes are pedal-operated brakes, while hand brakes are situated on the handlebars. Numerous sources advocate that hand brakes are the optimum choice for kids. Considering that most adult bikes are equipped with hand brakes, mastering their usage early on will obviate the need for children to re-learn braking techniques when they transition to larger bikes.

Budgetary Considerations

Procuring a bike for your child can easily seem like a sizeable investment. Pricing is contingent on size, brand, and added features. When purchasing your child’s inaugural bike, it could range from approximately $100 to as high as $500. Nonetheless, bear in mind that as your child grows, the bike may not necessarily accommodate their growth. Safety and comfort need to be prioritized, implying a potential necessity to replace their bike with a larger size as they mature.


Similar to other enjoyable pursuits in life, children may wish to embellish their new bike. Some accessories may serve purely ornamental functions, while others might have practical utility. This aspect also warrants consideration when mulling over the budget. Considerations such as a basket, vibrant wheel lights, tassels, headlights, and bells are among the options to ponder.

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