Choosing the right bike for your child

As keen cyclists, as well as experienced cycling injury lawyers, our team at Carry on Cycling are invested in ensuring the safety of a new generation of cyclists. We know that many parents are keen to get their children started on bikes, but even those who cycle every day don’t always know where to start in choosing their child’s bike. Hopefully our brief guide to choosing the right bike for your child will help.

bike 1The early years

From the age of about two, it is a good idea to get your child started on either a balance bike or a tricycle. There are advantages to both, and it depends on you and your child which you think is best. You can buy both, of course, but be wary of spending too much at this age on a toy that they will outgrow quickly.
A tricycle will teach them about pedalling, braking with their feet, and steering; a balance bike will – unsurprisingly – teach them how to balance in the saddle, as well as steering and braking. With both options you can buy bikes with fixable steering, which is great for some children who can’t manage to coordinate both hands and feet at first.

bike2The next stage

From about four or five years old, your child will probably be ready to try out a bicycle. Many parents opt to put stabilisers on the bike in the beginning, and whilst there is a small group of purists who believe that this can delay the child’s ability to learn to ride ‘properly,’ there is nothing wrong with providing that extra security that your child needs to get cycling.

Sizing

bike 3There are two rules to really keep in mind when buying your child’s first bike:

  • Try before you buy.
  • Buy the right sized bike.

It sounds relatively simple, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised how many people want to either surprise their child, thus buying the wrong sized bike by accident, or have their child try out the sizing, then buy the next size up so they can “grow into it.”
Buying an oversized bike is dangerous. Children’s bikes are usually sized by wheel diameter – as opposed to seat height and frame size, like adult bikes – and the larger the wheel size, the greater the distance between the saddle and handlebars. When his distance is too great for your child, they are forced to stretch, especially when turning the bike, which can lead to a loss of control.

When choosing your child’s bike:

  • Get them to sit on the seat with their hands on the handlebar – the balls of their feet should be on the ground.
  • Get them to stand up, their feet flat on the ground – there should be approximately one inch between their groin and the crossbar.
  • Ensure that they can comfortably reach and grasp the brakes with sufficient pressure to stop the bike.

Aside from choosing the right sized, and appropriate bike for your child, the best thing that you can do is to ensure that they are safety conscious at all times.