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Best children’s bikes: top picks of kids' bikes for every age

Cyclist magazine
9 Feb 2020

Get your children on two wheels with this selection of the best children’s bikes

The best children’s bikes make learning to ride as easy and enjoyable as possible. And whether you’re a cycling enthusiast or not, it’s impossible to not find joy in teaching your child how to roll on two wheels. Watching a little one master their balance and get to grips with cycling is right up there with the top parenting moments.

But to help them along, you’ll first need to invest in a children’s bike that can properly support their learning.

Whichever stage you’re at in your child’s relationship with cycling, our buyer’s guide is here to help. From toddlers to teens, this article will point you in the right direction for the best children’s bikes for all ages.

How to choose the best children's bike to buy

What size bike does my child need?

Many brands will have their own height or age recommendations. However, here is a rough guide to matching bicycle and rider by using the diameter of the wheel.

Size and age guide

Wheel size Age Height
12-inch 2-3      85-100cm
14-inch 3-4      95-110cm
16-inch 4-5      110-120cm
20-inch 5-8      120-135cm
24-inch 8-11      135-145cm
26-inch 11+      145+cm

How much should I spend?

Don’t put your tot off cycling for life by getting them a sub-standard bike. While it’s not necessary to spend loads, really cheap kids' bikes will make learning harder and might not even last until they’re outgrown. Better to spend a bit, then look to swap with other parents later.

Smaller kids' bikes cost less. The cheapest decent 12-inch wheeled bikes start around £150. Each size increase tends to add around £20-40 to this. By the time you get to 24-inch wheeled bikes the addition of gears and other components causes a rapid jump. From here on in expect to pay almost the same you would for an adult bike.

Should I fit stabilisers?

Almost all bikes up to and including a 20-inch wheel will accept stabilisers, and some will even come bundled with them. Although fixing on this extra set of wheels will allow your child to get riding straight away, we’re not fans. The reason is it’s impossible to learn to balance with them fitted, so removing them will feel like a backwards step.

We reckon using a balance bike is a better alternative. These crank-less bikes allow kids to scoot along, teaching balance without ever building enough speed to get themselves in trouble.

Here are 10 of best children’s bikes in stock now

1. Strider Sport 12-inch wheel children’s balance bike

Buy now from Amazon for £109.99

If your child is between the ages of eighteen months and five years old, you may want to consider getting them started on a balance bike. Balance bikes don’t have pedals, with the rider instead using their feet on the floor to control the movement.

This is particularly handy when it comes to getting young children used to the ideas of balance and steering before they’re ready for the real thing.

The Strider Sport is a particularly affordable and adaptable option in the world of balance bikes: rather than forcing you to buy a new balance bike every time your child grows, this design has an adjustable seat post that can match up with inside leg measurements anywhere between 27cm and 48cm.

The handlebars can be raised in accordance with this, and the saddle can be replaced if you end up needing a bigger one.

The Strider Sport has a sturdy steel frame but an impressively low weight of just 2.9kg. Its one-piece composite wheels come with EVA foam tyres, which should stand the test of time as your child grows.

Buy now from Amazon for £109.99

2. Frog 44 16-inch wheel children’s bike 

Buy now from Rutland Cycling for £299.99

If your 4-to-5-year-old is looking to rip it up on a pedal bike, the Frog 44 is a really strong contender to consider. This single-speed bike looks the part, with its strikingly simple frame design coupling nicely with a range of colourful paint job options (of which there are five to choose from).

The Frog 44 also has a lot of strong features: a bell, reflectors and mudguards are all included as standard, and the locking headset is perfect for learning the ropes when it comes to steering.

The whole bike weighs 6.39kg meaning it's light enough to be easily transported around and for your sprog to pedal there way up those really bike hills. A set of Kenda 16-inch tyres with a 1.5-inch width should also help with any early off-road adventures. 

Basically, this is a brilliant little bike with a bit of an extra edge, which can serve as a great introduction to cycling.

