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Bicycle Sizes for Kids

| By Carri Ward
Bicycle Sizes for Kids
Do not forget a helmet. Photo Credit child on bike image by cat from Fotolia.com

Bicycles for kids are sized differently than for adults. Adult bike sizes are determined by seat height and frame size. Children's bike sizes, on the other hand, are determined solely by the diameter of the wheel. Consider a few factors when purchasing a child's bicycle. The child should be able to get off the bike easily and straddle the bar with both feet flat on the ground. Not only should the child be able to get off the bike easily, but onto the bike as well. Leaning the bicycle slightly should allow the child to sit on the seat and to pedal off. The less expensive bikes will be heavier due to the material used in the frame. A reputable local bike shop will be able to assist in the purchase of a bike offering information on safety and fit.

12-inch Wheel Diameter

Bicycle Sizes for Kids
Training wheels help with balance. Photo Credit little boy learning to ride bicycle image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com

A bike with a 12-inch wheel diameter fits ages 2 to 4. Measure the child's inseam (from the top of the inside thigh to the ground) to see if it fits the recommended inseam of 14 to 17 inches. Most bikes in this category come with training wheels.

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14-inch Wheel Diameter

A bike with a 14-inch wheel diameter fits ages 4 to 6 with an inseam recommendation of 16 to 20 inches. Note that this size is not readily available and difficult to find.

16-inch Wheel Diameter

Bicycle Sizes for Kids
Children do not have the strength to use hand brakes until at least age 5. Photo Credit four year old image by Empath from Fotolia.com

A bike with a 16-inch wheel diameter fits children ages 5 to 8 years old. The recommended inseam for this size is 18 to 22 inches. Rear coaster brakes are typical on this size of bike; however some will have front hand brakes.

18-inch Wheel Diameter

A bike with an 18-inch wheel diameter fits children between the ages of 6 and 8 who have an inseam of 20 to 24 inches. This bike size is not readily available.

20-inch Wheel Diameter

Bicycle Sizes for Kids
Children need to practice using the gears with their first gear bike. Photo Credit Seat Stay image by Brian Minsky from Fotolia.com

A bike with a 20-inch wheel diameter fits children ages 7 to 10 years old. The recommended inseam for this bike size is 22 to 25 inches. Some of the bikes this size have gears and hand brakes.

24-inch Wheel Diameter

A bike with a 24-inch wheel diameter is appropriate for ages 9 and up. The inseam recommendation for this size is 24 to 28 inches. At 24 inches, these bikes can sport most of the same features found on an adult bicycle.

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author image Carri Ward
Carri Ward has been working in the health and fitness industry since 1997. She graduated from the University of Utah in exercise and sport science and holds an NSCA-CSCS certification. She has 10 years' experience as a personal trainer. She is the founder and president of a youth-serving nonprofit organization.
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