How to Buy the Right Size Bike for Your Child

Q: I’d like to buy a new bicycle for my child but don’t know what size I should buy.   Is there a way to know if the size is right?

A: Purchasing an oversized bike to “grow into” can be dangerous for your child as it may be hard for your child to maneuver the handlebars or reach the ground.  You’d be more successful in purchasing the right-sized bike if you take your child with you.

A bicycle shop will have staff that can assist you, but if you prefer to buy the bicycle from a department store, you will need to test for the proper fit.  First, your child should sit on the seat and if the balls of both feet can hit the ground, it’s a good size.   When straddling the center bar, your child should be able to stand with both feet flat on the ground with about a one inch clearance between the crotch and bar.  Lastly, make sure your child can easily apply enough pressure to engage hand brakes.  Stick with coaster brakes until your child is more experienced with riding or is older. 

A bike helmet should be standard equipment.   If you are buying a new bike, get a new helmet as well.   Make it a rule that the helmet has to be worn when riding the new bike!

If you have other questions on bike riding or helmets, please discuss with your child’s health care provider.

By Dr. Sharon Rink, pediatrician, ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Darboy.