10 Best 12″ and 14″ Bikes: 2018

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10 Best 12″ and 14″ Bikes: 2018

Our Top Bike Picks For 2, 3, and 4-Year-Olds 

With hundreds of kids’ bikes on the market, finding the perfect bike for your toddler or pre-schooler can quickly get confusing. 12″ and 14″ bikes are the best size of bikes for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds, but they vary greatly in cost, size and features.  To help you narrow your search, we’ve outlined our top ten 12″ and 14″ pedal bikes, why we love them, and why you will too!

 

Quick Tips about 12″ and 14″ Pedal Bikes

  1. Higher-end bikes are lighter, better-quality, and are generally much easier to ride than lower-end bikes.  More affordable bikes are generally much heavier and more difficult for kids to ride.  Unless you are willing to spend over $200, the budget bikes listed below are your best bet.
  2. Balance bikes teach kids how to balance a bike MUCH faster and easier than a bike with training wheels. To be honest, most 3 and even 4-year-olds would be better off on a balance bike than on a 12″ pedal bike. Consider getting a balance bike (like the Strider) BEFORE you buy a bike with training wheels.
  3. For those on a budget, also keep in mind that for the same price you can generally get a much better-designed balance bike than a pedal bike. In fact, balance bikes are becoming much more popular than 12″ bikes for kids learning how to ride a bike. See our Top 10 Balance Bikes page.
  4. The seat height of the bike is the best way to determine a proper fit.
    • For new pedal bike riders: a child’s inseam should match the seat height of the bike.  This ensures they can stop the bike with their feet flat on the ground.
    • For experienced pedal bike riders and for kids using training wheels: a child’s inseam should be about 2″ LESS than the bike’s seat height.  This allows for proper leg extension when pedaling.  Kids will need to rely on the bike’s brakes (pedal brake or handbrake) to stop.

 


1. WOOM 2: Best Overall, $339


WOOM 2 in red

WOOM2: $339, View on WOOM

 

The WOOM 2’s exceptional combination of top-end components, bike geometry, frame design, and proprietary brake design creates a natural, fun riding environment.  WOOM 2’s unique geometry centers the child’s weight over their hips (like when standing), allowing them to more naturally learn to balance a bike. Its larger 14″ wheels provide more room for growth than traditional 12″ bikes and at 11.7 pounds, it’s the lightest kid’s bike on the market!

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 17″ to 22″.

WEIGHT: 11.7 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEWWOOM2


2. Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12: Best on a Budget, $119


Raleigh Jazzi 12" bike in turquoise and pink, with training wheelsRaleigh MXR 12" bike in red and blue, with training wheels

Raleigh Jazzi 12 and MXR 12: $120, View on Amazon

 

With a well-built frame that promotes a comfortable body position for the rider, the Raleigh MXR and Jazzi 12 provide a smooth and steady ride for under $125 and are a solid choice for families who plan on riding shorter distances around the neighborhood.

At 17 lb. the Raleighs are much heavier than a $200+ bike or even a $40 balance bike, and therefore more difficult to balance and control, but this is standard for bikes in their price range. Because of their weight, the MXR and Jazzi are best suited for use with training wheels because the training wheels help the child to overcome the balance issues associated with the heavy frame. They are also a great, affordable option for adventurous and athletic preschoolers ready to transition to a pedal bike.

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 18″ to 21″. For use with training wheels, fits inseams from 16″ to 19″.

WEIGHT: 17.3 lb. (without training wheels)

TRAINING WHEELS: Comes with training wheels.

TIRE SIZE: 12″

OUR FAVORITE FEATURES: Sturdy build, upright positioning, fun and colorful designs.

 


3. ByK E-250: Best for the Youngest Riders to Grow With, $229


ByK E-250 12" bike with push bar and training wheels, light blue

ByK E-250: $229, View on Amazon

 

The only bike under $270 with a minimum seat height of 15″, the ByK E-250 is a great option for young, small kids. Often times ambitious 3-year-olds are ready to transition from a balance bike to a pedal bike, but they simply aren’t tall enough to fit over the 17″ minimum seat height on most 12″ bikes.  The ByK E-250 allows them to transition without breaking the bank. We also love that the frame size and design of the ByK allows a small child to grow with their bike.

Coming complete with training wheels as well as a push bar, the ByK E-250 has many options to help kids successfully ride with confidence.   With that low minimum seat height, a stable, low center-of-gravity design, and a lighter weight frame than other bikes in its price range, the ByK E-250 is a great all-around beginner bike for kids. The larger 14″ tires also allow the bike to more easily roll over uneven surfaces while riding.

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 15.5″ to 18″. For use with training wheels, inseams from 13.5″ to 16″.

WEIGHT: 14.4 lb. (without training wheels)

TRAINING WHEELS: Comes with training wheels for kids and a push bar for parents.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEW: ByK E-250

 


4. Prevelo Alpha One: Best for Adventurous Riders, $359


Prevelo Alpha One 12" bike in sliver

Prevelo Alpha One: $359, View on Prevelo’s website

 

A top-notch, aggressive bike perfect for beginning riders likely to advance to more adventurous riding such as curb jumping or pump tracks. The lower-rise handlebars and lightweight frame are comfortable for beginning riders to master pedaling, but not too upright or heavy to help them to grow into an aggressive, adventurous rider.

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 15.6″ to 17.5″.

WEIGHT: 14.4 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEW: Prevelo Alpha Two 16″ Review (14″ review not yet available)

 


 5. Specialized Riprock: Best Bike Shop Bike, $210


Specialized Riprock 12" bike in green and blue, with training wheels

Specialized Riprock: $210, View on Specialized’s website

 

Our only recommended 12″ bike found in local bike shops, the Riprock (formerly Hotrock) is uniquely designed to help young riders learn to pedal by placing the pedals slightly more forward than other bikes. This helps prevent accidental backwards pedaling, which is quite common with young riders.

