Cycling is definitely an extremely fun activity for a child, and at the same time it develops hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, self-confidence and strengthens the sense of achievement. If you buy your child a bike, you’re not just getting him a gift, you’re giving him a skill that will last a lifetime.
So how do you choose the right bike? In this article, we have mentioned the types of baby and children’s bikes and what you should pay attention to when choosing each one.
What are the types of baby and children’s bikes?
Cycling; crawling is a milestone like walking. Not every child can pedal or balance easily. Therefore, it is necessary to take firm steps and give him the right tools at the right time. We can summarize the types and times of bicycles that you can buy for your child in the preschool period as follows:
Tricycle : It is your baby’s first bicycle. By 10 months, your baby can start riding this bike. Even though he can’t pedal yet, he can use it with your direction at first. Around the age of 1.5-2, they begin to turn the pedals.
Balance bike: Starting from the age of 2, they can learn to stand in balance. So the balance bike age has come. Ideally, he can use a balance bike for almost 2-3 years before switching to a children’s bike.
Children’s bicycle: It is a bicycle used from the age of 5 years.
Now let’s get down to the details of these bike types and explain how to make the right choice.
1. 3-wheel baby bike
These bikes have three wide wheels, two at the front and one at the rear. The main goal is of course to let your baby learn to pedal and have fun!
We recommend that you pay attention to the following features when choosing this type of bike.
How many kg is the carrying capacity?
It is very important that you know the carrying capacity of your baby’s first bike. Their carrying capacity is generally between 15-25 kg. But there are also more.
How long can you use?
Carrying capacity is the most important factor here. Most of the first bikes can be used between 10 months and 36 months. But there are also those that can be used up to 48 or 54 months.
Is there parental control?
A push handle is placed on the baby bike to have this feature. In this way, you can steer the bike with the help of the push handle when you need it. We recommend that you pay attention to the fact that the pushing arm is height adjustable so that it can be steered by different adults or older siblings, and that the push arm is detachable so that there is no excess when steering is not needed.
Is the seat wide and comfortable?
It’s important that the first bike makes your baby comfortable. Because at the baby’s first bicycle age, he/she tries to do something on his/her own. He needs comfort and confidence to build his self-confidence and realize that he has succeeded. While shopping, “Is the baby bike seat comfortable enough, is it in a structure and shape to prevent the baby from sliding forward or sideways?” You should ask questions like
Does it have a front bar? Is it removable?
This feature is important in terms of preventing the baby from sliding forward or sideways during the first period of riding the 3-wheel baby bike. The removable front bar allows the baby to get on and off the bike by himself when he masters it.
Is there a seat belt?
The seat belt feature is also important for safety, just like the front bar. At first, we recommend that you prefer those with 3 or 5 point seat belts.
Does it have awning? Is the height adjustable?
Your baby’s favorite place in his first cycling years is probably “outside”. Being outside, seeing different things, expending energy, exploring is also necessary for development. You can choose a model with an awning instead of worrying about the sun getting on your head when you are outside in nice weather. The fact that the height of the awning is adjustable is important for you to provide shade control.
Is there a foot rest unit?
Until they learn to pedal, or when they get tired of pedaling, a footrest is good for baby to rest their feet on. Otherwise, on parent-controlled bikes, it is possible to hit the rotating pedals or ride on the ground. Some parent-controlled bikes prevent the pedals from turning during parental control to prevent this.
Is it fun for your baby?
You know that no matter what kind of baby equipment you buy, it should excite your baby, give him pleasure and create a desire to use it. Therefore, if he has music, will his horn make him uneasy, you should pay attention to everything in detail.
Does it grow with your baby?
We know that the carrying capacity of some baby bike models is quite high, so their usage time is longer. However, the infancy period ends quickly and children switch to balance bikes or children’s bikes. In other words, this feature is not one of the features you should pay attention to the most.
Are there baby bike accessories?
“Draw a bicycle” for us adults. If they say so, we will surely add a basket to our drawing, right? It can be either the front basket or the rear basket, but a bicycle cannot be without a basket! Not just because it’s iconic; The fact that it is functional is also an important reason why we love the basket. You can also carry your baby’s belongings and toys with this basket. Doesn’t have a basket but has a backpack? Well, it will.
