Teaching your little ones to ride a bike is not only an exciting milestone for the kids. After all, it also means that you can soon go on your first bike outings as a family. And even better, you can do this without having to tote your offspring in a bike trailer. In order for your child to learn how to ride a bike safely and with lots of fun, he or she needs the right children's bike. We'll tell you what's important when buying one.
Running bike or children's bike: What is the optimal start?
If your child is still too young to ride a bike, around two to three years old, then a running bike is a great idea. With this option, your child gets used to the sitting position on a bike and quickly feels more secure. It's a good balance training bike. If your child then switches to a real children's bike, riding a bike usually works out really quickly.
Tip: Training wheels are no longer recommended, as they tend to make learning to ride a bike even more difficult. Why? On a bike with training wheels, your child needs completely different movements and reflexes than without them. So once the training wheels are removed, your offspring starts (almost) from scratch. He or she must re-learn how to move safely on the bike.
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The right size of the children's bike
When it's time for the first child's bike, safety is naturally the top priority. That's why the right size bike and the right equipment, according to StVO criteria, are so important. So how do you find the right size? There are a variety of size charts that recommend inch sizes of bicycle wheels depending on the height or age of the child. You shouldn't go by that. After all, while one children's 20-inch bike can be ridden from a minimum body height of 105 centimetres, a 20-inch children's bike from another brand requires a body height of 122 centimetres.
That’s why the following applies: When selecting the right size, always follow the specific manufacturer's instructions for the minimum size. Either the body height or the inside leg length, measured from the crotch to the sole of the foot, is specified. The closer your child's size is to the minimum size, the longer he or she will be able to ride the selected bike. It's important that you take the minimum size really seriously and don't buy a bike that's too big for your child to "grow into". In addition to the size, the weight of the bike also plays a role. Your child should be able to move his bike independently and lift it up if necessary. Many children's bicycles are, therefore, made of lightweight aluminum, weighing between 10 and 15 kilograms on average.
StVO-compliant equipment for a safe children's bike
Just like bicycles for adults, children's bikes must also meet some criteria to comply with road traffic regulations. After all, the little ones are also road users with their bikes. This equipment is mandatory according to the StVO:
- two brakes independent of each other
- white headlight and reflector in front (may be integrated)
- red rear light with red reflector (may be integrated)
- four cat's eyes or reflective silver stripes on spokes and/or tires
- a conspicuous bell
- non-slip pedals with reflectors to the front and rear
Not mandatory, but recommended, is also a chain guard to avoid falls and soiling of the bike. And then, of course, there is the bicycle helmet! As with adults, this is not mandatory for children in Germany. However, since little bikers do not have too much experience and falls happen more often, a helmet is the be-all and end-all for a really safe bike ride. The right size depends on the circumference of your child's head - it's best to try out different models in the store. And so that you as a parent set a good example, you can find lots of tips here about bike helmets for adults.
By the way, even though the right size is a priority for both the helmet and the bike, don't be afraid to let your child have a say in the look and color.
Conclusion: With the right tips, buying a kid's bike is a breeze
As you can see, it's not difficult to buy a suitable children's bike - as long as you pay attention to a few criteria. Here is an overview of the most important tips:
- The size of the right bike does not depend on the age of the child - after all, kids grow at different rates.
- Do not base your decision on the inch sizes of the wheels, but on the manufacturer's specifications for the minimum size
- Don't buy a bike that's too big, but choose one where the minimum size fits your child's size.