Having the correct saddle height is essential to help your child feel safe and comfortable on the bike and allows their confidence to grow as quickly as they do!
As your child gets taller, it may look like they have outgrown their kids bike after just a few short months. However more likely than not, a few simple adjustments to the bike setup are all that’s required. Here it’s important to distinguish between bike fit and bike size.
Bike Fit vs Size
You may well have the right size bike for your child, but if the bike saddle height is off it can look and feel all wrong. In this case, the bike hasn’t been fitted well.
A simple bike saddle height adjustment can fix the situation. Let’s first go through some signs that the saddle is too high or too low, leading to an incorrect fit.
Saddle too High
- Arms and legs are almost fully outstretched when sitting on the bike.
- They can only just touch the ground with their tip-toes.
- It seems difficult for your child to gain momentum and balance on the bike.
- They have trouble starting and stopping.
Balance Bike - Saddle too High
Pedal Bike - Saddle too High
Saddle too Low
- On a pedal bike, the feet are flat on the ground when sitting on the bike. The knees may come above the handlebars when riding.
- On a balance bike, the knees are almost in line with the hips when sitting on the bike.
- Cycling (or running and gliding on a balance bike) looks difficult and inefficient.
Balance Bike - Saddle too Low
Pedal Bike - Saddle to Low
Getting the Saddle Height Right
- Your child can place both feet fully on the ground while having a slight bend in their knees when sitting on the bike.
- They sit comfortably on the saddle while pushing off with their feet to walk, run and glide.
Balance Bike - Saddle Right Height
- Your child can reach the ground with the balls of their feet.
- When cycling, their knees never go above the height of the handlebars.
- With the pedal at 3 o’clock, their knee is in line with the pedal.
Pedal Bike - Saddle Right Height
If your child is just learning to ride, then having the saddle slightly lower so they can have both feet flat on the ground is ok to begin with. As they gain confidence, raising the saddle slightly will result in a more comfortable riding position.
Don’t worry too much about getting the saddle height absolutely perfect - usually, there is a small range that will be comfortable.
Fore/aft and Tilt
Aside from the height, other adjustments can be made to the saddle, including the fore/aft (i.e. how far forward or backward it is) and the tilt. For children, it’s unlikely you will need to modify either of these things from a neutral position. It is good to know about them anyway, in case your child complains of discomfort on the bike even after you get the saddle height right.
The fore/aft position alters the position of the hips and knees in relation to the pedal. The idea is to have it in a position where the knee is in line with the pedal at 3 o’clock, which allows for better pedalling efficiency. It also ensures that the different leg muscles are being used evenly, reducing the risk of stress or injury.
The tilt comes very much down to individual preference. It’s always best to start with a neutral position and only modify it if problems crop up. For example, if your child feels excessive pressure at the front of the saddle, it may feel better to tilt the saddle slightly downwards. On the other hand, if they find themselves sliding off the front of the saddle, titling upwards slightly may help.
Both the fore/aft and tilt can be adjusted by loosening the two bolts found underneath the saddle.
If you have a Strider, the handlebar height is also adjustable. Similarly to the knees, the arms should have a slight bend when sitting on the bike.
Questions We Get Asked About Saddle Height
How do I know if my child's saddle height is too high?
Determining if your child's saddle height is too high is crucial for their comfort and safety while cycling. Look for signs such as excessive leg extension or dropping of the heel when pedalling, wobbling hips, and loss of control while stopping or starting. Ensuring a slight bend at the knee when the feet are on the pedals and the ability to reach the ground comfortably is key.
What are the signs of a saddle height that is too low for my child?
A saddle height that is too low for your child can result in several signs of discomfort and inefficient cycling. These include a bent knee and upward thigh angle when the pedal is at its lowest position, the heel raised off the pedal when the leg is fully extended, uneven weight distribution on the arms and wrists, and limited pedalling efficiency. To address this, adjust the saddle height to allow a slight knee bend at the lowest pedal position.
What tools or equipment do I need to adjust the saddle height?
The bikes we supply either have a quick-release clamp or an Allen bolt. In the latter case, you will need an Allen key to make adjustments. Otherwise, look for the release lever or mechanism located near the saddle post. Use your hands to loosen or tighten it to adjust the height as needed.
Never Buy a Kids Bike Again with Bike Club
Children grow quickly, but before they fully outgrow a bike you may just need to make some minor adjustments to the saddle height. The tips in this blog should help you learn what to look out for to keep your child riding safely and comfortably before it’s time to exchange for a bigger sized bike.
We have a range of kids bikes in all styles and sizes so that your little one always has a bike that fits.