Buy now from Rutland Cycling for £299.99

3. Pinnacle Koa 14-inch wheel children’s bike 

Currently out of stock

The Pinnacle Koa is another impressive option, with 14-inch wheels that would be perfect for children aged between 3 and 4. It even comes with stabilisers included, if your child needs them.

It has a single-speed system, too, which means there aren’t any tricky gears for your child to wrap their head around.

This bike has relatively chunky 1.7-inch tyres, which should make balance and movement remarkably easy, even for beginners. There is also a steel guard covering the chain mechanism, which reduces the chances of mess and accidents in that area.

Despite having that extra feature that most bikes don’t bother with, the Pinnacle Koya still weighs in at a light 7.1kg.

All in all, this is a sturdy and safe children’s bike for younger kids to learn with. The extra attention to detail, like the stabilisers and the chain guard, set this bike apart from a lot of other options.

4. Black Mountain Skog 16-inch wheel children’s bike 

Buy now from Black Mountain for £349

The Epok Series Skog from Black Mountain is one of the most capable bikes on the market. It boasts a wide range of versatile features that allow it to adapt as your child grows: it begins as a pedal-free balance bike for toddlers, and grows into a fully-fledged bicycle suitable up to the ages of five.

There is also a stage in between to cover that tricky transition phase.

This impressive feat of adaptability is achieved through various means: the patented ‘growing triangle’ frame can shift between three modes; the gears and pedals are completely removable; the custom saddle has numerous height options; and the 14-inch wheels couple with 1.5-inch Kenda tyres to provide a smooth ride - whichever mode you have the bike in.

Despite all of those snazzy in-built features, the Pinto isn’t overly heavy: it weighs in at 6.1kg, thanks to its super-light aluminium frame. It may have a slightly higher price point than some of the options on this list, but the Skog is basically three different bikes in one.

Buy now from Black Mountain for £349

5. Ridgeback MX16 16-inch wheel children’s bike 

Buy now from Freewheel for £199.99

Down at the lower end of the price spectrum, the Ridgeback MX16 offers all the proof you need that it’s possible to pick up a brilliant bike on a budget. This is a sturdy single-speed bike made from sturdy-yet-lightweight materials, and its 16-inch wheels make it perfect for children around the 4-6 age mark.

It’s an affordable option, but that doesn’t mean the Ridgeback MX16 is devoid of cool features. The saddle and the handlebars can both be raised or reduced in height, to suit your child’s height, and a pair of stabilisers come included (which will save you a few bob if your child needs them).

Also, this bike has a guard over the chain, which will stop your little one from mucking around with the mechanism beneath. For such a low price, then, you’re getting rather a lot of bang for your buck.

Buy now from Freewheel for £199.99

6. Squish 18 Junior Hybrid 18-inch wheel children’s bike

Buy now from Fawkes Cycles for £279

The brand claims this is 'the perfect in-betweener' as not every child is big enough, or confident enough to jump straight from a 16″ wheel bike to a 20″ wheel bike, so Squish offers this hybrid with 18" wheels.

Despite its larger size, it keeps things simple for children who are still getting to grips with cycling and so has a similar spec to the brand's smaller bikes - that's to say it's a single-speed.

Aimed at children aged four and up, the bike is relatively light at 6.96kg.

Buy now from Fawkes Cycles for £279

7. Hoy Bonaly 20-inch wheel children’s bike

Buy now from Sports Direct for £350

As you reach the point where your child needs to step up to something bigger, you could do a lot worse than checking out the Hoy Bonaly. Brought to us by British Olympic hero Chris Hoy, and named after one of his favourite childhood cycling spots, the Hoy Bonaly has everything a young rider needs to embrace a more advanced level of cycling.

It has 20-inch wheels that are perfect for children aged between 5 and 8, and semi-treaded tyres with 1.75 inches of width (which should be ideal for tackling more challenging terrains).

There are also six gears to get to grips with, which should be enough to teach your child the basics of multi-speed cycling.

Despite encouraging a more grown-up style of cycling, the Hoy Bonaly also strives to make the transition to a bigger bike easy for kids to handle.

