Best Kids’ Bikes for kids of all ages

So, you’re looking for a bike for your kid. You may not know where to start, so here are a few things to consider: What is your budget? What purpose will your child be using this bike for? What style of riding will they be doing? What terrain? It can be an incredibly overwhelming process with so many options available to choose from. Bikerumor is here to help. In this Buyer’s Guide, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite bikes from different categories to help you narrow your search.

If your child is currently a mountain biker or is new and interested in getting into it, we have a guide to buying mountain bikes that you can take a look at for more in-depth guidance. For all other types of riding, check out our picks for the best kids’ bikes below.

BEST BUDGET KIDS’ BIKE

Polygon Premier 24

Polygon Bikes have been a game changer in the cycling industry. They have created a line of inexpensive bikes with quality components. They also believe in the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality – some years, nothing about the bike changes except new colorway options. The Polygon Premier 24 is a great budget bike option at $399. It equips a Shimano 7-speed drivetrain, V-brakes, and nice wide Kenda tires to help instill confidence. The drivetrain is a 1x setup (meaning only one gear at the crank), so if your child is just learning how to ride, they don’t have to fumble with a front derailleur shifter in addition to the rear. This bike comes in two fun color options for your kiddo to choose from.

  • Size: 24″
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Colors: Light Blue, Charcoal/Red/Yellow
  • Components: Shimano Tourney drivetrain 1×7 14-28T freewheel, V-brakes,
  • Tires: Kenda K1153 All-Terrain, 24×1.75″
  • Weight: 23lbs.
  • MSRP: $399

PROS: 1x drivetrain, price, some color options
CONS: a little bit heavier than others, locknut axles

BEST BUDGET RUNNER-UP

The Hand-Me-Down

It’s easy to overlook the hand-me-down bike, but it is worth mentioning. Sure, it may not be as glamourous to ride a used bike as it is a brand new shiny bike, but it is a great way to save money if you’re concerned your child will outgrow a new bike five minutes after purchasing one. If your child has an older sibling that outgrew their bike, you can use that one, or check out Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist for options.

If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, you can always consult with your local bike shop. Local bike shops are an excellent resource to help you find a reliable used bike. Some bike shops even sell bikes on consignment. If you’re meeting a seller, the bike shop may even let you meet with them in their parking lot so a mechanic can come outside and take a look at it and let you know if it’s worth it. Plus, you can get the bike tuned up at the shop, and chances are it will be a lot cheaper than buying new. Often, a used bike just needs a good cleaning,  some new shift/brake cables, grips, and maybe a new chain and you’re good to go.

One of the benefits of the bikes on this list is that they’re built to last. If you have multiple kids you can pass them down as they’re outgrown, or sell them to neighbors or friends.

BEST BALANCE BIKE FOR ADVANCED TODDLERS

Islabikes Rothan 12

We already have an entire balance bike buyer’s guide. But the Islabikes Rothan 12 is more of transition between a balance bike and a pedal bike, so we’re including it here. While bikes like the Strider 12 Sport with the rocking platform are ideal for babies and toddlers just starting on two wheels, the Rothan is there for toddlers who are getting more adventurous – and for parents worried about their suddenly mobile children zooming around without real brakes.

The Rothan 12 is super lightweight at only 3kg (7lbs) so it won’t be as cumbersome as other, heavier balance bikes. The bike features pneumatic wide, knobby tires with plenty of grip, so this bike can go from pavement to gravel with ease allowing you to try different types of riding with your child. The saddle’s scooped design helps keep your child centered and learn how to lean with the bike when turning.

The coolest feature of this bike may be the tiny v-brake installed on the rear wheel. Not only is this an added safety feature, but it also allows kids to learn how to use a brake lever right away – and the brake lever is specially designed with tiny hands in mind.

