Children's Bike Buying Guide

Guide to choosing a suitable children's bike

The information below is an overview of the choice in children's bikes as the child develops. Our bike sizing guide has more detailed sizing tables. If you have further questions, please call us on 0330 100 2480 for expert assistance.

Rider Age Suggested Leg
Years Wheel Size Inches
3 - 5 years 12" 13.5 - 16"
4 - 6 years 14" 15 - 17.5"
5 - 8 years 16" 17 - 20.5"
6 - 9 years 18" 19 - 23"
7 - 10 years 20" 21 - 25"
8 - 11 years 24" 23.5 - 27"

Children's bike types and sizes

As soon as children can walk, they will enjoy moving about on a 'scooter'; a 10" wheel bike without pedals, or on a 12" - 14" wheel tricycle (a two-wheeler with training wheels). Tricycles are useful for kids to learn to pedal and steer, but do not affect their sense of balance like a two-wheel bike.

For getting to school or for family outings on the bike, children are more easily carried in a child seat (up to about age 3) or trailer (up to age 4/5), or tag-a-long until they are able to safely ride a two-wheel bike.

From about four or five years of age, kids can be ready to learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle. It is important they have both the confidence and motivation and some kids may be a lot older before they reach this stage. Around this age, 14-16" wheel bikes offer a range of styles to choose from and it's much a matter of choice which bike is preferred.

Younger children may find hand brakes harder to master than back-pedal breaks until their hands are strong enough, usually around about five.

Parents, friends and the school can play a big part in creating an interest and readiness to learn to ride a bike. Here are useful tips on how to teach children to cycle or you can visit Sustrans for information about cycling to school projects.

The 18-20" wheel cycles are for age ranges 6–10, some models have multiple gear and hand brakes. If you know what type of riding your child would like to go for, you can choose the bike to suit. If they want to go off road cycling as well as on roads and paved trails, then Mountain bikes are suitable while BMX-style bikes are great for dirt jumping, off-road racing and doing tricks.

Junior bikes – 24" wheel – are suitable for 8–11 year olds and have most of the features of adult bikes for example you have a choice of hardtail or full suspension 24” bikes.

Once you are into 26"+ wheel or 'adult' bicycles then sizes are determined by frame Size.

Other things to look our for when buying a child's bicycle

Getting the right size is the first step: the bike should fit the child. Bikes for children are sized by their wheels: 12", 16", 20" and 24". There are also few 18" kids bikes.

The child should be able to dismount and comfortably straddle the bike with their feet flat on the ground. To get back on the bike, by leaning the bike slightly, they should get their bottom back onto the seat ready to pedal off. Their posture should allow them to easily turn the handlebars without stretching and cycle without their knees touching the handlebars.

Buying a bike for a child to 'grow in to'

We strongly recommend against buying a bike that's is too big for your child. They will end up riding a bike that's is too big for them to control, which can be very dangerous.

Price differences in kids bikes are often due to the materials used, cheaper bikes may contain more steel creating a heavier bike than (more expensive) bikes made with alloys.

All bikes sold in the UK are made to British Standards specifications, and therefore will conform to their safety specifications.

It is important to have bikes serviced to ensure chains and wires remain tight and moving parts are correctly lubricated. Depending on usage, we recommend a basic service every 6 months. You can take your bike to a local bike shop to have this done.

We always recommend wearing a cycling helmet when on a bike. We have a wide range of children's helmets in fun colours available for children to choose from.