What size bike does your child need?
According to ICEBike.org., when it comes to kids bikes they actually use the diameter of the wheel as the reference point. That’s because kids’ wheel sizes determines the proportions for the rest of the bike. Kids’ wheel sizes are generally available in 12, 16, 20, and 24 inches. At 26 inches you’re into the standard sized adult mountain bike wheel size.
Roughly speaking, 12 inch wheels are designed for kids starting off biking and who on average are aged between 3-5 years of age, and by the time your child is 14 years old, you will mostly be looking at 24 inch wheel.
So how do you discover what size bike is perfect for your child?
The general rule of thumb is to use a sizing chart. Sizing charts are available from all good bike websites and stores. There are slight variations in some of them, especially when moving to adult sizing charts, but for children they do remain fairly consistent. Below is a good example of one that can be followed:
Another useful form of chart for determining the right size of bike, and some might say more accurate, is the inside leg length approach.
Balance bikes are exactly what they say they are. They have no pedals, and tend to only have a have brake. They are brilliant for letting your kid develop their sense of inertia and balance and learning how to steer, and as they have no means of propulsion other than how fast they can push off the ground, they are relatively safe to use indoors, and are of course, a generally safe way to learn overall.
The most important factor here is the fit, as discussed above. Make sure the kids’ feet can easily touch the ground, their hands can reach the brakes on the handlebars. This is where, in my experience, riders are born or broken. Unlike balance bikes, their feet will be on the pedals, not trailing along the ground for extra stability.
They will also be going faster. What this means is they are now at the stage where they are more likely to have the occasional accident. Kids can deal with the occasional accident, but not if it becomes a familiar occurrence. So make sure you buy the right size.
Growing up too fast: 24 inches and bigger, 9-14 years old: Read the above bits about suspension and gears again, and just add it in here. The same is true for these semi adult bikes, as it is for 20 inchers. This is where you can start to find all the bells and whistles most normally associated with full adult bikes. Not only might you start to find bikes with up to 36 gears, but also things like triple chain sets.
In our opinion these additions still just add extra weight and are more complicated, and are not worth the extra money at this level. If you can, let your kid be a kid just that little bit longer. If they insist on gears, then try to limit them to single or low digit gearing.
AND MAKE SURE THEY ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET!!!!!!!
Places to Buy Bikes
We recommend FreshBikes. Specifically, the store in the Mosaic District in Fairfax. The store is new, clean and well stocked. Motion activated double doors make getting a bike in and out of the store easy. FreshBikes in also located in Arlington and Bethesda. The staff is outgoing, knowledgeable and professional. Other good bike shops include The Bike Lane in Reston and Springfield. And Spokes Etc., in Fairlington, Fairfax, Veinna and Alexandria.
Size: Think of a skateboard kind of like a surfboard. The wider and longer the deck (board) is, the more supp ort and balance a rider will have. This is important, especially for a beginner who is 5 or 6 years old. We recommend a board that is about 8 inches wide and at least 30 inches long. That way, your little shredder will get a nice wide base, have balance and feel comfortable.
Components: There are four components to a skateboard: the deck, discussed above; the wheels, the bearings and the trucks. Most skateboarders buy these items seperate and assemble them or have the skateboards shop assebemble them. However, you can purchase a "complete" set up as well.
Price: The price point we recommend for an entry level complete set up is $100 - $125. At this point, a skateboard set up starts shedding it's lower quality compenents and includes a higher quality, lightweight trucks, bearings and wheels that make learning fun and easy.
Some parents don't want to spend much on a skateboard because they're not sure there child will stick with it. However, the better the skateboard, the more likely one will love the sport and want to stick with it. The quality and price of a skateboard play into how easy it is to learn and how much fun your child will have.
Required Protective Gear:
Helmet - The consequences of a serious head injury make a good skateboard helmet your first priority. Make sure it fits well, feels good and looks good. Helmets designed for skateboarding can also be used for inline skating.
Wrist Guards - Statistics show that wrist injuries and the most common skateboarding injury.
Good quality wrist guards will help prevent wrist injuries. Wrist guards for inline skating can be used for skateboarding and vice versa.
Knee and Elbow Pads - A good pair of knee pads and elbow pads will help absorb impact and prevent nasty abrasions for sliding on rough surfaces. Skate Pad Combo Packs are an inexpensive way to outfit yourself with Knee and Elbow pads and some also include wrist guards.
Places to Buy: We send our students and parents to Vans Skateboard Shop in Fair Oaks Mall. Vans also has locations in Montgomery Mall, White Flint Mall and others. The stores are bright and light, the employees are knowledgeable, outgoing and friendly. The store has an upbeat vibration. It'll be worth the drive.
You can buy protective gear online at www.xsportsprotective.com. You'll find lots of choices for protective gear.
Greg Keim. Owner and President
Our company was founded in 1993 and has been growing ever since. It began with Greg Keim in Fairfax, Virginia. Greg established an inline skating school with a distinctive standard of service and reliability. The business grew mainly through word of mouth as more satisfied students shared their stories. Recreation agencies in Northern Virginia and Maryland contacted Greg to conduct classes and camps at their recreation centers. Soon public and private schools needed classes and camps. Today, American Inline has over 100 camps every summer and a camp staff of over 65 to serve you and our family of clients.