Kids’ bike buying guide

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Time to get your child their first bike?

We all love to ride our bikes and experience the buzz of being on two wheels; if you have kids why not share your love of cycling and get them involved?

Kids love bikes, it’s as simple as that. A bicycle and a child’s imagination is a potent mix of adventure, fun and boundless energy. The bicycle has always been the preferred mode of transportation for kids; it fuels their imagination and allows them to roam, discover and appreciate their environment. Bikes are also an important social tool for kids; no childhood memory could be complete without fondly recalling how you rode around with your friends and experienced the local landscape on your bikes.

We have created this guide to help you choose the best bike for your child. We’ll explain how kids’ bikes are sized by age, wheel size and height. We also talk about safety and how kids bikes are designed to offer the safest platform possible for learning.


What size bike do you need for your child?

Unlike adult bikes which are determined by frame height; kids’ bike sizes are based on wheel diameter and range from 12 -24 inches.  The age categories in our size chart below overlap to reflect the ever changing height and strength differences in children as they grow.

kid-size


Suitable for 2-5 years of age: Balance bikes

Why are they good?

Wiggle’s balance bikes come with 12 inch wheels and provide a great platform for your child to learn to ride a bike in a fun and safe way. As the bike comes without pedals it is propelled and stopped by your child’s feet.  Riding a balance bike will teach your child the core fundamentals of balance, coordination and steering control. Balance bikes also help your child skip the stabiliser stage when they move to a larger bike. Stabiliser wheels can set your child back if they have already learned to ride a balance bike;  a bike equipped with stabiliser wheels does not require your child to actively balance.

Bike safety

  • Balance bikes have been designed to function without without pedals, chains and cassettes.
  • The lack of moving drivetrain components means that there is minimal chance of your child being tangled up in the bike or hurt by sharp objects.
Balance bike ...Early Rider

12 inch wheel balance bike


Suitable for 4-8 years of age: 16 inch wheel bikes

Why are they good?

This age category sees your child transitioning from a balance ‘play’ bike to a bike with 16 inch wheels, pedals, brakes and a single speed drivetrain. One of the key design factors for this age range is ensuring that the bike is both durable and lightweight; it needs to withstand the youthful exuberance of 4-8 year olds.

BMX bikes

These bikes mainly come with high tensile steel frames, caliper brakes, chain retention discs and a single speed drivetrain. Some models come with stabilisers attached to the rear dropout of the bike to aid balance.

Mountain bikes

These bikes mostly come with aluminium and steel frames.  V-brakes and a single speed drivetrains are standard on 16 inch wheel mountain bikes. Some higher-end models use disc brakes to ensure your child can benefit from maximum stopping power. Chain retention discs are standard for this type of bike as it will minimise any chance of the chain dropping. Some mountain bikes with 16 inch wheels will come with stabilisers attached to the rear dropout of the bike to aid balance.

Bike safety

  • 16 inch wheel bikes come with riser bars and sturdy grips for control and comfort.
  • Speed control is managed by caliper or V-brakes and their progressive braking action will ensure that your child is not startled by sudden jolts when activating the brakes.
  • They come with flat grippy pedals to ensure that your child is well supported and centered over the bottom bracket.
  • They are designed with a low standover height; this means that in the event of a crash or a dismount there is less chance of your child being tangled up in the bike.
16 inch wheel bike ... Wiggle

16 inch wheel bike


Suitable for 7-10 years of age: 20 inch wheel bikes

Why are they good?

20 inch wheel bikes signify a coming of age for your child; they are now taking their first tentative steps into the world of serious bikes! Geared drivetrains, stronger frames,  stiffer wheels,  knobby tyres and suspension forks now make an appearance.

Junior 20 inch wheel BMX bikes

These bikes mainly come with steel or aluminium frames, caliper brakes, and a single speed drivetrain. The frame geometry is tailor made for jumps, tricks and super quick handling. The complete bikes are light, strong and durable and ripe for the demands that will be placed upon it by eager junior BMX riders.

Junior Mountain bikes

20 inch wheel mountain bikes are ideal for all terrain adventures; they are robust, lightweight and have a wide range of gears to ensure your child is riding comfortably and safely at all times. Suspension forks coupled with stronger and stiffer wheels provide excellent traction and provide a stable platform for faster more aggressive riding.

Bike safety

  • 20 inch wheel mountain bikes come with front suspension for control, stability and comfort.
  • Speed control is managed by caliper or V-brakes and their progressive braking action will ensure that your child is not startled by sudden jolts when activating the brakes.
  • Flat pedals on junior bikes come with a larger profile to accommodate a larger shoe size. This provides more stability and support.
20 inch wheel kids' bike ... Felt

20 inch wheel bike


Suitable for 9 years and up: 24 inch wheel bikes

Why are they good?

24 inch wheel bikes offer all the benefits of full sized bikes in terms of frame design, transmission and braking. The only difference between them and adult sized bikes is that the frame geometry has been optimized around a 24 inch wheel.

24 inch wheel road bikes

Kids road bike frames are mostly aluminium in construction are usually fitted with an 8 or 9 speed cassette on the rear wheel. Compact chainsets are standard and come with varying crank lengths to suit your child.  Alloy wheels and hubs are standard on kids’ road bikes . Special kids’ size handlebars and short-reach integrated shifters/brake levers also make an appearance on 24 inch wheel bikes.

24 inch wheel mountain bikes

24 inch wheel mountain bikes mostly come with hardtail aluminium frames and are usually fitted with a 6 or 7 speed cassette on the rear wheel. Triple chainsets provide your child with a wide range of gears to tackle both inclines and descents. Front suspension forks are common and provide 50-70mm of front suspension travel. Alloy wheels and hubs with quick release are standard.

24 inch wheel kids' bike... Felt

24 inch wheel bike