Kids bicycles are one of the most pleasurable staples of childhood. Anyone who can ride a bike can remember the exact moment when they took their training wheels off and spent the afternoon learning how to ride a bike and ultimately feeling the excitement and pride of that special moment when they looked back and realized their teacher was far off in the distance and they were riding alone!
For many it is a mom or dad who taught them to ride a bike. For me, it was a seven year old girl living in the apartment next door in my native city of Montevideo, Uruguay. While young, she was a great teacher and taught me, a young six year old to ride a kids bicycle alone for the first time.
For our son’s third birthday, we had not considered that a kids bike would be appropriate enough for his age group yet, but my mother surprised him with a Sunbird kids bike anyway. And our boy just loved it!
Besides choosing a bike for boys or a bike for girls and their colors, there are a few key points to consider when buying kids bicycles. The American Society of Pediatrics makes it important to understand that choosing the wrong size bicycle for your children has the potential for them to lose control of the bike.
With this consideration in mind, the four main kids bicycle sizes are:
12” for kids ages 3 to 5
14” for kids ages 4 to 6
16” for kids ages 5 to 8
24” for kids ages 9 to 12
Another consideration are the brakes. Since bikes 12 to 16 inches are generally fitted with coaster brakes, handle brakes may be a choice for the 24” bikes. Coaster brakes are the brakes controlled on the pedals. These are usually better for kids since their small hands don’t yet possess the strength to stop a moving bicycle.
And finally, all kids just starting out should ride on bikes with training wheels. They’re very easy to uninstall and are a valuable learning tool when just starting out. Even if the intention is not to teach to ride just yet, it’s nice to get on a bike without falling off.
Even if your state does not require helmet and pads, just get them. Why put yourself and your children through the heartache of a scraped knee or forehead?
One thing I always do, with every type of toy, is to take it out of the box and pre-assemble it before giving it as a gift to your child. I assure you that it is a much better experience for you and your child if you give them a fully assembled bike with a bow as a gift, rather than a nicely wrapped boxed bike, then having to go searching for your tool box, struggling to figure out the instructions, correct your mistakes, break a sweat and curse the heavens while your child is crying for their very first bike ride!
Now at 11, our eldest girl rides her bikes without training wheels freely, though our 3.5 year old still struggles just to pedal with the trainers. He might be too young, but kids bicycles should be a part of every kids childhood experience.