At some point during the childhood of most kids throughout the modern world, there rapidly comes a time, usually right after they learn to walk, that we decide to finally purchase their first bicycle. As children, we meet the first bike with squeals of delight and admiration for the paint jobs, which are almost entirely a vivid pink or purple combination for girls, and for boys, a tough-looking bruiser with a jagged orange or green (almost always with black!) design. For the first time riders, training wheels adorn most of the tiny cycles.
And recalling my own riding experience as a child, the best moment was to finally shed those clunky little plastic wheels, and to experience the smooth, slick, and serene experience of gliding down the pavement on a genuine two-wheel bike, finally liberated from its training-wheels.
Teaching a kid to ride a bike, is something I’ve done many times, as a child teaching my peers, and then eventually as an adult teaching kids. It takes and afternoon or two, jogging next to the bike and supporting one of the handle-bars to prevent an upset– but then gradually you loosen your hold, and let go– first for a matter of seconds, and then for longer time periods, as your kid finally experiences the wonderful feeling of riding a bike, and loses that initial fear, so difficult to overcome, of toppling off to one side. But once that fear is gone.. your kid zooms away on their bike with an expression of pure blissfulness.
But before this victory ride, it is a challenge to pick the correct size of bicycle. Pick too small and within a few months, the bike has already been outgrown. In buying a kid’s bike- buying the bike in a size that is slightly too large is actually quite a good idea, as such a bike can be good for over a year, and will fit perfectly as they grow into it. Thus much better, budget-wise, as it’s will be much longer lasting.
The best way to buy a bike is probably to bring your kid into the shop, to try out bikes– both for style and fit. But if it is a surprise bike, the next best thing would be to measure your kid, and then take those measurements- (the length from seat to ankle) into the store with you. For the very tinniest bikes, but mostly tricycles there are 12 inch wheels. Ages 3-5 have generally graduated to size 16. But if one is at five and looking for a bike, it is a better idea, still, to go with a size 20. (Sizes are written, sometimes a bit subtly on the wheels!) And along with the bike, a cooler- snazzier looking helmet will probably serve as a good motivator to wear it!