Toddler & Kids’ Bikes: QUICK PICKS

What age are you shopping for?

Click age group to jump down and view our favorite picks for bikes and helmets.

  1. EARLY WALKERS – Pre-balance Bikes and Helmets
  2. BIKE SEATS AND TRAILERS – Don’t leave the littles behind – take them along for the ride!
  3. TODDLERS – Balance Bikes and Helmets
  4. PRE-SCHOOLERS – Balance Bikes and Helmets
  5. PRE-SCHOOLERS – Small Pedal Bikes (12″ and 14″)
  6. AGES 4 to 6 – 16″ Pedal Bikes
  7. AGES 7 to 10 – 20″ and 24″ Pedal Bikes
  8. GLOVES & ACCESSORIES – Gloves, bells, ramps and more!


 

Top Picks for Early Walkers

PRE-BALANCE BIKES: A soon as a child is strong enough to hold their head up with a helmet on, they’re ready to roll!  Here are our top picks for pre-balance bikes (bikes that balance on their own) and helmets to keep them safe while riding on their own, in a trailer or in a bike seat.

 


WHY WE LOVE THEM

• Step2 Motorcycle, $30: Lots of fun in a small price tag.  Non-adjustable seat, no steering.
• Schylling Tiny Rider, $75: The perfect “bike” for your young walker to start cruising around. Allows kids to steer.
• Early Rider Spherevelo, $100: Uniquely fun and educational.  Sit and ride on two spheres that roll within the plastic body.  Two smaller wheels can be used at first as “training wheels”.
• Lazer BOB, $29: The cheapest helmet (certified for ages 1+) that we would trust our precious cargo with. Fits heads 46-52cm.
• Specialized Small Fry Toddler, $40: Full coverage, lightweight and flat back for use in trailers and bike seats. Fits heads 44-52cm.
• Baby Nutty Helmet, $50: Bright, fun, lightweight and certified for ages 1+ and up. Non-pinch buckle.  Fits heads 47-50cm. Our Baby Nutty Review

WANT MORE OPTIONS? To view and compare more bikes and helmets in all price ranges, check out our Balance Bike Comparison Charts and Kids and Toddler Bike Helmets Comparison Charts.


 

Top Picks for Toddlers

BALANCE BIKES: Compared to tricycles, balance bikes are safer, way more fun, and better prepare your toddler for a real kid’s bike.

WHY WE LOVE THE THEM

bike*star Sport 12, $75: With air tires and a hand brake, bike*star offers high-end features in a small price tag.  Small but heavy – not for petite kids.
Strider Sport, $119: Lightweight and highly adjustable, comes with two seat posts to grow with your child.  Foam tires to prevent flats. Our Strider review.
WOOM1, $199: The Cream of the Crop of small balance bikes!  Very light, and with cushioning air tires, a child-specific hand brake, and an easy step-through frame. Our WOOM1 review.
Joovy Noodle, $30: Full coverage protection available in fun, bright colors.  Fits heads 47-52cm. Our Joovy Noodle review.
Giro Scamp, $30+: In-mold construction for durability, dial-adjusts for a comfortable fit.  Also available with MIPS advanced safety protection.  Fits heads 45-49cm (XS). Our Scamp review.
Lazer P’Nut, $55+: Auto-fits to any head size, no need for adjusting.  Magnetic buckle and quality in-mold, durable construction.  Also available with MIPS advanced safety protection. Fits heads 46-50cm. Our Lazer P’nut review.

WANT MORE OPTIONS? To view and compare more bikes and helmets in all price ranges, check out our Balance Bike Comparison Charts and Kids and Toddler Bike Helmet Comparison Charts.


 

Top Picks for Pre-schoolers: Balance Bikes

BALANCE BIKES: Skip the training wheels and tricycles! Give your pre-schooler confidence on two wheels instead.


