How to Choose a Kids Bike

Two Steps to Choosing the Best Kids Bike

Choose the right size and type of bike based on their balancing skills, height, and where they’ll ride.

1. Find the Correct Size of Bike

Find the correct bike size using their inseam measurements, height, or doing a stand-over test.

Children’s bikes are generally categorized by the wheel’s diameter, unlike adult bikes that are sized by the frame dimensions. The child’s height and inseam will help determine what wheel size is best suited for them. Age is a rough estimate as kids as young as 9 could be started on adult bikes if they are tall enough and have the skills to ride them. Use the chart below to help determine which size will be best:

Wheel Size 12" 16" 20" 24"
Height Up to 3'4" 3'2"-3'11" 3'9"-4'5" 4'3" & up
Inseam 13"-17" 17"-21" 21"-25" 25" & up
Child's Age 1-4 4-5 6-8 8-12

The size can also be determined by having them stand over the bike. The child should be able to stand flat-footed over the frame without their body touching it, and be able to dismount easily. They also should be able to easily keep their hands on the handlebar grips and sit comfortably without needing to reach to turn the handlebars. Their knees shouldn’t hit the handlebars.

2. Choose the right type of bike

Choose the right type of bike based on their current riding skills and where they’ll ride.

Balance Bikes vs. Pedal Bikes

Balance bikes are for our youngest riders, 1- to 4-years-old, and can fit kids that are too small for pedal bikes. Balance bikes have no pedals or chain, just wheels and a frame, to teach kids how to maintain balance while in motion. Most kids go from a balance bike directly to a pedal bike, forgoing the need to use training wheels to learn how to ride. If they have the basics of balance down, then it’s time for pedals!

Single Speed Bikes vs. Bikes with Gears

The average neighborhood rider will not need gears and a single-speed bike will provide them with a simpler, easier ride. If they intend to hit the trails or go on longer rides with changes in elevation, gears will make for a more enjoyable time.

Some Features to Consider

Hand or Coaster Brakes
There are two types of brakes on kids bikes, coaster and hand brakes. Coaster brakes are activated when the rider pedals backward and found only on single-speed bikes. Children under the age of 5 may lack the strength and dexterity to safely work hand brakes and may want to start on a bike with pedal brakes. Hand brakes come on some of the larger single-speeds and all of the geared bikes. If you select a bike with hand brakes, make sure your child can reach them easily and is well-versed on how and when to use them.

Training Wheels 
Training wheels may be added to most single speed pedal bikes, but the current trend for teaching young riders is to place them on a balance bike. If they're too large for a balance bike, you may want to add training wheels to help them with balance.

Off-road Features
Going to take these bikes off-road? You may want knobby tires to handle the rough terrain. You can also find bikes with front suspension and disc brakes for kids that are ready to rip through the Texas trails with confidence.

BMX Bikes

BMX bikes are designed much differently than traditional kid’s bikes with the specific purpose to race a closed track or ride in a course laid out with jumps and ramps that allow for sweet airtime. They can be lightweight aluminum for racing, or heavy-duty steel intended to be more durable for freestyle riding. BMX bikes fit slightly larger and kids should have more experience riding bikes before graduating into one. If your child isn’t interested in racing BMX or riding the local skate park, they will more than likely enjoy riding a traditional children’s bike.

Bikes purchased at Bicycle Sport Shop are also brands accepted by the Pre-owned Department, so you can trade your child's bike in for credit toward the next, larger sized bike as they grow!