Can a stroller be used?
Some bikes’ seats can rotate 360 degrees. This type of bike with front bars, push handle, canopy, seat belt can be used as a standard baby bike when the baby is facing forward, while it can be used as a parent-facing baby carriage when turned in the opposite direction of travel.
What about the budget?
Baby bike prices vary so much. We are sure that you can easily find the one that fits your budget. There are baby bikes in the market for 50 TL and for 450 TL. The important thing is that it is safe and the right bike for your baby.
After baby bikes, where your baby can become a master of pedaling without falling off the bike and enjoy cycling independently and having fun, it’s time for balance bikes.
2. Balance bike
These bikes, which are used without pedals in a way that we are not very familiar with, improve the baby’s balance and steering skills, while also increasing their self-confidence.
We recommend that you pay attention to the following features when choosing a balance bike.
How about the wheel size?
Most balance bikes have 12″ rims. If the child is of school age or not yet of school age; but if you are a tall child, you can also choose 14” or 16” ones. Although the 10” ones are mostly used for kids who are very new to balance bikes, you know that kids grow up very quickly. That’s why you should still choose 12’s.
Is there a height adjustment?
Although the wheel size gives a general indication of the size of a bicycle, the most correct size for the child is the height of the bicycle. So what’s the correct height? Your child’s feet should touch the ground, be able to push the bike and sit comfortably. If it is possible to raise the saddle when it gets taller, the usage time will be a little longer. Most balance bikes can be used for 2-3 years or until the child switches to a children’s bike.
How many kg does it weight?
Balance bikes are lighter than baby and children’s bikes as they do not have a pedal and chain system. Multi-sport, athletic children can also use heavier balance bikes; however, children with poor coordination have difficulty on heavy bikes. So let’s listen to the general rule: the weight of the balance bike should not be more than 30% of your child’s weight!
How is the geometry of the bike?
When we talk about the geometry of the balance bike, we basically have two criteria. The first is the space between the seat and the handlebar, and the second is the gap between the rear wheel and the seat. The gap between the seat and the handlebar should be such that the child can sit comfortably and put his hands on the handlebars. The gap between the lowest position of the seat and the rear wheel should definitely not be too much. Watch out for that too!
What type of wheel?
Five types of wheels are used on balance bikes.
- Pneumatic wheels are the most preferred and best ones.
- EVA foam ones are cheaper, lighter and buoyant type wheels. They are not shock absorbing and do not have good traction on most surfaces.
- Rubber wheels are better than Eva foam but worse than pneumatic ones.
- The hard plastic ones are the lightest but the worst in quality.
- Finally, there are the “Big Apple” or “Fat Boy” wheel types. However, these are according to the children who do acrobatic movements with the bicycles we see in the parks.
Does it have brake feature?
The brake of a balance bike is actually the child’s own feet. However, parking brakes better prepare the child for the children’s bike and protect their feet and legs against any possibility of an accident.
Is there foot support?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by many parents. In fact, there is no need for foot support on a balance bike. However, if you still prefer it as a feature, you should prefer the ones that can rest on the heel part of the child’s foot, not the toe part; because these types do not interfere with driving pleasure.
What material is the frame of the balance bike made of?
Basically, three types of materials are used in production.
1. Wood: The worst feature of wood, which is both a very healthy and very aesthetic material, is that it requires care. 2. Metal: It can be steel or aluminum. Aluminum ones are both light and strong. They are used on more expensive bikes. If a metal bike isn’t specifically designated as aluminum, you can tell it’s made of steel. 3. Composite: The most important feature of the composite skeleton is that it can carry heavy loads even though it is light.
How is the handlebar handle?
Although it is considered as the least important feature, it is one of the most important safety criteria of a balance bike. It is very important that it is thick enough that your child can easily grasp it.
3. Kids bike
The features you should pay attention to when buying a children’s bike will be a mixture of the criteria we specified for the baby bike and the ones we specified for the balance bike.
Is the bike the right size for your child?
This is the issue you should pay attention to when choosing a children’s bike! If the bike is too big or too small for your child, it definitely represents a potential hazard. There are also two ways to tell if the bike is the right size. The first is the wheel diameter (rim) and the second is the bike height.
