When it comes to kids’ bikes, there are loads of options out there. From budget bikes to ones that are more of an investment, it can be hard to know which bike is best for your child. We’ve done the research for you and you’ll find our recommendations for the best kids’ bikes below. Ride on!
Best Bike for Babies: Strider 2-in-1 Rocking Bike
Can't wait to get your little rider on wheels? This bundle gives you a Strider Bike—and a place to prop it—so your tot can climb on and test his balance by simply rocking back and forth. He'll feel like he's really riding and will be that much closer to the real thing. Then, when he's ready, just pop the bike out and hit the road.
For kids ages 6 months to 5 years.
Available at striderbikes.com
Best Splurge: Bentley 6-In-1 Stroller Trike
For trendsetting tots (er, parents) who like to roll in style, this trike will be on every Fancy Nancy's wish list. Designed in collaboration with Bentley Motors (the wheels are an exact replica of the Bentley Continental GT, and the trike is available in the same colors as the cars), this luxurious stroller trike can accommodate your child from babyhood and beyond. And before you scoff at the outrageous price tag, consider that this little gizmo is at once a forward and backward-facing stroller, a push trike and a pedal trike—with a few phases in between. It's pricey . . . but it'll last you five years.
For kids ages 6 months to 5 years.
Available at Bentley Trike
Best Trike to Grow Into: EZ Fold 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike
If you're more bargain than Bentley, Radio Flyer's EZ Fold 4-in-1 trike will do the job just fine. It starts as a push stroller and easily transforms to become a push trike, learn-to-ride trike and finally a classic tricycle. The trike also features a removable wrap-around tray with a cup holder, a rear storage bucket, an adjustable canopy and a three-point harness for safety.
For kids ages 9 months to 5 years.
Available at Radio Flyer
Best Budget Balance Bike: Joystar
For a cool-looking balance bike that doesn't break the bank, the Joystar is a perfect fit. Featuring an adjustable seat and handlebars plus a footrest that sits where the feet would be if the rider were pedaling, this budget bike helps newbie riders find their center of gravity and get gliding right away. It also has air-free tires so you never have to worry about filling up. Available in black, blue, green and pink.
For kids ages 1½ to 5 years.
Available at Amazon.
Best Convertible Scooter: Swagtron 4-In-1 Scooter & Trike
It's a scooter! It's a bike! It's . . . both! Swagtron's K6 4-in-1 scooter has a simple-to-use modular design capable of switching between two- and three-wheeled versions of both a balance bike and stand-up kick scooter. It's perfect for growing with kids as their balance and skills increase. With the simple click of a button, the seat of the balance bike rotates to become the deck of a stand-up scooter. Use two rear wheels in either mode for greater stability or swap out for a single wheel. The single wheel features a heel brake for use in scooter mode, just like the big kids.
For kids ages 2 to 5 years.
Price: $34.99 & up
Available at Amazon.
Best Ride-Along Trailer: Kazoo by Burley
This 7-speed trailer-cycle offers a great way for kids to get comfortable both with pedaling and with speed, all while remaining safely attached. It features a versatile 7-speed rapid-fire style thumb shifter, adjusts easily for growing children and offers superior stability with Burley’s patented aluminum ball-bearing guided hitch. Gotta love the safety flag, too. Talk about a fun way to get around town!
For kids ages 4 to 10 years (with a recommended 2-1 adult weight-to-child ratio).
Available at Burley
Best First Pedal Bike: Gecko 12” by Cleary Bikes
The Gecko is designed for boys and girls, and ideally fits kids with inseams of 14” to 18”. First-time riders with an inseam of 15” plant their feet comfortably on the ground while sitting on the saddle. The Gecko is a lightweight, high-quality bike option. The freewheel version (shown here) weighs 13.5 pounds—lighter than similar bikes on the market. Recent upgrades to the Gecko include a smaller saddle for the littlest riders that features a handle tucked seamlessly beneath it. The Gecko also has a knobby tire, making it great for trail pursuits.
Lightweight was a priority for Cleary Bikes’ founders, who are parents who know well what it’s like to carry home a 40-pound kid—and a 40-pound bike— after a little rider has lost steam.
Cleary’s hand-made steel frames are super strong, meaning there is no weight limit on any of their bikes, including this Gecko, which comes in five colors. (Yes, Mom and Dad, you can ride the Gecko!) Built to last, these bikes are durable enough to last through multiple siblings, friends and neighbors. Cleary guarantees all its bikes with a lifetime warranty.
Gecko fits kids ages 2 to 4 years.
Available at Cleary Bikes, currently sold out but sign up to receive a notification when its back in stock.
Best First Pedal Bike (#2): Priority Start 16
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 16 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 made of lightweight aluminum. And while it may seem like a high price tag, blogger Twowheelingtots rated it the "Best Bang for Your Buck" because of its solid "quality, lightweight build, and unique belt drive."
Training wheels ($29.99) and kickstand ($12.99) can also be purchased. For older kids, there are 20" and 24" models.
For kids ages 3 to 8 years.
Price: $319 for the Start 16.
Available at Priority Bicycles.
Best First Pedal Bike on a Budget: Schwinn Koen
If you want to stick to big-name bikes without exorbitant price tags, the Schwinn Koen is a great choice. The Koen features Schwinn's SmartStart technology, which means the bike is designed for kid-sized proportions—with the pedals closer together for an easy ride, a lengthened wheelbase (so kids' knees don't hit the handlebars) and reduced overall weight. It also features both a rear coaster brake and a front hand brake as well as a full-coverage chain guard to protect little hands feet and clothing. Includes training wheels, a saddle handle for towing and storage, a number plate and a limited lifetime warranty for as long as you own the bike.
