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I was chatting with some parents at a Bike Circuit Event that I was running on the weekend in Devon and several of them were asking which bike size would be best for their children to start riding on? It’s a common question so hopefully this article gives you some pointers. I certainly recommend starting with a balance bike of some description and not using a bike with stabilizers if you can help it. See my post on the reasons why Stabilizers teach your children bad habits.
Kid’s bikes are sized by their wheel diameter in inches rather than frame size.
Be careful when looking at just age ranges for bikes as children vary hugely in height so they might be too small or too tall for that specific bike. Measuring your child’s height or their inside leg is a much better indicator.
You want your child to be able to sit comfortably on the seat with their feet on the ground and a slight leg bend. They should be able to reach and manoeuvre the handle bars with ease.
It’s always tempting to buy a bike that your child will grow into but be wary of this as a bike that is too big and unwieldy is potentially quite dangerous for your child. You want their first biking experiences to be positive ones!
Also remember that different brands of Balance Bike have different size frames even though they may have the same size wheels. For example, with 12″ wheels, the Hornit Airo 12″ Balance Bikes are suitable for a small to average size child.
See my post Which Balance Bike is Best for my Child? if you want to find out more about the differences between bikes.
The table below gives you an indication of which size to start with and move onto as your child grows and develops their biking skill.
Generally you would look for them to start on a 12″ wheel Balance Bike although if you have a 5 year old or tall 4 year old that is just starting out on their biking adventure, you’d probably be looking at the 14″ wheel size as their starting point.
Once they’ve mastered the balance bike and have been confidently biking around on that for a a few years or have outgrown that frame size, the next step would be to look for a 14″ or 16″ pedal bike depending on what age and height they are when ready to make that transition. Some children are ready to make the move to a pedal bike at 3 years old, others need more time and practice and aren’t ready to progress until they are 6 or 7 years old. Don’t be too much of a rush for them to move onto pedals. They can be very speedy on a balance bike!