Choosing the best bike for your child can be a difficult decision. With so many brands and styles to pick from, it can be a bewildering choice. Whatever style of bike you decide to buy, there are two major factors that will determine whether the bike gets used day-in day-out, or ends up being a waste of money.
Also known as runner or strider bikes, balance bikes come without pedals or cranks. Some balance bikes have a short rubber strap that connects the fork to the frame and keeps the handlebars facing forward. This is really useful as it means that steering is also taken out of the equation until your little cyclist is ready and the strap can be removed.
The first bike most of us parents would have ridden would have undoubtedly come with stabilisers. While bikes such as these are still widely available and enjoyed by many children, nowadays if you’re looking for a toddler's bike, there is a much better option: the balance bike.
The benefit is that balance bikes enable your young rider to learn to scoot along using their feet while getting to grips with the basics of balancing, free from other complications. Take a look at the Pinnacle Tineo for a good example of a balance bike.
The first golden rule is to ensure that you buy a bike that fits your child properly. The second golden rule is to buy the best children’s bike you can. It also needs to be suitable for their abilities so try to avoid getting something that they will grow into.
A good quality bike will last for many years, be light and manoeuvrable and made using decent parts that need don’t need constant attention. You want to get your child a bike they won’t want to stop riding.
Children's bike sizes are referenced by wheel size diameter. We can estimate a suggested wheel size for a child based on age, but it's best to have them test ride a bike as obviously height will vary. In general, the main difference you find in a larger wheel size is in the longer distance between the saddle and the handlebar, coupled with a longer wheelbase. If the bike is too long, when the child turns the handlebar, you will see they are forced to stretch too far, reducing control.
The danger of buying something too big for them is that until they get big enough, your child will be attempting to ride a bike that will be too heavy, difficult or dangerous for them to use. Likewise if the bike is too small, your child may experience discomfort or back pain as they find themselves crouching down over handlebars that are not high enough for them. Choosing the right bike size is crucial!
Once your child is aged 10 and up, they will no doubt be keen on riding something that resembles a grown up’s bike. While it may be tempting to buy them an adult bike with 700mm or 26inch wheels, until most children are a least 12 or so, such bikes are likely to be too big and too complex for them.
The best bet for most pre-teens is to go for a good quality bike with 24inch wheels. They should also be ready to ride with a decent range of gears. A bike with a single front chainring and a wide-ranging cassette at the rear is a good option because it has basic gears without being confusing.
Riders aged 12 or 13 are usually big enough to ride a small-framed adult mountain bike with full size wheels, or a road bike with 650c wheels. However it is important that you make sure your child is big enough for an adult bike. If in doubt, properly sizing your child is recommended, as it is always better to be safe than sorry! Check out our kids bike sizing videos below if you are unsure how to size a bike properly for your child.
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