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The expert's top tips: How to choose the right bicycle for your child

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Updated May 5, 2020

Riding a bike is one of the pleasures of childhood! Whether it's going round and round the garden of your house or pedalling along with the entire family on a trip to the beach, having their own bike gives every child a feeling of freedom. With a good bike, you can encourage your child to be active and get them to spend more time outdoors.

We spoke to bicycle expert Jonas Forss from Cykloteket, and asked him for his top tips on what you should think about when buying a child’s bike, and what many parents forget to take into account.

What should you think about when you’re buying a child’s bike?

The right size is essential. A bicycle that’s the wrong size is hard to ride and makes it more difficult for the child to learn to ride a bike. It can also be dangerous in traffic. Buy a light bike for your child; ideally one with an aluminium frame. Children aren’t very strong, and cheap children’s bicycles made of steel are heavy. Remember that the child must be able to handle the bicycle – for example they must be able to lift it up from the ground if it's lying down.

How do you encourage your child to learn to ride a bike?

Take them out for a ride! Children who are introduced to cycling, or are given a new bike, are often very enthusiastic. Your child’s first bike can even be a balance bicycle. This is a bike without pedals, where the child pushes with their feet and then balances while the bicycle rolls along the ground. If the child can find their balance, you don't need to put stabilisers on their next bike.

How do you know what size bike is right, given that the child is growing?

Use an online size guide to help you choose.

Are hand or foot brakes best on a child’s bicycle?

Regardless of which they have, most children pick up the use of brakes very quickly. If the bicycle has hand brakes, you just need to make sure that the brake handles are suitable for the child’s hands, so they can reach and hold the brakes correctly.

What’s the most common mistake when parents buy their child a bicycle?

Waiting for too long to change to the next bicycle size. Many parents wait for the child to grow so they can skip a size, but this can restrict the child’s ability to ride their bike. If the underlying reason is budget, don’t forget that there's a huge second-hand market for used children’s bicycles.

How much should you spend on a child’s bike to get reasonable quality?

The price of a child’s bike varies depending on the size of the bike, and on whether or not it has gears and other equipment. But as an example, a good gearless 16 inch bike costs £250-300. A good 24 inch bike with gears costs just over £400. Another thing to be aware of is that the majority of bikes will require some assembly. This is usually easy to do yourself. But if you feel unsure, enlist the help of a professional – it’s important to get it right!

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