How to Buy a Kid's Bike
Few things are more exciting for a child than getting a bike. Whether it’s their first bike or a new one to replace the bike they’ve outgrown, whether it’s a present or something you’ve picked out together, the first ride on the new bike is something they will always remember. Which is why it’s important to get it right—not just on the looks and paint, but on the size as well. Just like for adult cyclists, it’s critically important to get your child a bike that fits right and is appropriate for their age level. An incorrectly sized bike may make it more difficult for your child to ride, or could make it easier for them to fall. Don’t worry though, unlike buying a bike for an adult, kid’s bikes are fairly easy to size.
Kids bike sizes are based on wheel diameter, not frame size like adult bikes. Most parents tend to buy a bike a little bigger, so that their child will grow into it-- this can be dangerous however, as your child may have difficulty controlling the bike. To determine the right size, there are a few simple steps to determining which sized bike to get for your child:
- The bike should be chosen based on the inseam or height of the child.
- The correct bike is one where your child can comfortably sit on the bike seat with feet or toes touching the ground.
- When their feet are on the pedals, their knees should not touch the handlebars. When sitting on the seat, their hands should reach the handlebars easily and not be stretched out.
The chart below will help you find a starting point. If you’re unsure of what size to get, stop by your local Performance Bicycle shop and ask one of our knowledgeable staff to help you pick out the right size.
Height Age Wheel Diameter
26”-34” 2-4 12"
34”-44” 3-6 16"
44”-56” 4-8 20"
56”-62” 7+ 24”
62”+ 11+ Adult
Click here to see an expanded chart.
Bikes with 12” wheels may or may not come with pedals and gears. 12” wheel bikes without pedals are called “balance bikes” or “scoot bikes”, and are ideal for helping younger children develop the balance and coordination skills they’ll need later when they learn how to ride a bike with pedals.
Bikes with 16” wheels usually have rear coaster breaks and pneumatic tires. Some bikes have front hand brakes.
Bikes with 20” wheels can be multi-speed with hand brakes.
24” bikes are very similar to adult bikes.