When it comes to buying a children’s bike, you don’t have to spend a fortune. But you should look for a bike with scaled-down components, not just an adult one on a smaller frame, and it’s worth doing your homework to get the right bike for your child’s size and needs.
Children’s bikes are sized by wheel rather than frame because it’s the wheels that determine the proportions of the rest of the bike. And with kids’ bikes ranging from 12-24in (26in is a standard size for adult mountain bikes), there’s a lot to choose from. But by trying one out at a good bike retailer, you can get it just right. And if you don’t want to ruin the Christmas surprise, follow a size guide on a reputable bike dealer’s website. The bottom line is that the child should be able to easily stand across the frame, reach the pedals from the saddle and hold onto the handlebar without much of a stretch. Don’t get a bigger size with a view to making it last longer as it will make for a challenging ride, as well as being potentially dangerous.
Weight matters, too. In fact, the most common failing with cheap kids’ bikes is that their overall mass often reflects a notable percentage of their child’s bodyweight – making it difficult to push off and clumsy to ride. That said, as with adult bikes, you may need to trade off some of the weight with robustness, particularly at the cheaper end of the market.
- 1 How to Choose
- 2 Size
- 3 Weight
- 4 Wheels
- 5 Price
- 6 Brakes
- 7 Training Wheels
- 8 Frame Material
- 9 1. RoyalBaby BMX Freestyle Kids Bike, Boy’s Bikes and Girl’s Bikes with training wheels, 12 inch, 14 inch, 16 inch, 18 inch, Gifts for children
- 10 2. RoyalBaby CubeTube
- 11 3. RoyalBaby Stargirl
- 12 4. RoyalBaby Jenny & Bunny Girl’s Bike
- 13 5. RoyalBaby 2017 newly-developed Little Swan Girl’s Bike with basket, 14, 16 or 18 inch girls bike with training wheels or kickstand, gifts for kids, girls’ bicycles
- 14 6. WOOM BIKES USA WOOM 3 Bicycle
- 15 7. Bratz Kid’s Bike
- 16 8. ByK E-250 Kid’s Bike, 14 inch wheels, 6.5 inch frame, for Boys or Girls.
- 17 13. Louis Garneau HG F-14 Dragon Bike
- 18 14. 14″ Classic Balance Bike
- 18.1 Okay, I’ve got the size bit sorted – what else?
- 18.2 What about balance bikes?
- 18.3 Safety gear
- 18.4 Putting it all together
- 18.5 Specialty bikes
- 18.6 Biking with babies
- 18.7 Cost
- 18.8 More from my site
How to Choose
We’re about to give you a list of all the good bikes on the market, but how do you know which one is best for your child? Consider these factors, and then use the comparison chart at the end of this article to help you choose.
Each child is different. For instance, my son and his cousin who are only a few months apart are nearly six inches apart in height. Therefore, it is really very important to measure your child before buying a bike. What may fit one child at 3 may not fit another until 4. Some of the bikes on this list may even be too small for your very tall 5-year-old. For details on how to measure your child, read our article on How to Pick the Best Bike for Your Child.
For maximum comfort and stability, I recommend that your child’s inseam be at least as long as the minimum seat height. While technically their inseam can be slightly shorter than the minimum seat height (it will fit on their tippy-toes), kids this young who are just learning to ride do best if they can put their feet flat on the ground.
After ensuring a bike is the right size, the next most important thing to consider is the weight. When comparing two bikes, I will always pick the lightest one. It makes a huge difference in a child’s enjoyment level and in how long they can ride. Look for a bike that is no more than 30% of your child’s body weight (tough isn’t it)? Of all the bikes on my list, the Woom 2 is the lightest. It’s also my son’s favorite—I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
The plus of the 12” bikes on this list (the Cleary Gecko and the Specialized Hotrock) is that they fit really young riders (as young as 2.5). If your child has been on a balance bike since a super early age and is ready to graduate to a pedal bike earlier than most, go for a 12” bike for sure. On the other hand, if your kiddo is 3.5+, I would recommend choosing a bike with 14” wheels instead. Why? The larger wheel size makes it significantly easier to roll over obstacles—cracks in the sidewalk, rocks and bumps at the bike park, etc. I’ve seen first hand my son do much better on a 14” bike compared to a 12” bike.
Unfortunately, just like most things in life, the more you spend on a bike the better quality it is going to be. The good news is that when you buy a high-quality bike, like any of those on our Top 5 list, it will last thru several children. This makes it a good investment if you have younger kids it can be passed on to or to sell on Craiglist.
