(Last modified March 16th, 2022).
When kids are ready to start learning how to ride a bike, it’s important to pick the correct sized bike. Kids are constantly outgrowing their previous bikes, so it can be a complicated decision when it’s time for an upgrade. This comprehensive guide provides all the information you need to find the perfect size for your 5-year old biker.
How children’s bikes are sized
Kid’s bikes are sized according to their wheel diameter, ranging from 12” on balance bikes to 26” teenage models. Proper bike size is crucial for safety and comfort, so kid’s bikes come in various size options to suit children as they grow. The most common sizes within that range include 12”, 16”, 20”, and 24” wheels. There are some brands that make bikes with wheels that can split the mainstream sizes. However, they may be more difficult to find.
Bikes with 14” or 16” wheels are typically a good fit for 5-year-olds. The majority of models that are this size will have a single gear, a coaster or brake, and a simple setup. This makes it easy for smaller riders to ride the bike.
Size Chart for Children
|Age||Height in inches||Height (cm).||Leg Inseam (Inch)||Leg Inseam (cm)||Bike Tire Size|
|2||2’9″ – 3’1″||85-90cm||12″ – 14″||85 – 90cm||10″|
|3-4||3’1″ – 3’3″||90-100cm||14″-17″||35-42cm||12″|
|4-5||3’3″ – 3’7″||100-110cm||16″-20″||40-50cm||14″|
|5-6||3’7″ – 3-8″||110-115cm||18″-22″||45-50cm||16″|
|6-8||3’8″ – 4’0″||115-120cm||20″-24″||50-60cm||18″|
|7-9||4’0″ – 4’5″||120-135cm||22″-25″||55-63cm||20″|
|9-11||4’5″ – 4’9″||135-145cm||24″-28″||60-72cm||24″|
Safety first: Sizing correctly and its importance
Kid’s bikes are designed to inspire confidence in young riders as they develop their skills and love for cycling. Your child can sit comfortably and pedal safely on the right-sized bike. Too big bikes can make it difficult for your child to quickly dismount the bike in an emergency. This could lead to falls. Bikes too small can cause discomfort and make it difficult to dismount the bike quickly.
Similar Article: 9 Best Kids Bike Deals You Can Get Right Now in 2022
These are the steps to take before you buy
Although many bikes have an age recommendation on them, it’s best to get a quick measurement of your child. Because children grow at different rates, choosing bikes based upon age can be misleading or inaccurate. That said, the age range is a good place to start, but you’ll need a bit more information to get the perfect fit. Follow the tips below to measure your child’s height and leg inseam.
Measure Your Child’s Height
It almost goes without saying, but it’s important to have a recent measurement of your child’s height. Bike charts online offer size recommendations based upon height. Bike mechanics at your local store will probably ask you for your child’s height, too. Growing spurts can occur in young children, particularly those under 5 years old, so make sure you have an accurate measurement.
Measure Your Child’s Inseam
To ensure you get the right size, measure your leg inseam length. Height is a good measurement to approximate bike size, but it doesn’t represent how the bike will feel while pedaling.
Leg inseam (the vertical distance from ground to crotch) directly refers to distance between bike seat and pedals (where our feet go). It’s important to have a bike that fits our bodies for efficient and comfortable riding. Take a look at these brief instructions on how to calculate your child’s inseam:
- Stand straight up with your back against the wall and shoes on.
- They can place a book between their legs, with the spine facing upwards. This will allow them to meet their crotch.
- Place the book at eye level on the wall and mark the spot where it touches the wall.
- The vertical distance from the floor up to the book’s spine is the leg inseam!
What’s Most Important on the Size Chart? How important is height, age, and inseam on the size chart?
Bike size charts are crucial for getting sizing right, but they don’t always tell the whole story. The most accurate recommendation will be based on leg inseam since that’s the best measurement to represent how a bike will feel. To double-check, you can also refer to your height. Children Different growth ratesSize charts that are based on only age are not always accurate.
What training wheels do I need for my child’s education?
Training wheels aren’t necessary to learn how to ride a bike, but they can help young riders by adding some extra peace of mind. Most kids’ bikes are compatible with training wheels, and some even come with an optional training wheels add-on at the time of purchase.
What to do if your child is between two sizes of a bike?
Bike size charts are designed to provide recommendations quickly, but they can’t be 100% accurate all the time. Sometimes, kids’ measurements place them right in the middle of two suggested bike sizes. For example, a five-year-old that is 3’7” tall could ride a 14” or a 16” bike— which one should they choose?
Children between the ages of 5 and 7 can get a bigger bike if they feel comfortable on bikes and are able to balance well. Kids are still growing unlike adults. Experienced young riders can enjoy a more challenging bike and it will not cause them to outgrow their new bike as quickly.
Our #1 Tip is to Choose a Bike Based On Current Fit and Future Growth
This is our number one buying tip. Buy a bike your child can ride and enjoy for many years. Children may become less interested in cycling if they are forced to wait several months before getting used to a new bike. It’s okay if their new bike is slightly too big for them, but not to the point of being unsafe or uncomfortable. This way, you’ll get your money’s worth, and they will have a riding companion for years to come.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQs).
Depending on your child’s height and inseam measurements, a 20” bike may be too large. Some 5-year-olds are tall enough to fit this bigger size, but 14” and 16” models are more common for that age. If your child is a confident rider, they might feel comfortable moving up to a 20” bike which can go faster and be a bike to continue growing into. You can refer to the above bike size for more details.
Since kids grow at different rates, there’s no blanket rule for bike size and age. That said, an 18-inch bike might be appropriate for your child if they are around 3’8″ to 4’0″ tall and have a leg inseam between 20” and 24”. 14” and 16” bikes are more common for five-year-olds, so take a look at our bike size chart earlier in this article for more information.
16” bikes are the most common size for five-year-olds. Most bike manufacturers make a 16” model, so there are plenty of options available on the market with different features and colorways. 16” bikes are appropriate for young riders around 3’7″ to 3-8″ tall. Shorter riders may opt for 14” wheels, but those can be a bit harder to find.
A rider’s riding preferences and needs will determine which bicycle is best for them. The most important thing is to ensure your child can ride safely and comfortably. You can decide if you would like a bike with a coaster or rim brake. These brakes are activated with a hand handle. Most models for five-year-olds won’t include gears. You can check out our article about the top kids bikes that you can purchase right now.
There’s no right or wrong age to learn how to ride a bike. Some toddlers start on balance bikes while other people start learning when they’re adults! However, children typically start to ride bikes at around 3-7 years of age. Some children begin riding balanced bikes, while others wait to learn how to ride two-wheelers.
Are you looking for the perfect size bike for your 5-years-old? Send us an email!
Jeffrey Brown A writer, editor and professional bike mechanic, he has more than 7 years experience working in community-based and full-service bike shops. As a bicycle educator, he supports youth programs in the US that teach bike mechanics as well as life skills to help prepare the next generation.
Jeffrey He began his professional career as a mechanic at his university’s bike co-op. This is where he learned about the power of the bicycle community. Although he was self-trained initially as a mechanic and later as a manager and teacher, he received formal training. He has received numerous awards and grants for his work as an environmental advocate, and as a bike mechanic.