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How to Choose a Kids’ Bike

Kids riding hotwalk carbon balance bike

Is your kid ready to start bicycling? Or, has your child out grown their current bike? ERIK’S has a great inventory of kids’ bikes for you to choose from. We stock balance bikes, bikes with training wheels, youth mountain bikes, BMX bikes and more. With so many choices how do you know which bike will be the best choice for your kiddo? This guide will help you narrow your search and find the perfect bike for your child.

Once you’ve answered the five questions below you’ll be ready to head into your local ERIK’S with your kid for test-rides! No ERIK’S nearby? No problem! You can shop online with us too. Our customer service team is available via call or chat to offer assistance in selecting the perfect bike for your child.

1. What size of bike does your kid need?

An instant way to hone your kids’ bike search is to know what size of bike your child needs. Kids’ bikes are sized based on the wheel diameter. The smallest bikes start with a 10-12” wheel size. The largest kids’ bikes will have 24” wheels. After that, kids begin to move into small-sized adult bikes.

Your child’s height will be the primary indicator for what size of bike will fit them best.

Here’s a basic kid’s bike sizing chart to review:

Remember the “bike sizes” are referring to the wheel sizes (balance bikes feature 10-12″ wheels). Check out our Kids’ Bike Sizing Guide for more details on how to ensure a bike fits your child right.

Now that you know the size of bike your kid needs, you can refine your search even more by clarifying how they’ll be riding. This will help you then select the right type of bike for them.

2. What kind of riding will your kid be doing?

“My kiddo is a toddler and just learning to ride.”
If your child is a toddler between the ages of two and five AND new to biking, a balance bike (also known as “run”, “strider” or “stability” bike) will be ideal for them. These bikes don’t have any pedals. Your child uses their feet instead to propel the bike forward, keep balance, and to stop.

Gone are the days of learning to bike with training wheels. Instead, kids first learn how to be stable on a bike. Balance bikes teach essential skills that make the transition to riding a bike with pedals seamless.

Shop balance bikes now.

“My kid wants to rip up the dirt and/or learn tricks to perform on their bike.”
A BMX bike could be perfect for your little shredder! BMX bikes allow kids to perform a variety of stunts on different terrains. Freestyle BMX bikes, for example, are specifically built for performing tricks on pavement. Dirt Jump BMX bikes are designed to ride on gravel and conquer all the obstacles one might encounter ripping it up on dirt paths. BMX bikes are also what you’ll see kids riding at skate and bike parks.

Shop BMX bikes now.

“My kid needs a safe bike to commute to school on and ride around the neighborhood with their friends on.”
A youth recreational style bike would be a good choice for any kid that simply wants to be a kid and have fun bicycling! They ride great both on pavement and dirt trails so no matter what your kid gets into — these bikes can keep up!

Shop youth bikes now.

“My teen signed up for NICA and we often ride local singletrack together as a family.”
If your child is into riding on gravel trails and visiting local bike parks with singletrack you’ll want to set them up with a youth mountain bike. These bikes are made to ride hard in the dirt and are ideal if they are racing in a NICA league also.

Now that you have a general idea of what size and type of kids’ bike you are looking for, you’ll want to consider the different components available on kids’ bikes and which are appropriate for your child.

3. What components are appropriate for your child?

When your kid is big enough for a 20” or 24” bike, you’ll have the option to choose between a single-speed bike with coaster brakes (where you pedal backward to stop) or a geared bike with hand brakes.

Consider these three things to help you make your decision on whether or not it’s appropriate to upgrade to gears and hand brakes:

  1. Is your kid currently able to ride their bike confidently? If so, they may be ready to add a level of complexity by adding gears and a handbrake.
  2. Would being able to switch gears improve their experience? For example, are they taking long rides with you or tackling hills daily in the neighborhood? If so, adding gears could help them keep up on the longer rides and have more fun climbing those hills!
  3. Do they still need to use training wheels? If so, stick with single-speed bikes with coaster brakes to keep things simple for now.

4. What’s your budget?

Kids’ bikes range in price with entry level smaller-sized models for toddlers, like balance bikes, starting at $110 and high-end larger-sized models for youth costing up to $1000.

As you can see, there’s quite a range in kids’ bike pricing. Usually the price increases due to the size of the bike as well as componentry featured. If you’re on a budget or hesitant to buy a bike that your kid will soon be too big to ride, check out our current used kids’ bike inventory where you can find awesome bikes at amazing prices! Additionally, keep reading to learn about our Guaranteed Bike Trade In Program that allows you to receive up to 50% of the purchase price back in ERIK’S store credit for your kid’s bike once they’ve outgrown it!

Mom and kid bike riding on gravel

5. Does your kid have a used bike to trade-in?

We understand that you want to get as much use out of your kid’s bike as possible but with a fast-growing child on your hands that can feel impossible. Our Bike Trade-In Program can help!

Whether you bought your kid’s bike at ERIK’S or somewhere else, it’s likely that it will qualify for our Bike Trade-In Program. Read the fine print here and then head into your local ERIK’S with your kid’s used bike to get store credit to apply towards a new bike for them (or YOU!).

Ready to get your kiddo rolling on two-wheels?

With these five questions answered, you are now ready to find the perfect bike for your kid. Search our kids’ bike selection online here or visit your nearby ERIK’S with your child and send them out on a few test-rides today!