Kids love the freedom and thrill of riding around on a bike, but to be able to do that, they’ll need a bike that they can ride! Whether your child is just learning how to ride or they’ve outgrown their current bicycle, you need to get them a new bike.
But parents are often left with this challenging question: "What size bike should I get for my child?" Some bikes don’t come with a sizing guide, or the guide doesn’t seem to line up with your child’s size.
To help you navigate the world of sizing children’s bikes, we’ve put together the most important information and guides. With these, you can find the perfect size for the next bike in your kid’s life.
Why Does Sizing Matter?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details about how to choose the right size bicycle for your child, we want to explain why the sizing is so important and why you should be more particular about choosing a size than just going based on age.
Simply put, every child has their own unique body. When you look at a group of six-year-olds, you’ll notice that some are taller than others. Some have very long legs, while others have torsos that take up most of their body.
With differences in their bodies, there is a chance that they would all need to be riding different sized bikes. Riding a bicycle requires the child's legs, torso, and arms to work together in tandem. If any of the bike parts don’t line up with their size, riding can become less fun and more arduous.
Nobody wants that for their child! For that reason, it is incredibly important to take some time to get the sizing right when choosing a bike for your child.
What Size Bike Should I Get for My Child?
Now, let’s get to the most crucial question: "What size bike should I be buying for my child?" While some parents simply take their child to the store and let them pick whichever feels right, this is not a great technique because kids also don’t know what they’re looking for, in the first place.
Instead, we recommend relying on either inseam or height to choose the best-sized bike for your child to use. When you use one (or both) of these measurements to choose a bike, there is a better chance that the bike will be the right size.
What Is Bike Size Based On?
Many parents think that the size of a bike is based on the frame and that they can make adjustments to it by changing the wheels. In some ways, that is true. Professional adult-sized bikes often work this way, but most kid’s and amateur bikes do not.
Instead, kid bike sizes are based on the diameter of the wheels. Each progressive wheel size changes the overall frame of the bike to be proportionally larger as well. As you increase wheel size, you increase the bike’s overall size, too.
When selecting a bike for your child, you’ll be choosing from one of the following wheel sizes:
For most kids between three and 13, you will select bikes that are between 12” and 24” in size. Adult bikes usually begin at 26”, but there are a number of teen-sized bikes in the children’s bike section that have 26” wheel diameter options.
Choosing Based on Height
The first way that you can choose which bike size to get is to use your child’s height. As you probably know, your kid’s height will change quickly for the first few years of their life, so think a little bit “big” when using this method to make your choice.
Approximate Age (years)
Recommended Wheel Size
The chart should help you make selections focused on the height of your child. We only included the age category to help you understand what the average height is per age and to recognize that your child might not fall exactly into their age range when it comes to choosing a bike.
Choosing Based on Inseam
Inseam is another useful measurement to use when selecting a bike for your child. Inseam is the length of the leg, measured on the inside from the top of the leg to the ankle. Inseam is often used for choosing a bike because your inseam is representative of how far your child can peddle, and that will help determine the right bike size.
This chart can help you to choose the right sized bike for your child based on their inseam:
Approximate Age (years)
Recommended Wheel Size
Whether you decide to use inseam or height to choose the right bicycle for your child, you can be sure that these measurements are better choices to use than age when making your selection.
How Can I Adjust My Child’s Bike to Fit Better?
If your child’s bike still doesn’t seem to fit them exactly right based on these sizes, don’t worry! Before you panic, you should check whether or not the bike has any adjustable parts. Some bikes have parts that can be changed for a better fit.
Common adjustable parts include:
- Seat height
- Seat angle
- Pedal position
By changing some of these bike parts, you’ll be able to help your child find the most comfortable ride around. If your bike's current parts cannot be adjusted in these ways, that's okay.
Usually, these adjustments are more minor than anything. Keep in mind when choosing the next bike for your child, but having the option to adjust these parts will help them to be able to keep using the same bike for an extended period.
Be Confident in Your Size Choice
Don’t be left wondering, what size bike should I get for my child; instead, use a clear-cut measurement such as height or inseam to ensure that you can get the bike that will help them to have a lot of fun while riding comfortably.
Don’t forget to consider choosing a bike that has some adjustable parts. By selecting parts that you can make small adjustments to, you’ll go from giving your child a bike with a good fit to one with a great fit! That could make all the difference in how much they grow to love riding a bike over the years.