Can A 5 Year Old Ride A 20-Inch Bike? (Best Bikes for Kids)

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Choosing the right bike size for your kid is sometimes a challenge.

Especially when the kids are either overweight or taller than their age.

It becomes easy when you have accurate knowledge of how to get the right bike.

And the knowledge of how to get the right bike is what you’re about to learn. 

A 5-year-old kid can’t ride a 20-inch bike because it’s an oversized bike and the legs will not gain clearance on the ground.

There are other factors you need to consider before getting a bike for your kids, hence you’ll end up buying the wrong bike.

Getting the right bikes for your kids, it’s not negotiable and is important if you want them to enjoy riding.  

Because if you get a small size, it will cram the kids while the big size will scare them away or their hands will not be able to reach the handlebar.

That’s why this article is written to provide comprehensive details on how to choose the right bike for your kid.

If you are in a Hurry, here is our list of recommended Best Bikes for Kids

Bike Size for Kids

Introducing your kid to cycling early is a good idea. It becomes more exciting when your kid has the right bike. 

The knowledge of how kids’ bikes are categorized will help you to make a quick decision. 

Manufacturers of kids’ bikes set out the bike with their manuals, to help parents or guardians get the right bike for their kids. 

The kids’ bikes are built with their age in focus, their body size, and all their overall growth. 

Apparently, kids are not always at the same level of body size. Though they might be of the same age, might not necessarily be at the same height. 

These factors (age, body status, and height) are what producers of bikes put into consideration before they built any kids’ bikes.

Kids’ bikes are quite different from adult bikes. The adult bike is measured or sized up by frame and seat. Sometimes, the saddles are part of what contributes to the measure as well.

But for kids’ bikes, the method of sizing it up is totally different from adults. The simple way manufacturers set to size up kids’ bikes is through the wheels diameter method.

What is the Wheels Diameter Method of Measuring Children’s Bikes?

Just as the adult uses frames to size up their bike likewise the kid’s bike uses wheels to size up their bikes. 

The answer: Wheels diameter is the radius size of kids’ bike wheels.

You might be asking “why the wheel is instead of the frame?” A bike’s wheels are what bear most part of the weight exerted by the riders.

So what will balance the kid when on a bike is the wheel. The wheel is an important part of kids’ bikes.

Moreso, the size of bike wheels is measured in diameter. To know the exact bike size of your kid you need to know the diameter of the wheels.

Every children’s bike begins with 12-inch diameter wheels and ends in 24-inch diameter wheels.

The last children’s bike before they move over to adult bikes is 24-inch diameter wheels. 

The 12 inches diameter is increased by 2 inches diameter, that’s 14 inches diameter, 16 inches diameter bikes till you get to the last bike, which is 24 inches diameter bike.

The complete list of all children’s bike sizes:

  • 12 inches diameter wheels
  • 14 inches diameter wheels
  • 16 inches diameter wheels
  • 18 inches diameter wheels
  • 20 inches diameter wheels
  • 22 inches diameter wheels
  • 24 inches diameter wheels

Among these kid’s bikes listed above, 14 inches diameter wheels aren’t usually available. Others are the most common kids you can easily find in the market.

Once you know how children’s bikes are measured, you can then go ahead and check out the correspondence heights. 

This will take us to another topic about how age affects bike measurement.

How to Determine Child Bike Size by Age

The child’s age is another factor that determines the size of bikes they’ll ride. However, children sometimes outgrow their age or are taller than their age.

If your kid is taller than his/her age, the possibility of using the next-age close bike is always there.

Don’t only focus on age, check out other ways of measuring the bike size for your kids. 

Age alone will not help you to get the exact bike size of your kid. Check the height also before you make any commitment.

Using the Recommended age gap only isn’t usually a perfect idea because the growth rates of kids are quite different from each other.

There are some kids that are tall while others are short but they are all in the same age bracket.

The taller kids will use the next-age bike because of the height while the short ones will use the exact inseam age bracket bike size.

Age is not the true measurement of bike size but is a part of it.

The differences in height of the same ages are what necessitated the overlapping of children’s age on the table of how to measure a child’s bike size below.

