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Kids Bike Sizing Guide

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There’s nothing like a bike ride to kickstart a child’s sense of adventure. 

Every child is special and unique. When it comes to buying your child a bicycle, they need a bike size that’s just right for their individual needs.

Kids are constantly growing, so whenever you buy them something, whether it’s sneakers or shorts, you have to check their size. Bikes are no different, and when choosing a children’s bike, you need to make sure it’s a good fit. 

There’s plenty to consider when sizing a kid’s bike. To start with, they’re sized differently from adult bikes, so forget everything you think you know about how your own bike was sized.

The wrong size bike can ruin your child’s riding experience and lead to accidents. If a child’s bike is too large or too small, it can ruin their first biking experience and lead to accidents. 

This kids bike sizing guide will provide you with an overview of Cleary’s kid’s bike sizes and show you how to measure your child for their first, second, or third bike. We’ll help you choose the right bike size based on rider experience, height, and inseam rather than broad and inaccurate age sizing.

So how do you know what size bike to get a child? The Cleary kids bike size chart is here to help.

What size kids bikes does Cleary have?

kids bike sizing guide

Cleary bikes come in five distinct kids’ bike sizes, all specially designed to give your kids a feeling of freedom and adventure on two wheels. Put a kid on a Cleary bike, and you open up a whole new world of fun and learning. Our kid’s bike sizes are grouped by wheel diameter sizes, with bikes available in 12, 16, 20, 24, and 26 inches. 

Kids Bike Sizes Chart

The bike wheel size chart below compares wheel size, age, inseam, and height measurements to guide you to the best bike fit for your child.

Source: Two Wheeling Tots

Wheel SizeAgeInseamHeight
12″2 – 4 years15″ – 18″36 – 39″
16″4 – 6 years16″ – 22″41 – 48″
20″5 – 8 years19″ – 25″45 – 54″
24″8 – 11 years23″ – 28″49″ – 59″
26″10 + years25″ +56″ +

12 Inch Gecko

kids bike sizing guide

Our smallest bike is the 12-inch Gecko, a lightweight kids bike suitable for tiny toddlers. This bike makes magical memories and is many kid’s first “real” bike. The single-speed drivetrain of this 12-inch bike makes pedaling intuitive and straightforward. 

A safety handle built into the bottom of the saddle allows you to easily help your child get their balance before riding off on their own. This model makes learning easier – as easy as learning to ride a bike should be. 

The Gecko best fits riders with an inseam of 14″ to 18″, and If you’re looking for a lightweight, safe, and fun first bike, look no further. The 12-inch Gecko is just the rig for your two to four-year-old toddler.  When the time comes to transition from a pushbike, you’ll beam with pride watching your child learn to ride the Gecko. 

16 Inch Hedgehog

kids bike sizing guide

When your kiddo is getting a bit more confident and growing up (too fast!) Then it’s time to move up to the Hedgehog. 

The spunky Hedgehog is ready to have some fun, so this model unlocks a whole new world of riding to preschoolers. This 16-inch bike has several features which take it up a notch from the Gecko. 

The Hedgehog model includes freewheel, which allows kids more rideability than a coaster brake. Hand brakes take kids a step closer to an adult bike, but our hand brakes are small and durable- created with little hands in mind. 

Suitable for riders with an inseam of 17″ to 21″, the Hedgehog is roughly a good fit for a three to five-year-old rider.

20 Inch Owl

kids bike sizing guide

Once your kid reaches Owl status, they’re ready to fly. Perfect for kindergartners’ early-grade-school adventurers in the five to seven age range, the Owl lets kids take off to adventure. 

20-inch wheels let the Owl roll fast over small obstacles and bigger jumps. These wheels are made for flying and are the same size that Olympic BMX riders use, a fact your kid will love. 

The Owl also has a freewheel and a rigid front fork paired with 20″ all-terrain tires. Those all-terrain tires give you more freedom to hit the trails as a family for some bigger adventures. 

Our Owl bikes are available in single-speed or three-speed. If your child is ready to foray into the excitement of shifting, then the Owl is your chance to introduce gears. The three speed Owl has a shifting mechanism encased in an aluminum shell to shift smoothly without maintenance for thousands of miles. 

The Owl’s 127mm alloy three-piece cranks allow for more speed and acceleration. But there’s no need to worry. They’re growing up and riding too fast too soon. The Owl can still stop on a dime thanks to the super-strong Tektro junior v-brakes.

Can a six-year-old ride a 20-inch bike? Yes, a 20-inch bike is generally a good fit to buy for six and seven-year-old children. But age is just a number, and when it comes to bike sizing, it’s the inseam measurement that should be your guiding number, not age. The Owl is the best fit for riders with an inseam measurement of 19-23″.

24 Inch Meerkat 

kids bike sizing guide

The Meerkat is a bit more interesting and a bit more exciting. If your junior shredder is ready for the 24 inch Meerkat, they’re prepared for some real riding fun. 

