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Riding a bike is a right of passage for many as a kid, and the fun doesn't have to stop when you get older! One of the fondest memories growing up is riding bikes with your friends and the access to fun and exploration a bicycle can offer. From speedy bikes for the roadways to mountain bikes complete with suspension we carry a full lineup of kids bikes to help any kid enjoy life on two wheels.

Remember your first bike? The sense of freedom and adventure? The thrill of moving faster than your feet could carry you? We want every kid to have a great first-bike experience, and a great experience with every bike after that.  That's why every model in our kids' bike collection is made to inspire a love of the two-wheeled life, from bikes with training wheels to performance mountain bikes for kids.

Learning to ride a bicycle holds a nostalgic place in many of our hearts. From push bikes to Jr. full suspension mountain bikes kids today have access to a plethora of options for all riding styles. As a parent you want your kids to have the best possible riding experience on their new bike, and taking the time to research your purchase will ensure you score the right bike the first time! Let's break down youth bikes as we guide you through the process of choosing the best bicycle for your kid.

While there are general rules of thumb regarding age, height, and wheel size; it's best to have your kid test ride several different bikes and see what model they look and feel most comfortable on. Our experienced sales team can help provide an enjoyable test riding experience for your kid at your local Bicycle Warehouse, as well as offer a personalized fitting and custom tailored gear recommendations.

If you are unable to test ride the bike in person for whatever reason you can use a general understanding on height related to wheel size to ensure a good fit for the new bike. If purchasing a kids' bike online you can measure the child's inseam to ensure proper fit when standing over the bike. Find the stand over height of the potential bicycle in the specifications/features; the inseam measurement should be higher than the stand over height listed to ensure a effective fit.

The Best Strategy to Buying a New Kids Bike!

Childs' Bicycle Sizing Chart

Bike Wheel Child Height (inches) Age Inseam (inner leg length)
12-inch 30-39 2-4 12-17
14-inch 37-44 3-5 16-20
16-inch 39-48 5-8 18-22
20-inch 42-52 6-10 21-25
24-inch 50-58 8-12 24-28
26-inch 56+ 10+ 28+


What size bikes does my child need?

Top 3 Tips

  1. Kids bikes are measured by the wheel size not the frame.
  2. Age and height help determine a size range.
  3. Knowing their inseam measurement helps find the perfect fit.

Typically your child's age and height will determine the best bike fit for their riding needs. The old saying "buy something they'll grow into," is not something we practice as buying the right size bike can make or break the quality of ride and enjoyment your youngster receives!

Kids' bikes are most commonly measured by the wheel diameter versus frame size. Starting at 12", the wheel size increases with rider height and tops out at 26". Use the chart above as a starting point to get an idea of what size bike would best fit your Jr. rider. Then you're ready to get into your local bike store and test ride some viable options.Kids come in different shapes and sizes, and one bike may not fit two kids of similar age if their body types are different. Bikes also vary depending on frame design and style, and can have a different feel despite having the same wheel size. It's important to get a proper fitting bike if you want the safest, highest quality, and most fun ride experience possible for your child.

Things to consider when test riding children's bicycles:

1. Rider Height

How tall is child? Comparatively how long are their legs and torso. Check the distance between the top tube and the ground, referred to as standover height, to ensure your child can comfortably mount the bike.

2. Cockpit Reach

Can your child comfortable reach the handlebars? You want to be able to reach the handlebar without fully extending your arms. Steering and applying the brake levers should be effective and comfortable as well.

3. Seat Height

Ensure your child can sit comfortable, with good peripheral view. Their legs should be slightly bent at the full pedal stroke and the seatpost should have room for adjustment up and down.

Kid riding a mountain bike

What's the best kids bike to get my child?

There are numerous different style bikes to choose from in the kids' bike category. First narrow down the desired riding style your child seeks and ultimately their long term cycling goals. It's common to start with a simple bike without excessive features to build a sold foundation of bike riding skills. Coaster brakes, single speeds, and balance bikes are all examples of user friendly technology popular with young children's bikes. As their riding improves and they grow, so can their bike's abilities. Upgrading to a bike with gears, higher quality brakes and components designed for the style of riding is the next step as your child's riding improves. Kids' bikes are often split between hybrid/road bike style and mountain bike style. Golden Rule: If your child is having fun and looking/feeling confident on their bike, you're most likely on the right model for them!

Child riding a mountain bike
Child riding a BMX bike

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12-inch- and 14-inch-wheel Bicycles

Approximate range: ages 2 to 4 (depending on child’s height and leg length)

12" bikes feature low seats and are perfect for the smaller riders looking to get comfortable on two wheels. Balance bikes eliminate pedals and opt for foot-down style scooting. These style push bikes are the most popular first choice for riders 4 years and under.12" bikes with pedals often feature training wheels and a coaster brake in this category.

12 inch kids bike

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16-inch-wheel Bicycles

Approximate range: ages 5 to 8 (depending on child’s height and leg length)

When it's time to move on from the 12" starter bike, a 16" offers a great step up for a child's first pedal bike. Rear coaster brakes are common, which allow the rider to brake by pedaling backwards. Generally single speed and fitted with training wheels these bikes are designed to push riders to the next level of comfort and control on two wheels.

Kids BMX bike

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20-inch-wheel Bicycles

Approximate range: ages 6 to 10 (depending on child’s height and leg length)

20" bikes break into a category which offers much more features and versatility, as well as full sized BMX bikes. Bikes in this category begin to feature hand brakes and even gears, and this level is the segway from childs' bikes to something similar to a standard adult bicycle.

Kids mountain bike

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24-inch-wheel Bicycles

Approximate range: ages 8 to 12 (depending on child’s height and leg length)

At this age and bicycle size the 24" bikes come spec'd similar to adult bicycles and there are more options for bicycle type and style. One should consider if the child wants to ride primarily in the city, or possibly off road on trails. Components are higher quality and the bikes are more capable. At this point it's likely your Jr. rider is starting to tag along for rides and before you know it they'll be one of the peleton!

Kids Giant Mountain Bike

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In summary, children's bicycles are available in a ton of sizes, styles, and prices. Finding the right bike for your child's specific needs and desired riding style is the most important factor in this type of new bike purchase. Ensuring your child is on a proper fitting bicycle, designed for their riding goals will provide long lasting enjoyment and provide a positive introduction into the world of cycling for your Jr. To close out we want to remind everyone that regular bicycle maintenance is important, even on a child's bike. Test the brakes, make adjustments, re-tighten screws and bolts. Even remembering to raise the seat over time as your child becomes more confident in the saddle will improve their performance! Don't forget bike accessories, not just for fun but for safety! Lights for evening riding, a bell or horn, and some streamers and a basket can all make riding your child's bike more fun for them, while providing a safer ride.

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Thanks for reading our article on the how to cheese the best kids' bike. If you have any questions or want kids' bike recommendations drop us a line and we'll get you rolling!

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If you're local to Southern California we invite you to visit one of our Bicycle Warehouse retail stores to experience the best selection and service around.

We have a fleet of awesome mountain, road, and hybrid bikes standing by, come by and test ride the bike of your dreams today! 

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