Holiday Shopping for Bikes?
What’s the best way to find the right size bike for a child?
If you’re buying a bike for a beginning rider, it’s easy to want one they’ll “grow into,” but it’s especially important to buy a bike that fits well so they can ride comfortably and confidently while they learn.
Using your child’s inseam in relation to the bike’s seat height is the best and most accurate way to ensure a perfect bike fit. The frame and the wheel size work together to determine the seat height of a bike. So by selecting a bike based on seat height, versus wheel or frame size, you can ensure a great bike fit for your child even if they’ve never had a chance to try out the bike before you buy it!
Over the last few years balance bikes, bikes without pedals, have started to gain more popularity. Instead of teaching kids to learn pedaling first and balance later, balance bikes take a different approach – teach kids balance first and pedaling later. This has been a game changer for teaching kids 1 – 4 years of age how to balance.
Balance bike fit: When sitting on the bike, kids this age should be able to put both feet flat on the ground, their knees should be slightly bent and their body should be in an upright walking position. They helps children learn balance and prevents tip over accidents. SIZING TIP: The seat of a balance bike should be set 0.5 – 1.5” below the child’s inseam.
Bike with Training Wheels
Kids should be able to touch the ground with their tip toes while sitting on the seat. For timid kids, touching with their feet flat is often preferred. Kids usually stop the bike with the brakes, but they also need to able to stop with their feet, especially while learning. SIZING TIP: The seat of a bike with training wheels should be set 0 – 3” above the child’s inseam.
1st Pedal Bike (After a Balance Bike or Training Wheels)
While learning to pedal a bike, a child’s entire foot should be able to touch the ground while seated on the bike. This allows them to easily stop and start the bike without falling off. Once they gain confidence, the seat can be raised for better leg extension and pedaling efficiency.
SIZING TIP: The seat of a child’s first pedal bike should be set at the same height as the child’s inseam.
2nd Pedal Bike (and Beyond!)
Kids should be able to touch the ground with only their tip toes. Setting the seat higher allows for proper leg extension for maximum pedaling efficiency. Most kids’ bikes are designed so they ride in a more upright position. They should be able to sit comfortably in a relaxed position, see around them easily and grip the handlebars with a slight bend in their elbows. Their legs should be slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal. Make sure the ball of your child’s foot is in the middle of the pedal. You can move the saddle forward or backward as necessary to accomplish this. Once the bike is adjusted their power transfer will increase making riding easier and more fun. Additionally, the bike will fit better, hence making it more comfortable. SIZING TIP: The seat of a confident pedaler can be set 2-4” above their inseam.
Your child’s bike should fit them now. If you buy a bike they’ll need to grow into, they’ll likely struggle to ride and have trouble building skills and confidence.
However, you do want to buy a bike that will last as long as possible.
Last but not least make sure your child has a bike helmet that fits. Safekidsworldwide.org for more information