National Bike to School Day: How to Pick a Safe Bike for Children

national bike to school day Van Sant Law

On May 9th, your child might be encouraged to bike or walk to school as part of National Bike to School Day. To participate safely, you not only want them to have the right equipment but the right type of bike. Surprisingly, parents often buy the wrong size or style of bike for their children.
It does not help that when you go to buy one, you are presented with an array of styles, sizes, and designs. So, if your child plans to participate in bike to school day, make sure you equip them with the right bike so that they can ride safely and enjoy the independence of riding to school in the morning.

Tips for Buying a New Kids’ Bike in Cumming

Buying a bike that is too small for your child makes them cramped and uncomfortable. But going too large can make the bike harder to control and undermine their cycling confidence. If you are ready to purchase new two-wheels for your child, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Know the Age Groups and Sizing

Bicycles are grouped by wheel size, which is dictated by the average height a child would be at a specific age:

  • Age 2 to 3 – Wheel size of 10 to 12 inches.
  • Age 3 to 5 – Wheel size of 14 inches.
  • Age 5 to 8 – Wheel size of 16 to 18 inches.
  • Age 7 to 9 – Wheel size of 20 inches.
  • Age 9 to 12 – Wheel size of 24 to 26 inches.

Wheel size is only half of the battle. While you can look at bikes within their age group, some children are smaller or taller than the recommended age. Also, their riding skill will play a role in bike styles and sizes too.

Your Child’s Height Plays a Role

Manufacturers have ages listed with their wheel size, but they expect your child to be at a specific height for that wheelbase. Instead of basing your child’s height off the total height, it is recommended you base it off his or her inseam. The inseam is more accurate for determining if they can reach the pedals and control that wheelbase.

  • Age 2 to 3 – Inseam should be 35 to 42 centimeters with wheelbase at 12 inches.
  • Age 3 to 4 – Inseam should be 40 to 50 centimeters and recommended wheelbase at 14 inches.
  • Age 4 to 5 – Inseam should be 45 to 55 centimeters and recommended wheelbase at 16 inches.
  • Age 5 to 8 – Inseam should be 55 to 63 centimeters with a wheelbase of 20 inches.
  • Age 8 to 11 – Inseam should be 60 to 72 centimeters with a wheelbase of 24 inches.
  • Age 11 and Older – Inseam should be 70 or more centimeters, and wheelbase can be 26 inches.

Height Charts Do Not Erase Test Rides

Even if your child’s height indicates a specific wheelbase, have them test ride that size bike and make sure they can handle it. There are other factors aside from height that may determine the proper size bike.

Riding Ability and the Right Size

There are different styles of bikes based on riding abilities. You can use the recommended wheelbase and then the style of bike to help pick something suitable for your child.

Balance Bikes

These are recommended for 2 to 5 years and teach children how to keep balance while coordinating their steering. Once they master the balance bike, which has no pedals, they can move on to the pedal version.

Training Wheels

These are ideal for children over the age of 4 who have enough strength to pedal but still lack the balance necessary to ride a bike.

Road Bikes

Road bikes offer an aerodynamic riding position and are ideal for riding to school or around the neighborhood. They have flat bars and upright riding positions.


Cruiser bikes have flashy colors and use single speed systems with gear-coasting brake systems. They are ideal for short rides or mellow bike riding excursions but not long distances.

BMX Bikes

BMX bikes are for around town, to school, and even for tricks. They are more advanced and typically use lightweight frames with single speeds.

Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are meant for rugged terrain, have multiple speeds, and typically use handlebar brakes.

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