How to Know Children’s Bike Size By Height

The height of kids plays a major role when measuring their bicycle size. 

Moreover, children of the same ages aren’t always at the same height. 

Some are taller while some are average height and others are shorter. 

This difference in height was settled when manufacturers of kids’ bikes set height criteria on how to measure their bike size.

The International Bicycle Fund advises that the first place to start before you choose a bike for your kid is the child’s age and the inseam measurement.

The age and the inseam measurement will enable you to know the exact bike size that’ll best fit your kid’s height. 

What is inseam measurement? Is the length of the kid’s legs, which is measured from the inside starting from crotch to ankle.

This is how you should take the inseam measurement of your kids.

The measure is not the same with kids of the same age bracket. Sometimes, the height does affect the inseam measurement.

The knowledge of your kid’s inseam will help you find the right bike size for your kid.

Another reason for taking inseam measurements is to help the kids get enough leg clearance when they’re over the bike.

The table below shows the details on how to choose the right child bike.

Age Inseam (Inches)Wheel Size (Diameter)
2 – 414 – 1712
4 – 616 – 2014
5 – 818 – 2216
6 – 920 – 2418
7 – 1022 – 2520
9 +24 – 2824
how to choose the right child-size by age

The overlapping of the inseam measurement is to allow the individual height difference to fit into the bikes.

If your kid’s inseam measurement is within 14 inches, and 18 inches, then choose another bike close to the inseam because the bike for the inseam isn’t common.

The table above captured the most important part of the inseam measurement to help you get the right bike size.  

Sometimes, the kid might be 8yrs but if the inseam is 23 inches, then you can either get him or her 18 or 20-wheel diameter bike sizes. 

Any of these two will definitely size the kid. There is always a bicycle that’ll be sized for all kids.

Here are our Recommended Best Bikes for Kids

Take Your Child For Local Testing 

Another simple way to get the exact bike size for your child is through onsite testing. Go with your child anytime you want to buy their bicycle.

According to consumer search advice, it’s said to allow your kid to sit on the bike’s seat and hold the handlebars. 

With this, you’ll get the exact bike size for your kid. This is a practical way to ensure you get a bike that fits him or her.

This measurement is made possible when you’re buying from a local shop not online. But for online, use the age, inseam, and height measurement on the table above.

The offline bike size check should also give your kid at least 1-inch foot clearance on the ground. 

Key Factors For Testing a Bike on site

There are key factors for checking the right bike size for your kids.

These factors will guide you to get the best fitting bike for your kid. 

Let’s dive into the factors:

Check The Seat fitting 

When your child is sitting on the bike’s seat, check if the ball is comfortably touching the ground. If not, is not the child size.

Hence, if the bike’s seat is too high, adjust it to the size of your kids.

If after adjustment, still not comfortable for your child, then is not the size. Because it will be difficult for your child to stop when riding.

Check The Pedals

Ask your child to pedal the bike, if, in the process of pedaling your child’s knees bump into the handlebar, it means the bike is too small for your child.

Also if your child’s legs are not pedaling smoothly and it seems there is hyper-extending of legs, then the bike is too big for the child. 

After all these methods, if you notice any of these challenges, change the bike for it’s not your child’s size.

Check The Bar

Ask your child to stand up across the bike, if the child is not able to straddle the bike’s middle bar with their feet flat on the ground while standing, then it’s not your child’s size.

The correct bike is when your child is standing, their legs are able to get 1-inch clearance.

But if the bike has to move into a sloping position before it fits the kid’s legs, then it is too big.

Check The Handlebar Balancing

If your child is not able to control the handlebar comfortably the bike is too large, especially if they have to overstretch their hands.

Your child has to be able to handle the handlebar perfectly without any difficulties.


The best way to make your child enjoy riding a bike at an early age is by getting the right size bike.

Getting the right bike for your kids shouldn’t be a challenge anymore because of what this article contains, therefore gift your child the exact bike size.

The right bike makes your child always want to ride, but the wrong bike makes them hate riding.

Now that you know more about how to choose the best kids’ bikes, here are our kid’s bike recommendations for different age groups and heights

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