I’m a huge proponent of teaching children to use hand brakes and bypassing coaster brakes. I’m at a point now where I won’t even put my son on a bike with a coaster brake, or teach another child to ride using one. To decide whether a freewheel or coaster brake set-up is best for you, and more about both options.
Training wheels? Just don’t do it! If your child hasn’t mastered a balance bike yet, start there and then transition to a pedal bike later. If you MUST have training wheels, I’ve listed those bikes that offer them in the table below, but you’ll notice most of the best kids bikes don’t even offer them anymore.
This is a highly personal choice—some people have a clear preference for aluminum or steel. I don’t personally. Aluminum is the lighter material, and we all know how important saving weight is on kids bikes, but steel is super durable (and classic).
Make sure your child can operate the brake and gear levels comfortably, and that the pedals are positioned for safe stopping – take the bike to a shop if you want to check. And introduce gears gradually if you can. Finally, while some bikes come in separate models for boys and girls, there are no notable differences between the measurements of boys’ and girls’ limbs, so it’s really just a matter of aesthetics. Finally, think of your child’s bike as an investment – the longevity and resale value matter just as much as the initial cost.
What Size Bike Does My Child Need?
1. RoyalBaby BMX Freestyle Kids Bike, Boy’s Bikes and Girl’s Bikes with training wheels, 12 inch, 14 inch, 16 inch, 18 inch, Gifts for children
A Freestyle Kids bike for both genders. Has a unique training wheels that make it to be the best and coolest bike for 3-4 year olds in 2017.In addition to this, the vibrant colors it has that is blue, red, orange, green, white and pink suit the taste of any child. The training wheels improve hearing ability by reducing the level of noise between the wheels and the ground. The fully enclosed chain guard keeps fingers safe and grips help prevent hands from sliding off bars. The RoyalBaby mostly deals with kids bicycles bringing in a lot of innovation in kids bike designs thus creation of a better product for young riders. Furthermore the 14-icnh, 16-inch and 18-inch Royalbabby wheel size bike can still fit the children aged 3-8 years best.
2. RoyalBaby CubeTube
It is a perfect unisex children’s bike. The lever it has is very easy to install and maintain. Furthermore it’s heavy-duty; never bending training wheels assure stability of new learners and smooth ride. RoyalBaby Cube Tube comes in many different sizes just to mention but a few; first,12-inch serves kids of age 3-4 years, secondly14-inch for 3-5 years next is 16-inch for 4-5 years and lastly 18-inch for 5 years.This among the top best bikes for children of the above ages especially who have passion with fashion and dress to appeal.
3. RoyalBaby Stargirl
An outstanding best sporty quality bike for girls that’s designed with bells, basket and training wheels. The seat can be adjusted to accommodate the height of the child cycling it and the rubber it has on the wheels help to reduce noise. It comes in two types the 12 inch size suitable for 2-4 year old and 16inch size recommended for 4-7 year old children.
4. RoyalBaby Jenny & Bunny Girl’s Bike
The RoyalBaby Jenny is the best choice for royal and beautifull girls. Classic white wall tires make the vibrant pink rims stand out. Other features it has include a bell, bar end bows, and an elegant basket. The two models are white and pink.
5. RoyalBaby 2017 newly-developed Little Swan Girl’s Bike with basket, 14, 16 or 18 inch girls bike with training wheels or kickstand, gifts for kids, girls’ bicycles
The pretty little swan bike has an elegant shape with a dual adjustable steel handlebar. The hand breaks enhance safety during cycling protecting the child from falling off the bike and avoid unnecessary injuries. Swan bike is only for girls and best for 3, 4 and 5 year old.
6. WOOM BIKES USA WOOM 3 Bicycle
It is red in color. Has a Lightweight AL-6061 aluminum tubes optimized for simple balancing, which is supported by an upright seating position and a steering lock limiter. The head bearings and handlebar offers great stability and flexibility. However it has no coaster brake but instead has two v-brakes that are easy to use for front and rear thus enables the kid to slow the bike down regardless of the pedal position. Woom bike is the best first bike for children at the age of four and five.
7. Bratz Kid’s Bike
Designed in black, pink and white/purple color. Has a unique handlebar bag that other bikes lack making it the best kids bike in 2018. The pink bike can be used by the 3 year old kids while the white bike by 4-5 year old.
8. ByK E-250 Kid’s Bike, 14 inch wheels, 6.5 inch frame, for Boys or Girls.
This is a unisex bike and available in four colors. The balance is achieved with the wider distance between the wheels. Its Drivetrain includes a 3 piece alloy crank, single speed, chain guard and KMC chain that make cycling speed really good. Suitable for 3, 4 and 5 years old.