WHY WE LOVE THEM

Radio Flyer Glide & Go w/Air, $59: A lightweight bike with air tires, a rare find under $70.  Fits kids in 2T+. Our Radio Flyer comparison review.
Charger 12, $119: Rugged, yet nimble, the Charger has air tires, a handbrake and durable frame.  Fits kids in 2T+. Our Charger 12 review.
Yedoo Too Too, $159: Lightweight with air tires, the Too Too is the perfect bike for timid kids in 24 months clothes to 4T. Our Yedoo Too Too review.
Kali Chakra Child, $30: Fun, fresh graphics, easily adjustable with an impressive 21 air vents. Fits heads 48-54 cm. Our Kali Chakra review.
Bell Sidetrack Youth, $35+: Modern styling in a pint-size package.  Dial-adjusts and a pinch-free buckle. Also available with MIPS advanced safety protection. Fits heads 50-54 cm.
Uvex Quatro Junior, $60: Durable in-mold construction, unique non-pinch buckle and locking sliders make for a perfect fit. Fits 50-55cm. Our Uvex Quatro review.

WANT MORE OPTIONS? To view and compare more bikes and helmets in all price ranges, check out our Balance Bike Comparison Charts and Kids and Toddler Bike Helmet Comparison Charts.


 

Top Picks for Pre-schoolers: Small Pedal Bikes

PEDAL BIKES: Is your pre-schooler ready to pedal?  These small 14″ bikes are the perfect ride to get them rolling! Unfortunately, we have yet to find an inexpensive 12″ or 14″ bike we would recommend, so certainly considering buying used.

WHY WE LOVE THEM

ByK E-250, $225: Great low-center-of-gravity design for easy first rides.  Comes with push bar and training wheels.  14″ tires, but sized like a 12″. Coaster & hand brake.  Fits kids in 3T pants.  Our ByK E-250 review.
WOOM2, $369: Engineered from top to bottom specifically for the young rider.  From brakes to gearing, the WOOM2 is an easy, comfortable ride for kids.  Comes in a no-coaster brake option. Fits kids in 3T pants. Our WOOM2 review. (Only purple left, all other colors sold out until 2017)
Islabike CNOC 14, $369: Best for adventurous kids ready to hit the bike trails from day one!  Lightweight with a coaster brake and hand brake. Fits tall kids in 2T pants. Our CNOC 14 review.
Kali Chakra Child, $30: Fun, fresh graphics, easily adjustable with an impressive 21 air vents. Fits heads 48-54 cm. Our Kali Chakra review.
Catlike Kitten, $39: Dial-adjusts with 23 air vents for optimal cooling. Lower coverage along the neck for additional protection.  Fits heads 48-52cm.
Giro Scamp w/ MIPS, $55+: In-mold construction for durability, dial-adjusts for a comfortable fit.  Also available with MIPS advanced safety protection. Fits heads 45-49cm (XS). Our Scamp review.

WANT MORE OPTIONS? To view and compare more bikes and helmets in all price ranges, check out our Kids’ Bikes Comparison Charts and Kids’ and Toddler Bike Helmet Comparison Charts.


 

Top Picks for Ages 4 – 6

16″ KIDS’ BIKES: For most kids, their first bike will be a 16″ bike. Except for young balance bike graduates, small 12″ and 14″ bikes are only appropriate when used with training wheels. Kids solidly in 4T pants can ride most 16″ bikes (including those listed below). Kids barely in 4T or in 3T should stick to a 12″ or 14″ bike listed in the Preschool sections above.

