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Buying a bike for a child

Check out Helen’s top tips for buying a bike for your child. From buying a balance bike through to their first pedal bike, there are a few simple things to check to make sure they have a great time learning to ride.

The size – Your child should be able to sit comfortably on the saddle with only the balls of their feet on the ground to push off. Check that the seat can go up and down to fit your child while also allowing for growth spurts. Shop staff will be able to help with this.

It is tempting to buy a bigger bike so that it will last longer but this will actually make it harder for your child to learn to pedal, feel in control and develop their skills.

Frame size – Your child must be able to run and pedal comfortably whilst sitting on the saddle so check there is space between the seat and handlebars for them to fully bend their knees. Many shops have a small test track or will let your child scoot or ride up and down the aisles.

Tyres – Air-filled tyres provide the most cushion and traction and can be found on most bikes. Avoid plastic or hard rubber tyres as these make it harder to steer and can be slippery.

Brakes – Feet will always be the main way of stopping on a balance bike but brakes can help to stop quicker, reduce damage to shoes and teach the skill of stopping correctly to better prepare children for the pedal bike.

A pedal bike needs two working brakes; one at the front one at the back. Learning to use the brakes effectively is a really important part of learning to ride.

Footrests – On a balance bike foot rests are not essential as children will just lift their legs up to glide. They can help your child to learn where their feet should go however, as they progress towards pedalling.

Weight – A heavy bike is a real disadvantage for a small child as the bike can be one third to half of their body weight! A good balance bike would be no more than 4kg. A good children’s bike for 4-6-year-olds would be no more than 6kg including the pedals.

Cost – A good quality bike is an investment in having fun and living an active life. The three main areas to look out for are weight, fit and simplicity. Often the bikes with lots of novelty accessories are the heaviest and ironically the least fun to ride.

Prices vary for a balance bike from under £50 to over £100. A pedal bike for a 4-6 year old can range from under £100 to over £250.

A good quality children’s bike will hold its resale value well if looked after and kept clean. It can also be passed on to siblings, friends and relatives to help more children start cycling in future.

If the bike is for a child who can’t yet ride, get them started today with fun Prepare 2 Ride activities that will help them to pedal – no bike needed! Then once the bike arrives, they will fly through the balance and pedal games.