What Size Bike To Buy For A 6 Yr Old Child?

Kids on Mountain Bikes

Where Do I Start? 

Getting your child into biking from a young age can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the parent and the child. It’s a great way to get your kid outdoors and having fun, and it could be the start of a lifelong interest in biking. However, when it comes to actually doing the research and buying the best kids bike, you can start to get a little overwhelmed. There are so many bikes on the market, and it’s difficult to know which one is best for a growing child. In this article, we’re focusing on buying the proper bike size for a young child – specifically, what size bike to buy for a 6 yr old child. Additionally, we’ll show you how to make the best choice as to type of bike. Because when it comes down to it, you want to make the perfect choice, and that involves considering all available alternatives! 

father riding bike with 6yr old daughter
Dad riding bike with kids

Bikes for Kids

Generally speaking, kids’ bikes come in very standard sizing variants. Typically, they are separated based on the size of the wheels. The most popular wheels sizes are 12”, 16”, 18”, 20”, and 24” (and sometimes even going higher than this). The sizing is relatively standardized because kids tend to go through various bike sizes as they grow. Wheel size is directly correlated to the size of the actual bike frame, and each is designed to fit children as they grow. 

There are a few special considerations when it comes to buying a kids bikes. The first is that they will continue to grow at a fast rate. For this reason, some parents will buy a bike that is slightly too big for a child, so that it will fit them for a bit longer. While this is an economical solution, you don’t want to push it too far, as it could result in a bike that is too difficult for a child to ride. 

All that being said, the best way to pick the proper kids bike size is with a sizing chart. Next, we’ll check out a standard kids bike size chart. 

Bike Sizing For Kids

In this section, we’re going to run through a general sizing chart for children’s bikes. This chart breaks down bike sizing based on age, height, and inseam. 

Remember, this is just a general sizing chart. Each kid is different, and kids will also tend to grow at different rates. So while this chart is a good general reference, you’ll need to adapt your buying decision to your own child. Additionally, every bike is different, and each one may have its own sizing requirements. 

It’s a good idea to have your child individually fitted to the specific bike that you purchase. Every kids bike might have different height and inseam requirements. So use this kids bike size chart to get started, but be sure to pay specific attention to each bike that you consider. 

Wheel SizeTypical AgeHeight (Inches)Height (Cm)Inseam (Inches)Inseam (Cm)
12”1-42’8”-3’3”82-10012-1630-40
14”3-73’3”-3’6”98-10614-1736-44
16”5-93’5”-4’0”104-12216-2140-54
20”7-133’11”-4’3”120-13020-2352-59
24”10-154’2”-4’8”127-14222-2657-66

Reading the Chart:

As you can see, the sizing chart is broken down based on wheel size, and how it corresponds to the typical age, a child’s height, and a child’s inseam. 

The age breakdown is based on the typical height and inseam of a child that age. It is mainly meant as a good reference point for deciding when a child should upgrade to a new bike. As per the title of this article, this is generally a good reference for the proper bike size for a 6 year-old. 

However, the more reliable indicator is to actually measure you child’s height and inseam. Height is a relatively easy measurement, but you might have a couple questions about “inseam”. 

What is Inseam? 

An inseam is essentially the length of your leg. It is measured as the distance from the soles of your feet, along the inside of your leg, to the highest point in your crotch. This is a particularly important measurement, as it indicates how effectively you can reach the pedals of a bike. It is particularly important with children, as their proportions may not be as consistent as an adult’s. Therefore, to be sure that they can properly reach the pedals of their kids bike, it is necessary to measure their inseam. 

The best way to measure an inseam is to have a child stand against the wall with their feet spread about 6 inches apart. Then, have them replicate a “bike seat” between their legs, by placing a book (or similarly sized object) where the seat would go. Then, measure from the top of the object down to the floor, and you have the inseam length. 

Importance of Buying the Right Size Bike

When it comes to buying a bike, there’s a few reasons why you really want to get the correct size. These reasons are especially important when it comes to buying a kids bike. 

