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Kids’ Bike Buying Guide: Choosing The Best Bike For Your Child

April 16, 2019
Kids’ Bike Buying Guide: Choosing The Best Bike For Your Child
Kids’ Bike Buying Guide: Choosing The Best Bike For Your Child

Buying your kid’s first bike is a major milestone in their life. You may begin their cycling journey with a tricycle and graduate them to a bike with training wheels as they get older. At some point, it will be time to learn how to balance on two wheels. But how do you decide which bike is right for your child? The equation for getting the right bicycle has a lot to do with your child’s height and personality. Here is a quick guide for how to choose the best bike for your kids:

Understanding Children’s Bike Sizing

Adult bikes are sized based on certain frame measurements. On the contrary, kids’ bikes are sized based on the tires. Naturally, the bigger the wheels are, the taller the bike is. Common sizes for kid’s bikes range from 12” to 24”. The right tires for your child’s bikes will depend largely on their height – but there are some basic recommendations. Small 12” tires are usually right for kids 4 years and under, while 16” tires often fit a child age 4-6.  

Measuring Your Child for their Bike

So, how can you know if your child fits within the typical age recommendations for a particular bike size? Measure your child’s inseam and overall height to eliminate all doubt. Getting a child to stand still long enough to be measured is often tricky, but here’s a tip to make it go smoothly. Have your child stand against a wall while barefoot and quickly mark the top of their head on the wall. Then, have them hold a book between their thighs, with the top of the book in their crotch. Mark the wall at the top of the book, and now you have an inseam measurement. You can take your time measuring the wall with a tape measure after they’ve squirmed off to play in the back yard.

With an exact measurement for overall height and inseam, you can check out bike manufacturer’s recommendations and be sure you’re getting the right size. As an example, an inseam between 16-20” and an overall height of 36-38” is a great fit for a 14” bike, typically recommended for kids about 5 years old. If your child is particularly tall for their age, you may want to go up a bike size.

Looking for the Right Bike Features

With the correct size nailed down, choosing the right bike comes down to which features you need/want. For instance, the best bike seat for kids should provide adequate support and comfort during long rides. Seat height is also an important factor for bike fit on children’s bicycles. Different brands have different maximum seat heights, so two different 16” kids’ bikes could fit differently based on seat height specs.

In addition to the proper seat height, additional features to look for in children’s bikes include:

  • Single-speed gears. Most young cyclists are not ready to shift gears while they are going up and down hills. Look for one-speed cruisers when your kids are just getting started. As they mature, kids will be ready for a 3-speed option that lets them over different types of terrain.
  • Coaster brakes. Kids can stop their bike simply by pedaling backward with coaster brakes (which are sometimes called simply pedal brakes). Kids bikes with pedal brakes offer reliable and simple stopping. Older kids’ bikes may have handle brakes that allow the bicycle to work like an adult bike.
  • Reflectors. All kids’ bikes should have reflectors on the front and rear ends of the bike. Many good children’s bicycles also have reflectors on the tires. Reflectors allow your kids to be better seen after dusk or when it’s cloudy outside.
  • Adjustable handlebars. The right bike for your kid may be one with adjustable handlebars. This allows you to hang on to the same bike for a few years, even as your child grows. Adjustable seats are a great feature for the same reason.
  • Lightweight frame. Certain metals like aluminum are more lightweight than others. Having a light frame is a good feature for kids’ bikes because it allows young riders more independence. You don’t want them to need assistance every time they have to lift the bike over a curb.

Personalizing Kids’ Bikes

The best bike for your kids will also be one they’re excited to ride. Thankfully, there are tons of ways to customize a bike so it will fit perfectly and make kids thrilled to climb on. Some popular ways to personalize a bike include:

  • Pick a fun color. Choosing a bike with a bright frame is a winning strategy for kids and parents. Kids have fun showing off their bright new toy, and parents know their young biker is more likely to be seen on the road.
  • Add a bell. Bells allow kids to announce themselves in traffic, or communicate where they are if they get separated on a family bike ride.
  • Put a basket on the back. Many of the best kids’ bikes have a basket attachment on the rear. Encouraging your kids to use a basket is good practice. It keeps their hands free for safe riding while their backpack, lunch bag, or toys remain safely secured behind them.

Are you in the market for the best kids’ bike? Bicycles for kids are not one size fits all, so hopefully you have a tape measure handy! Once you know which size is right for your kiddo, start browsing your options. A good bike will last for years and can be handed down to younger brothers and sisters once it’s time to buy a new one. Sixthreezero makes ordering a custom bike easy and affordable. Even better, we’re here to answer your questions and help you find your next adventure as a cycling family.

Find new places for the entire family to explore the road on their new bicycles! It’s easy, just join our Journey Club to uncover biking locations around the world and connect with other cyclists.

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