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How to Choose a Bike for a 3 to 6 Year Old Child

Bike Sizing

Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for many children. It's a fun and healthy activity that can provide years of enjoyment as they grow. But with so many different bikes on the market, it can be tough to know where to start.   

Below we'll look at what to think about when choosing the right bike for a 3 to 6 year old. At Bike Club, whether you need balance bikes for 4 year olds or pedal bikes for 3 year olds we have you covered.  

Bike Size  

The most important factor to consider when choosing a bike for a 3 to 6-year-old child is size. For most children between 3 and 6, a balance bike or a first pedal bike is the best choice. You need to make sure you get one that fits your child, however. The right bike size for a 5 year old can sometimes be the same as for some 3 year olds.   

We believe the best way to get a bike that fits like a glove is to use inside leg measurement. You can take a look at our sizing guide for more information 

Once you have your child’s inside leg measurement, you can input it into our Interactive Bike Finder 

Weight   

A lightweight bike is important for a 3 to 6-year-old child because it will be easier for them to handle. A heavier bike will be more difficult for them to pedal and manoeuvre, which can make it frustrating and even dangerous.  

Here are some additional benefits of a lightweight bike for a 3 to 6-year-old child:  

  • It’s easier for you to carry the bike when they are not riding it.  
  • It will be easier for them to lift the bike over obstacles.  
  • It will be easier to pedal the bike up hills.  

child with a tadpole mini

Seat Height & Adjustability  

When choosing a bike for a child, be on the lookout for seat height and adjustability.  

This allows you to customise the bike's fit to suit your child's specific height and leg length.  

As children grow rapidly, an adjustable seat also enables you to adapt the bike as they get taller, until they need a new bike entirely.   

Frame Design   

Choosing a lightweight frame specifically designed for small children is essential. Firstly, it enables children to manoeuvre the bike more easily, which will give a boost to their control and confidence while riding.   

It also reduces the strain on their muscles, allowing for longer and more enjoyable rides. A frame designed for kids takes into account their smaller stature and proportions, providing easy reach to the handlebars and pedals.   

Stabilisers or Balance Bikes  

The great debate, stabilisers of balance bikes? Traditionally children have learnt on regular bikes with stabilisers, but the tide is turning with the popularity of balance bikes.  

At Bike Club we are firmly in the balance bike camp for a number of reasons:  

  • Development of balance and coordination: Balance bikes allow children to develop their balance and coordination skills naturally.    
  • Easy transition to pedal bikes: Using a balance bike helps children develop a sense of confidence and control over their movements. This makes the transition to a pedal bike much smoother.   
  • Focus on core biking skills: They allow children to focus solely on the core biking skills, such as steering and manoeuvring. 
  • Enhanced safety: Balance bikes are closer to the ground, providing a lower center of gravity. This makes it easier for children to stabilise themselves.  

Brakes   

At this age range some balance bikes will have brakes and some are designed without them. Pedal bikes however will always have at least one brake.    

For young children, a balance bike without a brake is still perfectly safe. They will have one less thing to worry about and be able to use their feet to come to a stop. Having a brake however does have the advantage of getting them used to using one for when they transition to a pedal bike.  

Cube

No brake 

Frog Tadpole 

Brake 

Tadpole Mini 

Brake 

Tadpole Plus 

Brake 

 

child with a frog 44

Safety Features  

The balance bikes we stock all come with steering limiters for safety. These limiters are designed to restrict the range of the handlebar's turning radius. This encourages more gradual and controlled steering movements and prevents sharp turns.   

Some of our first pedal bikes like Woom 2 and Frog 40 also have steering limiters.    

Another safety feature some first pedal bikes feature is a chainguard. This stops clothing from getting stuck and small legs from getting injured. Our bikes with chainguards that fit a 3 to 6-year-old include the Woom 2, Woom 3, Squish 14, and Squish 16. For more about these types of bikes, take a look at our first pedal guide.   

Quality & Durability  

Choosing a high-quality and durable bike for young children is key for their comfort, safety, and long-term enjoyment.   

