24-Inch Bike for What Size Person? Is It Right for You or Your Child?
The lack of sizing standardization in the bicycle industry can cause confusion when choosing a bike. Each brand measures its frames differently, and there are many different sizing scales. This leads people to ask, “What size person is a 24-inch bike for?”
A 24-inch bike is one with wheels that measure 24 inches across. This measurement doesn’t refer to the actual size of the bike or the intended height range. For adult bikes, the frame size determines the height range, not the wheels. In contrast, wheel size and height range are linked when it comes to kids’ bike sizing.
A rough height and age range for 24-inch bikes for kids is 4’1″ to 4’9″ and 7 to 11 years. Adults must refer to a bike size chart and choose the frame size that best matches their body dimensions (height, inseam). For adult bikes, bike wheel size is relevant to ride characteristics and is chosen based on the style of the bike.
This article will discuss the characteristics of 24-inch wheels and the bike styles they are suited to. In addition, we will provide a short guide to help you select the perfect size bike for you or your child and explain why it’s important.
24-Inch Bike for What Size Person?
When referring to adult bikes, the term “24-inch bike” is a misnomer. This is because bikes for adults aren’t measured in this way.
Full-size bikes with 24-inch wheels, such as select folding and cargo models, aren’t described as ’24-inch bikes,’ but rather, they’re described by their style or purpose.
Again, the one area where this term is used is with kids’ bikes. The 24-inch bikes for kids are roughly for heights between 4’1″ and 4’9″. Kids’ wheel sizes range from 12″ to 26″, so kids taller than 4’9″ will require a 26-inch bike (4’8″ to 5’3″). Some short adults may also consider this size.
For adults, each frame size belonging to a specific model is given a label, which can be in centimeters (e.g., 56cm, 60cm), inches, or a label like Small or Extra Large. However, many 24-inch bikes for adults are available with a one-size-fits-most frame with a wide height range, like the Yuba Kombi E5 for 5’0″ to 6’6″.
Are 24-inch Wheels Too Small for Adults?
As mentioned above, 24-inch wheels are not too small for adults. Wheel size is a key determinant of ride characteristics and functionality but is not always relevant to sizing.
Some brands with 26-inch bikes, such as Electric Bike Company and Rambo, will offer an option with 24″ wheels to lower the standover height for shorter riders.
The one case where 24″ wheels are too small for adults is when they’re used for a child’s bike frame, as the max height for these bikes is around 4’9″.
Manufacturers of adult bicycles will sometimes opt for 24-inch wheels to achieve a specific balance of strength, maneuverability, compactness, stability, and rolling speed. Wheels between 20″ and 24″ are the most common choice for best folding bikes and best cargo bikes.
Characteristics of 24-Inch Bikes
As mentioned, wheel diameter plays a huge part in determining ride characteristics like handling, comfort, performance, and stability, and other attributes like payload capacity and weight.
Each size has a specific blend of attributes, advantages, and disadvantages. The bike style helps determine the most important characteristics and, therefore, which wheel size is best.
For most bike styles, 27.5 “/650b and 29″/700c wheels are favorable because they provide greater comfort and faster rolling speeds.
However, smaller-diameter wheels are better for certain styles like folding bikes and cargo bikes.
So, which characteristics are manufacturers looking for when they choose 24-inch wheels?
The purpose of folding bikes is to be compact, portable, and easy to carry or lift. A smaller wheel means the bike can be more compact when stored in a smaller space and carried more easily.
The size of a bike’s wheel impacts its maneuverability. A bike with larger wheels will usually have a longer turning radius, making it more challenging to navigate tight city traffic.
Stable ride feel
Smaller wheels bring a bike’s frame closer to the ground, allowing for a lower center of gravity. This increases stability and makes it possible to safely load a bike with a lot of weight, a useful characteristic for cargo bikes.
Smaller rims with shorter spokes can support more weight. The forces acting on these components increase the longer they are, so shorter ones (smaller wheels) are less easily deformed. This strength translates to a higher payload capacity, another key characteristic of cargo bikes.
Smaller wheels use less material and, therefore, are lighter. Almost all bike manufacturers try to save weight in various ways, and using a smaller wheel is an effective way to achieve this. Again, keeping weight low is especially important for folding bikes.
Women and teenagers will typically find bikes with smaller wheels a better fit. For this reason, many MTB brands use progressive wheel sizing, putting smaller wheels on the smaller frames. Smaller-diameter wheels lower the standover height and are more maneuverable for shorter riders. Electric Bike Company (EBC) is an example of a brand that offers 24″ wheels as an alternative to 26″ wheels for shorter riders.
How to Find the Correct Size 24-Inch Bike
For adults, bike size and wheel size don’t correlate. The exceptions are when a company uses 24″ wheels for small frames instead of the stock 26″ wheels.
