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7 steps to buying a child's bike for Christmas

Buying a bike for your child can be a daunting process the following tips may help you with your purchase.

  • Where to buy a bike – if you purchase a bike from a bike shop then they will be able to give advice and should sell bikes that are already assembled. Purchasing a bike from some retailers or on-line may mean the bike has to be assembled by the purchaser. There are many guides to purchasing a bike on the internet.

  • Choose a bike suitable for what your child will need – there are many different types of bikes some of which may not be right for the kind of cycling your child will do. For example, a mountain bike may not be best if most of your child’s riding will be on-road. Equally a road bike won’t necessarily be suitable if most riding will be done off-road or on bmx tracks. If your child is likely to cycle in a variety of locations then a hybrid bike may well be the best option.

  • Choose the right size – your child should be able to stand over the frame of the bike with their feet flat on the ground with a few centimetres clearance. Also, when sitting on the bike your child should be able to reach the lowest pedal with their leg straight. In addition the length of the frame should be such that your child can comfortably reach the handlebars. Likewise if the frame is too short then your child may look ‘squashed up’ and uncomfortable. The riding position should be fairly upright. The handlebars should not be lower than the seat.

  • Test the bike out – go in to a bike shop, this is the best way to ensure the bike is suitable. However if it is being bought as a surprise the table below offers some sizing guidance.

Wheel size Age (years) Height (inches) Height (cm)
Balance 2 - 4 2'11" - 3'5" 88 - 105
12" 3 - 5 3'3" - 3'8" 98 - 112
14" 4 -6 3'5" - 3'10" 105 -117
16"/18" 5 - 8 3'8" - 4'2" 112 - 127
20" 7 - 9 3'10" - 4'6" 117 - 136
24" 8 - 11 4'2" - 4'9" 127 - 145
  • Ensure your child can handle the bike and use all its features - a heavy bike which is difficult to lift or manoeuvre can be off putting. The brakes should be easy to use as should any gears.

  • Buy a helmet – a helmet can reduce the possibility of a serious head injury. Make sure it fits comfortably and that it can be adjusted easily.

  • Accessories – apart from the bike and helmet other items, such as lights, hi-vis clothing, gloves, locks, tools and pumps, can enhance your child’s comfort and safety.

Councillor Dean Fitzpatrick, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “When picking the perfect bike for your child, it’s important that you follow these tips for ensure your child stays safe and has fun at the same time. Hopefully these tips will make buying a bike that little bit easier.”