The trigger shifter is paired with a five-speed internally geared Sturmey Archer hub. These features combined mean your child can make quick, efficient shifts without worrying about chain drops or being out of gear.

As your child gets older and becomes more independent, they can start to head off to school or on adventures alone. The Meerkat’s front and rear rack mounts mean you can easily add a basket or rear rack. This model ushers in a whole new world of bike packing opportunities, whether it’s school or sports gear, a beach bag, or a picnic lunch. The 

Meerkat’s more advanced features offer your child a delicious first taste of independence, trust, and responsibility. 

26 Inch Meerkat

kids bike sizing guide

This 26-inch bike is our biggest kids’ bike for older grade-schoolers and middle schoolers. The 5-speed Meerkat bike is excellent for kids and teens who can handle an adult bike’s features but aren’t quite tall enough for adult sizes. A 26-inch Meerkat model is fast, sleek, and stylish. 

The 26 inches five-speed model is a practical bike, comfortable in urban settings, and easy to lock up. This Meerkat model has no derailleur to get bent in a bike rack and rolls smoothly over even the most pothole-filled route.

Can a seven-year-old ride a 24-inch bike? Yes! Seven-to 10-year-old’s will love the 24-inch Meerkat. Check your child’s inseam to see if the Meerkat is the right bike; it best fits riders with an inseam of 22″ to 26″. 

26 Inch Scout

Coming soon to our collection is the 26 inch Scout kids bike – a super fun children’s mountain bike. The Scout bike has ten speeds that allow kids and families to hit the trails together with confidence.

How do you know what size bike to get a child? 

Age groups don’t dictate our kids bike sizing guide because they don’t always work. No two five-year-olds are the same height and size; every child is different and unique. We’ll note age groups to help point you in the right direction, but you want a perfect fit when you come to pick the perfect bike. 

Using wheel size isn’t the best way to judge the right size bike for your child, either. The old way to measure cycles was by using your child’s height to determine the correct wheel size. But the problem with that method is the size of the bicycle is not solely determined by its wheel size. 

Just like your kids come in all shapes and sizes, so too do bikes. Two kids’ bike models with 20-inch wheels can look and fit entirely differently. The Seatpost and standover heights amongst bike models and manufacturers can vary drastically.

That’s why we recommend every child get measured for their perfect bike. After all, this bike is more than just a bike. It’s that first step towards independence, growing confidence, fun, and adventure. It’s worthwhile measuring to get the sizing right. 

How to measure a kid’s bike?

Our bike size chart will help you determine which of our kid’s bikes will fit your child best. We use a sizing system based on kid’s height and inseam measurements. This method allows kids to sit on the saddle with two feet touching the ground. If they are in between sizes, you could size up or down, considering their age, confidence, and skill level.

How to measure bike frame size?

Not all bike models and manufacturers use the exact same frame sizes, so the frame size often measures bikes. You can use a tape measure to work out the frame size. Measure the bike’s frame from the center of the crank axle to the top of the seat tube. 

Using the frame to size a bize is the measuring system you’re probably familiar with, as it’s common practice for adult bikes. However, youth bike sizing is usually done by the wheel size and inseam. If you order a kid’s bike thinking the measurements relate to the frame size, you’re likely to get the completely wrong size. 

How to measure kids’ bike wheel size?

When buying a kid’s bike, models will be grouped by wheel size and measured by the wheel’s diameter. Balance bikes start with wheels as small as 10″. The smallest kids pedal bikes start with 12-inch wheels and go all the way up to 24-inch wheels. Any bigger than that and your kiddo is generally ready for an adult size ride. 

Measure the wheel diameter in inches using the wheel’s outer diameter, with the tire installed on the rim. Extend your measuring tape from the top of the existing tire to the bottom. Some tires will also have the diameter recorded on the tire itself if you don’t have a measuring tape handy.

The size of your kid’s wheels is an important metric. However, many brands will show you a kid’s size chart that matches wheel size to an age group or bracket. Instead, compare the wheel size to your child’s inseam, which will give you a better idea of what will fit them as an individual, not just an age group.

How to measure the inseam of a kid’s bike?

This method involves measuring your child’s inseam or inner leg length, along with the seat height of the bike. The easiest way to measure an inseam is to have the child stand with their back flat against a wall. Use a tape measure in inches to measure the distance from the crotch of your child’s pants down to the floor. Note that, unlike a tailor measuring pants, this in-seam measurement should go to the floor, not the ankle. 

You can then narrow down your bike hunt to models where tire size falls within the approximate inseam range. Your child should still sit on a few different bikes to finalize their size, especially if they are between sizes.

Which method is best to use? 

Measuring by inseam and comparing to the bike size chart is the most accurate way to find the right size bike for your child. You should use the inseam measurement alongside the wheel size as a comparison. Where possible, you should also put your child on the bike, check the fit, and then take them outside for a test ride.

In between sizes?