Oh, how I love this little bike. Its small frame makes it the perfect first pedal bike for early balance bike graduates, and the easy-to-pull Tektro brake levers make learning to operate handbrakes possible even for the youngest riders. My little guy loves this bike for riding singletrack, and the beefy Kenda tires make it possible.
10.Prevelo Alpha One
The Prevelo Alpha One is a newcomer to this list, but it deserves its spot on the top 5. This 14″ beauty rides well and looks good. It can be fitted with an optional–and highly recommended–freewheel kit. The rest of the bike is built up with high-quality components including Kenda tires and easy-to-operate Tektro v-brakes.
This 14” bike is a cult favorite among parents in the know, and if you are looking for a bike with good resale value, this bike is it. The bike is lightweight, fast, and durable. The one drawback of the Cnoc that I will point out is that it does not have a freewheel option in the U.S., so if you are looking for a bike without a coaster, the Cnoc isn’t it.
If you are a mountain biking family (like we are!), the Spawn Yoji should definitely be on your shortlist. It’s a bit pricey (like all good mountain bikes are), but the high-quality components and low weight make it worth the price. The Yoji has real off-road tires, Tektro brakes, and is built up to weight a mere 13 pounds.
13. Louis Garneau HG F-14 Dragon Bike
They are fun and easy to ride. Coaster and v-brake combination ensures safety while training on how to use the brakes. Garneau bikes all come standard with removable training wheels. Vibrant colors, stylish design, and affordable pricing make Felix ET William bikes an easy decision to make that will please any child and thus being among the first best bikes for children at the age of 4 to 5 years.
14. 14″ Classic Balance Bike
Brown in color made from wood material. It offers a good balance to the kid during training and cycling. Has a perfect height suitable for even a 2-year-old baby and therefore the best for the 3, 4 and 5 year old in 2018.
In summary the top ten best first bike for 3 year old in 2018 all have unique characteristics and are a way through of making the kids life memorable and happy. Children enjoy spending time with parents when they are training them on how to cycle getting pushbacks. It is this moments that the child’s growth is enlightened and bonding becomes stronger as bikes can be given out as gifts to the child and to all gifts are treasures and never forgotten very well maintained. Therefore the top ten best first bikes can be used as gift exchange and makes the kid’s life safe and worth living.
Okay, I’ve got the size bit sorted – what else?
The Australian standard says that children’s bikes must have at least two braking systems. One of these must be a back-pedal brake (the kind where the brakes are activated when you pedal backwards).
Back pedal brakes are the safest option for kids, especially very young children who don’t have the hand and arm strength to operate handbrakes safely. There’s usually a handbrake for the front wheel too – check its quality to make sure it’s not a flimsy plastic lever that bends when squeezed.
Shiny chrome-plated steel rims look slick, but their aluminium cousins are the safer option. Our sister organisation in the US tested both types and found braking distance with steel rims was five times longer than with aluminium ones. If you’re not sure how to tell the difference, take a magnet with you – it won’t stick to aluminium.
Avoid models with a quick-release front wheel – they’re not necessary and can be dangerous if not installed correctly.
Kid’s bikes should have a guard that covers the chain wheel and the upper run of the chain. You should only be able to remove it with a tool. If the bike you want doesn’t have one, make sure it’s put on – or buy a different model.
Gearing depends a lot on how good a cyclist your child is, and where they’ll be riding. For beginners, a bike without gears is a better buy. Kids with more experience might find gears useful on uphill rides.
The main thing is to listen to your child – don’t give them a bike too complicated for their skill level.
Pedals and handlebars
There should be a tread on both sides of the pedal, and if it’s rough enough to make them wear shoes – even better.
The ends of the handlebars should be covered so raw metal doesn’t stick out, and the handgrips should be secure.
What about balance bikes?
The pedal-free option isn’t just a hip choice for parents who want to Instagram their toddler on a funky wooden cruiser. Like the name suggests, the idea is to help your child get the balance and steering part sorted before they graduate to the pedalling bit.
Balance bikes are easy for children to move around, and have a low centre of gravity. The child needs to be able to walk, and should be tall enough to straddle the bike before they can use one, so around 18 months is a good age to get started.
Scoot and glide
Balance bikes have no pedals, chain, or training wheels. The child simply scoots their feet along the ground to speed up, and then raises their feet to coast along. Some come with a rear-wheel hand brake, but if that’s too complex, dragging feet along the ground as a brake works just as well.
The concept is good, but balance bikes have a limited life span. Simply removing the pedals from a regular bike and attaching them again when your child is ready will do the same thing. It’s a legitimate way to save money if your budget doesn’t stretch to two bikes over a short time frame.
