National Bike Month ain’t over yet, people. (What? You didn’t know that was a thing?) And as such, it’s high time your kids put the pedal to the, um, shoe — and got moving. In fact, now that the sun is making a more frequent appearance, it’s a great time to hop off the stationary bike and take the whole family out for some two-wheeling fun. Before you do, though, you’ll want to ensure your little speed demons have access to the best kids’ bikes that are cool, fast, and, most importantly, safe.
Unfortunately, picking a bike that meets these requirements can be daunting. There are so many factors to take into consideration, such as your child’s age and size, your child’s skill level, and the size of the bike and its wheels, says Ryan Raskin, biking enthusiast and Category Director at RECREATIONiD.
Some things to keep in mind are your child’s inseam, as that will indicate the correct seat height, standover height, and wheel size, according to Two Wheeling Tots. Not only will an appropriately sized bike keep your kids safe, but it will also allow them to feel more comfortable.
“The next thing you’ll want to consider is the bike’s weight,” adds Raskin. “If you buy a really cheap kids’ bike, it can be almost as heavy as the kid, and you don’t want to give them a bike they can’t even lift. So you want to look for a bike that’s lightweight and easy for the kid to pick up.”
Knowing your budget upfront will also help, as kids’ bikes tend to range widely in price. But don’t get scared off; there are fantastic options at many price points. What’s most important is searching for quality and durability, says Kevin Cox, president of Electra bikes.
“Kids are rough on their toys, and bikes are no exception,” says Cox. “While a quality bike may be more of an investment up front, it can save parents money in the long run since they will last longer and can even be passed down to younger siblings or friends.”
If you’re going to spend money on a new bike, Cox suggests also looking for an option “that grows with your child.” “This includes a seat that can be raised or lowered, a frame that continues to allow proper leg extension as your child grows, or removable training wheels,” he adds.
Ahead, we’ve identified some of the best bikes for kids of all skill levels so that you and your family can have some fun and get a great bike workout to boot.
Schwinn for toddlers
Strider bikes are all the rage these days, and they’re a great way to skip a few steps on the road to two-wheelers. That said, plenty of toddlers just feel more comfortable with the ol’ training wheels. And this retro, turquoise pick from Schwinn is safe (Schwinn’s SmartStart Technology aims to support little, lighter bodies with easy gearing and more) and super stylish.
Another option with training wheels, the JOYSTAR Totem Kids Bike also has a coaster brake (the kind where you pedal backwards to stop) for an extra easy-going measure for kids just starting to learn. Baby steps, right? This one is also highly rated by parents on Amazon.
Strider 12 Sport
Balance bikes are a fantastic option for beginners, as they help kids learn biking fundamentals from an early age. With zero training wheels or pedals, kids can safely test their balance and get a feel for what it’s like to propel themselves forward all while having their feet on the ground. As they grow more confident, little riders can place their feet on the back bar as they glide for short distances.
The Strider 12 Sport is one of the leading balance bike options on the market, with hundreds of five-star reviews on Amazon. Thanks to its adjustable handlebars and seat, this model also grows with kids and fits children aged 18 months to five years old. For parents wanting to start their kids out at an even younger age, Strider also offers a baby bundle, which includes a rocking, stable base for the Strider 12. When they get old enough, you can detach the bottom and watch them scoot!
Woom 1 is another popular balance bike option. With Woom’s sleek style and easy-to-step-through base, kids as young as 18 months can start testing their balance while making a statement. The Woom also comes with hand brakes, so children don’t have to rely on just their feet to stop. This feature is excellent, as it prepares kiddos for big-kid bikes when they’re ready.
If your kiddo has grown out of a balance bike, or you want to go with something more traditional (but still fierce as heck), the Electra Sprocket is calling your name. This bike comes in a variety of colors and features hand brakes, removable training wheels, and pedals. Because the wheels are 16 inches, as opposed to 12, the Sprocket is best for kids who are a little older and taller.
Additionally, Cox says that the Electra’s Flat Foot Technology® “gives kids the ability to comfortably plant their feet on the ground, [which] will help kids focus on the enjoyment of the ride, feel extra confident, and avoid tippy-toe stops.”
The Cleary Hedgehog bike is another outstanding choice for preschool and kindergarten kids who have mastered the balance bike or ditched the training wheels and are ready to pedal. The alloy steel frame is lightweight, and the handlebars come with Tektro junior V-brakes for quick, smooth stops. With just one speed, parents don’t have to worry too much about their kids going too fast, too soon. Plus, the brand carries plenty of accessories, such as an owl-shaped water bottle holder and a snazzy bell, to jazz up the exterior.
Early Rider Better 16 Trail
You don’t need flashy colors to make a statement; the Early Rider Better 16 Trail bike speaks for itself. The silver trail bike is optimized for maximum comfort and hardcore adventures thanks to its 16-inch Maxx Daddy tires, mushroom hand grips, and four-bearing cassette freehub. A beast on the trail, this bike weighs in at under 12 pounds so kids can get the most out of their concrete or dirt adventures.
Pello Reddi 20″
The jump from a 16″ to a 20″ bike is big, so make sure to measure your child’s inseam before shopping online or in stores. Once you’ve done that and feel like you can peruse confidently, check out options like the Pello Reddi 20″. This single-speed bike weighs only 17 pounds and is a great transitional model for kids ages five and up who enjoy casual rides. Plus, it looks super cool in both orange and coral pink.
As a bonus, Pello offers a lifetime warranty on its frames and forks, as well as discounts for returning customers through its GrowPello plan.
Trek Roscoe 24
So, your kid is ready for a mountain bike, eh? The Trek Roscoe 24 is a fun option for daredevils eager to hit rougher trails. Thankfully, with mid-fat tires (2.8-inches thick), eight speeds, and a lightweight Alpha Gold Aluminum frame, this bike can handle almost any adventure. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty, so you’re covered if your kid does happen to hit one too many bumps along the road.
Frog Road 67
Get ready to hit the open road with the Frog Road 67, a bike that’s great for younger riders who are serious about biking and itching to join competitions. This sleek, 24-inch road bike comes with short-drop handlebars specifically designed to accommodate kids and features nine speeds for ultimate riding fun. Each bike comes with two sets of tires for road biking or cyclocross and a five-year warranty for both the frame and the forks.
Don’t forget to also stock up on safety gear, like helmets, kneepads, elbow pads, and bike bells. Happy trails!
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A version of this story was originally published in May 2019.
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