  • Size: 12″ wheel, 30cm max inseam height
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Colors: Teal, Pink, Orange
  • Components: Islabikes brakes, scoop-shaped saddle
  • Tires: Islabike house brand
  • Weight: 7lbs.
  • MSRP: £199.99 ($240)

PROS: extremely lightweight, color options, real tires, actual headset & stem, tiny brake lever for tiny hands, scoop-shaped saddle to help with scooting and learning to lean
CONS: a little pricey, no foot rest

BEST FIRST PEDAL BIKE

woom 2

The woom 2 is one of the best first pedal bikes you can buy for your child if they’re between sizes. If you find your child is too big for 12″ wheels, but still not comfortable on 16″, the 14″ woom 2 is a happy middle ground. Having a bike that isn’t overwhelming in terms of size is especially important for new riders making the leap from balance bikes to pedal bikes. With the woom 2, our tester made an effortless transition from a balance bike to pedal bike on the first try.

woom specializes in making kid-specific bikes and they spend countless hours engineering their components for children. Also, they created one of the lightest line of kids’ bikes in the world – pretty impressive. The woom 2 features high-rise bars for maximum adjustability, a steering limiter which is a detachable rubber ring attached to the fork and frame to improve stability and prevent overturning the bars, color-coded v-brakes with small, color-coded levers so kids can learn the difference between the front and rear brake, and a singlespeed drivetrain with beginning gearing of 18/10T. The bike weighs in at just 12.3lbs. so your child will be able to ride for long periods of time without feeling the strain of pushing a heavy bike, creating ultimate family adventures.

Just note that in the U.S., outdated consumer laws prevent bikes this small from being sold without a coaster brake. So the stock woom 2 includes both a coaster brake and rear hand brake. woom (and other experts) feel that coaster brakes can be a hinderance to learning how to properly ride a two wheeler, so if you want to ditch the coaster brake, woom sells a freewheel kit for $19.99 – which is a complete rear wheel & tire package that’s ready to bolt-on and go. As mentioned, this is required by law, not really something that woom wants to do – to prove it, just the Schwalbe tire alone retails for $24.99. Yet, the freewheel kit includes the tire, the tube, and the entire wheel, yet it’s priced for less.

  • Size: 14″ wheels
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Colors: woom red, woom green, sky blue, purple haze, sunny yellow
  • Components: Singlespeed, V-brakes, steering limiter, high rise bars for maximum adjustability
  • Tires: Schwalbe Little Joe 14” x 1.4″ – woom edition
  • Weight: 12.3lbs.
  • MSRP: $359

PROS: Steering limiter, quality tires, v brakes, plenty of color choices
CONS: Drivetrain is a little noisy

BEST BIKE FOR TWEENS

REI Co-op REV 24

 

REI is known for their house brand of bikes, Co-op, and they are great bikes if you’re looking for something that packs a punch and is versatile. The REV 24 has geometry similar to that of modern mountain bikes, making it a super capable bike. This bike is a great commuter, ride around town with your friends, or rail trail bike. Tweens are at the age when they start to gain a little more independence and may go out on their own with friends after school or on the weekend. The REV 24 comes with wide 2.6″ tires that can tackle all types of terrain and mechanical disc brakes for extra braking power. It even makes for a great entry-level mountain or adventure bike if your child has an interest in off-road riding. It is fully rigid, though, so the rider will feel bumps a little more than if this bike had a suspension fork. Co-op does have a suspension fork version, the REV DRT 24 priced at $529 if you find that might be a better fit for the type of riding your tween enjoys.