Bikes are designed to be ridden by people of certain heights and measurements. Each bike is made so that the components are properly spaced for a convenient, stable ride. The pedals, handlebars, and frame are all spaced to allow for an easy ride, but only if the bike fits properly. A bike is an efficient machine, but only if the rider is able to operate it efficiently. The handlebars need to allow for the child to sit properly, and the pedals need to be far enough away to allow for adequate leg extension. 

photo of adult on too small of a bike
Kids come in all sizes; but if the bike is too small, it’s hard to pedal!

While all of this might seem obvious, there are actually more downsides to an improperly sized bike than you might think. It might be easier to look at the drawbacks of improper sizing: 

What Size Bike To Buy For A 6 Yr Old Child: Drawbacks of Improper Bike Sizing

If you purchase the wrong size bike for your child, there are a few things that can go wrong. 

Firstly, the bike will be much harder to ride. If a bike is too small or too large, your child will not be able to operate the bike efficiently. They either won’t be able to reach certain components, or the components won’t be spaced enough to allow for adequate suspension. Either way, this makes riding so much more difficult, which is especially detrimental because children may just be learning to ride a bike. Learning to ride a bike that doesn’t properly fit is a lot more difficult.

Additionally, the added strain of riding a bike that doesn’t fit can result in injuries or joint pain. If your child needs to strain their knees to pedal, or strain their back to reach the handlebars, then this added strain can result in some unwanted injuries. 

Simply put, there are many reasons not to buy a bike that fits improperly, and this is an especially important issue for a young child. Children will have a much easier time learning to ride a bike if it fits them properly. 

photo of a kid with a bike that is too big
If the bike is too big, it’s still hard to pedal!

What Type of Bike Should I Buy for a 6-Year Old? 

Now that we’ve given you an extensive guide to picking the proper sized bike for your 6-year old, let’s move on to an issue that some would see as equally important – what type of bike should you actually get? 

Let’s face it, proper sizing is only one issue that you’ll encounter in buying a bike for a 6 year-old. Because once you start to survey the options on the market, you’ll see that there is a lot of choice available! Simply put, you want to make the right choice, and that means picking a bike based on what you think your child will enjoy, and what will most properly suit their riding style. 

First, let’s give a quick rundown of the most popular types of children’s bikes: 

Hybrid

A hybrid bike is just as the name implies, it’s a mix of different styles of bikes, and is meant to offer a solid blend of capabilities. A hybrid bike borrows elements from different bike varieties, most notably the mountain bike and the road bike. 

Although there are many styles of hybrid bike available, most of them will focus on an easy, comfortable ride, that is suitable for handling various terrains. They’ll often have a lightweight frame design, with a comfortable, upright riding position. They’ll also be equipped with wheels and tires that have adequate traction, and a wide enough wheelbase to offer a stable ride. Additionally, these bikes might be equipped with front suspension for added absorbency, and gears for adjusting the resistance of the pedals. 

Basically, these bikes borrow elements from different bikes, but each model will do so to different extents (ex. Some will be more geared toward speeds, and some to comfort). They are good all-around bikes, which also means that they are often very good “beginner” bikes. Because these bikes are a jack-of-all-trades, they are great bikes for a child to learn on. And even once your child is a capable bike rider, these are great bikes because they allow them to explore all sorts of new terrain. Kids like to make their own fun on their bikes, and this bike can keep up with their various adventures. 

The stable, comfortable nature of the bikes make them the top choice for a child’s first bike. As a result, hybrids are generally what you would buy a 6 year-old if they were just learning to ride a bike. Once they have learned to ride, they might show preference toward a specific type of riding. At this point, you can focus on a more specialized type of bike, such as:

Mountain

Mountain bikes are the top choice for off-road riding and rugged terrain. If you want your child to get into this type of riding, then a mountain bike is what they need. There are many models of mountain bike which are made for kids. 