WHY WE LOVE THEM

Diamondback Mini-Viper, $143: Our top pick of 16″ bikes under $200. Solid build for the price. Coaster brake, no hand brake. See our 16″ Budget Bike comparison review.
ByK 350, $219+: The ByK E-350 is an amazing bike for kids in at least 4T who want to ride fast and comfortably on smooth surfaces.  See our ByK E-350 review.
Early Rider Belter, $419: Performs as good as it looks.  The smooth belt drive makes pedaling smooth and easy.  See our Early Rider Belter review.
Giro Raze, $30+: Lightweight, well ventilated and available in plenty of colors, the Raze was a hit with our testers.  Also available with MIPS advanced safety protection.
Crazy Safety, $49: Lions, sharks, and zebras, oh my!  All the fun, without sacrificing protection.  See our Crazy Safety helmet review.
Melon Helmets, $69: Fun and bold graphic designs.  Popular skater styling, but without the added weight or floppy fit. Dial-adjusts and pinch-free buckle. See our Melon helmets review.

WANT MORE OPTIONS?  Check out our Ultimate 16″ Bike Comparison Test where we put over 20 different 16″ bikes to the test, and our Kids’ Bike Helmets Comparison Charts.


 

Top Picks for Ages 7 – 10

20″ and 24″ KIDS’ BIKES:  For the average child-rider, a well-designed bike on a sturdy frame is all they need for cruising around the neighborhood.  More adult-like in design, 20″ and 24″ bikes are also available with gears.  Single-geared bikes (labeled “S” below) are best for the everyday rider while geared bikes (labeled “G”) are best for longer rides, especially in hilly terrain.

WHY WE LOVE THEM

ByK E-450, $229: A good-quality, well-designed bike with a modest price tag.  Single-speed only.
Guardian Bikes, $319: Hands down the best braking system for kids.  One brake lever safely activates the front and rear tires.  Available in single and 6-speeds on 20″ tires. Our Guardian Bikes review.
WOOM4, $449: Easy to ride for the everyday rider, but with plenty of gears to be ready for action when needed. Our WOOM4 review.
Raleigh Cadet, $299: Well built and good components for the budding bicyclist. Shimano equipt with 7 speeds for easy shifting.
Guardian Bikes, $419: Hands-down the best braking system for kids.  One brake lever safely activates the front and rear tires.  Currently only available as a 7-speed on 24″ tires. Our Guardian Bikes review.
WOOM5 Supra, $549: The perfect starter mountain bike for young riders.  Featherweight for ultimate control with quick-responsive braking and twist-grip shifting. See our WOOM5 Supra review.

WANT MORE OPTIONS? To view and compare more bikes complete with gears, various tire types, and frame styles, check out our Kids’ Bikes Comparison Charts.

 


 

Top Picks for Bike Seats and Trailers

The best bike trailer or bike seat for your family depends on what you want to use it for, how old/big your kid(s) are, as well as how much you want to spend.  Based on just value, quality and performance, here are our top picks.

WHY WE LOVE THEM

Peg Perego Orion, $99: Easily adapted to fit various bikes.  Well-constructed and durable.
Thule RideAlong Mini, $169: With stay-in-place, comfortable shoulder straps and easy, quick-adjust colored tabs, the Mini is the easiest front-seat we used.  See our Thule RideAlong Mini review.
Hamax Caress, $199: The BMW of bike seats with suspension for a comfortable ride. Easy to adjust and easy to use. Available as a frame mount or a rack mount. See our Hamax Caress review.
InStep Rocket II, $215: The only budget trailer with easy-to-use, small, front stroller wheels.  Not as durable or comfortable as the Burley, but great for the price.
Burley Encore, $479: Lots of features in a mid-range price. With a padded seat and shoulder straps, UV-tinted windows, and the Burley unique smooth-pull hitch, the Encore is hard to beat.  See our Burley Encore review.
Thule Cougar 2, $750: The ultimate ride for littles.  Padded seats and straps, combined with suspension and vented windows, the Cougar performs amazingly as a trailer or a stroller.  See our Thule Cougar review.


