by Staff Writer
Buying a bicycle for a child is a big deal. If you choose the right bike, you may quickly be elevated to "Coolest Parent/Grandparent/Other Adult Ever." On the other hand, if you choose the wrong one, you will probably find yourself on the unpopular list for quite some time. Aside from knowing their favorite colors and selecting baskets or bells, there are many factors to consider when choosing children's bicycles.
Opt for new children's bicycles. Older bikes may have parts or features that have since been found faulty or dangerous. New bicycles are up to current safety standards.
Think about choosing a steel-framed bicycle for your child. Not only are these more affordable than lighter weight children's bicycles, but they are also better able to handle the abuse often doled out by playful children.
Consider the age, height, and weight of the child. Manufacturers of children's bicycles generally recommend sizes based on the child's age. However, if a child is large or small for his or her age, take this into account as well. Comfort and ability to control the bicycle are crucial in cycling at any age. These are the basic suggestions:
|Child's Age||Bike Size|
|3 to 5 years old||12-inch bike|
|5 to 8 years old||16-inch bike|
|6 to 9 years old||18-inch bike|
|7 to 10 years old||20-inch bike|
Choose a bicycle with appropriate brakes for your child. Younger children may not have the hand size or strength required to use handbrakes. Most small bicycles come standard with coaster brakes that the child can employ by pedaling backwards. Choose bicycles with hand brakes for older children who are able to master them, as they are safer. However, for children who have never used handbrakes, you need to look for bicycles with both types, so the children can become accustomed to them as their cycling abilities improve.
Bear in mind the child's experience when choosing a bicycle. If he or she has only ridden a single-speed cruiser in the past, a bike with lots of gears and fancy handbrakes may be overwhelming. On the other hand, if the child is a future BMX racer, he or she might be disappointed by one that is too simple.