Kids’ mountain bikes have similar variety to mountain bikes in general. You can find basic hardtail bikes with steel frames, or high-performance full-suspension mountain bikes, and everything in between. Generally speaking, since your child will only get a couple years out of a mountain bike before they outgrow it, we recommend getting a more basic design. Unless your child is mountain biking at a competitive level, there’s no need to break the bank on something that they’ll outgrow in a year! 

Kids on Mountain Bikes
Kids on Mountain Bikes

BMX

BMX biking is a popular choice among many young kids. BMX bikes are small and maneuverable. They’re considered the ideal bikes for stunt-riding, going off jumps, and riding in bike parks. 

While a 6 year-old might be a bit young for a BMX bike, it is a type of bike riding that many young children get interested in. The dangerous nature of the riding appeals to many young ones, so don’t be surprised if your child eventually shows an interest. Just be sure that they are capable bike riders before you allow them to do anything too risky! BMX biking can be quite dangerous. 

Road

Road bikes are generally more popular among adult riders than kids, but as with anything else, there are exceptions! While most children won’t want to be constrained to the confines of the open road, there are road bike options available if they display an interest. 

Kids’ road bikes emphasize a lightweight frame, high pressure tires, and a bent-over riding position. They are definitely not a beginner bike. They are much more difficult to ride, and the high-speed nature will be too much for most 6 year-olds. However, if your child is already a skilled rider, and they show particular interest in this area of bike riding, then it’s good to know the option is there. 

Is there a good answer as to what Size Bike To Buy For A 6 Yr Old Child

So far in this article we’ve given you a lot of choice. From different kids bike sizes, to different types of bikes, to different makes and models, you might find yourself pretty overwhelmed at this point. When it really comes down to it, you just want to buy the best bike for your child. So before we wrap things up, we’re going to give you the top factors to consider when deciding on the best bike for your child. 

At the end of the day, you just want to buy a bike they are happy with, and here’s how you make the best choice: 

Skill Level

Skill level is probably the top consideration when buying a bike for a child. Simply put, some bikes are much easier to learn on than others. So when you’re buying a bike for a 6 year-old, skill level is probably the most relevant choice, and this is especially true if they have never ridden a bike before. 

For a beginner rider, you’ll probably want to focus on a bike that is comfortable, stable, and capable of handling varied terrain. A hybrid bike is probably your best bet. You want a bike that allows a child to sit comfortably upright, so that they can reach the pedals and handlebars with ease. Hybrid bikes are generally designed for this purpose, especially in children’s models. 

Family Riding Bikes
Family Riding Bikes

Type of Riding 

Building on our above point, it may be the case that your child is already an adept bike rider, and wants to focus on a specific type of riding. If they seem more inclined toward a specific discipline, then it might be time to buy them a bike that’s right for the job. For example, if your child loves to take their bike off road and onto dirt trails (with your supervision of course!), then you might want to get them a mountain bike. A bike that is geared to their riding-style will make their rides even easier, which can further motivate them to pursue biking as they grow up. 

It’s great to feed this interest, as bike-riding is such a healthy and active pastime. One idea to keep in mind; if your kids will be riding their bikes a lot without you, you may want to invest in a bike gps tracker that lets you know where they are, and signals you if they are in an accident!

Size and Fit

Of course, we couldn’t neglect the title-category of this article! Getting the bike properly fitted is imperative in choosing a bike for any child. Consider not only the kids bike size chart we’ve examined above, but the sizing that is specific to the bike you choose. Each bike has its own specific dimensions and features, so it’s best to get your child specifically fitted to the type of bike you choose. 

Interests – Let Them Decide

Finally, be sure to involve your child in the decision! If your child has a particular interest in biking, try to ask them what they’d most like to learn. Sometimes, they’ll have more opinions than you might think! So whether you think they’d like to pursue mountain biking, road biking, BMX biking, or anything in between, it’s a good idea to get them engaged and involved. Children are much more likely to enjoy themselves if they feel a sense of ownership over the process! 

Last Updated on November 16, 2020 by Matthew Carpenter

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