Kids Bikes Guide
From ages 2 and up, children are strong enough to move about on a balance bike or learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle with stabilisers.
As kids grow older and bikes get larger, extra features such as gears, suspension and more powerful braking systems will start to appear to meet demand. Finally, as we reach the upper age limit of this category, bikes will look more like adults bikes, albeit in smaller frame sizes.
"As soon as children can walk, they’ll enjoy moving about on a balance bike."
In the last few years, balance bikes have become the most popular option for a child’s first bike. Balance bikes have no cranks or pedals. A balance bike is propelled and stopped by your child’s feet, rather than a drivetrain (pedals and chain).
Unlike the traditional method of starting on a pedal bike with stabilisers, balance bikes teach children to use their body weight to control the bike. Riding a balance bike will teach your child the core fundamentals of balance, coordination and steering control.
Experts believe children who started on a balance bike, often find the transition to independent cycling much smoother.
Bikes for 2-4 years
"This is the start of the journey into the world of chain-driven bikes with pedals and brakes."
From ages 2 and up, children are strong enough to learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle. However, it’s essential they have both the confidence and motivation, so some children may be a lot older before they are ready to begin.
Parents, friends and schools can play a big part in creating an interest and readiness to learn to ride a bike for the first time. At around this age, 12" wheel bikes are the ideal size, and they’re available in a range of styles.
Bikes for 3-5 years
"All bikes in this size category will be single speed, so kids can focus on learning the necessary skills of balance, steering, pedalling and braking."
From ages 3 and up, most children will be ready to ride a larger 14" wheel bike, most of which are available with removable stabilisers if your child has yet to learn to balance without them.
One of the key design factors for this age range is ensuring that the bike is both light, yet durable. Lightweight aluminium framed bikes are favoured because they’re easier to manoeuvre than steel equivalents.
Bikes for 4-6 years
"Most bikes in this category still use a single-speed drivetrain as gears are not yet deemed necessary at this size level."
From ages 4 and up, most children will be ready to ride a 16" wheel bike, some of which are available with removable stabilisers if your child has yet to learn to balance without them.
If your 16" wheel bike is supplied with stabilisers, and your child is confident riding without them, it’s advisable to remove them as soon as possible.
Many 16" wheel bikes will have aluminium frames, V type brakes to provide additional stopping power, and multi-use tyre treads for different terrain types. Although it’s possible to get 16" wheel bikes nowadays with gears, they’re still rare on this size of bike.
Bikes for 5-8 years
"From ages 5 and up, most children will be ready to ride an 18" wheel bike."
Removable stabilisers are rarely found once we reach this size but can be added if your child has yet to learn to balance without them. However, it’s best to avoid geared bikes if using stabilisers.
Children may start to explore the world a little more. Often, bikes in this category will have gears to help them negotiate any obstacles the terrain throws up at them.
You’ll also start to see suspension making an appearance, further enabling children to tackle even more demanding conditions.
Bikes for 6-9 years
"Most of the bikes in this category will be junior mountain bikes and are ideal for all-terrain adventures."
From ages 6 and up, 20" wheel kids’ bikes signify a coming of age for your child because they’re now taking their first tentative steps into the world of serious bikes!
They’re robust, often lightweight, and have a wide range of gears, to ensure your child is riding comfortably and safely at all times. Many will have a low standover height, which means there is less chance of your child being tangled up in the bike in the event of a crash or a dismount.
Braking comes from V brakes or disc brakes, with the latter providing more stopping power. You’ll also start to see more bikes with suspension, which are more suitable for rough terrain.
Bikes for 8-11 years
"Kids’ bikes with 24" wheels offer all the benefits of full-sized bikes in terms of frame design, transmission and braking."
The only difference between these and adult-sized bikes is that the frame geometry has been optimized around a 24" wheel.
From ages 8 and up, 24" wheel junior bikes have most of the same features as an adult bike, like front and rear gears, V brakes or disc brakes and even full suspension mountain bikes. Within this category, you’ll also start to see junior road bikes.
They’re just like adults’ road bikes but have shorter cranks and a lower reach on the brake hoods, to make them more comfortable and controllable for shorter limbs.
24" wheel mountain bikes will often feature front suspension, to facilitate greater exploration! They’ll have more gears too so that your child can handle steeper inclines and descents.
Bikes for 11+ years
"From ages 11 and up, you’re going to be looking at adult bikes in smaller frame sizes."
Once your child progresses on to a 26" wheel bike, sizing is typically determined by frame size based on the rider’s height. Bear in mind that these sizes are a guideline only.
If your teen is taller or smaller than average, or more or less confident, they may be better off on a different size. There are smaller wheel size options for junior road bikes, such as 650B, though most bikes will have 26", 27.5" or 700c wheels.
If your teenager is getting really into their sport, there are plenty of high-quality race-ready road and mountain bikes that will cultivate their competitive edge.
"BMX stands for 'Bicycle Motocross' - a type of off-road bike used for racing and stunt riding."
BMX bikes are pure in their method of construction and operation. They usually only have one gear, and minimal brake setup, if any.
BMX bikes can handle huge loads and difficult terrains that mountain bikes and road bikes would never attempt. They’re smaller compared to other bikes and much stockier as well.
BMXs have a simple frame setup and use thick, fat tyres for better traction and shock absorption. BMX bikes are available in different styles such as Dirt Jump, Flatland, Freestyle, Park, Race, Street, Trail & Vert.