Bike Sizing for Kids 101
Bike Sizing for Kids 101
By Kaitlin Benz
A bike that fits correctly is a bike that a rider will feel confident and comfortable on. On the other hand, a bike that fits poorly can lead to frustration, sore muscles, and discouragement. Finding the bike that fits right is essential for all riders from two years old to 100 years old. This is especially important to do with children! A properly fit bike is going assist new riders with learning how to ride quicker, and it will give all children the confidence they need to take to the trails and trust their gear. It is always good to recruit the help of somebody who can perform measurements and adjustments alongside you to ensure both safety and accuracy of any changes being made. There are skilled bicycle technicians all across the country that have the right tools to measure people of all shapes and sizes to find the perfect fit.
The first thing to consider when sizing anybody for a bike is the standover height. You want to be able to straddle the bike with both feet flat on the ground and measure from the ground up to the bottom of the crotch area. That number in inches is the ideal standover height for picking a bike. This number will vary depending on the height of the rider as well as the current seat height adjustment on the bike.
The next consideration is effective top tube length. ETT length is the distance between the head tube and the seat tube on the bicycle, the two vertical tubes that hold a bike up. A comfortable ETT fit is one that allows a rider enough room to have a slight bend in the arms for the purposes of shock absorption, and one that they do not have to overextend their arms to reach the handlebars. If that distance is too short, it does not allow for a free range of motion, which can compromise rider safety, and if that distance is too long, the rider will be overstretching their arms to reach the handlebars, and risks their safety that way as well. The best way to determine which length is best is with trial and error by testing out bikes and simply seeing what feels most comfortable for the rider.
The final measurement to check before buying a bike is the seat height. Ideally, the forefoot and knee should be aligned with each other as you begin to pedal. Additionally, the bike saddle should be parallel to the ground. Most childrens’ bikes are produced with a very flat, parallel level to the ground for safety purposes until they become more seasoned riders.
It is rare that a brand new bike just taken out of the box and built this morning will fit any rider, especially a growing child, perfectly the first time. What is most important is finding a comfortable fit that a bike technician or seasoned rider can adjust to fit the rider’s needs. Soon enough you’ll have a brand new cyclist riding with ease on a brand new perfectly fit bike!