  • Size: 24″ wheels
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Colors: Castlerock
  • Components: 1×7 drivetrain, mechanical disc brakes, Shimano Tourney derailleur/shifters, fully rigid
  • Tires: Slant Six Sport, 24 x 2.6 in.
  • Weight: 28.2lbs.
  • MSRP: $439

PROS: 1x drivetrain, Logan mechanical disc brakes, wide tires to tackle any terrain
CONS: on the heavier side, one color

BEST BIKE FOR TEENS

Marin Kentfield 1

Marin makes good-looking bikes with great components and at great prices. We remember being teenagers and wanting to look cool – kids today are the same and want cool bikes to ride. Marin’s Kentfield 1 checks that box, with its colorway options, gumwall tires, sleek geometry, and quality components. The Kentfield 1 is classified as a casual commuter bike so your teen can ride this bike to school, out with friends, cruising along the boardwalk at the beach, or around town. It is a bike that has a little more “grown-up” look and feel. It comes equipped with a 1×7 Shimano Altus drivetrain, and Clark’s mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors which provide ample braking power. Your teenager will be cruising in style on the Marin Kentfield 1. Keep in mind that this bike isn’t intended for off-road riding, so if your teen is interested in riding unpaved rail trails or gravel trails, this bike may not be the best fit for that style.

  • Size: 700c wheels; S, M, L, XL
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Colors: Black/Silver, Maroon/Mint
  • Components: 1×7 11-34T Shimano Altus drivetrain, steel fork, Clark’s CMD-23 mechanical disc brakes 160mm rotors
  • Tires: Vee Tire, GPVee, 700×40
  • Weight: 45lbs.
  • MSRP: $599

PROS: Shimano 1x drivetrain, 160mm disc brakes for braking power, good-looking bike while still being safe and reliable
CONS: heavier than others, not really intended for any off-road riding

BEST BMX/STREET BIKE

DK Aura 18

Does your young rider have an interest in learning BMX, street, or freestyle riding? The DK Aura 18 is a great choice! With 18″ wheels, it’s a perfect size for the rider who is not quite big enough for the 20″ Aura. Street riding is an awesome genre of cycling that takes a tremendous amount of skill and practice. It helps to have the right style of bike to practice with and the DK Aura is a quality steel bike that can open the door to that world for your child. The Aura doesn’t have too many components, so it makes it easy to maintain. It comes equipped with a rear U-brake, high-rise bars that are easily adjustable, and a singlespeed 9-tooth driver. Your child can get out riding with little tuning and setup. Though intended for BMX, the DK Aura 18 is still suitable for kids to go ride around the neighborhood with their friends, and maybe hit the local secret dirt jump spot along the way.

  • Size: 18″ wheels
  • Frame: Hi-ten Steel
  • Colors: Black
  • Components: High-rise bars, 9-tooth driver, U-brake
  • Tires: 18×2.125” Innova street
  • Weight: 23.4lbs.
  • MSRP: $429.99

PROS: great bike to break into BMX/street riding, simple/not too many components
CONS: not really intended for other riding styles besides entry-level BMX/street riding

BEST BIKE TO RIDE TO SCHOOL

Trek Wahoo 24

Does your child like to ride their bike to school? Look no farther than the Trek Wahoo 24 (also available in a 26 for taller riders). Trek is considered one of the “Big Four” bike brands and they are known for safe and reliable rides, modern geometry, and quality components at competitive pricing. The Trek Wahoo 24 is the bike that will get it done. You can rest assured knowing your child will be on a safe bike as they ride off for school every day. It comes equipped with V-brakes and a 1×8 11-34T drivetrain which gives the rider quite a bit of range – which is especially helpful if they have to ride uphill (both ways). The Wahoo has quite a bit of fun colors to choose from, too, which may just be the most important factor for your child – we all know the color of your bike helps you go faster!

