The most common question our sales representatives at Criterium are asked is, “What size bike should my child be on?” This is a difficult question to answer without knowing a few key things. How old is the child, how confident is the child, and how tall is the child? The child’s age is important because the sales representative will need to know if your child is about to go into a growth spurt or has just completed a growth spurt. According to kidshealth.org those periods of rapid growth will happen for girls between the ages of 8 -13, and for boys between the ages of 10-15. For example, In December your child will most likely be a few inches shorter then in April when the weather is warm enough to ride their new bike.
If the child is confident in their riding ability, getting them on a bigger bike, where they may only be able to touch the ground on their tippy-toes, will ensure that they get one or two years of riding on the bicycle. If your child is more on the cautious side, and wants to be able to have their feet firmly on the ground, then they will need a smaller bike where they can easily touch the ground. In most cases the sales representatives at Criterium will fit your child on the biggest bike that your child feels comfortable on. If the child is not with you during the bike purchase we have size guidelines as a starting point for you. Remember these numbers are based on averages and are only designed to give you a starting point. You know your child best.
If the child’s inseam is 14-17 inches then a 12-inch wheel bike is about right. These bikes will be single geared with removable training wheels and a coaster brake (back pedal brake). These bikes will cost around $200 dollars.
If the child’s inseam is 18-22 inches then a 16-inch wheel bike will be about right. These bikes will be single geared with removable training wheels and a coaster brake. These bikes will cost around $250 dollars.
If the child’s inseam is 22-25 inches then a 20-inch wheeled bike will be about right. These bikes will either be single geared with a coaster and a rear hand brake, or have multiple gears with front and rear hand brakes. These bikes can be fitted with training wheels, but in most cases training wheels will not be needed at this stage. The 20 inch bikes with multiple speeds will help your child maintain a faster speed on longer rides. These bikes will cost between $250 and $360 dollars, with some models costing more.
If the child’s inseam is 24-28 inches then a 24-inch wheeled bike will be about right. These bikes will be geared bikes with front and rear hand brakes, and be most like an adult bike. These bikes will cost between $380 and $660 dollars with some models costing more.
The next most common question our sales representatives at Criterium are asked is, “How long will this bike last?” A quality bike purchased at a bike shop will be built with quality parts that are designed to last for many years, and most likely your child is going to outgrow the bike before they ever wear out the bike. At this point the bike can be handed down to a younger sibling, or sold for approximately 50 to 75 percent of the purchase price. You will know when your child has outgrown the bike when the seat post is raised to its maximum height indicated by the warning label stamped in the back of the seat post. When this happens the child’s legs will not extend properly as the pedal goes past the bottom most point of the pedal stroke.
A child’s bike, if carefully purchased, is an investment in the child’s future years of riding, and can likely be handed down or passed along, as it will last a long time and can bring enjoyment to numerous children across many years.
Words and Photos by P.J. Snow
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