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There are various wheel sizes, and a rough guide to size and age is...
12" Wheel Cycles - Suitable for ages 21/2 to 5
16" Wheel Cycles - Suitable for ages 5 to 7
20" Wheel Cycles - Suitable for ages 7 to 9
24" Wheel Cycles - Suitable for ages 9 to 11
26" Wheel Cycles - Suitable for ages 11+ (These are classed as adult cycles.)
Childrens bikes generally fall into age categories based on the average size of a child of a specific age. There is no hard and fast rule that says that you must buy a bike of a particular size for a child of a specific age. If the child is comfortable and not too stretched on the bike, and they can manage all the controls i.e. turn the handlebars safely, reach the brake levers and operate them AND touch the floor with the ball of their foot, then there is nothing to prevent you from selecting a bike in a bigger age category.
What size should I choose?
It is a very tempting thing to do, but donít buy a bike which is too big for your child in the hope that they will grow into it. They will, but in the meantime they will be riding a bike that is not easy for them to control, which can be very dangerous. It does not really save money anyway, because if you change bikes more often, the outgrown ones will have a higher resale value.
A bike should be chosen with the child present, so that child size can be matched against the size of the frame. The ball or toes of a child cyclist's foot should be able to touch the ground while the child is sitting in the saddle at its lowest setting. A bicycle saddle and its handlebars have scope for adjustment, so the seat may be raised as the child grows.
Another big tip is - Can the child wheel and pick up the bike? Is it too heavy?
Part 2: Choosing Childrens bikes
First Bikes: 12" wheels, suitable for average ages 3 to 5. Larger children may benefit from a 14" wheel cycle BUT these are generally made by toy manufacturers rather than genuine cycle manufacturers and tend not to last very long and are virtually impossible to get spare parts for.
Instead of a bike with stabilisers try a scoot along. Much better for stability. Once your child has learnt to ride without stabilisers or with a scoot along (generally about age 5) they will move up to a 16" wheel cycle.
Once you get into the realms of 20" wheel bikes and above, you may be offered multiple frame sizes. This has the benefit of being able to fit a younger child onto a bigger wheeled bike if they are confident riders. Although you will find that size options are generally not offered on a particular model, rather that different models have different frame sizes.
Most local councils now have a cycle officer. Through them you may get a free (please check) Cycle Training Course. There are usually free courses during bike week. (17-25 June in 2007)
Ask at your school about cycle training or contact your local council and ask to speak to the Road Safety/Cycling Officer.
Once you have your bicycle, there are ways to make sure that, if it is stolen, it can be easily identified. You can mark a code or ID number on it. Make a note of this. If the bike is left outside, then you should use a padlock and chain and secure it to something