  • Size: 24″ Wheels (there is a 26″ version, too)
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Colors: Lithium Grey/Radioactive Red, Viper Red/Trek Black, Waterloo Blue/Quicksilver
  • Components: 1×8 Shimano Altus drivetrain, V-brakes,
  • Tires: Trek house brand 24×1.95”
  • Weight: 21lbs.
  • MSRP: $499.99

PROS: fun colors, an excellent choice for a safe and reliable ride every time, 8-speed drive drain for a little more gear range, good price
CONS: None, really

BEST KID’S GRAVEL BIKE / BIKE FOR THE YOUNG ROAD/CX RACER

NS Rag JR

NS Bikes recently came out with the RAG JR kids’ version of the RAG+ gravel bike. This bike is extremely capable while being a beautiful bike to look at. If your child is interested in racing gravel, cyclocross, or road, a gravel bike is a great place to start. You may ask, “Why a gravel bike? It can’t be used for road or CX, right?” If budget is a factor, you can totally make do with using a gravel bike for all three. Rather than have three separate bikes for each type of race, you can always purchase a separate wheelset and tires that can be used for road and CX riding. Gravel bikes are increasing in popularity and are awesome do-it-all alternatives if you’re tight on money and space. The RAG JR comes in a beautiful metallic blue with an eye-catching oil slick headset spacer. It has a 1×9-speed drivetrain with a Microshift derailleur and Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes. The shift/brake levers are designed for kids’ shorter reach and the crank arms are also kid-specific with a lower Q-factor – this means that the space between the pedals is a little smaller, allowing for greater pedaling efficiency.

  • Size: 26″ Wheels
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Colors: Metallic blue
  • Components: Tektro Aries brakes/160mm rotors w/ Microshift SB-490 short reach levers, Microshift RD-M619M, 9-speed drivetrain, Kid-specific cranks with low q-factor,
  • Tires: Kenda Kapture 26×1.5″
  • Weight: 9.9kg (22lbs.)
  • MSRP: €1,199 ($1,220)

PROS: The bike can have multi-purpose use with the addition of different wheelset or tires, lighter than other options, sweet-looking bike
CONS: pricey, one color

BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE FOR ASPIRING NICA RACERS

Frog 72

Unless your child is interested in Downhill or Enduro racing which requires longer travel bikes, the Frog 72 is a great Cross-Country/Trail appropriate mountain bike to begin racing with. This bike comes with a Frog Bikes junior-specific 26″ air suspension fork with lockout and damping control and 100mm travel – it is considered a hardtail mountain bike because there is no rear suspension. Hardtail mountain bikes are excellent bikes to learn on because they help the young rider develop confidence, and bike handling skills on a bike that weighs less than a full suspension bike. Additionally, the Frog 72 has a 1×9-speed drivetrain with plenty of range in the cassette to make those tough climbs a little easier, and it has Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with a 160mm rotor in the front and a 140mm rotor in the rear. Hydraulic disc brakes are a total game-changer for mountain bikes as they use hydraulic fluid in a sealed brake hose, as opposed to the brake cable that is used in a mechanical disc brake. Hydraulic brakes are incredibly responsive to pressure on the brake levers and give the rider powerful braking capabilities, which is a major safety factor when riding on technical terrain in the woods. For the amount of highly engineered components on this bike, a price of $923 is outstanding for a kids’ mountain bike. Frog is a true leader in the world of kids’ bikes.

  • Size: 26″ Wheels
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Colors: Metallic Grey/Neon Green, Metallic Grey/Neon Red
  • Components: Shimano Alivio RD-M3100-SGS Shadow 9-Speed Rear Derailleur, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, 160/140mm rotor, Frog Bikes junior specific 26″ air suspension fork with lockout and damping control 100mm travel, quick release hubs
  • Tires: Kenda K1134, 26″x2.1″
  • Weight: 11.5kg (25lbs.)
  • MSRP: £765 ($923)

PROS: great price, relatively light weigh
CONS: no rear suspension

c. Specialized

Frequently Asked Questions about Kid’s Bikes

What size bike should I get for my kid?

Model Wheel Size Rider’s Inseam Range Rider’s Height Range
woom 1 12” 10″-14.4″ 31″-40″
woom 1 PLUS 14” 14.8″ – 18.5″ 37″ – 43″
woom 2 14” 16″ – 19.1″ 37″ – 43″
woom 3 16” 19.1″ – 25.2″ 41″ – 47″
woom 4 20” 22.1″ – 27.9″ 45″ – 51″
woom 5 24” 26.4″ – 32.3″ 49″ – 57″
woom 6 26” 29.5″ – 37.4″ 55″ – 65″

When it comes to sizing, the best kids’ bike brands like woom have detailed fit calculators or bike finders which will take the guess work out of it. But you can also use their sizing guides to get a general idea for most bikes. As woom shows, it’s important to consider both the child’s overall height and inseam.

