League of Michigan Bicyclists

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How to Choose a Bike

The following information is available in a PDF file that you can download and print out to distribute to parents.

Choosing the Right Size Bicycle for a Child
The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that any bike must be the correct size for the child for whom it is bought. A bicycle of the wrong size may cause the child to lose control and be injured.
Keep children safe by following these hints.
1. Do not push children to ride a two-wheeled bicycle until he or she is ready. Consider the child's coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster brakes until the child is older and more experienced.
2. Children should go along when parents shop for a bicycle, so that he or she can try out the bike. The value of a proper fit far outweighs the value of being surprised.
3. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one to "grow into." Over-sized bikes can be dangerous.
4. How to test a bike for proper fit:
a) Sitting on the seat with hands on the handlebar, children should be able to place the balls of both feet on the
b) Straddling the center bar, your child should be able to keep both fee flat on the ground with clearance
between the crotch and the top tube.
5. When buying a bike with hand brakes for an "older" child, make sure that the child can comfortably grasp the brakes and apply sufficient pressure to stop the bike. Smaller children do NOT have sufficient grip strength to operate hand brakes and require coaster brakes.
6. Consider a helmet as standard equipment when buying a bike for a child. Let the child pick out his or her helmet and parents should insist that he or she wear it every time he or she gets on the bike. Parents need to model good behavior by also wearing their helmet.
7. Before taking his or her new bike onto the street, a child should get used to riding in a quiet spot such as a driveway, tennis court or empty parking lot. Parents should supervise as the child practices starting, stopping, signalling, turning and scanning behind and forward.


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