For kids ages 3 years to 10 years. (Available in 12-, 14-, 16-, 18- and 20-inch wheelbase).
Available on Schwinn
Best for Safety: 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 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. We tested it out, and the bike does, indeed, stop a few seconds faster than other bikes, without giving us that scary feeling of propelling forward.
The bike has a lightweight aluminum frame, is available in its original version and an Ethos model which is about $100 cheaper and comes in 16-, 20- and 24-inch rides (the 20-inch rides come in single-speed or geared options). For added safety, a certified mechanic in Irvine, CA sets up the bike, including a 34-step safety check. All that’s left to do is install handlebars and pedals and get riding.
Not sure what size to get your rider? Guardian's online RideSizer feature lets you enter your child's age and height and get a customized recommendation for which bike to choose—and how long it'll last your child.
For kids ages 5 years to 12 years, depending on the model.
Price: $239 and up.
Available at Guardian Bikes
Best Intro to Gears: Kids’ Sprocket 20” 7D
Available at Electrabike
Best Intro to Gears (Splurge): Woom 4
If your kid is ready to tackle hills and start shifting, this bike is worth the splurge. Featuring eight gears (with easy-grip shifters), a lightweight frame, and Kenda off-road tires, it's great for exploring basic trails as well as doing all-day rides around town. It also has a low minimum seat height, which means your little rider can get in the saddle earlier (if she's ready).
Note: If you're reluctant to fork over the cash for this relatively high-priced set of wheels, just remember that TwoWheelingTots (in our opinion the best kids' bike blogger around) called this bike "the cream of the crop" and the "best all-around 20" bike" it tested.
For kids ages 6 years to 9 years
Available at US Woom Bikes
Coolest Looks: Schwinn's Fair Lady
We love the retro styling of this Schwinn cruiser: It's got the look of bikes long gone (it's a replica of the classic Sting Ray!), but the safety technology of today's industry standards. The bike features Schwinn's signature "Smart Start" technology, which means that everything from the pedal width (it now matches the width of a child's hips) to the seats and handlebars are designed to make riding a bike easier, safer and more comfortable for kids. To make things simple for new riders, the bike has a single-speed drive train and an intuitive rear coaster brake.
For kids ages 6 years to 9 years
Available at Schwinn.
Best Intro to Mountain Biking: Cleary Bikes 24” Scout
The Scout is the real deal of kids mountain bikes. When they’re ready to tackle trails, this 10-speed, purpose-built rig provides the ideal platform. The Scout is stable, lightweight and rips down flowy singletrack with ease.
Components were not overlooked; this bike features parts you’d commonly find on a well-equipped adult mountain bike. Disc brakes ensure precision stopping power, while the Suntor XCR Lo 24 Air fork provides a supple riding experience. The additional clearance of the Scout’s new shorter crankset makes rallying turns and hitting jumps even easier.
The Scout is built to take hits on and off the trails. It’s backed by Cleary’s lifetime warranty and can be handed down to future generations of riders.
The 24” Scout fits riders 50”-57” inches tall, with inseam measurements of 21.5”-26.5”.
Available at Cleary Bikes
Best All-Terrain Bikes: Trek Bikes Precaliber
Trek Bikes wants your kids to enjoy biking just as much as you do, so they put the same amount of dedication and know-how into their bikes as they do to their adult bikes. This matters because learning to ride on a well-designed bike is both easier and more enjoyable, and when your little one loves riding as a kid they'll love riding forever. Each one of their kids’ bikes is made with durable, high-quality materials and assembled by a professional mechanic so you can focus on having fun with your little ones for years to come.
Trek's Precaliber offers a range of sizes (from 12”-24” wheels) and price points that fit just about any kid’s needs. Precaliber is perfect for beginners, neighborhood riding or just getting out and having a blast on two wheels!
Plus the benefit you get with every Trek kids' bike: Lifetime warranty, high-quality build and assembly, and their awesome trade up program to provide parents a great value for when their kid grows out of their bike. When you buy a kids’ bike at a participating Trek retail location, you can bring it back within three years and get up to 50% of the bike’s original purchase price in credit toward the purchase of a new one.
Ages 3 years to 12 years.
Price: $209.99 and up
Available at Trek Bikes
Best Recumbent Bike: Mobo Triton Cruiser
A recumbent bike isn't the first thing a kid would think of for their new set of wheels, but this zippy little three-wheeler will have parents wanting to hop in the saddle, too (There's one for you, too, Mom and Dad!). Part go-cart, part bicycle, the Mobo cruiser lets kids sit back and pedal away. Voted a "Best Gift for Kids" by the Today Show, the Triton uses a rear-wheel steering system (you steer with your hands using levers on either side of the bike) and a single-speed gear. It's ideal for cruising sidewalks and bike paths as opposed to tackling steep hills or trails. And, with an adjustable frame to fit heights up to 5’2”, it'll last your kids into their teens. Frozen fans: there's even a special version just for you!
For kids ages 7 years to 12 years. (There's a mini version for kids ages 3 to 7.)
Available at Mobo Cruiser
Best Bike to Grow On: Prevelo Bikes
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). Prevelo has bikes that are good on the streets and bikes that are meant for the trails (the Zulu line is bona fide mountain bikes).
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 AlphaZero balance bike, for instance, all the way through to the AlphaFour 24-inch bike.
Ages 18 months to 11 years, depending on the model.
Price: $199 & up.
Available at Prevelo Bikes
—Kate Loweth, Melissa Heckscher & Jennifer Massoni Pardini
Editor’s Note: Whatever bike you buy, follow these guidelines for finding the right bike size for your little cyclist.
All products were listed at this price upon publication.