Kids love bikes, and if you have children, chances are at some point or another you’re going to have to buy them a bike. But there’s more to buying a bike for kids than just picking a bike at random. You really have to put some thought into it or you may end up with the wrong bike and an upset child.
You may be very tempted to keep your bike purchase a secret, especially if you’re buying a bike for a kid’s birthday or other holiday. However, if you plan to do this, you need to listen to your kid’s opinion on bikes before you buy one. It can be difficult to figure out which bike he or she likes without coming right out and saying “what bike do you want?” but it can be done. You know your kid very well, and you should at least have some ideas as to what he or she likes as far as colours and such goes.
When you first see the large selection of kid’s bikes, you may be a little overwhelmed. There are a lot of them, and they seem to come in many different designs and colours. But you can narrow your selection down pretty quickly. Are you buying for a boy or a girl? Some girls’ bikes are actually designed differently. Many of these bikes are pink or have streamers on the handles, a basket on front, and other girl orientated additions. Boys’ bikes generally don’t include a basket on the front, and some have a bar or two in different places. Overall, however, there’s no real functional difference between boys and girls bikes. Any girl can ride a bike built for a boy and vice versa if they want to.
You also need to know if your kid wants any sort of cartoon character on his/her bike. Today’s bikes often include some image or reference to popular TV characters. If your kid absolutely loves one certain show, buying him / her a bike with that show’s character can be a great move. However, just be aware that kid’s interests change quickly. You may buy him / her a bike with his / her current favourite character on it, but in just a few short weeks, that character may have been replaced.
The age and coordination of your child will dictate whether or not the bike needs stabilisers or a tricycle. Also children under the age of five generally have difficulty with using handle bar mounted breaks. Unlike adult bikes, bike sizes for kids are based on the diameter of the wheel and not seat height and frame size. The chart below should help you narrow your search, but it’s worth trying your child on a few variations in bike shops or those of friends before making the purchase. One important factor is the brakes, with coaster brakes tending to be easier for younger kids but they become less common as the bikes get bigger.
Kids Age – Inside Leg – Wheel Diameter
2-4 years – 35-42 cm (14-17 inches) – 12 inches
4-6 years – 40-50 cm (16-20 inches) – 14 inches
5-8 years – 45-55 cm (18-22 inches) – 16 inches
6-9 years – 50-60 cm (20-24 inches) – 18 inches
7-10 years – 55-63 cm (22-25 inches) – 20 inches
9+ years – 60-72 cm (24-28 inches) – 24 inches
Once you’ve determined the look and size of the bike, it’s time to think about what kind of bike your kid needs. If he or she is going to be riding out in the countryside or on unpaved roads, you’re going to need to select a bike with more rugged, chunkier tyres with a deeper tread that will hold up to a lot of abuse. If, on the other hand, he or she will be riding more in town, you can go with thinner tyres. It really depends on where you think your child will be riding the most. If you want to err on the side of caution, go with the thicker tyres. They will do just fine on paved streets, but the thin tyres won’t fare so well on dirt or gravel.