When choosing a child’s bike, these are the things to look out for:
- You want a bike with plenty top tube (crossbar) clearance so they can safely hop off the saddle.
- You want a bike that’s easy for a child to manage. A bike that’s too long is unwieldy, harder to control and harder to steer. A bike with 12″ wheels will not only be shorter in height than a 16″ wheeler, it will also be shorter in length.
- Again, you want a bike that’s easy to manage. Heavy bikes are hard for younger riders just building their strength. This is worth remembering when choosing between one of our 12 kilo junior mountain bikes against a 25 kilo full suspension supermarket special.
- You want a bike that will last as long as possible: Small enough to straddle, yet big enough to offer years of growth, and well built enough to pass on to a wee brother or cousin in years to come. The kid’s bikes we offer are all from well-respected, quality brands.
Children’s Bikes Size Guide
Children’s bike sizes are determined by wheel diameter (not frame size like adult bikes).
Obviously your child’s personal growth spurts might invalidate these guesstimates so, like any size chart, please regard this as a rough guide. For example, while the majority of 5-10 year olds fit 20″-wheeled bikes, the smaller 5 year old might not manage one and would be safer on a 16, while the taller child might outgrow the 20 inch wheeler and will require a 24 incher by the time he or she is 8.
Balance bikes for 2 – 4 years olds
No pedals, no cranks and no brakes enable the young rider to learn how to balance and steer with minimum distraction.
See all balance bikes
12 inch-wheeled bikes for 3 – 5 years olds
These petite bikes are mountain bike styled. Fat tyres = stability. Removable stabilisers can be confidence builders. Single speed gear-free transmissions keep life simple.
See all 12-inch wheelers
16 inch-wheeled bikes for 4 – 7 years olds
Again single-speed MTB styled, with or without stabilisers: it’s with the 16″ wheeler that the child often graduates from play/pavement bike mode to serious adventures such as rides through the park and pedalling to school.
See all 16-inch wheelers
20 inch-wheeled bikes for 5 – 10 years olds
Now we’re getting serious. 20-wheeled MTBs (mountain bikes) boast suspension forks to smooth the bumps and 5 or 6 gears to smooth the climbs.
Not interested in changing gear, more interested in play? Then consider a BMX. BMXs are 20 inch wheelers (bar the odd 16 incher for smaller riders) that fit near any rider from around 10 years old.
See all 20-inch wheelers
24 inch-wheeled bikes 8 – 14 years olds
Front or full suspension; triple chainset transmission with 15 / 18 / 21 / 24-speed gears: these really are scaled-down MTBs, fit for the trails.
See all 24-inch wheelers
26 inch-wheeled bikes 11+
A 26″ wheeler is of course an adult-sized MTB. Some adult MTBs are available in very small sizes. For instance, you can get a Specialized Hardrock with a 13″ frame which kids as young as 11 can manage. The obvious advantage with this size is the much wider choice of spare parts (the number of 26″ tyres on the market outnumbers 24″ tyres at least 100 to 1). Another advantage is that spare tubes, for instance, can be pooled on family rides.