What Size Bike Does My Child Need?

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Getting a two-wheel bike a rite of passage for children. It provides them the feel of wind blowing against their faces, as well as the possibility and opportunity of transportation and travel. They begin to think beyond their own homes and their own yards and wherever places their parents typically take them in cars.

But parents are still essential to the bike equation, helping their children choose the right options and then (of course) making the actual payment.

You may be wondering, though: What size bike does my child need? You have lots of options, but there’s only one that will set your child up for the most success when they finally get onto that new two-wheeler. Here’s your comprehensive guide.

Your child may fall in love with a certain bike while browsing at the store. But size is so much more important than style. Consider going by yourself to do a preliminary run through of options. You can pick 3 or 4 bikes that are the right size, and then present your son or daughter with the options. This is a much better approach than letting your little one wander aimlessly through the store, falling in love with bikes that simply won’t work.


First Things First: Get Your Child’s Height

You’ll want to measure your child before you do anything. And this isn’t the time for your child to stretch and stand on tiptoes hoping to get a higher measurement. You want a true indication of how tall your child is.

So, have your child take off his or her shoes. Your son or daughter should stand with back against a wall, feet about shoulder width apart. Then, have your child hold a book between the knees with the spine just barely touching the crotch of his or her pants or shorts.

Now, measure from the floor to the top of the spine of the book. That measurement should give you a pretty good indication of what size bike your child needs.


Different Bike Sizes for Children

OK, so you now have an idea of what size bike your child needs. Now, what are your options? Children’s bikes come in five different sizes: 12 inches, 16 inches, 18 inches, 20 inches and 24 inches.

Just in case you need another indication of which size will work best for your kid, here’s a look at age and overall heights that best coordinate to each size (as outline by bike manufacturer Schwinn):

Bike Size Child’s Height Child’s Age
12″ Bike 28″ to 38″ 1 to 4
16″ Bike 38″ to 48″ 3 to 7
18″ Bike 42″ to 52″ 5 to 9
20″ Bike 48″ to 60″ 7 to 13
24″ Bike 56″ to 66″ 10 to 15


Beyond Size: Other Tips for Choosing the Right Bike for a Child

Height is SO important to finding the right bike for your child. But it’s not the only important consideration. Here are four other things you’re going to want to take into account when you search for the ideal bike option for your little one:

  • Store: It’s tempting to go to Target or Wal-Mart to find your child’s first bike. But it’s best to go to a real bike shop. The people who work at a real bike shop can make expert recommendations and provide authoritative that you’re just not going to find elsewhere. Plus, if you ever need repairs or maintenance, you have an existing relationship with people who can help.
  • Brakes: Brakes are probably the second-most important feature in a bike (behind height). Cheap bikes have cheap brakes. A child’s bike with quality brakes is a little bit harder to find, but here’s a test you can do: An adult should be able to engage handlebar brakes with only one pinkie. If the brakes are too hard to pull with just your pinkie, look elsewhere.
  • Weight: The lighter the better. When your child has a lighter bike it’s easier for them to pedal and to manage the bike itself.
  • Comfort: Your child should be comfortable above all else. When your child is comfortable on his or her bike, he or she will be more motivated to learn how to ride a bike and more confident in riding it. If your child isn’t comfortable, he or she isn’t going spend much time on the bike.


Final Thoughts on What Size Bike Does My Child Need

Yes, your child is going to need your help with picking out a bike — not to mention funds to buy one. But consider giving them as much freedom as possible in picking a bike they love.

You might not like the style of the bike they choose, and you might recommend a different option. But your child is going to have a greater sense of ownership if you give them as much freedom as possible in choosing the bike they want to ride.

Do you have any other bike-buying tips for children? If so, send us a message to let us know, or you can always leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


Uncanny Kids is where moms and dads speak to moms and dads by sharing experiences, offering insights, providing tips and much more about the parenting journey. Explore our site to find product reviews, hacks, home remedies, news, trends and anything else related to raising Uncanny Kids.

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