Balance bikes vs training wheels
Companies that make balance bikes say they help kids learn to ride quicker and generally move onto a bike with pedals and no training wheels with ease. They say kids can become dependent on training wheels, and can pick up bad habits that may take time to unlearn.
Training wheels also have some safety issues. The child sits higher up and the base width of the training wheel is quite narrow. When turning, the child’s weight is shifted from the rear to the outside training wheel, which can also reduce braking power.
If you choose this option, start with the wheels level with the ground, and gradually raise them as your child gains confidence.
Safety accessories required by the Australian standard are:
- a bell or horn, so your child can alert pedestrians and other cyclists, and
- front, rear, pedal and spoke-mounted reflectors.
If your child is going to be riding at night – which isn’t recommended – they’ll also need lights.
Use your head
Don’t even consider giving your child a bike to ride without a helmet. An Australian Standards-approved helmet is a must. A helmet can’t be a surprise present – your child needs to try it on for size and style before you buy it.
A good helmet:
- fits snugly but comfortably on your child’s head,
- sits firmly about 1–1.5cm above the eyebrows,
- shouldn’t be able to move forwards, backwards or sideways,
- feels comfortable to wear – not too hot or heavy,
- is a bright colour to make it more visible, and
- is easy to do up and undo, and has straps that are easy to adjust.
Putting it all together
You don’t need a mechanical engineering degree to assemble a bike, but if tinkering with nuts and bolts isn’t a strong point, head to a professional.
The Australian standard recommends you have the bike assembled by a qualified bicycle mechanic. Bikes that come fully assembled should meet the standard for assembly – look for a checklist or certificate that confirms this.
When we last tested adult bikes, several weren’t properly assembled, so check that things like handlebars, brake pads and pedals aren’t loose. You should also check that the wheels spin true. To check, turn the bike upside down, resting it on its handlebars and seat. Spin the wheels and look at them from the front, making sure they don’t have a back-and-forth wobble – this would indicate that the spokes are buckling or the wheels aren’t attached tightly.
Read the instructions
All bikes should come with use and maintenance instructions. The Australian standard for bikes requires certain instructions, labels and warnings be included with the bike, when applicable. If you’re buying second-hand, some of them will be missing, but it’s good to know what’s expected.
- If the bike is only partially assembled, it should have simple, clear instructions for putting the pieces together, as well as which tools should be used.
- Assembled bikes with misaligned handlebars, or pedals removed (for fitting in a box, say), should have a label warning that adjustment is required.
- The bike should always have the name and address of its manufacturer, importer or distributor, and an identification number.
Bikes styled to look like off-road or stunt bikes (like ‘BMX’ or ‘mountain’ bikes) should carry a warning label if they aren’t actually suited to that purpose. If your kid is keen on this type, make sure it’s the real (and safe) deal.
Biking with babies
If your child is not old enough to ride a bike, you can still take them with you when you ride.
The three main options for carrying your precious cargo are:
- a trailer
- a child seat
- a trailer bike (also called a half-bike trailer)
A trailer is probably the safest way to carry a young child, but it can still be risky. For one, it’s a pretty rough ride, and your baby’s brain will get quite a rattling. Experts say you shouldn’t take a baby under 12 months old in a trailer. You’ll also find it hard to buy a helmet that fits an under-one. And no helmet equals no biking.
Depending on the model, bike trailers can also tip over pretty easily. If you’re choosing this option get one with:
- rollbar protection,
- a five-point harness, and
- a hitch that will allow the trailer to stay upright even if the bike tips over.
- ventilation (it gets pretty hot in there)
- protection from the elements (rain and wind)
- protection from bottom bumps
- ease of attaching
- ease of storage and transportation
A child seat can be mounted on the front or back of your bike. Your child needs to be strong enough to wear a helmet and still keep their head upright – so we’re generally talking kids over 12 months. The seat should also have guards so their hands and feet can’t get caught in the spokes.
As with trailers, it’s a pretty bumpy ride for the baby. The main problem with a child seat is the destabilising effect it has on the bike: one wriggle and the bike falls sideways – or worse, tips over.
Many accidents happen when a child is sitting in the seat while the bike is leaning against a wall, or on its stand before you get on. So putting your bub in a child bike seat is really a two-person job.
A half-bike trailer has a seat, handlebars, pedals and a rear wheel and attaches to your bike like a trailer. It’s the ideal option if your child is old enough to keep their balance and do a little pedalling, but not strong enough to cycle a long way on their own. You may also score a little help on those uphill slogs!
A decent quality bike with 12-inch wheels plus training wheels for a three- to five-year-old is likely to cost around $140 to $200.
A larger (20-inch or 24-inch) bike for a child up to 12 can cost upwards of $240.