 

Stocking Stuffers for Kids

    Fun, must-have accessories for the bike lover.
  1. Strider Bike Pads, $20: Hand downs the best small pads.  Easy to use, comfortable to wear.  Our Strider pads review.
  2. ZippyRooz Toddler Gloves, $14: When learning to ride, hands are usually the first body part to get injured. Zippyrooz gloves are easy to get on and off for toddlers. Our Zippyrooz review.
  3. Giro Gloves, $18: When learning to ride, hands are usually the first body part to get injured. These Giro gloves are fun, functional, and have a wide opening to help get small fingers in place.
  4. Strider Name Plate, $10: Personalize any bike (not just Strider) with a license plate.  Number and stickers included.
  5. WOOM Bike Cones, $16: Lightweight and flexible, these cones easily pop back into shape when run over by excited riders. Comes as a set of 10 cones with holder. Our WOOM Cones review.
  6. Incredibell, $10: Our oldest kid discovered these bells as a toddler wandering around our local bike shop.  The Incredibell rings simply by turning the wheel and is much more pleasant to the ears than the standard ringing bell.
  7. Osprey Water Pack, $60: We’ve gone through many hydration packs and prefer the Osprey’s bite valve to Camelbak’s for kids.  The small zipper pocket is also essential for snacks and a spare tube.
  8. Usborne Bike Sticker Book, $8.  From the pump track, to the velodrome, to the mountains, all types of biking (including balance bikes) are included in this fun sticker book for kids.
  9. Landwave Bike Ramps, $125: After years of going through countless DIY wood ramps, I finally splurged on these ramps and have LOVED them. They are extremely strong (I ran over the corner of one with my car and it still works fine), modular (you can buy more pieces to make the ramps taller, wider or longer), easy to move (they are hollow) and have held up just fine being outdoors year-round (going on two years in the rain, sun and snow).
  • MR1776

    Thanks for the impressive list. We are looking for a bike for our 3 year old girl. She is 36 inches tall with an 14 inch inseam. Weighs just under 29 lbs. She has never been on a bike. Not sure which size to purchase?? Balance bike or training wheels?? Maybe the ByK E-250?? Hoping I can let her younger brother use the bike as well in a couple of years.

    • I would start off with a balance bike as they are generally a lot easier to ride and a lot more fun. Training wheels actually delay a child learning to ride a bike, while balance bike accelerate it. That being said, the main point of a balance bike isn’t just to prepare a child to ride a pedal bike, they are actually a lot of fun in and of themselves! They are very versatile and can easily go over rocks, bumps, jumps and essentially any uneven surface, while training wheels often get stuck. In addition, most three year old rarely ride 12″ or 14″ bikes without training wheels as by the time they are strong enough to take the training wheels off, they have outgrown the bike. Kids who master balance bikes first, never have to use training wheels and therefore are able to ride pedal bike from day one. As a result, a child transitioning from a balance bike to a pedal bike is going to get a lot more use out of that bike as compared to a child who uses it with training wheels. Hope that helps!

      • MR1776

        Yedoo Too Too or the Woom1?? Thanks!!

        • Both are great bikes. With a 14″ inseam, she is going to outgrow the WOOM1 very quickly. I would go with the Too Too or the Saracen Freewheel.

  • I wasn’t aware of that, thanks for pointing that out!

  • TJ

    Amazing list! We are hoping to find a bike for our very cautious daughter for her upcoming 7th birthday. She started on a Wishbone balance bike but never quite got into it, and preferred it in trike mode. Currently she’s riding a secondhand big box store bike with training wheels, and though she loves to pedal around, the bike is pretty heavy and unwieldy. She’s small, only 44″ and 41lbs, so we’re a bit confused on whether to go with a 16″ or 20″ bike. The WOOM 3 looks amazing, but would it be long-lasting enough based on her age/height? Or should go with a 20″ bike (in which case, the WOOM is probably out of our price range, but the The Stampede, Guardian and Byk all look interesting!). Whatever we get will be passed down to her 2 year old daredevil/tall sister (they are yin/yang!). What would you recommend for our timid rider to get her confident on two wheels?