Note that there’s some overlap there, and it’s worth mentioning that many 24″ bikes are rated for up to 63 inches by some brands. You may want to upgrade to 26-inch wheels after your kid hits 58 inches, but depending on comfort, leg length (inseam matters more than overall height in this case!), and of course, budget, you may be able to keep your kiddo on a 24″ bike a bit longer. (One Bikerumor editor used a 24″ mountain bike for much of her early college years since at 5’2″, it still fit fine.)

Just remember, going from 20″ to 24″ wheels is a 20% boost in diameter which is almost double the 11.5% increase you got going from 26″ to 29″ wheels, and no adult could imagine going back to 26″ wheels these days, right?. (Going from 16″ to 20″ was already a 25% diameter increase!)

Read more about why bigger wheels make such a big difference here: AASQ #103: Why would you want a wheel size larger than 29″?  And REI has a great article on kiddie bike sizing if you want to learn more.

How heavy can my kid’s bike be?
Other than wheel size, lighter is always better in kids’ bikes. Try to keep your kid’s bike at or under 1/3 of their weight if you want them to enjoy longer rides with you. That doesn’t mean you need a carbon kid’s bike: light alloy or steel are almost always fine. It’s more that you want a simple bike and kid-sized components.

Why not buy a cheap department store bike?
Cheap department store bikes might seem tempting, but the same issues that exist for adult bikes are true of kid’s bikes. Department store bikes tend to be made with cheaper components that aren’t as durable, and often are significantly harder for bike mechanics to work on. This means your costs for repairs will likely be higher—and kids aren’t exactly gentle on bikes! These bikes are also rarely assembled in a safe manner – we can’t go to a department store without seeing at least one bike with the fork backwards, or handlebars so loose that they slip the first time you press down.

It’s worth spending a bit more to get a ‘name brand’ bike from a trusted bike company. You’ll likely recoup a good chunk of money in the end anyway since bikes with better components and higher quality frames are easier to sell used. And if you have to go the department store route, it’s definitely worth getting the bike checked over by a qualified mechanic before its first ride.

What features matter?
Look for components like shifters, brakes, and tires that have brand names you recognize: SRAM, Shimano, Kenda, Bontrager, Schwalbe, KMC, and so on. If all the components are no-name, they likely won’t hold up to a lot of use. In some cases, disc brakes might be more desirable than coaster or V-brakes because if the rim gets knocked out of true, the disc rotor will still work. With a rim brake, the pads will rub on the part of the wheel that’s out of true.

What other accessories does my child need?
Don’t skimp on a helmet, especially for a trail-riding kiddo! We also recommend padded bike shorts for comfort as your child gets a bit older and is riding longer hours. Fun accessories like hydration packs sized for kids can be great ways to get them in the habit of eating and drinking on the bike without prompting. Gloves might be something your child could benefit from for extra grip when their hands get sweaty. Also, a bell can be nice as well, since kids on 20″ bikes may not be as obvious on the trail or bike path when they sneak up behind other riders. And don’t for get the lights! Visibility is important, especially for kids riding around the neighborhood at dusk.

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Dockboy
Dockboy
11 days ago

It’s always a good idea to raid your parts bin to shave weight off a smaller bike. My 6 year old is on a 24″ Raleigh and I’ve upgraded the bar, stem, seatpost, and rear wheel (I had to buy that) to cut weight from the bike. The new wheel also let me toss on an old 9 speed drivetrain with trigger shifters, which was lighter and easier to use than the stock Shimano 7 speed twist shifter system.