Best Budget 16″ Kids Bike, Under $200
Diamondback Mini Viper vs. RoyalBaby Freestyle vs. Torker Throttle
After many reader requests, we spent quite a bit of time with three of Amazon’s most popular 16” kids’ bikes under $200, and we have some good news that doesn’t require stepping foot inside a big-box store. While these bikes don’t have the upgraded features of more-expensive bikes (such as threadless headsets and high-end components), they’re decent bikes that won’t blow a hole in your wallet.
Diamondback Mini Viper BMX
$110 on Amazon
The Diamondback Mini Viper is a BMX-style bike that places the rider in an upright position and is our top pick for budget 16″ bikes. We initially preferred the Torker Throttle, but it is no longer available.
Like the other budget bikes, it has only a rear coaster brake, and is on the heaver side at 20.8 lbs. Its more-upright handlebars were not a problem for our experienced pedalers, but could be more challenging for a new rider. The seat height ranges from 20”–24”.
Still, with a long wheelbase, lower step-over height, and straight handlebars (rather than angled in), the MiniViper is a huge step up from Walmart’s Next Rocket.
Recently, Diamondback released an updated version of their 16″ bike, the Mini Venom, $129. While the bike does offer lower handlebar for better control, but it is much heavier than the Mini Viper weighing in at 28.6 lb! As a result, we still prefer the Mini Viper to the Mini Venom.
RoyalBaby BMX Freestyle
$115 on Amazon
In the bike world, there is a direct correlation between weight and price—the lighter the bike, the more expensive it is—and that’s true here. It may be the least expensive of the three bikes we tested, but the RoyalBaby is a veritable tank, weighing in at a whopping 21.8 lbs. Perhaps it was this extra mass, its strangely plastic seat, its fat tires, or it’s narrower wheelbase, but whatever the reason, the RoyalBaby was the least-preferred by our testers.
In addition to a rear coaster, brake the RoyalBaby has a front hand brake. The brake lever is stiff and harder to engage than on nicer bikes, and frankly, kids don’t use it much (nor should they use it exclusively, as that’s a risk for flying over the handlebars). Its seat is unlike any I’ve seen before, made of a slightly squishy plastic and with a handle on the back, presumably for an adult to hang on to (but my back hurts just thinking about it!).
It has a fully-enclosed chain guard and, unlike the Torker or Diamondback, a convenient quick-release seat post. The tires are extra wide, almost twice as wide as those on most kids’ bikes. This might add some extra stability for a new pedaler, but also may have been one of the reasons our testers preferred to leave it in the garage. Still, the geometry of the RoyalBaby is demonstrably better than the Next Rocket, with more-forward handlebars and a lower step-over height. The Freestyle also comes in 12″, 14″ and 18″ versions.
For under $200, we (and our testers) prefer the Torker Throttle for its lower weight and middle-of-the-road riding position. The Diamondback Mini Viper pulls in second place,weighing more than we’d like for a 16” bike, but otherwise decent all around. The RoyalBaby Freestyle has some weird features that mostly just add bulk to an already heavy frame, but it’s still better than most big-box bikes because of its preferable riding position.
Where to Purchase
All three bikes are available on Amazon, Torker Throttle ($187 – sold out), Diamondback Mini Viper ($119) and Royal Baby 16″ Freestyle ($115). The Torker also comes in a girl’s “Wildflower” version for $155.
Torker Throttle Mountain Bike (Currently not available)
Suitable for either the road or a gentle trail, the Torker Throttle Mountain Bike offers a good mix of upright comfort and a forward riding angle for good control.
A favorite among our testers, the Torker is lightweight, coming in at a reasonable (for the price) 18.2 lbs. It has a comfortable seat, large pedals, a somewhat flimsy-feeling partial chain guard, and a rear coaster brake. Adjusting the seat requires a hex wrench.
Compared to WalMart’s 16” Next Rocket, the Torker has a wider wheelbase, lower step-over height, and lower, more-forward handlebars for better control. The seat height ranges from 21”–25”.
FTC Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this review that of Two Wheeling Tots LLS. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is not an affiliate of RoyalBaby, Diamondback or Torker bikes, but is an affiliate of Amazon. All bikes used in this review were purchased through Amazon by Two Wheeling Tots.
By: Natalie Martins
Last Updated: January 20, 2017