How to find a suitable bike to teach your child to ride

As a parent, you want to share a few special experiences with your child. Something that will help strengthen the bond and create memories to cherish. As an avid cyclist, what is a more fitting activity to start with your child than cycling? Apart from it being a fun adventure, it's a simple way for kids to experience regular outdoor exercise while having fun. But to ensure it's an enjoyable experience, your child needs to be riding the right bicycle.

We have compiled these tips to help you get an idea of what is the best bike for a child to learn on and how you can choose a bike for your child. 

Measure your child's inseam

While there are bikes for children that cater to their age, it’s important to measure your child’s inseam as it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. For instance, your child might be five years old, but their suitable bike could be one that’s meant for a three to four-year-old. Children grow at different paces, so always make sure you take their measurements beforehand, as it will also help us find the suitable bike for your child. To get an accurate measurement, you have to do the following: 

Have your child stand against the wall with no shoes. 

Place a book in between their legs to mark the top of the book for the inseam. 

Lastly, use the tape to measure from the floor to the bookmark you made. 

When consulting Chris Willemse Cycles, you will choose one that is within the low end of the inseam. This will ensure that you won't need to purchase a new bike every time your child grows.

Sizing

You may recall your parents saying they bought you a bike that was bigger than your age so that you can grow into it. Well, the world has changed, and bicycles for kids are made in a wide range of wheel sizes - 12-inch, 16-inch, 20-inch, 24-inch and 26-inch. 

This range of kids bicycle wheel sizes ensures you can buy the right-size bike for your child at various stages of their growth. If they're on the right bike, they will have better control, comfort and will become more eager to ride. It’s best to take your child into a store that stocks a wide range of quality kids bicycles like ours.

Now that you know your child’s inseam and sizing, here is a simple guide to help you buy a bike depending on their biking experience: 

First bicycle (age 2-5)

While we know that pedal bikes seem to be the most appropriate for your child at this age to start with, we recommend you look for a balanced bike. 

It’s not traditionally seen as a kid’s bike because it doesn’t have pedals, but in the past decade, balance bikes have become the best way for kids to learn to ride because it simplifies the process. When it comes to learning how to ride a bike, there are two main elements – balance and propulsion.

On a balance bike, kids get to focus purely on learning how to balance. With no pedals, they move the bike forward with their feet on the ground, a little bit like walking or running, which they’re already used to. This is an effective way to get your child used to cycling. 

Second bicycle (age 3-6)

At this stage, your child is hurtling around with confidence on a kids balance bike. While it may seem like it’s still the right bike for them, it’s time to move them up a level to a children’s bicycle with pedals. 

We have a wide range of brands for kids bicycles for sale that make children’s bikes with varying pricing largely based on the quality of the parts and the origin of the brand.

South African bicycle brands like Volcan, Titan, Muna, Avalanche, Signal, Mia, Silverback, and Momsen tend to have lower pricing than international bicycle brands like SCOTT, KTM, Frog, Trek and others. 

Now that your child has their balancing in place, you can focus more on propulsion which is the act of driving and pushing forward. With a bicycle with pedals, they won’t have to focus on both balance and propulsion, as the pedals will help. This will give them time to get into it so that they can eventually purchase a bike with no pedals or balance as they will be accustomed to both. 

Final thoughts

Finding the right bike will make a world of difference for your child. Not only will you have a cycling companion, but it will help grow their confidence and ensure that they are just as happy as you are that they’re cycling. It’s also important to note that the above age references are guidelines only. As with most sporting activities, children develop at different stages when it comes to riding bicycles, and it depends on how early they start and how often they ride. Visit Chris Willemse Cycles, as there will be a store attendant who is more than happy to assist you in finding a suitable bike. Make sure you also take a look at additional cycling gear such as kids bike helmets to ensure they’re safe during every cycling lesson.