A quality bike offers a comfortable riding experience with well-padded seats, ergonomic handlebars, and properly positioned pedals. They are also made with more durable materials and reliable components. 

A high-quality bike is less likely to suffer from significant damage, reducing the need for frequent repairs or replacements.   

At Bike Club we only offer quality bikes. Our sustainably focused model relies on bikes that can stand the test of time. This means we can refurbish the bikes and offer them to the next child when you exchange them.   

Bike Brand Reputation & Reviews  

When considering bike brand reputation, several brands stand out for in the world of children's bicycles. Let's look at some renowned brands and reviews by our members:  

Frog  

Frog are known for their exceptional quality and child-friendly design. They prioritise lightweight frames, ergonomic components, and precise engineering to ensure optimal comfort and control for young riders.     

Frog Tadpole - “I can’t rave about this bike enough, absolutely love it!” - Katie B.    

Frog 40 - “Fantastic bike would absolutely recommend” - Susan W.  

Woom  

Woom is an Austrian brand highly regarded for its focus on child-specific design and meticulous attention to detail. Woom Bikes are known for their exceptional build quality, safety features, and smooth transitions between different bike sizes.  

Woom 2 - “Easy to change seat height, handlebars, brake position etc. lots of great colours, a quality little bike” - Paul B.  

Cube  

Cube offer a range of kids bikes from balance bikes to mountain bikes. Cube enjoys a sterling reputation as a prominent player in the world of cycling, renowned for its unwavering commitment to quality and innovation.

Forme  

Forme Bikes prioritise both performance and comfort in their children's bike range. Their bikes are specially made to suit British terrain and weather.    

Forme Cubley 14 - “Such great service and my son loves his bike!” - Cathy B.    

Forme Cubley 16 - “Lightweight, well balanced and easy to pedal. Even uphill.” - Chris F.  

Squish   

Squish Bikes focus on creating lightweight and colourful bikes for children. Squish Bikes offer a range of sizes and models, featuring sturdy frames, reliable components, and vibrant aesthetics.  

Squish 14 - “This really was the perfect 1st pedal bike for our 3 yr old” - Callum B.   

child with squish bike - bike club

Types of Bikes Available for a 3 to 6 Year Old Child  

From balance bikes to first pedal bikes and hybrids, there are various options suitable for young riders.  

Balance Bikes: Balance bikes, are pedal-free bicycles designed to help children develop balance, coordination, and confidence. By using their feet to propel and balance the bike, children gradually learn to maintain stability and control. 

First Pedal Bikes: First pedal bikes mark an exciting milestone for young riders. These bikes feature pedals and a drivetrain, allowing children to practice pedalling and gain experience in controlling their speed and balance.    

Hybrid Bikes: Hybrid bikes for young children offer a bridge between mountain bikes and road bikes. With a blend of features, they are great for riding on varied terrains.  

Questions We Get Asked About Bikes For 3 to 6 Year Old Children  

What kind of bike is good for a 3-year-old?  

The right size bike for a 3 year old will differ for each child. A balance bike is a good choice for a 3-year-old if they are new to cycling. If they already have experience on a balance bike then they may be ready for a 14” first pedal bike.   

What size bike does a 4-year-old need?  

The right size bike for a 4 year old will depend on their height and experience. If they are completely new to cycling then a large balance bike like the Tadpole Plus is a great option. If you think your 4-year-old is ready for pedals then there are a range of first pedal bikes available. We recommend using their inside leg measurement to find the best fit.   

How do you measure a child for a bike?  

To measure their inside leg, get them to stand with their back to a wall with shoes on. Then place a book between their legs and slide it up as high as is comfortable. Mark the wall where the top of the book is, and measure from this mark to the floor. For more information, you can refer to our kids bike sizing guide.   

Is a 20 inch bike good for a 6 year old?  

A 20-inch bike could be a good fit for some 6-year-olds. The Squish 20 and Forme Kinder 20 for example are hybrid bikes recommended for 5 to 7 year olds, with an inside leg range of 52 – 62cm. You can take a look at our hybrid bike guide for more information. There is also a 20-inch road bike for 6 year olds, the Frog 58, if your youngster is keen on road cycling.

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