How to Measure the Correct Bike Size for Kids - OutdoorToys

Do you have a little Bradley Wiggins or Lauren Bell zooming around your back garden? That’s great news. If you're thinking of upgrading their ride, then it pays to make sure they have the right size bike.

Well, luckily, you're in the right place.

Welcome to the Outdoor Toys ultimate guide on how to measure the correct bike size for your little adventurers! Choosing the right bike size for kids is not only crucial for their safety but also for their enjoyment and development as riders.

So let's dive into the world of kids' bike sizing and ensure your child rides off into the sunset with the perfect fit!

Importance of choosing the right bike size for kids

Whether they're tearing up the trails on a mountain bike or cruising the neighbourhood on a road bike, ensuring a proper fit is paramount. Essential for their comfort and safety, a bike that's too big or too small can lead to discomfort, loss of control, and even accidents.

So, keep the waterworks at bay by staying one step ahead of the game by learning how to measure bike size for kids.

a child riding a blue bike in a park surrounded by leaves

Benefits of a properly sized kids' bike

From safety and control to confidence and skill development, choosing the right bike size for your child sets them up for a lifetime of healthy, happy cycling adventures.

Some notable benefits include

  • Enhanced safety: A properly sized bike provides better control, allowing your little ones to react quickly to changes in landscape or unexpected situations. 
  • Improved confidence: A bike that fits correctly promotes proper posture and reduces discomfort during longer rides. This comfort translates into confidence, empowering your child to explore new routes and challenges without hesitation.
  • Developing riding skills: Riding a bike isn't just about pedalling from point A to point B. It's about mastering balance, coordination, and spatial awareness. A bike that fits properly allows your child to focus on honing these skills, whether they're learning to ride for the first time or tackling more advanced techniques like cornering and braking.
  • Reduced risk of injury: Ill-fitting bikes can lead to a range of issues, from muscle strain to joint pain. A bike that's too large may force your child to overreach or stretch, putting unnecessary strain on their muscles and joints. In contrast, a bike that's too small can lead to cramped riding positions, increasing the risk of discomfort and fatigue. 

By starting with the right fit, you lay the foundation for a positive relationship with biking, encouraging your child to explore the great outdoors and leading an active lifestyle for years to come.

Factors to consider when measuring a kid's bike

When shopping for a new bike for your little tyke, you'll need to gather the following in order to get an accurate measurement:

Tools needed to measure bike size for kids

As well as a willing participant (aka your excited child), you're going to need the following tools to measure the correct kids bike size:

  • Measuring tape
  • Level surface
  • Pen and paper to jot down measurements

Measuring techniques

Your little one might be raring to go with the promise of a new bike. However, if they're uncomfortable, make sure to have a treat at the ready.

  • Height measurement: Have your child stand with their back against a wall and measure from the floor to the top of their head.
  • Inside leg measurement: Measure from the crotch to the floor while your child is standing barefoot - to get a true idea of length.
  • Arm span: Extend both arms horizontally and measure the distance from fingertip to fingertip.

Once you have these measurements, refer to a kid's bike size chart to match them with the appropriate bike size. Keep in mind the age range and recommended frame size for each category might vary depending on the manufacturer.

As a general rule of thumb, the maximum wheel size for a 41cm (16in) inside leg is 16in; and, for a 60cm (24in) inside leg, the maximum wheel size is 24in.

Top tip: for less confident riders, consider getting them a slightly smaller wheel size while they get used to the feel of a bike. 

Choosing the right size bike

Choosing the right size bike for your child is like finding the perfect pair of shoes – it needs to fit just right for comfort, safety, and optimal performance. Consider factors such as those pesky growth spurts, riding style, and the bike's intended use.

For example, if your kids plan to tear it up in the garden as opposed to competing in a triathlon, you might not want to opt for a bike that's all singing, all dancing, and just one that is comfortable.

Testing the bike for your child

Once you've selected a few bike options based on size, it's time for the ultimate test ride!

Ensure your child feels comfortable and in control while riding, and keep an eye on how they balance themselves onboard the mighty vessel! 

If necessary, adjust the seat height and handlebars for the perfect fit.

Safety considerations

Before heading off into the sunset, make sure your little ones are kitted out with all the necessary safety gear, including a properly fitted helmet, knee and elbow pads.

For that extra peace of mind, make sure to teach them about road safety and proper riding etiquette to guarantee a fun and safe cycling experience.

a child on a red bike

Different types of kids' bikes and bike sizes

Consider their age range and your child's riding ability when looking at kids' bike sizes. Different bikes are designed to accommodate different developmental stages and skill levels. 

Whether your child is just learning to balance on two wheels or gearing up for off-road adventures, there's a bike suited to their needs.

Bikes with training wheels

For younger children who are still mastering the art of balancing, training wheels can provide stability and confidence. Small wheels, also known as stabilisers, attach to the rear axle of a regular bike and provide support while your child learns to pedal and steer.

Balance bikes

Balance bikes are a fantastic introduction to cycling for young children. These bikes have no pedals or training wheels, allowing kids to focus on developing balance and coordination. By propelling themselves forward with their feet, children learn the fundamentals of riding without the additional complexity of pedalling.

These bikes come in a range of sizes to accommodate toddlers through to young kids, typically ranging from 12 inches to 16 inches.

Road bikes

For the aspiring Tour de France contestant, watch them fall in love with cycling with a smooth ascent on a road bike. Designed for speed and efficiency on paved surfaces, road bikes boast narrow tyres, drop handlebars, and a lightweight frame. These bikes are ideal for children with advanced riding skills and a passion for fast cycling.

Mountain bikes

For off-road adventurers who crave excitement and adrenaline, nothing beats the rugged terrain of a mountain bike trail. Mountain bikes are built to easily handle rough trails, steep descents, and challenging obstacles. These bikes are perfect for older children with a need for speed.

Make sure to have an idea what your kid enjoys most when out on their transportive toy, as well as their riding ability and experience, and you've got a recipe for success. 

So, saddle up and strap on your helmet to embark on an adventure-filled journey on two wheels!

Shop a range of bikes at Outdoor Toys

From wheel size to bike fit, we've got you covered every pedal of the way at Outdoor Toys. So you can grab a new set of wheels for your little one and have them fall in love with this cardiovascular workout in no time.

We've also got a range of ride on toys for your little speed demons, from ride on tractors and ride on cars to flashy electric motorbikes and scooters

Not a gearhead? No worries, our store is full of exciting toys to whet the appetite of any mini adrenaline junkie - including metal swing sets, swimming pools and paddling pools, trampolines and playhouses. So your little ones can get creative and enjoy the glorious world of outdoor play!


Why is the right bike size important?

Choosing a bike for your child that fits properly will make riding it more pleasurable and comfortable while minimising the likelihood of injury.

How do you measure a child's bike size?

Unlike adult bikes, which are sized according to frame size and seat height, children's bikes are sized according to wheel diameter. Children's bikes often have wheels that are 12, 16, 20, and 24 inches in diameter. Adult mountain bike wheels, on the other hand, usually start at 26 inches.

Always refer to a kid's bike size chart when measuring for a new bike, as some manufacturers' measures might come up differently.