Finding the Right Bike for Your Kids + Upcoming Bike Events

By Luke Talbott, Compass Outdoor Adventures May 16, 2017
With weather like this, you know the summer has to be right around the corner. As you put away the ski gear and get out your riding gear, it's always good to check over your child's bike and make sure it still fits your child with the 6 inches they grew over the winter!  Below you'll find some tips that we give parents for finding the right bike for their children.   Not that different from the multiple pairs of shoes that you keep having to buy, kids outgrow their bikes every couple of years and if you follow our guidelines you'll always have them enjoying themselves and getting the most of their bikes.  Let's get those bikes out and get rolling!

If you've ever ridden a bike that's too small of too big for you, you might have a glimpse into what your kids are up against.  Typically children should be able to stand over their bike and touch the ground with at least the balls of their feet.  With kids bikes, up to the time that they get their first adult size bike, the sizes are listed in wheel size.  Here's what you should look for ...

Kindergarten and First Grade
16" Wheel size, most likely with coaster brakes (If your child hasn't yet learned to ride a bike, a stryder bike really helps to establish balance and make riding on two wheels very easy afterward)
Second and Third Grade
20" Wheel size - I prefer bikes with 6-7 gears at this point instead of BMX bikes.  They are lighter and easier to maneuver than a larger size BMX bike and kids get the ideas of using gears without having too many options.
Fourth and Fifth Grade
24" Wheel size - Now's when your child bumps up to both front and back gears, usually 24 of them.  Take some extra time to work with them and teach them how to use these as it will immensely help them with climbing and their speed on flat roads and trails.
Fifth/Sixth Grade and Up
Sixth Grade and Up - 26" Adult size bike.  Most kids in 5th - 6th grade can ride an adult XS or S.  Adult bikes can also be labeled as 13", 14" or 15" which is the distance from the top of the frame to the bottom bracket (where the pedals and cranks attach to the frame)  Riders will need a new bike once they get above 5'6" or so.

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WHEN: Sunday, May 21, 2017; 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
WHERE: Issaquah Community Center
WHAT:  This event, held during National Bike Everywhere Month, provides children with a fun opportunity to learn about bike safety, riding skills and proper helmet fitting. The Issaquah Kiwanis are providing a limited number of free youth bike helmets and Issaquah Police Department staff will be on hand to fit helmets for kids. Bicycle Center of Issaquah will be doing bike safety checks and the Issaquah Police Dept will be hosting a bike safety riding course. Compass Outdoor Adventures will be leading Geocache scavenger rides, and providing their mountain bike rental fleet to demo. The Kids Bike Safety Rodeo will also include local vendors, music and raffle prizes.

WHEN: TBA (typically second weekend of June)
WHERE:  Snoqualmie Community Park, 35016 SE Ridge St. 
WHAT: This annual event is in memory of 7-year-old Tanner Jeans of Snoqualmie who was in a bicycle accident in 2004. The purpose is to help keep every child safe through safety education.  At the event you'll find Bike safety instruction and obstacle courses, bike and helmet inspections, bouncy houses, face painters and water activities, a performance by the Mount Si High School cheer squad, plus hot dogs, snacks and beverages.

WHEN: Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11, 2017
WHERE: Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park
WHAT: If you ride a mountain bike - or have thought about trying it out - this is the event for you! Enjoy bike demos from all the major mountain bike brands, plus raffles, trail riding including bike skills clinics and guided rides, Jump Show, special kids events, ... fun for the whole family!

WHEN: Saturday, June 24, 2017
WHERE: Meet in Duvall and then catch a shuttle to North Bend for a local breakfast. Bike ride will start along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.
WHAT: Start the morning with a historic train ride before we grab our bikes and pedal through forest and farmland on 20-miles of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Sample local food, meet farmers, hear stories from the past, and discover the magic that this valley, just outside of Seattle, has to offer.

WHEN:  Saturday, July 8, 2018 
WHERE: Snoqualmie Tunnel
WHAT: This popular bike trip is back! Discover this incredible 2-mile long tunnel at Snoqualmie Pass - a remnant of our railroad history. The biking trip will take you through the tunnel's cool darkness onto a 20-mile stretch of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, providing sweeping views of the Cascades and a BBQ back at Rattlesnake Lake.