It is an amazing time to be looking at new kids' bikes. There are several amazing bike brands that are solely dedicated to making fantastic bikes designed for kids (not small adults), and some bigger bike brands are investing in making their kids' bikes great, too.
How to Use this Kid's Bike Sizing Guide
1. You'll see some opinions and ideas that I have to share after fitting, selling, and successfully helping hundreds of kids on bikes. This comes from being a mom, a bike mechanic for over 20 years, and my wife who is a pediatric emergency doctor.
2. The actual kid's bike sizing guide. This is a good starting point to figure out sizing but if you aren't sure between a couple of bikes please contact me!
3. Finally, you'll see a rundown of sizes for bikes I sell and a link to a crowdsourced google sheet to find sizes and info for various kids bikes.
Some Encouragement from a Loving Bike Mom (and bike shop owner)
I opened up my small bike shop with the goal of making the world a better place for my kids. A bike can solve so many issues that kids face from mental and physical health to freedom and finding confidence in themselves.
The very most important thing to remember in this is that your child is unique and you know them the best. Some of this guide will talk about sizing, confidence, and it will be a guide. Ultimately you can decide if your kid is more confident for a bigger size or maybe needs the investment in the lightest bike available.
The next most important thing is to remember to make this fun. My daughter didn't take to a balance bike at first. She loved her little Micro Mini scooter and honestly as long as she was moving I was thrilled. Finally one day her friend started pedaling so she immediately wanted to try. Having peers and seeing other kids their size doing it is important, but so is wanting to do this because it is a freedom machine. Make it about going for ice cream or a reward of where the bike takes them. Making it a chore or a task they have to achieve doesn't unlock the magical powers of the bicycle.
The Most Important Things in Buying a Kid's Bike
1. Know your kid. I'll reference sizing, and handling, and weight. Without meeting your child I can't tell you if they are confident, petite, or like to take the path down the stairs but you can! If you have questions between models please contact me!
2. The Bike Must Fit. Not until 20" or above do I feel okay with putting a child on a bike slightly too big, and then it is still dependent on the kid. It can be dangerous and also damage their confidence making them not want to try again for a long time.
3. Weight Really Really Matters. There are some kids bikes that weigh 25-35 pounds for a kid that weighs the same amount! My favorite first pedal bike is the woom 2 which weighs 11-13 pounds depending on the parts, some competitors first pedal bikes weigh 22+ pounds without training wheels. A kid that age weighs about 30 pounds on average. Could you imagine riding a bike 75% of your weight? Now imagine that you are just learning to ride.
4. Say NO to Training Wheels. Balance bikes are a fantastic thing. It teaches kids to use their own body to control a bike from stopping to balancing. If your child is taller than a typical balance bike simply take the pedals off a good, lightweight, bike that fits them. (I have an article on this coming!)
5. Yes, Some Kids Bikes Are Expensive But You'll Get It Back. Think of that bike as a short term lease. You'll buy it at 100% and then when you resell you'll get 80% back because most of these kids bikes never go on sale they keep their value! They are also well worth it if your child starts biking on their own 2-5 years earlier than with a heavier and bulkier bike.
Kid's Bike Sizing Guide
When looking at kid's bikes we are going to be focusing on the standover height of the bike and the child's inseam when wearing shoes.
Step 1: Have your child put their shoes on and stand against a wall
Step 2: Place a book gently between their legs until it is softly coming in contact with their crotch.
Step 3: Hold the bike parallel to the ground and measure from the top of the book to the ground. You now have their inseam!
How we use the inseam:
We want to make sure the inseam height is at least 1/2 to a full inch taller than the standover height of a bike so they can comfortably stand over the bike AND so they can come quickly off the bike if necessary. I measure standover height about 1-2" in front of where the nose of the saddle is. Picture where they would be standing with the saddle hitting their bottom.
List of Standover Heights for Kids' Bikes I Sell
This list is forever evolving and make sure to the full crowdsourced document of kid's bike sizes and details here.
|Bike Name||Wheel Size||
Stand Over Height
Minimum Seat Height
|woom 1||12" balance bike||10"|
|Prevelo Alpha 1||14"|
|Prevelo Alpha 2||16"|
|Prevelo Alpha 3||20"||17.2||20.3|
|woom OFF 4||20" MTB||21.5||22.5|
|woom OFF 4 Air||20" MTB w/ Fork|
|woom OFF 5||24" MTB||25||27.5|
|woom OFF 5 Air||24" MTB w/ Fork|