The scraped elbows, bruised knees, and maybe a few tears are all worth it. The moment your little one is able to ride a bicycle all by themselves is a thrilling time for you both. (You might even remember the first time you were able to pedal without any assistance.) But before you even get started on the basics, you'll need to get the proper equipment, and it might be more difficult than you thought to buy a bike. "Demand for children's bikes is up," says Ryan Birkicht, senior communications manager at Schwinn. "The pandemic definitely invigorated the category of children's bikes, and created a surge in consumption, which the bike industry hasn't seen in a long time."
Birkicht explains that one of the best times to shop as a consumer is during the holidays as retailers discount older models to make room for the new inventory. But when optimal bike riding time is at the opposite time of the year (hello, spring and summer), you might be looking to get one now. Here are Birkicht's top tips to help you during the purchasing process.
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How to Buy a Bike
"The number one thing you want to make sure when getting a new bike for your child is that they are comfortable, which translates to confidence while riding," Birkicht says. To start, make sure that they can put a foot down to balance while sitting in the seat. Then, "Measure the inseam of your child. Make sure the measurement of the bike your considering has a floor to minimum seat height measurement smaller than the child's inseam," Birkicht adds.
Bike Measurements for Kids
Children's bikes are available for purchase according to wheel size. Even though it may be tempting to buy a size up, use the guide below to make sure the bike is appropriately sized for your kiddo. As for training wheels, they're intended for children ages 2 through 4, but if your little one needs them for longer, that's completely fine. If the bike you're purchasing comes with training wheels, you can usually take them off once your child feels comfortable.
14" bike is best for: 3-4-year-olds, 36-40 inches tall
16" bike is best for: 3-7 year-olds, 38-48 inches tall
18" bike is best for: 5-9-year-olds, 42-52 inches tall
20" bike is best for: 7-13 year-olds, 48-60 inches tall
24" bike is best for: 10-15 year-olds, 56-66 inches tall
Buying Bikes Online
Whether you buy online or go in-store, there are many kids bicycles on the market to shop. One that Birkicht personally recommends is the Krate EVO ($220, Schwinn). "I [just] picked one up for my son," he says. Another option that has a nearly perfect 5-star rating from more than 10,000 reviews is the RoyalBaby Kids Bike ($130, Amazon), or for a more affordable choice, check out the Huffy Rock It Bike ($59, Amazon).
Of course, once you buy the bike, you'll need to purchase a helmet, like the Schwinn Thrasher Bike Helmet (from $24, Amazon). Your child should always wear a helmet while riding, even if they have training wheels. You might also consider elbow pads and knee pads ($12, Walmart) for extra protection, especially as they're first learning to ride.