What Size Bike & Helmet Should I Get For My Kid?

kids bike size chart

I found the perfect Spiderman bike for my son. “It looks like just his size,” I thought as I proudly ordered the bike online. It has been over a year and my son has barely rode his bike. “What an odd-ball,” I thought. “What kind of kid doesn’t like a Spiderman bike.” Well it turns out, I failed to select the right-size bike. Kids’ bikes are measured using the outside diameter of the tire, unlike adult bike measurements which refer to frame size. I was completely clueless about bike size; I just choose a little bike for a little person.

Follow the measurement chart to select the right-sized bike for your child. Keep in mind, your child’s height is more important than their age when it comes to selecting a bike.

Kids’ Bike Size Chart:

Age Height Tire Diameter
 2-5  26-34 inches  12 inches
 4-8  34-42 inches  16 inches
 6-9  42-48 inches  18 inches
 8-12  48-56 inches  20 inches
 Youth  56-62 inches  24 inches

If you are bringing your child along for the ride, or the bike selection, have him sit on the bike with his hands on the handlebar. The balls of both fit should touch the ground when sitting. Then have him straddle the center bar while standing. There should be a 1-inch clearance between the center bar and crotch area when standing.

It is tempting to purchase a bigger bike considering how fast children grow, but bigger bikes are often hazardous for younger children. Before the age of 11, parents should expect a bike to last their child about two years. To avoid purchasing new bikes every two years, check out garage sales and classified sites to find local deals on bikes. Also sites like eBay and Amazon have great deals on kids bikes, especially after Thanksgiving.

Fitting a Bike Helmet for a Child:

how to pick a bike helmet for kids

In addition to finding the right size, you should invest in a helmet, knee, and arm pads for safety. All three may seem a little overzealous, and truly my son looked like a whacked-out superhero with all his gear on, but the pads will prevent all those bumps and bruises. There is no federal law mandating bicycle helmet use, but a helmet is a must in most states. In California, bike riders under 18 must wear a helmet. Find your state’s helmet laws here: helmets.org

When selecting a helmet choose one that meets safety standards; look for the CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) or Snell stick inside the helmet.

A bike helmet must also fit properly. A helmet that is too big (like the one on my son), won’t protect your child’s head. Make sure the helmet rests low on her forehead; the helmet should be 1-2 finger widths above the eye brow. A helmet higher than that will not protect your child’s face. The straps of the helmet should be even over the ears, and form a “Y” under each earlobe and lay flat against the head. The chin strap should be loose enough for her to breath, and for 1 finger to fit in between the buckle and the chin.

Helmets come with additional fit pads for a proper fit. Insert the pads where there is space at the front, back or sides of the helmet. You can replace thick pads with thinner ones as your child grows.

Helmets can be pricey. You can find a good deal buying helmets second-hand, or at closeout stores such as Ross or Marshall’s.

Brandy - The Mother

Hi, I am Brandy and I am "the mother." I enjoy being a mother, friend, and playmate to my son.

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1 Response

  1. December 1, 2014

    […] I got my son a bike last year but I think the bike is too small for him now. It has a 12″ wheel-size, and he really needs an 18″ wheel size at 5. I also am attempted to replace the scooter he got last year. I bought him a cheap scooter with plastic wheels; plastic wheels don’t operate well over bumpy terrain and they just make for a cheap toy. If you buy a bike or a scooter, make sure it is the right-size, has rubber wheels, and grab a helmet. […]

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