Most parents, especially cyclists, would love passing on their passion for riding to their children. The most common question is "How to get your little one to venture into the world of cycling?" It is extremely important to give your child a push into the cycling world, but give them space and time to pick up their pace on the saddle. Most children enjoy cycling. Cycling, coupled with a child’s imagination, leads to adventures, experiences and boundless energy – leading them to want to stay on the saddle for as long as they can.
However, to ensure that your child experiences a great time on the saddle, it is important to choose a cycle that is the right size for them. Never buy a cycle with the idea that your child will grow into it. Unlike adult cycles, where the frame size is determined by the seat tube length, children’s cycles are sized going by wheel diameter.
To find the right sized cycle for your child, you will have to account factors such as their age, height and in-seam measurement.
Under two years
Children under two years of age are still very young and haven't grasped the concept of balance nor co-ordination. A bicycle at this point, wouldn't be recommended. At this stage, if you want to introduce your child to the idea of cycling, it is best to buy them a tri cycle, that provides them comfort and stability. Generally, most tri-cycles have back support and three uniform wheels, as opposed to two. Children this young will figure out that pushing the pedals, moves the cycle forward. This is a great way to introduce cycling to a child.
2 to 3 years
Children aged in this bracket are in their early formative years. Getting introduced to a cycle at this point has an additional benefit of them being able to pick up cycling at a much faster rate. The levels of co-ordination and balance vary greatly at this age, some children may prefer stating out using training wheels or a tri-cycle till they are 4. It entirely depends on the child’s individual preference. Balance cycles are available in the market. These are basically cycles without a pedal, to help a child gain confidence balancing on a cycle without having to worry about pedaling too.
At this age, children usually are 2 feet 8inches to 3 feet in height with an inseam measurement of 13 to 15 inches, and would require a bicycle that’s wheel size is 12 inches.
3 to 4 years
Children in this age bracket are likely to have developed a better sense of co-ordination and balance, therefore gaining confidence to ride a bicycle without trainer wheels.
However, braking can still be a bit of an issue. So, beware of cycles with just hand brakes, because children may still have trouble with operating them, at least until they are over 5 years of age. Coaster brakes are a more suitable idea to introduce the concept of braking and get used to the mechanism.
At this age, children usually are 2 feet to 3 feet 6 inches in height with an inseam measurement of 15 to 17 inches, and would require a bicycle that’s wheel size is 14 inches.
4 to 6 years
By now, children have become comfortable with cycling and have built confidence when it comes to being on the saddle.
At this age, children usually are 3 feet 6 inches to 4 feet in height with an inseam measurement of 18 to 22 inches, and would require a bicycle that’s wheel size is 16 inches.
Cycles up to 16” cycles are usually all single-speed cycles and are aimed at improving a child’s balance and co-ordination, in terms of grasping the concepts of cycling i.e. pedaling while maintaining balance, braking with the right amount of force etc.
6 to 8 years
Children in this age bracket are usually comfortable with cycling and are ready to venture into the cycling world with gusto. Usually, this is the age that they are ready for BMX cycles.
At this age, children usually are 4 feet to 4 feet 6 inches in height with an inseam measurement of 22 to 25 inches, and would require a bicycle that’s wheel size is 20 inches.
Be aware of the crank length on a BMX, or any 20 inch bicycle for that matter.
Ideally, they should only be about 20 per cent of the length of the inside leg measurement. If it's a BMX designed for a larger rider, the cranks will be longer and the bike will be harder to maneuver.
8 years and beyond
If your child has been riding a while now, they are probably experienced and comfortable with riding and are ready to venture into the cycling world. Most children by this age are at ease with the concepts involved in cycling and are getting into it more actively and seriously.
At this age, children usually are 4 feet 6 inches to 4 feet 11 inches in height with an inseam measurement of 25 to 27 inches, and would require a bicycle that’s wheel size is 24 inches.
If you are an avid cyclist and would like to introduce your child to the world of cycling, it is best to get them started on this journey early on in their lives. However, there is no specific age to buy your child their first cycle. Some children may not enjoy cycling, or want to continue cycling, if it is pushed on to them when they aren't ready. An important thing to keep in mind is to never buy your child a cycle that is too big for them, with the notion that they will grow into it as they are growing too. This will cause their introduction to cycling to be uncomfortable, and maybe even painful.