Skip to main content

NewFolks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The ultimate guide to choosing your kid’s bike size for optimal safety

Is it time for new bikes for your kids? With the warmer weather upon us many parents are realizing that last year’s bikes may be too small for their children — if they have last year’s bikes! Thanks to the health pandemic, children’s bikes were almost as hard to come by as toilet paper at one time! Fortunately, the stores seem to have more of a selection now, but you’ll still want to ensure that you have the correct size bike for your child.

Whether your child wants a mountain bike, a bike with gears, or just a cruiser, making sure you have the right size bike is important for the safety of your child and for overall enjoyment. No matter where you buy your bike, here are some important guidelines to follow when finding the correct size bike for your child.

Steve Prezant/Getty Images

How do you measure a child for a bike?

Although you may see some generalized charts for which size bike you should get based on your child’s age, those really aren’t dependable because your child may be shorter than average or taller, or have longer or shorter legs. Also, as Guardian Bikes points out, every brand can be different so it can be difficult to judge which brand’s size chart to follow. There are, however, a few ways you can measure your child for a bike. Guardian Bikes suggests measuring your child’s bike inseam, which is the length from the floor to the top of their crotch area (they suggest having your child stand against a wall with a book between their legs and measure to the top of the book to get this measurement.) You then determine how far you want your child’s feet off the ground when biking (new bikers may want to keep their feet on the ground while those more experienced will want theirs 2 to 3 inches off the ground.) Add those two measurements together and you have the minimum seat height you should be looking for when buying a bike.

Black Mountain Bikes suggests another method when measuring your child. They say measuring your child’s height while standing against a wall in bare feet is the most accurate and consistent way to get the proper sizing for a bike. Once you have that measurement, they provide an online tool to help you determine which size bike you’ll need.

Two Wheeling Tots, however, echoes that measuring a child’s inseam is the best way to make sure you’re getting the correct size. First, they suggest measuring the child’s inseam, then finding the wheel sizes that fit these measurements. If there’s more than one wheel size that works, they say to choose the larger one as you will have more stability. Again the rider’s ability will determine whether there’s a need to keep feet flat on the ground or if a bit of distance is okay.

Schwinn gives parents a generalized size guide, listing which size bike typically correlates to each age group and height.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

What are the kids’ bike sizes?

Unlike adult bikes, which are sized based on the frame, children’s bike sizes are based on the diameter of the wheel, and as the wheel gets larger so too does the bike frame. Wheel sizes for kids’ bikes are 12 inches, 14 inches, 16 inches, 18 inches, 20 inches, 24 inches. While wheel sizes are standard the size of the frame will vary depending on the style of bike and manufacturer.

Is a 20-inch bike good for a 7-year-old?

If you’re a grandparent or family member trying to buy a bike as a gift, or you simply want to surprise your child with a new bike, you may wonder if using a size guide such as the one Schwinn has listed on their website is a good guideline. If your child is of average height listed in the size charts for that brand, something like a 20-inch bike may be a good fit for a 7-year-old. However, if that child is taller or shorter, or has long legs, you may want to make sure that the store you buy the bike from will take returns or at least exchanges.

Try before you buy

Measuring your child is important in determining the proper size bike for your child, but nothing beats letting your kid actually ‘try it on’ for size. “To get the right fit, it’s always best to have the child try several bikes out in person,” writes sporting good store REI. “That way they can sit on the seat, grip the handlebars, test the brakes and take the bike for a spin to make sure it fits and they can pedal comfortably.” And, while it can be incredibly tempting to buy a bike a bit larger so your kid won’t grow out of it in a year, that’s not the safest option. Buying the correct size will not only make your child’s biking experience safer but also more enjoyable.

Riding a bike is so much fun because it gets kids outside, getting exercise, and practicing a bit of independence. It’s all the more enjoyable with a correctly sized bike, so make sure you check out these tips to measure your child before heading out to the bike store.

Editors' Recommendations

Kelli Catana
Kelli is a freelance writer who has covered the world of entertainment, pop culture, parenting, and lifestyle for various…
A simple guide for talking with your grade schooler about LGBTQ+ identity
LGBTQ+ identity could be a tough subject. Here's how to talk to your kids about it
Rainbow flag for Pride Month

Pride Month is celebrated in June. The month coincides with the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan in 1969, which is considered to be the catalyst for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Today, times are much different from the '60s and even the 1980s and 1990s when LGBTQ+ identity wasn't a topic of conversation. Many parents may struggle with the thought of talking to their kids about LGBTQ+ identity, and that's okay. The first step is understanding the need, and the second is discovering how to talk to kids about LGBTQ+ identity.

What does LGBTQ+ identity mean?
Before understanding how to talk to kids about LGBTQ+ identity, it's a good idea to understand what the acronym means. In the later 80s, LGB or lesbian-gay-bisexual took the place of the blanket term gay. In order to be more inclusive, the acronym was expanded in the 90s to LGBT or lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender.

Read more
Considerations for mountain bike rides with kids – read this before you hit the trails
Be prepared for your next adventure with your kids out on the mountain biking trails
Family outside biking together

Once the weather starts turning to warmer, longer days, you may consider finding more outdoor activities to do with your kids. Mountain biking can be a great way to get your kids outside, enjoy nature, and get some physical activity.

However, expectations of a glorious day with your kids on the trails can turn miserable if you're unprepared. Biking with kids is a different animal, and a few poor experiences can sully their perception. Before you and the kids strap on your helmets, throw your leg over your bike, and head out, ensure you’re heading into the best possible experience.
Mountain biking trails have ratings
Unless your child has been mountain biking for a while, green trails are usually the best option. Mountain biking adopted the same trail rating system as skiing — green circle: beginner, blue square: intermediate, black diamond: expert. But, it's important to remember that not all green trails are the same, especially from city to city and state to state. Trail ratings are relative, and they are usually reflective of other trails in the area.

Read more
Bring imagination back into your kid’s playroom with these ingenious DIY ideas
These DIY kid's playroom ideas are super easy to achieve and great for boosting imagination
Montessori shelf playroom

The kid’s playroom should be a space not just for fun and letting off some of a child’s youthful energy, but also an educational hub that encourages imagination. As you curate a space for your child to play and grow, you’ll want to include unique activities to help them express themselves. So, we’re giving you some incredible DIY playroom ideas that not only make the space look nice but add more room for imaginative play and learning.

Add a chalkboard wall
A chalkboard wall is a classic playroom addition, functioning as both a teaching opportunity and an art station. Not to mention; it also curbs that desire to draw on the walls!

Read more