To find the correct size bike for your body, you must know your height and, ideally, inseam length. Inseam length provides a clearer picture of whether a bike will fit, but many manufacturers don’t provide inseam ranges for their bikes.
When you’ve chosen a bike style (mountain, road, hybrid, etc.) and have a shortlist of a few different in-stock models that suit your budget and needs, you can refer to the sizing charts for each one.
When selecting a 24-inch bike, it’s crucial to consider your height and inseam length, consult the manufacturer’s sizing chart, and potentially undergo a test ride to ensure the perfect fit.
Choose the frame size that closest fits your height and inseam. Arm and torso length may affect fitting, so a test ride is the best way to be certain that the frame fits. Thankfully, bikes are quite adjustable, so there is always room to modify the components to find a better fit if a frame size isn’t perfect. For performance bikes like road, gravel, or MTBs, a professional bike fit is recommended to tailor your fit.
If you’re purchasing a bike for your child, you should consider a kids’ bike size chart. A 24-inch bike will be suitable for roughly 4’1″ to 4’9″ tall kids, but this varies among different manufacturers. Each manufacturer has its own height, inseam, and age ranges for its 24″ models, so always refer to this before purchasing.
Why Is it Important to Choose the Appropriate Bike Size?
Riding a bike that fits well helps ensure comfort, performance, and control. It’s not uncommon for cyclists to use bikes that don’t fit or aren’t adjusted correctly. The following issues can arise from riding a poorly fit bike.
- Discomfort or Injuries: Riding the incorrect size will likely cause discomfort or injury. The most common of which include lower back pain, neck, wrist, and knee pain by unevenly distributed pressure or misalignment.
- Lower Performance: A poor fit prevents optimal power output and increases fatigue by over-utilizing specific muscle groups.
- Lack of Control: Handling a bike that’s too big can be unwieldy, while an undersized bike may feel unstable. Either way, control is negatively impacted.
Which Bikes Use 24-Inch Wheels?
While not as prevalent as larger wheel sizes, 24-inch bikes are still popular within certain disciplines and bike styles, as well as for pre-teens.
- Kids’ Mountain Bikes: 24-inch wheels are often found on mountain bikes for kids, including rigid, hardtail, and full-suspension models. At this size, you can find specialist models. Examples include the woom OFF 5 and Trek Roscoe 24 rigid MTBs, the Trek Precaliber 24 and Marin San Quentin 24 hardtails, and the Marin Rift Zone Jr. 24 full-sus.
- Kids’ Hybrid Bikes: The most popular kids’ 24-inch bikes are hybrids. Examples include the woom 5, Trek Wahoo 24, Co-op Cycles REV CTY 24, and Prevelo Alpha Four.
- Folding Bikes: A select few folding bikes, like Tern’s Node D8 and D7i, use 24-inch wheels to increase comfort and speed while still being compact and transportable.
- Cargo/Utility Bikes: The strength and stability of 24-inch wheels make them suitable for cargo and utility bikes, which often have high payload capacities. However, the most common wheel size is 20″. Examples of 24-inch cargo bikes include Benno’s Boost, Xtracycle’s Stoker and RFA, and Yuba’s Kombi.
- Electric Bikes: Some manufacturers of 26-inch electric bikes use 24-inch wheels for their ‘Small’ frames. Examples include Rambo’s Ranger and Ryder, Addmotor’s M-430, and various Electric Bike Company models.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most frequently asked questions online regarding 24-inch bicycles demonstrate a misunderstanding about bike sizing and the importance of wheel size, which we have clarified throughout the article.
What height is a 24-inch bike for?
What age is a 24-inch bike for?
Are 24-inch bikes safe for children?
Are 24-inch bikes good for mountain biking?
Bike sizing is complicated because of the lack of standardization across the industry. In addition, you’re likely to see many different terms and measurements used to describe and classify bikes.
Understanding the basics of bike sizing and the importance of wheel size to ride characteristics will help simplify the process of searching for and choosing a new bike.
Most importantly, a 24-inch bike for adults refers to the wheel size, not the frame size. For kids, 24-inch bikes are typically suitable for those between 4’1″ and 4’9″ or 7 to 11 years old. For adults, frame size is the key determinant of fit, and wheel size is an important factor influencing ride characteristics.
In general, 24-inch bikes for adults are only used on specific folding and cargo bikes due to their strength, stability, compactness, and weight. They also provide enhanced maneuverability, making them ideal for navigating city traffic.
When deciding on a bike, knowing your own or your child’s height and inseam length is key to choosing the correct frame size. Always refer to the manufacturer’s sizing guide and, when possible, test ride before purchasing.
Finally, riding a bike that fits well is crucial for comfort, performance, control, and injury prevention. Whether you’re an adult or buying for a child, understanding these key points can help you make an informed decision when choosing a 24-inch bike.