A common concern when purchasing a new bike for a child is selecting one that is the appropriate size. After all, if the bike is too small it will not be comfortable for the child to ride it and if it is too big there is a danger that they will not be able to control it properly. Ideally you will want to take your child along when you go shopping for a new bike and let them sit in the saddle to determine if they are comfortable.
Unfortunately, this is not always feasible if you purchase the bike online or want to surprise the child with it for their birthday or other special occasion. Since balance bikes come in all shapes and sizes, as do kids, there is no magical one size fits all solution to the problem. There are however ways to determine more or less what size balance bike your child needs in order to ride safely and comfortably.
Measure The Child’s Inseam
The most common way to determine what size balance bike would be appropriate for your child is to measure their inseam. This is because the age of the child alone is not reliable enough to determine the size of the bike as the child might be short or tall for their age. The simplest way to measure their inseam is to let your child stand up straight against a wall with their legs slightly apart. Use a measuring tape and record the distance from the bottom of their ankle to just below their crotch to determine their inseam.
With very active children it can be tricky to get them to stand still, so a trick many parents use is to place a book or something that can substitute as the saddle just below the child’s crotch while they are standing against the wall. You can then measure the distance to the object without the child having to stand still. As a last resort you can also take a pair of pants that fit your child well and then measure the inside seam from the crotch to hem while the pants are on a level surface.
Once you have determined your child’s inseam you can use the handy chart below to determine the correct size bike for them.
- Children age 2-4 : 14 -17” inseam ~ Bike with 12” wheels
- Children age 4-6: 16-20” inseam ~ Bike with 14” wheels
- Children age 5-8: 18-22” inseam ~ Bike with 16” wheels
- Children age 6-9: 20-24” inseam ~ Bike with 18” wheels
- Children age 9+: 24-28” inseam ~ Bike with 24” wheels
It is not just the size of the bike that is important, but also the weight, so make sure that you do not buy a bike that is too heavy for your child to operate efficiently. Manufactures usually indicate the tire diameter as well as weight of their bikes on the product page, so make use of this information.