If your child is in between sizes, their height, confidence, and ability can help you decide whether to size up or down. A capable rider can handle a slightly larger bike, while a rider with less confidence is better suited to something smaller.

See our recommendations for in-between sizes based on height in the kids bike sizing guide chart below.

kids bike sizing guide

Is bike size the only thing that matters? 

Size is a biggy when it comes to picking the right bike for your child, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Once you’ve got a bike size that suits your child’s needs, you should begin thinking about other factors. These include the weight of the bike, the geometry, brake type, and tire type. For older children, gear speed is also a consideration.

Nothing beats the magic a child experiences when rolling on two wheels. Learning to ride bikes gets the mind and body working together. It’s a feeling of freedom. But all children are unique and learn at different paces. The ability and maturity of your child are also factors to consider when choosing a bike. 

Maturity and coordination are factors that will determine whether your child is ready to handle bikes with more adult features, such as hand brakes or gears. A test ride before you buy is the easiest way to gauge your child’s mental riding level, confidence, and abilities. 

How should a kids’ bike fit?

One of the common mistakes we see parents make when buying a bike is to choose a size that’s too big, thinking their child will grow into it. A bike is not a pair of sneakers. Bikes that are too big are difficult for children to ride and can throw off their balance, making them dangerous. The wrong-sized bike, especially in a first bike, can slow down your child’s learning and affect their confidence. 

If your child is struggling with bike riding, they may be riding the wrong-sized bike. Observe these visual cues and take measurements to find out. Here’s how an appropriately sized bike should fit.

Seat Height

Your child’s seat height is a vital sizing cue. You can adjust bike seats, so make sure your child’s seat is regularly adjusted to suit their current height. Changing the seat height often allows your child to grow without needing a new bike. 

For a child’s first bike, the seat should be adjusted so your child can put their feet flat on the ground when seated. Once your little rider is more comfortable on pedal bikes, you can adjust the seat so only their toes can touch the ground.

Knee Height

Your child’s knee position on a bike is directly related to seat height. If your child is just learning, they will have more bend in their knees to easily put their feet on the ground. As they feel more confident, you can raise the seat height for better peddling and a full leg extension.

Pedals

When a bike is too big, you can often tell by the pedals. If a bike has a minimum Seatpost height that is any higher than 1-3″ longer than your child’s inseam, they will struggle to reach the pedals. Kids can’t learn to ride a bike properly if they can’t reach the pedals, and they’re likely to have accidents trying. Adjust the seat so kids can touch the pedals comfortably or size down to a smaller model. Never buy a bike if your child is struggling to touch the pedals.

Handlebars

Handlebar heights need to be adjusted so your child can ride upright. Their handlebars should be at least as high as their seat or above the seat. If the bike’s handlebars are lower than the seat, it can stress your child’s wrists, arms, neck, and back. Even flexible little kids can get achy if their bike posture is off.

Standover Height

Your child’s standover (or “stepover”) height will be a few inches longer than their inseam measurement. You can visually gauge a standover height simply by making sure your child can easily stand over the bike with their feet on the ground. 

When your child stands over the bike, there should be a visible gap between the frame and their crotch. The gap should be at least an inch or two. It’s essential to check the standover height to ensure your child can quickly and easily get on and off the bike. 

The wrong stepover height can cause painful injuries if your child slips forward or can cause accidents when they need to jump off the seat during a sudden stop. 

My child has been using a balance bike. Do they need training wheels on their bike? 

Believe it or not, training wheels are not a necessary step on the path to learning to ride a bike. Here at Clearly, we don’t believe children need to use training wheels. 

Balance bikes are bicycles without pedals. A child who learns to ride a balance bike doesn’t need training wheels because it has already taught them how to ride. 

By design, a balance bike teaches children to balance while they are sitting and in motion. This balancing act is the hardest part of learning to ride a bike! Once your kiddo has mastered balancing, pedaling is an easy skill to master. 

Training wheels often prevent a child from trying and learning how to balance themselves. Cleary bikes have wider tires and are ergonomically designed for kids making it easy for them to go from balance to pedal.

With the proper fitting bike, your child can go from a balance bike straight to a pedal bike – without the need for training wheels! If you’ve sized your child’s bike correctly using the inseam method, your child will be able to put their feet on the ground. 

Please don’t underestimate how important it is that kids who haven’t learned to pedal yet be able to place their feet flat on the ground. Touching the ground provides a sense of security for young children learning to ride a pedal bike for the first time. They can scoot or stop the cycle with their feet if they feel so inclined. 

As easy as riding a bike!

Teaching your children to ride a bike is a memory you and your kids should cherish. Cleary make bikes specifically designed to give kids the best possible riding experience. But the wrong size bike can quickly turn this experience into a frustrating and potentially dangerous situation for you and your child. That’s why taking the time to review the kids bike sizing guide and measure your child’s bike fit properly is so important. Spending a few minutes getting in those measurements now will save you both a headache in the future. 

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