Getting your kid on the road with their first bike
The best way to find the bike that is the perfect fit for your child, is to take them to the store and get them to try out a number of bikes in person.
Doing this allows them to get a feel for the seat, feel what the handlebars feel like, check the brakes and most importantly – take the bike for a spin! Any bike shop assistant worth their salt will be able to give you the best suggestions for a personalised bike-fitting session.
The other option, although a bit more challenging, is to find a kids bike for your child online. This makes it much more difficult to check and compare according to their personal measurements, though.
It’s all about balance
Balance bikes – small pedal-less bikes that steer like real bikes – have taken the market by storm by changing how your child learns to ride. By simply removing the action of pedalling, it teaches a child how to cope with two wheels, and how to steer it. Best of all, it makes this learning fun!
The wheels keep on rolling
A 12” wheel is a safe standard size for most children. Bikes with 12”, 14” and 16” wheels generally have only single gears, freeing up the child to learn about brakes, balance, and handlebars while providing low ground clearance, which takes the sting out of falls from that height!
The bike’s wheelbase refers to how far apart the wheels are. A short wheelbase doesn’t allow for much weight distribution, which could lead to a loss of balance and falling, while a longer wheelbase evenly distributes the child’s weight, giving far better steadiness.
If you are shopping for a bike for your child, consider these factors:
- How tall your child is, and how long their legs are.The distance between the top bar of the bike and the floor is known as the stand-over distance, and is a great help in ascertaining the right bike size. The child should be able to stand over the bike without resting on the top bar, in which case the bike would be considered too big.
- Whether they can reach the handlebars.Your child should be able to grip the handlebars without extending their arms all the way. Ideally, you want a small amount of give in the elbow area. Easy steering and operation of the hand brakes is the ideal scenario.
- How high the seat is.Children’s bikes are designed so that children can sit and ride in an upright position. This is one of the best features of kids’ bikes as it is the most comfortable setup for their backs, and allows them to clearly see their environment. At the ideal seat height, the leg should still be slightly bent, even at its furthest extension.
Don’t let the variety of frames, wheel sizes, structure and body parts put you off your search.
Remember, there is no such thing as the perfect bike, but if you do your homework, and match your findings with what’s best for your child, it is easy to find the perfect bike for them.