Holiday gift shopping: How to pick a bike for your child this Christmas

With the summer school holidays approaching, parents are thinking of getting their kids a bike for Christmas. Better than adding yet another noisy toy to a pile of toys that won’t get played with after a week, a bike is practical yet fun; and more importantly, a healthy gift.

What to keep in mind you go bike shopping

Giving your child a bike for Christmas is a great idea. There is nothing quite like the excitement of seeing a bike by the tree on Christmas morning. getting it at the start of the summer holidays means they can use it for the entire break. Whether it’s your kid’s first bike or an upgrade, there are some important things to remember when you go shopping.  

The right size for your child

How do you find the right size bike for your child? When you go gift shopping, you can tell this easily by looking at three things – seat height, standover height and brake reach.

  • Seat height; From balance bike to their first bike without training wheels, when seated your child’s feet should be flat on the ground.  After this it’s easier to balance and your child can stop and have just the balls of their feet resting on the ground.
  • Standover height; For this height, it should be comfortable for them to stand over and hop on and off the bike, and they look confident doing so. This is really important for your child to get the most enjoyment out of their new bike.
  • Brake reach; Ideally, your child can easily and comfortably reach the brakes with a slight bend in the elbow. Looking for these cues will help you make the best decision for your child and ensure they can get the most out of their new bike this summer.

Both the age and height of your child will be a critical factor as you search for the right size bike. Ideally, measure your child and review the measurements against size guidelines to see what bikes would be most suited to them. You will notice that kids’ bikes are measured in inches. This refers to the wheel size of the bike and is the way kids’ bikes are measured.

10 – 12 inch bikes

Balance bikes help transition kids into riding pedaled bikes. These bikes are great for helping kids focus on balancing themselves whilst propelling themselves with their feet and can be purchased as an alternative to learning to ride a bike with training wheels. 

14-16 inch bikes

Once kids have mastered balance, it’s time to master pedals! These bikes come with or without training wheels and will prepare your child to ride their first ‘big bike’.  Some bikes come with training wheels already included and are an ideal solution for kids starting out. 

20, 24 and 26 inch bikes

If you’re looking for one of these bikes your kid is comfortable on two wheels and is somewhere between 120 and 155cm tall. There are a range of colours and styles in hybrid and bikes to suit any child. If they love to be a little more adventurous you could look at styles with suspension, shifting and braking power to support offroad-based adventures.

If your child wants something versatile, comfortable combined with an urban look, hybrid bikes are a perfect choice. When choosing a bike, seek out friendly professional assistance.

Factor in their ability and confidence

Many parents have no trouble using the charts they see in stores to find out which size bicycle, however, it’s important to factor in their child’s ability and confidence level. Many parents like the idea of getting a bigger bike so that their child can grow into it, and that’s certainly true to an extent, however, with a bigger bike also comes extra size, weight and height, all of which can be rather daunting to a child if they are not very confident on a bike.

When you buy your kids a new pair of shoes, you buy shoes that can fit their feet and that have just enough space in the toe that they won’t outgrow them instantly. It’s the same with a bike. You want your child to be comfortable on the bike and confident to ride it.


Your child will probably have the most input on a bike’s design! Seek out a range of designs so they can have their pick. Parents thinking about younger siblings coming along and taking over the bike eventually will be happy to see the range of colours and styles available.


Of course you want to get the most mileage out of your kid’s bike as possible, and all parents will wonder how soon their child will outgrow their bike. Kids are ready to move up to a new size when there’s not enough space for their knees between the seat and handlebars.

If you have put the seat up as far as it can go, your child can still find it difficult to ride because the centre of gravity has changed and it becomes too high for them to ride comfortably. This is a sign that it’s time for a new bike. When buying a bike, look for lifetime warranty on the frame, stem, and handlebar and two years warranty on components. Also ask for a free safety check service in your first three months of ownership.


The bike accessory that all parents are after is the kickstand! A great investment. Many parents assume that every bike has a kickstand, however, if it is a bike with training wheels, then you’ll have to get a kickstand for when the training wheels come off. Consider bottle cages, baskets, bells and horns to make your child’s cycling experience super safe and fun.

Kids love adding their personal touch to their bikes, so stock up on a few extra items to add to the bike’s basic frame! Your kids will be riding around with the flashiest-looking bike.

Hot wheels this Christmas

Your kids will definitely be over the moon getting seeing a bike by the tree on Christmas morning. They’ll be so excited, they’ll probably want to get on and ride off immediately, so don’t forget to get them a helmet too. Summertime family bike rides are a great healthy way for the entire family to spend time together, so why not find a bike for everyone.

Tamara O’Donnell is the Wheels Commercial Director at Decathlon Australia.