When it comes to kids’ bikes, many options have rolled into town since we hopped on our banana-seated, training-wheeled rides—handlebar streamers a-flowing. These days, bicycles for kids are as varied and well-engineered as grown-up versions and accommodate even the earliest riders. Scroll through our bevy of the best bikes, no matter your preferred style, terrain, or price point.
smarTfold by smarTrike
If you’re looking for a first trike, look no further than the new smarTfold. This trike (and stroller stand in) grows with baby and is true to its name—featuring Touch Steering technology and a navigation system while quickly folding up into a portable, compact tote.
As little rider grows, features evolve, including a reclining seat, removable canopy, baby and child footrests, and eventually pedals and a handlebar the child can control while you still control the front wheel when on the move (with smarTrike’s innovative and easy-to-maneuver parent handlebar). The best part may be that zero assembly is required thanks to a quick-click design. Unfold one of four styles and go!
Ages 6 to 36 months.
Available at smartrike.com, $99.99-$159.99.
Adore 12 by Liv
Liv is the first and only bike company devoted exclusively to women—and their kids’ bikes cater to girls starting at age three. Newbie riders will adore their 2018 Adore 12 model, a lightweight on-road bike that comes with training wheels, a basket, and an extra sweet design. Light blue or purple frames are available.
Parents will appreciate the protective chain guard that keeps clothing and fingers safe while the extra wide tires, easy coaster brake, and removable training wheels mean balance without boo-boos.
Ages 3 & up.
Available at liv-cycling.com, $190.
The Grind by Diamondback
BMX bikes are increasingly popular. The Grind is designed specifically for little BMXers, so a great way to introduce fun, freestyle flair to the ride for under $200, which isn’t an easy accomplishment in the BMX market.
This unisex model is durable thanks to a steel frame, has brakes that are easy for a kid to control (with any BMX bike, parents will especially want to make sure the brakes are top rate, especially on more affordable models), strong 48-spoke rims, and fat tires ready for street or park play.
Ages 6 to 10.
Available at diamondback.com, $149.99.
Cargotrike by Kinderfeets
When Kinderfeets (a play on the Dutch word for “child’s bike”) added its Tiny Tot push bike to its collection of wooden, pedal-free, foot-pegged training bikes, it was designed to get one-year-olds up and riding. And the 2-in1 convertible tricycle/balance bike did just that.
Now, with its new Cargotrike, Kinderfeets has gone a step further with two front wheels and a cargo bin—the perfect combination for toddlers with places to go and any number of things they’re determined to take with them! Not to mention the pride they will feel helping to pack up the necessities for a ride to the park or playground. It’s also designed to get riders as young as one up and on the go. Available in grey, red, blue, and pink.
Ages 12 months & up.
Available at kinderfeets.bigcartel.com, $99.
20-Inch Kids Bike by Guardian Bikes
You may recognize Guardian Bikes from Season 8 of Shark Tank, where they accepted a $500,000 contingent offer from Mark Cuban. The mission at the heart of the company has been to create the world’s safest children’s bikes. Their patented and award-winning SureStop™ Braking System does just that in order to avoid head-over-handlebars or front wheel skidding accidents that new riders can make. So how does SureStop work? It reduces stopping distance, distributes braking power to both wheels for better control and has an easy, single-lever system.
For added safety, a certified mechanic back in Irvine, CA sets up the bike, going through a 34-step safety check. All that’s left to do is install handlebars and pedals and get riding. The 20-inch rides come in single speed or geared options.
Ages 5 & up.
Available at guardianbikes.com, $350-$400.
Kazoo by Burley
A single-speed trailercycle offers a great way for kids to get comfortable both with pedaling and with speed, all while remaining safely attached. Burley’s double-locking mechanism, aluminum ball-bearing guided hitch (it pivots), and rear bike rack ensures a secure connection and ride. And both the seat and handlebar adjust as your tandem tot grows. Gotta love the safety flag, too. Talk about a fun way to get around town!
Ages 4 to 10 years (with a recommended 2-1 adult weight-to-child ratio).
Available at burley.com, $299.
Priority Start F/W 2.0 by Priority Bicycles
This bike company was founded in New York City by a dad who wanted to shift his “priorities” from spending so much time in the office to sharing a long-time passion for cycling with his family. So he set out to make high-quality bicycles and deliver them directly to customers.
The company’s Priority Start F/W 2.0 is ideal for kids graduating from a balance bike. Designed with kids in mind, it is grease free and belt-driven (without the coaster brakes typical of other “big kid” bikes), while its frame is lightweight aluminum. And kids took note—the company’s Start models completely sold out. But you are in luck—Start 16” models are scheduled for delivery in April 2018. Training wheels ($29.99) and kickstand ($12.99) can also be purchased.
Ages 3 to 8 years.
Available at prioritybicycles.com, $249.
Gecko 12” Single Speed by Clearly Bikes
Designed for both boys and girls and ideally suited for 15-18-inch inseams (meaning first-time riders will have their feet comfortably on the ground when sitting), the Gecko is a lightweight, high-quality option. The freewheel version shown here weighs 14 pounds.
Lightness was a priority for Clearly Bikes’ founders, parents who knew well what it’s like to carry home a 40-pound kid—and a 40-pound bike—once a little rider has lost steam. Their hand-made steel frames are also super strong, meaning there is no upper weight limit on any of their bikes, including this here Gecko, which comes in five colors. Made and painted to last, these bikes are also durable enough to last through several siblings and a lifetime warranty.
Ages 3 & up.
Available at clearybikes.com, $274.
