Choosing the right size bike for your child
Kids come in all shapes and sizes just like adults, so it’s impossible to get the perfect size bike for your child based on age alone.
Getting the right size bike for your child will make the difference between a bike that is ridden regularly and one that rusts in a shed unloved!
Having a bike at the right size can make a child learn faster and also ride more safely. We sell bikes to parents online and in our showroom. With our experience of sizing kids bikes at our showroom we have developed a way you can choose the right size bike online too, simply by looking at your childs inside leg measurement.
This gives our customers the confidence to buy a bike online, without the need for trying it beforehand.
Take a look at our ‘Find my Bike’ advanced search and add in the details to see which bikes your child will fit from our range of quality lightweight kids bikes.
Childrens bikes come in a variety of wheel sizes and frame sizes – here’s a useful chart above showing our range of Frog Bikes – catering for kids from as young as 2 years old with balance bikes through to junior bikes that would comfortably fit a smaller adult. Frog Bikes have usefully named their bikes by the size of the minimum inside leg measurement in cms – it makes our job far easier!
You will see weight, wheel, frame and inside leg measurements on all of the bikes we stock – not just on Frog bikes!
This is the diameter of the wheel – usually measured in inches and ranging in kids bikes from 12 inches through to 26 inches. Wheel size alone is not a good way to decide on whether a bike is suitable for a child.
Frame size is a measurement of the length of the seat tube (the part of the frame into which the seat post fits) on a bike (from where the pedal cranks fit into the frame to the top of the seat tube). It’s not just the seat tube length that changes as bikes get bigger – the frame lengthens to accommodate longer arms and a longer upper body too!
When you look at the specifications of a childs bike you will see that even if the wheel is the same size, the frame size can vary. For kids learning to ride a bigger bike it’s important that the ride feels comfortable, younger kids need to be able to get on and off the bike as quickly and safely as possible.
Inside Leg Measurement
As mentioned we provide the minimum to maximum inside leg measurement on all of our kids bikes. The measurement we provide on our site is the minimum inside leg length a child needs to be able to sit on the saddle with their feet flat on the floor. This is not to be confused with the ‘Stand Over height’ you would see on an adult bike which ensures crotch clearence over the crossbar when standing.
Getting a bike that is a comfortable fit is important, when kids are transferring from a balance bike or moving to a larger bike or a more specialised bike, they need to have good control of the bike when they begin.
With a very young rider transferring from a balance bike, they are used to sitting low and putting their feet down flat from a seated position, let them start that way to gain confidence.
Ignore the adult guides for optimum pedalling positions until they have got to grips with the size and weight of their new bike. We suggest removing the pedals for their very first time on a pedal bike so they can use it like their old balance bike until they get comfortable with the weight of it.
A child learning to ride and growing confidence on their new bike has so many things to consider (see this post for tips on learning to ride a pedal bike). The right size bike will help to avoid wobbly starts and reduce the almost inevitable toppling over. (although with a lightweight bike this is far less likely!) More tips on learning to ride a bike here.
A child transferring to a bigger bike or a road bike also needs to have time to adjust to the size and riding position, a drop handle bar bike is a very different ride for a child who has been on a standard bike for the last few years. Ignore the ‘tip toes’ test and get a bike where the child can comfortably put their feet down flat. It will really help them enjoy the bike from the moment they get on it.
This is why we give this measurement, it enables a parent to confidently buy a bike that their child will not have to ‘grow into’. As long as you choose a bike with the right minimum inside leg measurement you know they will fit it comfortably – no guess work needed whatsoever!
Saddle and Handle Bar Adjustment
You can tweak the height of the seat and often the handlebars to get a perfect fit once you have chosen a bike that has the minimum inside leg measurement that fits your child. Most kids bikes make it really easy to adjust the saddle and handlebars with a basic allen key.
As your child becomes more comfortable you may want to increase the saddle height to enable the optimum pedalling position. This is usually considered to be a straight leg when the heel of the foot is on the pedal is at its lowest position in the pedal stroke.
Your child will know what’s comfortable, they may feel this optimum pedal position makes it too difficult to get on or off the bike – let them take the lead on what feels right, rather than what you think looks right. You can make more tweaks as they grow in confidence.
Bikes that Grow with your child
Orbea has introduced a range of bikes called ‘Orbea Grow‘ that actually grow with your child not only by adjusting the seat and handlebars, but by adjusting the crossbar lengthways . This can extend the life of the bike and make for a more comfortable ride for younger children who have a small for average inside leg measurement (eg short legs and a long body!)
If in doubt please ask – Simon and Beth are here to help – just call us and we will iron out any worries about whether a bike will fit your child.