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What size bike for a 4 year old?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My ds is turning 4 very soon and we are getting him his first bike.

For the little guys, bikes are sized by their tires, not frames.
He fits well on a 12", he can touch the tips of his toes to the ground and he handles it well. The 16" is a bit big but he can ride it and I think with practice he'd be ok.

So, should I buy the smaller one, and have him outgrow it, or get the bigger one and have it be too big for a little while?
post #2 of 9
My dd has a 16". She got it at age 4. She's 5.5 now, and we just raised the seat and took the training wheels off.

I'd shop at a really good bike shop for fit - someone with experience should be able to help look at your kid and decide what will work best.
post #3 of 9
They also make a 14". This is what we are looking at for our ds. He is 3 2/3 yrs. Maybe 34 1/2 pounds and almost 38". Long limbs. The 12" seems too small for him. The 14" will give him some growing room. We told him we will buy it in August - he can't wait. He has already told dd that she can have his tricycle because he won't need it anymore.
post #4 of 9
I was in the same situation last summer. dd wanted a bike for her 5th birthday. It was the end of summer and winter comes early here. So we knew dd would only have a month to ride before it would be too cold/snowy. The 16" was just right if a tad small. We opted for the 18" a tad big at the time but great for this year and should last 1-2 more years. dd still has trainning wheels. I think if we would have gone with the 16" that she might have learned to ride this summer but she would have outgrown it at the end of this summer.
So I would recommend the 12" or 14" if you expect you dc to ride without trainners. Yard sales are usually a great place to find a cheap bike. We went to a professional bike store, Dh does alot of mountain biking, but just couldn't spend over $100 for a child's bike that would only last 1-2 yrs and would mostly be ridden on tennis courts.
post #5 of 9
DD got a 16" bike for his 4th birthday. Now, almost a year later he is around 41" (37lbs) and can ride it easily w/out training wheels. A 12" (which he already had) was getting too small. DD got a 20" for her 7th birthday, so I would probably go with the larger one unless you want to replace it soon. If you have younger kids, that would probably be great. DS did learn to ride w/out training wheels on his 12" and then moved to the 16" about a week later.
post #6 of 9
They are suppose to be able to place their feet flat on the ground when sitting on the seat. The idea is they can catch themselves with their feet if they start to crash. My friend's daughter just broke her wrist riding her brother's bike which was too big. She started to crash and couldn't catch herself.
post #7 of 9
My 42" ds is just getting too big for the 12". I'm planning on getting a 16" for his 5th birthday next month, but that size is still a bit big. 14" would probably be perfect for my ds this summer, but too small next summer. There also isn't much selection in the 14" size. Evidently, it is a much more common size in other countries (Canada and Great Britain) judging from my web searching.

If your ds is average height like mine, I would try to get a 14". the only reason that I am planning on getting the 16" is that he is a year older than your ds, comfortable on a bike with training wheels, experienced in braking, good at hopping off if the bike tips, and relatively cautious. Just make sure at least the balls of your ds' feet can touch while seated, but flat footed is best for a new rider. A lot of the sizing info will say that the child should be able to straddle the bar with flat feet and an inch of clearance. But young riders don't have the presence of mind to hop off the seat to get their feet on the ground so I wouldn't go by that.
post #8 of 9
I just reread your post. Is the seat all the way down on the 12" that he tried? If it is and he can only touch his toes, I would get that size, not a 14". I think it is really important for kids to have well fitting bikes, not too big ones. You can always sell them afterwards (or buy them used in the first place) to offset the cost of keeping them in the right size.
post #9 of 9
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