For Prevelo founder Jacob Rheuban, a father of two (and Red Tricycle Spoke contributor!), bikes and kids should add up to fun, ease, and confidence. So 100% of Prevelo Bikes are engineered for kids, including positioning kids closer to the ground (for a confidence boost), short crank arms (for a comfortable ride with that lower saddle height), durable yet lightweight frame (think: steel and aluminum), rounded axle bolts (to avoid leg scrapes), third-party chemical testing (no phthalates or lead here!) and handbrake levers that are kid-sized (the reach is adjustable too).
And because that kid-sized engineering is so key, the company offers a cool Factory Trade-Up Club ($69 for a lifetime membership), allowing you to move on to another model while getting 40% back from the purchase price of your previous Prevelo. You can trade up from the Alpha Zero balance bike, for instance, all the way through to the Alpha Four 24-inch bike. And throughout 2018, the Alpha is rolling out in purple as well as its original silver. New add-on features (fenders!) are also available, joining an existing line-up including USB lights, name lettering, and an “incredibell” for those new handlebars.
Ages 18 months to 11 years, depending on the model.
Available at prevelobikes.com, $199 & up.
Trike by Micro Kickboard
The Trike is more of a child-mover than an actual tricycle (there's a footrest instead of pedals), but your toddler will love holding onto the handlebars and going for a ride. The best part? The whole thing folds up into a neat little package and weighs less than five pounds, making it an easy carry-on for field trips where you know your little tourist might get tired of walking. Or keep it in the car as a fun and functional stroller alternative when out and about with your budding rider.
Ages 18 months & up.
Available at microkickboard.com, $79.99.
Flip Flop by Yuba
In case you don't know about the beauty of balance bikes, they're pedal-less bikes that help kids learn to balance on a bike before they embark on the real thing. The Flip Flop adds another boon to the balance market with its unique flippable frame that grows with the kids—it can accommodate kiddos ages 18 months to six years (most balance bikes are limited to younger tots).
As for looks, Yuba bikes come in either a giraffe or cow print, and kids will love being able to strap their stuff onto the included rear cargo rack or optional saddle bag … and kids will love being able to haul toys, snacks, and discoveries along the way with one of three cargo space options: a Flip Flop Cargo Crate (shown here and $20), Basket ($29), or Saddle Bag ($39).
Ages 15 months to 6 years.
Available at yubabikes.com, $120.
Beach Cruiser by Firmstrong
Who doesn't need a little beach vibe in their lives? With Firmstrong bikes, a Hermosa Beach, Calif. company specializing in stylish beach cruisers for adults and kids, your little sand tot can breezily pedal her own beach cruiser whether or not she's got an oceanside pad.
The Beach Cruiser comes in both 16-inch and 20-inch models so be sure to check height recommendations for the best fit. Both models are all about comfort, with raised handlebars and a soft, cushioned seat; meanwhile, the beefy high-grip tires, coaster brakes, and optional training wheels are made to help your little one cruise safely.
Ages 4 to 12 years.
Available at beachbikes.net, $169.99-$209.99.
If you like to stick to big name bikes, you can't go wrong with Schwinn, who in 2016 redesigned its entire line of kids bikes to better suit young riders. With the launch of its "SmartStart" bikes, Schwinn kiddified everything from the pedal width (it now matches the width of a child's hips) and gearing to the seats and handlebars—all in an effort to make learning to ride a bike easier and more comfortable.
Good to know: Parents will appreciate the Schwinn's "fast-start gearing," which allows your child to start quickly but reduces top speed so you can stay next to them once they get going.
Ages 3 & up.
Learn more at schwinnsmartstart.com, $89.99 & up.
One of the biggest quandaries about buying a bike for your kid is finding one that fits her perfectly. With Trek bikes, not only are kids getting a quality road or mountain bike; they're also getting a bike that is made to precisely fit their proportions. Trek’s “Dialed Fit Design” means that all of its youth bikes’ components—the saddles, grips, handlebars, pedals, brake levers, and cranks—are designed to fit the appropriate age rider for that model. In addition, some Trek kids’ bikes even come with adjustable crank length to fit a child’s growing legs and extend the bike’s lifespan.
Parents will love the integrated seat handle (with the 12 and 16" models) that makes the bike an easier load to carry when kids are too tired to ride (it also helps when you need to balance your wobbly new cyclist). Another plus: The 12 and 16" models come with training wheels that don't require tools to adjust.
Ages 3 to 12 years.
Available at trekbikes.com, $199.99 & up.
Kurve Bikes by Kiddimoto
Looking for an eco-friendly way to get your kids biking? These British-born balance bikes are made from recyclable birch plywood (sourced from managed forests) and painted with non-toxic, child-safe paint.
To make moving easy, Kurve bikes have rubber handles, an upright seat with three heights, and a steering lock to keep kids from spinning out. That, and they're adorable, with funky designs from rainbow polka dots and skulls to (new for 2017) fossils and stars. For an extra $11, any Kiddimoto balance bike can be personalized with rider names. And all Kiddimoto products come with a 10-year warranty.
Ages 0 to 5 & up.
Available at kiddimoto.co.uk, $97.69.
Thomas the Train Bike by Dynacraft
It's “All aboard!” for little train lovers when it comes to this newly-released Thomas the Train bike complete with a Thomas face, Thomas handlebar shields, and a bright blue and red frame designed to mirror the Number 1 Blue Engine himself. Kids will love the “chugga-chugga” sounds the bike makes as it moves; parents will love the sturdy BMX frame, the easy coaster brakes, and the fact their kids feel like the coolest conductors on Sodor.
Ages 3 to 5 years.
Available at dynacraftwheels.com, $74.99.
What’s your kid’s favorite way to ride? Tell us about it in a comment.
— Jennifer Pardini with Melissa Heckscher
Editor’s Note: Whatever bike you buy, follow these guidelines for finding the right bike size for your little cyclist.
All images courtesy retailers.
All products were available at listed price upon publication.