With solid and durable components and wider tires for increased stability, the Riprock is a great quality bike for the price.  The Riprock’s lack of hand brakes and heavier weight than the WOOM and other high-end bikes are reflected in its lower price tag.

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 17″ to 19″ for use without training wheels.  For use with training wheels, fits inseams 15″ to 17″.

WEIGHT: 15 lb. (without training wheels)

TRAINING WHEELS: Comes with training wheels, which are the highest quality we’ve seen.

TIRE SIZE: 12″

FULL REVIEW: Specialized Riprock (formerly Hotrock)

 


6. Diamondback: Best for Longer-Torsos on a Budget$119


Diamondback Micro Viper 12" bike in orange, with training wheels

Diamondback Micro Viper: $119, View on Amazon

 

Geared lower than many other 12″ bikes, the Diamondback Micro Viper was the easiest budget bike for our young testers to start pedaling.  While a lower gearing does limit the top speed on the bike, it also allows kids to easily gain confidence in their ability to pedal a bike on their own. The Micro Viper has the tallest handlebars on our list, making it ideal for kids with longer torsos as it will allow them to sit in a more comfortable, upright position.

The Micro Viper, however, does a slightly shorter wheelbase than the MXR, which slightly decreases the bikes overall stability when used without training wheels.  The overall quality of the Diamondback was also slightly less than the MXR, but significantly better than the Schwinn 12″ bikes we tested (and don’t recommend).

Like the Raleigh, the Micro Viper also weighs 17 lb., which makes the bike more difficult to balance and maneuver, especially compared to a similarly priced 8 lb. balance bike.  As a result, it takes a very athletic and ambitious preschooler to ride a 12″ pedal bike under $200 without training wheels.  Very few kids are able to successfully remove the training wheels on a budget 12″ bike before they grow out of it.

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 17.5″ to 20.5″. For use with training wheels, fits inseams from 15.5″ to 18.5″.

WEIGHT: 17.4 lb. (without training wheels)

TRAINING WHEELS: Comes with training wheels.

TIRE SIZE: 12″

 


7. Islabikes CNOC 14: Best for Timid Riders on Paved Surfaces, $420


Islabikes CNOC 14" bike in orange

Islabikes CNOC 14: $420, View on Islabikes’ website

 

The Islabikes CNOC is everything a child’s bike should be: lightweight, easy to use, and a joy to ride. Thinner tires create less resistance for a smoother ride on paved surfaces, while its narrow, lightweight frame fits comfortably under small riders. A benefit for timid riders, this petite frame works more naturally with their body, allowing them to build confidence more quickly.  Although it comes with a heftier price tag, if it’s in your budget, it’s worth every penny.

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 15″ to 19.5″ (small size) and 18.5″ to 22″ (large size).

WEIGHT: 13.3 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEW: Islabikes CNOC 14


8. Spawn Yoji 14″: Best for All-Terrain Riders, $370


Spawn Yogi 14" bike in bright blue

Spawn Yoji: $370, View on Spawn’s website

 

Fine-tuned from top-to-bottom for the true young trail rider, the Yoji has a unique trifecta of knobby all-terrain tires, no coaster brake, and a lightweight build.  An amazing first ride, the Yoji will seamlessly take young riders from wobbly beginners to confident basic trail riders.

Mid-rise handlebars provide a body position comfortable enough to learn to pedal, but aggressive enough to tackle those trails. For US buyers, the seat post is sold separately and will cost an additional $15.

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 16.5″ to 18″.

WEIGHT: Just over 13 lb.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

 


9. Cleary Gecko: Best for the Smallest Riders, $270


Cleary Gecko 12" kids bike in light blue

Cleary Gecko: $270, View on Amazon

 

With a low minimum seat height to fit the smallest riders, the Gecko is the smallest and the best 12″ bike on the market.  The Gecko’s flat handlebars result in a more aggressive body position best suited for adventurous balance bike graduates. Available with or without a coaster brake (back pedal brake), both models come with dual-hand brakes. As an added bonus, the rear tire can be flipped to allow for two different gearing options.

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 15″ to 19″.  Too small for most pre-schoolers in size 5 clothes and up, the Gecko is best suited for balance bikes graduates still in size 3T/4T clothes.

WEIGHT: 13 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 12″

FULL REVIEW: Cleary Gecko

 


10. Strider 14x: Best Balance Bike/Pedal Bike in One$190


Strider 14x: $190, View on Amazon

A great option for preschoolers who have yet to master a balance bike, the Strider 14x is a balance bike that converts to a pedal bike.   No need for training wheels, once a child has learned to balance while in balance bike mode, simply put on the pedals and within a couple of minutes they’ll be pedaling away, no help needed!

Due to taller handlebars, the Strider is best for taller 3-year-olds and up.  The longer reach between the seat and the handlebars is a bit too much for toddlers, who are much better off on the standard Strider 12″ Sport.  Based on our experience, the Strider is ideal for kids in size 5 clothes or less.

While pricey, the Strider 14x fills the role of a balance bike and a 12″ or 14″ pedal bike.  Once your child outgrows the pedal bike mode, they will be ready for a 16″ bike.

FITS KIDS: While the manufacturer recommends from ages 3 to 7, based on our testing, we recommend only from ages 3 to 5, or with inseams ranging from 15″ to 20″ in balance bike mode and 14″ to 20″ in pedal bike mode.

WEIGHT: 12.5 lb.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEW: Strider 14x Convertible Balance Bike

 


For a comparison chart with additional 12″ bikes, please view our Kids’ Bikes: Comparison Charts and Ratings page.

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: February 7, 2018