When I found biking, I wanted my whole family to get as excited about it as I was. But when I started looking for a bike for my daughter, I had no idea how to measure it.
If you pick the size by age, you might get a bike that’s too big or small for them. Height can vary a lot within the same age group, and you don’t want your kid’s legs dangling from the saddle because it’s too big.
Instead, you need to measure your child to make sure they have the perfect sized bike and stay safe.
It may take a bit more work, but knowing how to measure a kids bike lets you get the most out of your investment.
These are the basic steps to measure a kids’ bike:
- Measure your child.
- Compare to a size chart.
- Find the standover height.
- Look for the seatpost height.
- Check the distance to the handlebars.
Sounds simple, right? It’s slightly more in-depth than that…
Detailed Steps on to Measure a Kids Bike
1. Measure Your Child
Find a large book and a pencil and find an even surface next to a wall, preferably without a carpet, so their feet don’t sink in it.
Have your child stand with their back against the wall, and place the book on their head. Make sure their feet aren’t curled up and their legs are straight, and that the book is horizontal.
Mark their height on the wall and measure it. This will give you a general idea of what bike wheel diameter to go for.
Next, place the book between their legs and make a mark on the wall at the top. This is their inseam height, which you’ll compare to the seat post and standover height.
2. Compare to a Size Chart
Kids’ bike measurements, like adult ones, are measured in wheel sizes. They usually start at 10 inches and go all the way to 24 inches, which is nearly an adult-sized bike.
You can get a general idea of your little one’s bike size from their age and height. Height is the better indication of the right size than age, so always measure your kid before buying.
If you don’t have a size chart handy, the inseam length gives you a rough idea of the ideal wheel diameter. The most important thing is to make sure the wheel size is at least about 2 inches smaller than their inseam length.
Also, remember to compare the inseam to the standover and seatpost height before you buy a bike.
Kids’ Bike Size Chart
Here’s an approximate size chart to compare your child’s measurements. Remember that measurements may vary, so try to find a specific one for the manufacturer you’re buying from to be sure.
|Bike size wheel diameter (inches)||Kid’s height||Approximate age (years)|
|10||2’9” to 3’1”||2 to 3|
|12||3’1” to 3’3”||2 to 3|
|14||3’3” to 3’7”||3 to 4|
|16||3’7” to 3’10”||4 to 5|
|18||3’8” to 4’2”||5 to 6|
|20||4’0” to 4’5”||5 to 8|
|24||4’5” to 4’9”||7 to 11|
At about 5 feet tall, your child will likely be able to use an adult-sized bike of 26 inches.
3. Find the Standover Height
The standover height is the height of the higher tube on the bike’s frame. It should be low enough so that your child can stand over the bike with both feet on the ground.
If you’re ordering your child a bike online, you should find this and other necessary measurements on the product information or the manufacturer’s website.
To know the maximum standover height for your child, compare their inseam measurement to the information on the manufacturer’s website. Ideally, the standover height should be at least an inch less than your child’s inseam measurement.
4. Look for the Seatpost Height
The seatpost height is the minimum height where you can adjust the bike’s seat. What the ideal measurement should be depends on the type of bike you’re buying:
A balance bike needs to have a minimum seatpost height that’s low enough for the kid to push themself around.
They should touch the ground comfortably and even keep their knees a bit bent. Make sure the minimum seatpost height is less than your kid’s inseam measurement.
Bikes With Pedals
On a bike for big kids, the seatpost should be high enough for the balls of their feet to barely touch the ground. This will give them enough room to pedal with comfort so that their legs are close to fully extended on the pedal.
5. Check the Distance to the Handlebars
If the bike is the right size for your child, they’ll be able to hold the handlebars with both hands and press the brakes with comfort.
This measurement isn’t easy to get right without trying it out because many manufacturers don’t include it on the product information. You’ll have to order and try the bike to know for sure if it’s the right fit.
Should I Buy a Bike My Child Will Grow Into?
No, you shouldn’t buy a bike that’s too big for your child. While it’s a good idea to size up in kid’s clothing, bikes aren’t the same.
If the child can’t reach the ground, the pedals or handlebars comfortably, they’ll have less control of the bike. This can get dangerous, especially since children don’t yet have fully developed reflexes and don’t evaluate risks in traffic as well as adults do.
Always make sure your little one is riding a bike that’s right for their size.
What To Look for in a Kid’s Bike
For your kid’s first bike, you have a few things to consider along with sizing.
Balance bikes are basically small bikes without pedals that kids move around by pushing with their feet. They’re a good option for toddlers to learn how to steer and steady themselves. This will make it easier for them to eventually learn how to ride a bike without help.
The great thing about balance bikes is that you can buy one for your child when they’re around 18 months old—as soon as they can walk well and aren’t afraid of it.
As far as sizing goes, their feet should comfortably reach the ground when they’re on the bike so they can scoot around.
Training wheels are usually the next step for kids who aren’t ready to ride a bike yet.
You can buy your child a bike with training wheels as soon as they’ve developed enough coordination to handle pedaling, braking and steering.
Many parents opt for these at around 3 to 4 years old.
The Right Accessories
Your child will benefit from having some accessories on their bike for their safety and comfort.
Fenders and a chain guard help keep their clothes cleaner, while a bottle holder will help keep them hydrated.
Also, if your child is old enough to take longer rides on their own, make sure they know how to use a bike pump and their bell. Also, don’t forget that all-important helmet for safety.
Your Kid’s Taste
If you want your child to get excited about cycling, the most important thing is that they have a bike they’ll like.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Balance Bikes Better Than Training Wheels?
Some consider balance bikes better than training wheels because they teach children to steer by leaning, like they would on a regular bike. With training wheels, you lean to the opposite side to keep balance, which can teach kids the wrong techniques. Still, training wheels help teach pedaling and coordination.
What Age Is Best for a Balance Bike?
Balance bikes are best for kids from about 2 to 4 years old. After that, your child will likely be ready to transition to a big kid’s bike.
What Age Should a Child Get a Bike?
You can get your child a bike as early as 18 months old. Some kids start at this age with a balance bike, others a couple of years later with training wheels. Most kids will have the necessary motor skills to ride a bike by about age 5 or 6.
Knowing how to measure a kids’ bike comes down to comparing their height to the bike size charts. You’ll also need to measure their inseam length and compare it to the standover and seatpost height. This will make sure their feet will comfortably touch the ground.
On a balance bike, the seatpost needs to be low enough so that your child’s legs are slightly bent. On big kid bikes, they should sit higher so that they have room to pedal. If the balls of their feet touch the ground, it should be high enough.
Remember to ensure they can reach the handlebars, steer and brake. It’s always safer to have a bike that fits perfectly than one that’s slightly too big.