The cranks here are narrower than most children’s bikes, and, coupled with a well-engineered frame fit, they should make controlling the bike remarkably easy for all young riders.

Buy now from Sports Direct for £350

8. Specialized Riprock 20-inch wheel children’s bike

Buy now from the Specialized Concept Store now for £419

If your 5- to 8-year-old really loves off-roading adventures, the Specialized Riprock is a really strong contender to consider. Ideal for cycling holidays in challenging areas such as the Lake District, the Specialized Riprock comes with massively chunky 2.8-inch tyres on its 20-inch wheels.

Bumpy terrain won’t be a problem for young riders that have this bike beneath them, and the 7 gears included should help make the inclines more manageable as well.

It’s a bit heavier than some children’s bikes, weighing in at 12.2kg, but the Specialized Riprock is still easy to carry around. And it certainly makes the most of its extra weight by being a seriously sturdy option for tough terrains.

There is also a larger version of this bike, with 24-inch wheels, which would be suitable for 8-to-11 year-olds. Whichever size you go for, you’ll be picking up a very popular bike for off-roading families.

Buy now from the Specialized Concept Store now for £419

9. Saracen Mantra 24-inch wheel children’s bike

Buy now from Freewheel

For children aged between 8 and 11 who are ready to take on a fully-equipped bike, the Saracen Mantra is well worth considering. Its 24-inch tyres should be perfect for kids in this age range, and the wide array of features should help them develop into skilled, confident cyclists.

It’s clear that the Saracen Mantra was built with serious riding in mind: the Kenda Small Block 8 tyres, which are 1.95 inches wide, make for very slick cornering; the hydraulic brakes with short reach levers make swift stopping an absolute doddle; and the drivetrain, the cassette and the lightweight fork are all maximised for versatility on the trail.

There are also nine gears to flit between, which is quite an achievement on a bike that only weighs 10.48kg. It’s slick-looking, packed with features and made from top quality materials, meaning that the Saracen Mantra one of the very best children’s bikes you can buy.

Buy now from Freewheel

10. Islabikes Luath 26-inch wheel children’s bike

Buy now from IslaBikes for £799.99

A very-nearly-adult drop-handlebar bike at a suitably grown-up price. The Islabike Luath features an aluminium frame, disc brakes, and carbon fork. With road tyres, there’s space to fit bigger treads for cyclocross or touring use.

Cleverly, you can even pick between the three options when ordering. Available in three versions with wheels from 24-inch up to 700c, we’ve selected this middle-sized 26-inch wheel option.

Each uses quality parts that’d be at home on a grown-up bike, including a single-chainring drivetrain that simplifies maintenance and gear selection.

Low in weight for riders with less developed muscles, Islabikes is famous for its ergonomic approach to building bikes. This isn’t just confined to the frame either. The easy reach levers and short-and-shallow cockpit keep everything to scale, while even the q-factor of the cranks is adapted for smaller riders. All in, it’s a very grown-up kids’ bike.

Buy now from IslaBikes for £799.99

or join The Bike Club

Have you ever felt like buying a rapidly growing child a bike is a risky move? Of course you have, that's why most of us grew up riding over or undersized bikes passed down from older siblings, cousins, friends and the like. 

The Bike Club is essentially a bike rental service through which you can get your child the bike that is right for them, pay monthly and when they grow out of it trade it in for a bigger one.

For example, for this Forme Cubley 14, a super light 6kg aluminium bike recommended for three and four year olds and built to withstand the British weather, costs only £9 per month.

There are loads of bikes on offer for all ages so why choose one of the above when you could have all of them?

For more information and to check out what you can get visit thebikeclub.co.uk or get the Forme Cubley 14 now for £9 per month.

You might also want:

Muc-Off Family Bike Care Kit

Buy now from Muc-Off for £49.99

All bikes need cleaning, so having a stack of dirty bikes after a family bike ride isn't something to look forward to. The Muc-Off Family Bike Care Kit has everything you need to get the whole family involved in cleaning.

With a three-step Clean, Protect and Lube process it's simple to use and with a good production line you'll be shining in no time.

Buy now from Muc-Off for £49.99

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