Youth and Kids Bikes

Size Matters!

Kids generally love biking but if there bike is too big or too small it can lead to not only an unenjoyable experience but also a greater chance of accidents. We have created this guide to help you size your childs bike but for the best fit come in and see us in person at McBike for a top notch bike fitting.

How are kids bikes sized?

Generally kids bikes are measured by their wheel size: 12 inch, 14 inch, 16 inch, 20 inch, 24 inch. After 24 inch you move in to adult sizes which have several wheel sizes but are measured in frame size of either xxs-xl or frame size in inches. We won't discuss adult sizes in this entry but some older kids will find they fit a 26" wheel sized adult bike in XXS or XS. As the tire size gets larger the frame also gets larger but there is variation between the different manufacturers.

How to size a bike video


Run or Balance Bikes

This is another category to consider as a first bike rather than a pedal bike. A balance bike has no pedals and allows kids to sit on the seat while running with their feet. This keeps them more in contact with the ground as they learn balance. As they progress they begin to take longer strides and then coasting with their feet up. Although the most common wheel size in these bikes is 12 inch they generally have a lower standover height (more on that later) than a 12 inch pedal bike. The big advantage to a pedal bike is you can start a child on a bike as soon as they are a confident walker. When your child is ready for a pedal bike they jump right into it without training wheels as they have already learned balance from the run bike.

Pedal Bikes

There is nothing that compares to the freedom and exhilaration of your first pedal bike. Proper size is key to an enjoyable ride and lifelong benefits that come from biking. Proper size also makes for the safest biking experience. You may have seen common charts in department stores that list either a childs height and/or their age and then the corresponding wheel size of bike. The issue with this sizing system is multi-factored. First the variability in kids size for their age. Just look at the kids in your childs class at school and you will notice a wide variety of heights even though they are the same age. If you use height as your determining factor there is another issue. If you take several children of the same height they will all have different inseam lengths. Your inseam is measured from the ground to your crotch. This is the key measurement in how a bike fits a child. A child needs to be able to safely put their feet flat on the ground while straddling the top tube of the bike. In an ideal fit if your child straddles the top tube of the bike (not the saddle) they should have an inch to inch and a half clearance between their crotch and the top tube. This distance from the ground to the top tube is refered to as "standover height".  Which brings in the next factor which is the difference in geometry of different bike brands. A 20 inch bike from Norco may have a higer or lower standover height then a 20 inch from Giant or Kona. There are some other factors which come in to play such as reach, intended use, and rider experience but those are more easily covered in person. Below we include a chart of "average" fit recommendations as well as some of our most popular models of kids bikes. The chart below will give you a general idea of what size bike your kid should be in but it can vary between models and manufacturers.

bike sizing chart

Can't I just bring my kid in for a fit?

Absolutely. Providing an in person custom bike fit is what we recommend. We have provided this information mostly for your general knowledge but also because some people want to surprise their child with a bike for a birthday or christmas. During these difficult times surrounding Covid-19 concerns we also recognize that many people may not wish to bring their child in to the store. In fact we are limiting the number of people in the store at any one time and are maintaining a 6ft distance from customers. Measuring your child's inseam before coming in to the store we can get a pretty good fit without the child present. We are also able to take credit card payment over the phone, bring the bike outside to meet you, and we wipe down our bikes with a bleach solution anytime someone comes in contact with them. We are doing what we can to insure your family's safety while still providing the things you need to stay physically and mentally fit.

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