One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a lifelong love of fitness. Whether your child prefers to kick around a soccer ball, tumble through a gymnastics class or swim laps with the team, movement is key to a happy and healthy life.
Looking back on my own childhood, one of my favorite things to do was hop on my bike with friends and set out on a daily adventure. Biking was fun, got me outside and took me where I wanted to go. Luckily, bikes come in all shapes and sizes and can adjust to fit little ones as young as about 2 years old. According to Icebike.org, picking the right size bike is crucial to helping your child ride safely and confidently.
Since children grow so fast, it can be easy to fall into the trap of purchasing a bike that is too large for your child because they will “have room to grow into it.” While this might seem like a good idea at the store, a bike that is too big can be difficult for your child to control, making it challenging to get on and off the bike and properly reach the pedals.
With all the bike choices in stores today, it might seem overwhelming to choose the right size and style for your child. It can be helpful to use the diameter of the wheel as a starting point. The size of the wheel actually determines the proportions of the bike. For children’s bikes, wheels usually come in 12, 16, 20, and 24 inches.
Sizing charts such as the one below can help you choose the right fit for your budding cyclist:
While this chart is a great starting point, the most important step to take while purchasing a bike for your child is to let him take a test drive. Can your child sit on the bike and place both feet flat on the ground on either side of the bike? While he rides, is his body mostly upright and knees not hitting the handlebars? These are all great questions to ask yourself as you watch your child peddle around.
Types of bikes
These days, bikes come in all shapes and sizes to best fit the rider. Kids can choose from balance bikes and a variety of sizes and styles to suit their needs.
Balance bikes are great for new riders aged 2-5 years. They don’t have pedals and help young children get a sense of what it feels like to be on a bike and develop balance, confidence and coordination for riding bikes with pedals (and no training wheels) down the road. They also help kids learn how to steer without the fear that they might “take off” without the ability to stop the bike. This is because the bike moves based off of how fast your child pushes off the ground and not off of propulsion from the pedals.
Basic small wheeled bikes are the first proper bike that your child will most likely ride. These work best for kids between the ages of 3 to 6 years old and the wheels range from 12 – 16 inches in diameter. They come with basic breaks and pedals.
As your child grows, he will eventually fit into a larger wheeled bike (20”+) and have a proper set of gears and suspension. These bikes most often have a range of 5-10 gears.
Biking is a great way to not only sneak in exercise and outdoor time, but it’s also a fun way to spend time together as a family. With a bit of research and time spent test-driving a few bikes, you can find a bike that your child will feel comfortable riding and have a lot of FUN!
REMEMBER: Before you let your little one take off on his new set of wheels, talk to him about bike safety and the importance of always wearing a helmet!
How do you help keep your kids safe while riding bikes?