- Your child’s first bike should have rims between 12”-16”. (You can switch to 20” and 24” as your child gets older and taller).
- After the rim, you should choose the one whose height is suitable for your child’s height. How will you know the appropriate height? If your child’s feet touch the ground in the lowest position of the seat and he can push or stop the bike, this indicates that the height is correct. Do not buy a bike that is too big for your child so that they can use it for a longer period of time because they grow taller quickly. Because the bike that your child cannot stop is definitely not the right bike, remember that!
How many kg does the bike weigh?
The weight of a children’s bike should ideally be no more than 40% of the child’s weight. If you have determined a few of the children’s bike models that meet the selection criteria and you cannot decide exactly which one to choose, we recommend you to choose the lightest one. But let’s mention, you can choose the lightest if it meets the other criteria. Lightness alone cannot be the most important criterion in choosing a bike.
Is the geometry of the bike comfortable and safe for use?
We know that the geometry of the bike is a bit too general. Let’s make this definition a little more everyday. Namely;
- If your child has just switched to a children’s bike, the center of gravity of the bike you choose should be close to the ground. In this way, the child can control the bike more easily and ride it more safely.
- Let the handlebar distance be the optimum distance. That is, the arms are neither too far apart to be straight nor too close to cause the elbows to bend too much.
- The handlebar height should be at the optimum height. So when your child sits on the saddle, do not lean too far from the waist. May you stand straight.
Is the braking system good?
A children’s bike is only good if it has good brakes. Don’t forget about it! There are two types of braking systems encountered in children’s bikes:
1. Reverse pedal brake: This braking system is almost standard on 12” and 14” bikes. Because it is very cheap and easy to maintain. However, children are very prone to turning the pedals back and forth. Especially if they’re just starting to pedal. This causes undesirable sudden braking, which can create very dangerous situations.
2. Handbrake: When children reach the age of 3.5, their hand-eye coordination has increased and they can easily operate the handbrake of a children’s bicycle. Although the parking brake is more effective than the reverse pedal brake, it is not the right choice if the child cannot use the parking brake easily or if the parking brake is too hard for them. But you should definitely prefer a well-designed handbrake to a reverse pedal brake. You should also teach your child to use the handbrake.
What should be the width between the two pedals?
The width between the two pedals should be enough for your child to use the bike comfortably. So it should not be narrow or wide.
Are there support wheels? Can the support wheel be fitted?
If your child has not used a balance bike before using a children’s bike, they may need a booster wheel for a while. This type of quadricycle makes it easier for your child to learn to ride a bicycle, but it will prolong the transition to a two-wheeled bicycle. However, if you consider it necessary for safety, you should choose bicycles with support wheels or which can be attached.
Does it have a bell?
One of the must-haves of a children’s bike is the bell. Even if the bike you choose does not have a bell, you can easily install it. However, just because a bike has a bell doesn’t mean everyone can hear it. That’s why you should give your child a good bike safety education.
Is there a bicycle light?
Just like the bell, if the bike you are thinking of buying does not have a lamp, you can have it installed. Although it is not safe for your child to ride a bicycle late at night or in the dark, having a bicycle lamp provides extra safety even during daytime use.
How much should you budget?
There are so many varieties and so many different prices on the market that it is not easy for you to choose. There is a children’s bike for 150 TL, and for 900 TL. First, set a budget range, and then see if it fits the features we’ve described. We hope this makes the purchase decision easier.
You have chosen a bike suitable for the age of your baby or child and you are sure that you have made the right choice. But is this enough for security? Of course not. What else should you pay attention to? Let’s have a quick recap.
Helmet: Although it does not prevent accidents, a bicycle helmet can protect your child. We recommend that you buy a helmet that meets safety standards.
Lock: We recommend getting a lock for your child’s bike. Especially if you live in a big city.
Pump: You should always have a pump in case the tire goes flat. If the child is old enough to inflate the tire, we recommend teaching him how to inflate the tire.
Decoration: Kids love to customize their bikes. Moreover, it is quite easy to achieve this with stickers and accessories. It’s not a safety issue, but it’s important.
Bicycle maintenance: Like all equipment, bicycles will last longer if well cared for. We recommend that you regularly inspect and maintain the bike. Involving your child in care every time allows him to both take responsibility and learn about bike care and the working system.