How to choose the best size bicycle for your child

Whether your child is ready for their first bicycle or a larger sized-bicycle, this guide will assist you in making the right choice.

Finding the correct bicycle size for your child is critical. A badly fitted bicycle can cause pain when riding, making cycling a miserable experience for any child.

While wheel size is how bicycle manufacturers categorise children’s bicycle sizes, it is not the sole criteria. A child’s age is also not a reliable predictor of size.

So, how should a child’s bicycle size be determined? Finding the right size bicycle for your child is quick and easy with our simple tips.

Let your child test several bicycle brands

The best indicator of which size is appropriate for your child is how at ease they are riding the bike. It’s always better to have your child try several bicycles to get the greatest fit. Let them sit on the seat, grasp the handlebars, test the brakes, and ride the bicycle to ensure that it fits. A knowledgeable bicycle sales employee at your local bicycle shop may provide you with personalised fit advice.

What size bicycle should my child have?

When shopping for children’s bicycles, keep in mind that, unlike adult bicycles, they are measured by the size of the wheel rather than the frame. The most typical children’s bicycles have 12″ wheels and go up to 24″ wheels. Following that, older children can select among adult-sized bicycles, which begin with 26″ wheels.

However, wheel size is only one factor to consider while shopping for a children’s bicycle.

When your child is testing a new bicycle, keep the following three things in mind:

  1. Your child should be able to straddle the bicycle with their feet flat on the floor so their crotch does not rest on the top tube. This is for their comfort as well as your safety.
  2. Can they get their hands on the handlebars? Your child should be able to hold the handlebars comfortably without completely extending their arms. The elbows should be bent slightly. They should also be able to effortlessly steer and squeeze the hand brakes.
  3. Seating depth: The majority of children’s bicycles are built to ride in a more upright position. They should be able to sit comfortably and clearly view their surroundings. At the bottom of the pedal stroke, their legs should be slightly bent.

Quick age guide

  • Bicycles with 12-inch and 14-inch wheels: Suitable for children aged two to four years old
  • Bicycles with 16-inch-wheels: Suitable for children aged five to eight years old
  • Bicycles with 20-inch wheels: Suitable for children aged six to 10 years old
  • Bicycles with 20-plus-inch wheels: Suitable for children over the age of 10 years old

A word on mountain bicycles

Mountain bicycles for children often have larger, knobblier tyres and may have front shocks, which are meant to ease the impact of rocky terrain by compressing and rebounding and can aid in overall stability. They’re ideal for children who want to cycle trails or harder terrain.

Good to know: When a child is initially learning how to ride a bicycle, the seat should be low enough for them to contact the ground with both feet to stop and catch themselves if they fall. As they improve, you’ll want them to be more on their tiptoes so they can bike more effectively while still being kind on their knees.


I'm an experienced writer, sub-editor, and media & public relations specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the media industry – across digital, print, TV, and radio. I earned a diploma in Journalism and Print Media from leading institution, Damelin College, with distinctions (Journalism And Print Media, Media Studies, Technical English And Communications, South African Studies, African & International Studies, Technology in Journalism, Journalism II & Practical Journalism). I also hold a qualification in Investigative Journalism from Print Media SA, First Aid Training from St John’s Ambulance, as well as certificates in Learning to Write Marketing Copy, Planning a Career in User Experience, and Writing a Compelling Blog Post.
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