Kids' Bike Buying Guide

Kids' Bike Buying Guide


Do you remember the excitement of getting a new bike? Riding around the neighborhood, to and from school, or on an adventure to get ice cream with the family? Bikes are an excellent way for kids to get outside, expand their world, get exercise, and enjoy time with friends and family. For parents, buying a bike for a child can be stressful and confusing, but it doesn't need to be! We're here to help make the buying experience one that's fun for you and your child.

How Are Kids' Bikes Sized?

First, sizing is the most important thing to consider when purchasing your kid's bike. The right size is going to make biking safer, learning to ride easier, and biking more fun.

Kids' bikes are sized differently than adult bikes. Unlike adult bikes, which are sized off of the frame, kids' bike sizing is based on the wheel size. The smallest bikes usually start with a 12” wheel size (some balance bikes may have a 10” wheel). The largest kids' bikes will have 24” wheels. After that, kids begin to move into small sized adult bikes. Review our Bike Sizing Guide to learn step-by-step how to find the right bike size for your child.

When's The Right Time For A Bike?

New research shows that the earlier your child gets on a bike, the more likely they'll continue to ride later in life. And if you ride yourself, you're probably looking forward to sharing cycling with your kid. If your child has conquered walking, they're ready to start using a balance bike. In other words, the earlier, the better!

When's the right time for a bike?

Balance Bikes

Although you might have learned to bike with training wheels, balance bikes have become the recommended way for kids to learn to bike. Balance bikes have no pedals, so a child uses their feet to push the bike along. This is a great way for them to learn one of the hardest parts of riding a bike - how to balance on two wheels. Learning on a balance bike makes the transition to regular bikes as easy as adding pedals. This will make learning to bike less intimidating, and training wheels won't be necessary since they'll already know how to balance. Balance bikes predominately come in two sizes, 10” and 12”, and are suggested for toddlers and kids up to 5 years old.

Balance bike?

STACYC Electric Balance Bikes

STACYC Stability Cycle is an electric-powered balance bike! Start your kiddo off in the non-powered mode as they learn how to propel the bike forward using their own effort and turn the handlebars for control. Then, you can increase the power levels as your kid builds their leaning, coasting, and braking skills. The STACYC balance bikes are designed with a low and stable riding position that inspires confidence and skills progression that can be difficult to get on a regular-sized kid's bike. Once they reach total rad levels, you can turn the power up to full blast and let 'em rip!

Electric Balance Bike

What's After A Balance Bike?

After the balance bike, it's time to upgrade to a bike with pedals. Picking the next size bike is going to depend on your child's height. When selecting your kid's bike size, safety should be the number one priority. While it might be tempting to buy a bike your child can grow into, a bike that's too large won't be safe or fun for your a child to ride.

How Do I Know If My Child's Bike Fits?

You always want your kids' feet to comfortably reach the ground when they're sitting on the seat. For some children, comfortably will mean tip-toes, and for others, it may mean flat on the ground. This means that when they come to a stop, they can have complete control over the bike.

It's also important that the standover height is correct. With the child standing over the top tube of the bike and their feet flat on the ground, there should be room between the top tube and your child. If your kid is resting on the top tube, you should consider the next size down.

Lastly, your child needs to be able to easily reach the handlebars in a way that allows them to control the bike. If they have to stretch to reach the handlebars, they won't be able to control the bike.

Kids' Bike Fit

How Do I Know If My Child Is Too Big For Their Bike?

As your child grows, you'll need to raise the bicycle seat. Make sure to pay attention to where the minimum insertion line is on their seat post. Their seat post should have a line that indicates how far up the seat can be raised. For safety purposes, the post should never be sticking up past that minimum insertion line. Riding a seat beyond this point is dangerous and could result in a malfunction of the bike frame.

Kids' Bike Fit

My Child Is Growing Fast! Can I Buy A Bike They Will Grow Into?

Parents often ask us about buying a size up since their child is growing. We understand that you want to get as much use of the bike as possible, but we encourage you to consider the safety issues that come with buying a bike that's too big. Especially if the child is new to biking, riding an oversized bike can be hard to balance and difficult to stop.

A better option is our Bike Trade-In Program. At ERIK'S, we want to make upgrading easier! This program makes upgrading to a new bike easy and cost-effective.

