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Balfe’s Guide to Kids Bikes

Words by Balfes Bikes

on 03/11/2019 08:10:00

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We can all remember our first bike and the thrill of taking those first wobbly pedals towards independence as we rode away from our parents or relatives chasing behind us. Fortunately, children’s bikes have moved on leaps and bounds over the past few years from those heavy old steel bikes which weighed almost as much as our parents fitted with brakes which were way too hard for us to pull!

Modern kids’ bikes are significantly lighter than their predecessors and most components have been scaled to fit the smallest of riders. Including such features as short reach brake levers, shortened crank lengths and narrow handlebars.

These evolutions have enabled kids to cover far greater distances than their parents may have done, and many families are now able to enjoy the thrills of cycling together over longer distances and time periods.


It is very important to get your child onto the right sized bike that they can learn to ride safely with. It can be tempting to get them onto a bike which is slightly too big, as it may last longer, but they are unlikely to be able to develop the skills and controls that they would through riding a correctly size bike.

Unlike adult bikes which are generally size by frame, kids’ bikes are usually sized by wheel size and there are guides to the approximate size of wheel for each age group, height or inside leg range: -

Wheel Size

Age Range

Approximate Height Range

Approximate Average Inside Leg



75-100cm (2’6”-3’3”)

24-38cm (8-15”)



82-100cm (2’8”-3’3”)

27-38cm (9-15”)



98-106cm (3’3”-3’6”)

40cm (16”)



105-117cm (3’5”-3’10”)

48cm (19”)



108-122cm (3’6”-4’0”)

50cm (20”)



120-130cm (3’11-4’3”)

52-55cm (21-22”)



127-142cm (4’2”- 4’8”

62cm (24”)



140-158cm (4’7”-5’2”)

69-72cm (27-28”)

Balance Bikes

Balance bikes have now become the norm for children learning to cycle. They are straight forward and uncomplicated with no pedals, or drivetrain parts to think about. Children just simply scoot along and learn the core balance skills that they will require before moving to their first pedal cycle. They come with wheel sizes from 10-14”, although 12” is by far the most common size. They also come with a rear brake for controlling speed.

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First Pedal Bikes

As the title implies, this will be your child’s first bike with pedals, they are very likely to have started to hone their balance and cycling skills from their balance bike. We often find that children do not need to use stabilizers if they have started off with a balance bike. At Balfe’s Bikes we classify the First Pedal Bike as one without gears to keep it uncomplicated and ensure your child continues to develop those all-important balance and control skills that they will require on the next steps of their cycling journey. Wheel sizes can be between 12-20”, although 14-18” are the most commonly found with our recommendation being that the smallest of riders start off on a balance bike and by the time they need 20” wheels most riders are ready to embark on their 1st experience with gears.

The first pedal bikes usually have low stand over heights so your child can easily hop on or off or bale out quickly if they need to! They will often come with chainguards to keep those little fingers and clothes away from those oily moving parts. Brake levers will be adjustable to enable them to be brought closer to the handlebars for their small hands.

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Junior Bikes

At Balfe’s Bikes we classify these as bikes with gears, this is where it starts to diversify, and bikes start to be miniature replicas of their adult counter parts. Whether that be a road bike with 20” or bigger wheels and drop handlebars to join you on their 1st Sportive. Or a lightweight hardtail mountain bike with short travel suspension forks for their 1st bike park experience, or a hybrid for cycling to school or joining those family cycling expeditions on.

For the 24” and 26” wheeled bikes you will find that they have even more of the features found on adult bikes such as more gears with a wider array of sizes to enable longer rides and steep ascents to be undertaken, or disc brakes to control the speed in the bike park as they start to challenge the speeds that their parents feel comfortable to ride at!

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