What are the Best Bikes for Little People?

The Bike Log

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bikes for little people

No matter if you’re tall, short, big, or little, bikes are just plain good fun. But, we created Cleary because we know that when you match the right bike with the right person, not only is biking fun, but it’s safer, easier, and sets you up for success in the long run. 

So, Cleary bikes are not just for kids! We make bikes for little people, children, petite adults, or persons with dwarfism designed to give everyone the best possible riding experience. That said, choosing the wrong size bike can quickly turn cycling into an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation. That’s why it’s crucial to measure yourself correctly to find the right bikes for little people.

Spending a few minutes digging out the measuring tape is well worth it to find the right fit. This guide will help you navigate the bike buying process and determine the best bike for your height.

How to choose the correct bike size

Adults and children are all different and unique, so we’ve designed a range of bike sizes. Getting the right bike fit can be difficult for everyone, but it can be incredibly frustrating if you are shorter than average. 

The height range offered by many adult bicycle brands can be limited and exclude many shorter riders. But with a bit of research and measuring, you can find the perfect bicycle! 

Here are some tips to help you find and choose the correct bike size.

Try multiple bikes

It’s important to always try out several different bikes. While two bikes from different makers may be labeled as the same size, the frame and saddle types can affect the fit and make them very different. Everyone’s body proportions are a bit different. Some people have longer legs and a short torso, while others are long in the torso with shorter legs. Different manufacturers will also use various sizing labels, so it can be hard to compare bikes without trying them out for size. 

Some bike manufacturers will list bike size by seat tube length, some will work on frame size, and children’s bikes use tire size as the measurement. Other brands may even list sizes with an ambiguous S/M/L. Some bike manufacturers label using centimeters, others in inches. With so much variation, it’s no surprise that bike shopping can be confusing. So, if it’s possible for you to swing into your local bike shop to test out a few, we highly recommend you do so!

Adjust and fine-tune your bike to fit you

Finding the right bike can be difficult if you’re below average height. You may be able to ride a bike that is slightly too large for you with some adjustments. Adjusting a bike’s seat height is the best place to start fine-tuning. You can then move the saddle forward on the bike’s seat post, shorten the handlebar width, and even shorten the crank arms.

It’s also possible to swap a bike’s stem for a different length or rise. Bike stems usually increase as bike sizes increase. However, many bikes can change to a shorter stem without altering the bike’s geometry too much. If you find yourself leaning forward to reach your bike’s handlebars, you can adjust them so they sit in a more upright position. 

Don’t pay attention to age and gender labels on bikes

Age is only a number and means very little when buying a bike for little people. Age should only be considered when bike shopping for younger children who are not physically advanced enough to use certain features like hand brakes or gears. But once you’re confident and competent at riding a bike, then age doesn’t matter. Everyone grows at different rates and will reach different heights, regardless of age and gender.  

Children’s bikes are more commonly categorized by age, but adult bikes are more likely to use gender. Gender categorizations often incorrectly assume that women are always shorter than men. Many shorter adults benefit from a smaller bike size, regardless of their gender. Some shorter men may find that a “women’s bike” is a better fit for them, and conversely, women may find that a men’s bike is a better fit.  

Many bikes for slightly older children are suitable for shorter adults. A 26-inch children’s and teens’ bike is a very similar size to an adult 26-inch bike, but with a slightly smaller and lighter frame that’s more suitable for petite adults. 

Keep an open mind about bike models – lots of bikes geared towards children and teens are ideal for adults. And while some bikes may look feminine or masculine, others are designed to look gender-neutral. Try out a few different options from various ranges and ignore the categorization. At the end of the day, they’re all just bikes designed to get you from A to B. 

Keep an open mind about frames and models

When trying bikes out for the side, you’ll want to stay open-minded about different models and frames. A step-through bike, for example, allows riders more straightforward access to the ground. A step-through model can be a good option for shorter riders who frequently find themselves on tippy-toes over a diamond bike frame. 

A mixte frame is a step-through frame with a twist that can also be a good bike for little people. This style of these bikes give you a bit more space in between your bike’s seat and the top tube. 

What is the best bicycle for short people?

Cleary has a range of high-quality bikes that are suitable for children, shorter riders, and riders of average height. Our small bike sizes are grouped by wheel diameter sizes, and the range spans from 12-inch bikes up to 26-inch bikes. The most popular bikes in our range for shorter adults are our 20-inch bikes and 24-inch bikes.

It’s common for adult bikes to use the bike frame to determine bize size. However, Cleary and smaller bike brands usually size bikes using the wheel size and match a rider to a bike using their inseam measurement.

  • Our 20-inch bikes, such as the 3-speed Owl bike, fit people with an inseam between 19″ – 25″ and a height between 45 – 54″ (114.3 – 137.16 cm).
  • Our 24-inch Meerkat bikes fit children or adults with an inseam measurement between 23″ – 28″ and a height between 49″ – 59″ (124.46 – 149.86 cm).
  • A 26-inch Meerkat bike is suitable for shorter adults who don’t quite fit a 26-inch bike at other retailers. Our 26-inch bikes best fit riders with an inseam of 22″ to 26″ and a height of 56″ or above (142.24 cm or taller).

To measure your inseam, stand flat against a wall and have someone measure from your crotch to your ankle. Once you have your inseam measurement, you can use our handy bike size chart to find your perfect fit.

What size bike is good for a 5-foot woman?

It’s common for petite women to struggle to find a bike that fits. So what’s a good bike for women around 5 feet tall?

A woman who is between 4ft 10in – 5ft 1in (147 – 155cm) is best suited to a 26-inch bike like the Meerkat. This bike size is also suitable for women who stand between 5ft 1in – 5ft 3in tall (155 – 160cm). The Meerkat is the largest bike in the Cleary range and can have the seat post and handlebars adjusted for comfort.

If the Cleary 26-inch bikes are too small for you, you can try a 26-inch bike or the next size up at another retailer, where the sizing may be slightly bigger. You do not necessarily need a women’s-specific bike. Many riders are very comfortable riding with unisex frames.

You CAN find the right fit

Many people struggle to find the right bike on their first try. Finding a well-fitting bike when you’re taller than average can be just as tricky as when you’re shorter than average.

It can certainly be challenging to find the right fitting bike as a smaller person, but there are bikes available for you at Cleary Bikes and other retailers. As with all two-wheeled fun machines, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. You may need to try several bikes out for size and make some adjustments before finding “the one.” Once you find the right bike, you will be able to enjoy the thrills and sense of adventure that only come from riding a bike. 

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