Kids' Bike Fit

When Should My Child Start Riding Geared Bikes?

When your kid is big enough for a 20” or 24”, you'll have the option between geared bikes with hand brakes or sticking with a single-speed and coaster brakes (where you pedal backward to stop.) This decision should be based on a few simple things. First, are they comfortable enough riding for them to learn how to use gears and a handbrake? Next, think of the type of riding they'll be doing. If they are taking longer rides with the family or tackling hills, gears will make that easier. If training wheels are necessary, then you should be looking at single speed bikes.

Kids' Geared Bikes

What Styles Of Kids' Bikes Are There?

One significant change over the past few years is the different options that are available for kids' bikes. In addition to gears, another consideration is the type of terrain that your kid will be riding on. Whether your kid will be riding around the neighborhood with friends, doing laps in the local skate park, or hitting mountain bike trails, there's a bike for it.

If you've got a kid that will be riding around the neighborhood with friends and family, riding to and from school, or just generally riding everywhere a kid rides, a traditional kids' bike is a great option. They'll usually have tires that are a little bit knobby so they can handle grass and dirt but are still suited for riding on the street and paved trails. These types of bikes come in a range of sizes, as well as geared and single speed options.

Kids' Bike Types

Kids' BMX Bikes

Does your kid like heading to the skate park or finding things to jump their bike off of? If so, a BMX bike is the answer. These bikes have one gear and are built to be extra durable. While BMX started off as a racing sport, most BMX bikes sold today are of the freestyle or dirt jumping variety. And while they're made for jumping and tricks, they're just as popular with kids for cruising around. Though most traditional BMX bikes have 20” wheels, you can even find BMX bikes with wheels as small as 12”!

Kids' BMX Bikes

Kids' Mountain Bikes

If you've got a kid that's genuinely a little shredder that will be ripping the singletrack with you, there are great options for mountain bikes with wheels as small as 20”, but fully equipped for everything a trail will toss their way. You can get kids' mountain bikes with fat tires that can tackle singletrack or your snowiest adventures! The great thing is all these bikes are still suited to riding on the street, so no matter where your little cyclist wants to go, they're set!

Kids' BMX Bikes

Kids' Bike Helmets

Helmets are a must for young riders. And just like with the bike, the fit is critical. You want to make sure you find a helmet that your kid is going to find comfortable and stylish for them to wear it. We've got a great article on how to tell if your child's helmet fits.

Kids' Bike Helmets

Now It's Time To Ride!

Once you get your child a bike, ride as a family - even if it's just around the neighborhood to start. You can demonstrate how to navigate roads and intersections safely. Studies show that kids are more likely to get into cycling if a parent rides (in case you needed an excuse to get out!). Biking can be the perfect family adventure, one that gets you outside and away from screens, that no one ever outgrows.

Why Buy Your Kid's Bike From Erik's?

The saying “you get what you pay for” is very true when it comes to a bike. At ERIK'S we offer a huge selection of kids bikes from trusted brands like Specialized and Haro.

Our professional sales staff are here to help you get the right size bike for your child. Our experts can answer your questions and make sure you're getting the right bike so your child can safely get out and ride and have fun! And our Bike Trade-In Program means you can get the right size for right now.

Professional Assembly and Service: All of our kids' bikes are built by professional assemblers following ERIK'S high-quality standards. Every bike is checked to our 100-point standard before hitting the sales floor and then checked over again before you take it home.

Once you purchase your kids' bike from ERIK'S, you can be confident that we stand behind it. We offer ERIK'S Parts Warranty, which extends the manufacturer's warranty against defects for as long as you own the bike. If your kids' bike has a problem, we'll work to fix it.

Want To Learn More?

View our general Bike Buying Guide to review the other kinds of bikes we sell. Or, see our complete list of Buying Guides. Learn what you need to know when purchasing a helmet, bike shoes, a car rack, and more!

About Erik's

Erik was only 13 when he started Erik's in 1977. His first bike, a hand-me-down from an older family member, sparked his interest in bikes. With entrepreneurial spirit, and the money he saved from his job as a paperboy, Erik began his business. Erik's Bike Board Ski has grown into the Midwest’s leading bike, snowboard & downhill ski retailer. We are passionate about our sports & experts on all the gear we carry! Learn more about ERIK’S History.

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