What to look for in a kid’s bike

Give as much thought to what to look for in a kid's bike as when buying a car

Give as much thought to what to look for in a kid’s bike as when buying a car

Kids and bikes are practically synonymous. They like to ride them just as you did when young. However, the combination of children and bikes can lead to accidents and dangerous situations involving traffic. Children need to be well-schooled in riding safety before venturing out on this vehicle. Smart shoppers know what to look for in a kid’s bike so that the experience of learning to ride a bicycle is successful and safe.


If your child is a newbie to riding, one option is to purchase one with removable training wheels. Let the child get the hang of riding while using training wheels. When the time is right, remove them.

The Balance Bike

The balance bike is the term for two-wheelers featuring a low center of gravity but no training wheels or pedals. They are ideal for three to five-year-old kids who are not quite ready to pedal, either with or without the assistance of training wheels. 

Riding requires the ability to balance and young children do not have the skill initially. When starting out on a balance bike, the child propels himself with his feet, going as fast as he is capable of pushing himself. In the process, they acquire balance.

There is a platform the child rests his feet on while coasting and a grab bar attached to the back of the seat, which the instructor holds onto. The handlebar is adjustable and the tires scuff resistant. The seat is also adjustable.

Because of the low center of gravity, if and when a child topples off, he is close to the ground and less likely to be injured.The bike should be a bright color or motorists can see it from a distance. Deck it out with neon reflectors and equip it with a horn (bell.) 

An adjustable seat is recommended to accommodate your child as he gets taller and his legs get longer. Ideally, a child should be capable of straddling the vehicle with an inch or two separating his crotch from the cross bar.


Wheel Size

Two to five year old children, who are between 24 and 26 inches tall, need a wheel size of 12 inches for the best fit. Those in the four to six age category need 14 inch wheels. Five to eight-year-old children need 16 inch wheels and the six to nine group requires 18 inch wheel. The seven to 10 year old riders need 20 inch wheels and, after that, 24 inch.

The vehicle must have superior brakes. The recommendation is coaster brakes on all children’s bikes. On bigger vehicles, hand brakes are necessary. 

Older Kids

Eventually, your child is going to move onto a bigger vehicle with pedals. Remember bikes are measured not by frame size but by wheel size. Typical sizes include 16 inch, 20 inch and 24 inch. The child must be able to get on comfortably and stand with his feet on the ground while straddling the vehicle.

When a child is approximately seven years old, he may be ready to move up to a 16 inch wheel. He will probably want to ride faster at this stage of the game so make sure the vehicle is equipped with good brakes. A coaster brake should be included, which means it can be stopped by pedaling backward, as well as rear and front hand brakes. 

Caution your child that using the front hand brake leads to abrupt stopping, which can result in a catapult over the handlebars for the rider, which is certainly not a desirable outcome. 

When a child reaches seven to ten-years-old, he may want to upgrade to a 20 inch vehicle. He can choose from a road-, mountain-, cruiser-, BMX and other types of bikes. 

Give your child the lowdown on riding safety, regardless of his age. Give the lecture to him as many times as necessary. Riding can be a great joy but the rider must be responsible and know the rules of cycling.