It can be difficult to keep up with growing kids. In constantly growing bodies, they never stay the same for long. And when cycling, for their safety, it’s important that the bikes they ride are tailored to their size. In this post we talk kids bike sizes. How are they measured? And how to go about buying a bike for your kid.

When should I buy a bike for my kid?

The beauty today is that you can buy a bike for a child of any age. Even the very young can get going on tricycles or balance bikes. But when it comes to being physically able to ride a bike, then somewhere between the ages of 4-8, kids develop the skills necessary to master the coordination and balance required. Each kid varies however, some have the confidence and readiness necessary, but perhaps lack the physical strength to support the bicycle or manage braking, while for others it may be the opposite.

A guide to kids bike sizes

Adult bike frames are specified according to the frame size. However, with kids bike sizes, it's different. They are specified by wheel diameter, and bikes range from 12-inch bikes for very young kids, to 24-inch bikes for kids approaching 12, or whose height approaches 5 ft. After this point, kids will move on to smaller-framed adult bikes with smaller wheels and shorter seat tubes. Let’s run through some common kids bike sizes and the features most commonly associated with bikes for different age groups.

The kids bike size guide

Bikes for kids shorter than 3'

For those who are enthusiastic, but haven't yet developed the coordination skills, then a balance bike is the perfect machine to start on. With no pedals or cranks, it solely teaches them balance and control, the perfect intro to cycling!

Bikes for kids aged 2 - 4 years. Height 3' - 3'5"

A bike with 12" wheels is the standard starting point for 2-4-year-olds. These bikes usually come with stabilisers to aid with balance which can be removed as the kid progresses. Many models come with either coaster brakes or one brake lever.

Bikes for kids aged 4 - 7 years 3'5" - 3'9"

A bike with 14" to 16" wheels is what 4-7-year-olds require. All these bikes have rubber tyres and inner tubes and provide a smoother ride than smaller bikes.

Bikes for kids aged 7 - 10 years 3'9" - 4'5"

Most kids are ready to move up to 20" wheels by the time they reach 7-10 years old. Typically these models are where kids encounter gears and that adds a whole new dimensionality to their cycling experience. Some models may even include front suspension.

Bikes for kids aged 10 - 13 years 4'5" - 5'

Most kids in this age range will have undergone that growth spurt that's so common, and they'll be ready for a bike with 24" wheels. Bikes of this size generally contain all the features of an adult bike, although in a smaller frame size.

Bikes for kids aged 13 years and over 5'

By the time they are teenagers, kids should be ready to move onto full-sized adult wheels (26” to 28”). 13" or 14" frames generally suit best, and bikes of this size have all the features of an adult bike.

Separating the signal from the noise: Buying a child’s bicycle

The first step in the process of purchasing a bike is to obtain one of the correct size. The bike should be a perfect fit for the kid. Don't make the mistake of assuming that because your kid is growing, they'll grow into a slightly larger bicycle. It's dangerous for anyone to ride a bike that’s either too big or too small. By purchasing a bike that's too large a small kid may not be able to steer correctly, nor may they be able to comfortably touch the ground as they sit on the saddle. Reaching the brakes and being able to grip them naturally is also an extremely important aspect. With a bike that's too large, you put a child in danger.

Budgeting for a kids bike

Kids bikes come in at a variety of prices, but there's no need to get carried away. Many adults compete on top end bikes, but what's much more important for a kid than a light frame, is a properly fitting one.

Heavier kids bikes may be made of steel and are often cheaper than alloy versions. Kids will grow, and there will come a time when they become more fully developed when it makes more sense to invest in a lighter frame, but while they are growing, why get carried away?

Instilling the love of cycling in kids

At a young age, what really counts is instilling the love of cycling in kids. And at Decathlon, we’re with you on that journey. With the wide range of kids bikes of all sizes, you’ll be sure to find one that’s just the right size for those budding youngsters!