Many parents make one of two mistakes when buying a bike. The first is buying a bike too big so the child “grows into it.” While it may save you a few bucks, a bike that’s too big is hard to control, and can often result in an accident. Second, is buying the bike the child wants because of it’s features. A child may see a certain character or color and be drawn to that particular bike. Or it has a horn, bell, pegs, or some other trait that makes it desirable. Use these guidelines for choosing an appropriate-sized bike.
A child should be able to get on and off the bike without struggling to hold the bike up. When seated, the child should be able to touch both feet to the ground. With one foot up on the pedal, as if starting to ride, the bike shouldn’t lean so far over that it is difficult to balance and get rolling. In general, kids should use coaster brakes until they are at least 5-years-old, since hand brakes require more coordination and strength.
Bikes are sized by their tire size, and these are some general guidelines for choosing the right-sized bike:
12 inch bike: 2-5 years old, 26-34 inches tall
16 inch bike: 4-8 years old, 34-42 inches tall
18 inch bike: 6-9 years old, 42-48 inches tall
20 inch bike: 8-12 years old, 48-56 inches tall
24 inch bike: teens who are 56-62 inches tall
You may also want to check out ibike.org for further discussion on choosing a child’s bike. Use caution when buying a used or hand-me-down bike. Older bikes may not have some of the safety features of a newer bike, so a good rule of thumb is to acquire one no more than 5 years old. In addition to finding the right-sized bike, always make sure children are equipped with a proper fitting helmet.
For more information about bike and helmet safety, or if you need to speak to someone about a child’s injury, contact us.