Kids’ Bikes: Comparison Charts and Ratings

Compare the Best Kids’ Bikes to Find Your Child’s Perfect Bike


Finding the best bike for your child is not as easy as it seems.  Is a 14″ or a 16″ bike more appropriate for my kid?  When are they ready for a 20″ or 24″ bike? And are the big-price-tag bikes really that much better that what’s really in my budget? Luckily, we’re here with all the answers. (Or most of them, at least!) We’ve tested and reviewed over 50 boys’ bikes and girls’ bikes and compiled all of our research for you. Using our comparison charts and recommendations below, you can shop smarter and find the perfect bike for your child.

Sixteen different kids' bikes show just a portion of the test fleet used to make the Ultimate Kids Bike Comparison
Our 16″ Bike Test Fleet

 

Getting Started: The Three Most Important Specs of a Kid’s Bike


Bikes can be complicated, but for the average kid, focusing on these three basics will help you quickly narrow your options.

  1. Seat Height: Tire size is the most common indicator of a bike’s overall size, but it not the most precise.  The seat height of a bike ensures a proper fit. If you’re not already familiar with bike sizing, please refer to our Kid’s Bike Sizing Guide.
  2. Weight: Ideally, a child’s bike should be less than 40% of their weight, but often this is not possible.  Seek out the lightest bike you can find in your price range.
  3. Brakes: Dual hand brakes are ideal for all ages, but are hard to come by.  Coaster (back-pedal brakes) are the most common but can delay a child’s mastery of pedaling.
  4. Want More Info? Learn more about the remaining specs listed in these charts by reading our page: Kids’ Bikes: How to Choose the Best for Your Child.

What Is the Best Bike For My Child?

Click below to jump to the appropriate age and tire size chart .

AGE (Click to jump down) BIKE TIRE SIZE CLOTHING SIZE CHILD HEIGHT INSEAM
2 to 4 12″ or 14″  3T – 4T 36″ – 41.5″ 15″ – 20″
4 to 5 16″ 4T – 5 41″ – 43″ 18″ – 22″
5 to 8 20″ 6 – 8 44″ – 54″ 19″ – 25″
8 to 11 24″ 10 – 12 51″ – 59″ 23″ – 26″
INSEAM NOTE: If a kid’s 1st bike is a 16″ bike, their feet need to almost fully touch the ground.  If it’s their 2nd, then touching with tippy toes is best.

What is the best bike for a 2, 3 or 4-year-old?


KEY BUYING ADVICE

  1. Child’s Ability: A child of this age is ready for a regular bike when they have mastered a balance bike and have shown interest in a pedal bike. Training wheels are a crutch and should be avoided when possible.  Balance bikes are a better option for 2 – 4 year olds who have yet to learn to balance a bike without training wheels.
  2. Seat Height:  For their first pedal bike, a child’s inseam should match or exceed the minimum seat height on the bike.  This allows both of their feet to easily touch the ground when sitting, allowing them to safely stop the bike with their feet.
  3. Seat Height for Training Wheels: If you do choose to use training wheels, look for a bike with a minimum seat height 1 to 2 inches greater than your child’s inseam.  The extra height will allow for more room to grow on the bike as well as help your child get maximum leverage on the pedals.
  4. Brakes: Coaster brakes are required by law on most 12″ and 14″ bikes, but they can make learning to pedal a challenge.  Kids this age do have enough strength and hand-eye coordination to use a properly designed hand brake (but still need to be able to touch the ground with their feet to be safe).


ByK E 250 WOOM2 Islabikes CNOC 14 Specialized Hotrock 12

Best 12″ and 14″ Bikes

A child’s inseam should be very close to the bike’s minimum seat height.  Strive for the bike’s weight to be less than 40% of child’s weight.

Bike MSRP Weight (lb) Seat Height Brakes Q-factor Gain Ratio Handlebar Wheelbase (mm) Where to Buy
Exceptional
WOOM 2 14″ $339 11.7 17 – 20″ Dual Hand w/ coaster 5.25″  2.95 Mid 659 Amazon
Islabikes CNOC 14″ Small $369 12.35 15 – 19.5″  Dual Hand w/ coaster 5″  3.13 Mid 652 Call 503-954-2410
Islabikes CNOC 14″ Large $309, $369 12.4 18.5 – 22″  Dual Hand w/ coaster 5″  3.13 Mid 652 Call 503-954-2410
Spawn Furi $340 14 17 – 22″  Dual Hand  2.89 Mid 650 Spawncycles.com
Pello Romper 14″ $289 15 18.5-22.5″  Rear Hand w/ coaster  5.5″  3.57 Mid 650 Pellobikes.com
Highly Recommended
ByK E-250 $229 14.4 15.7 – 18.1″ Front Hand, Coaster 6.25″  2.45 Low 645 Amazon
Cleary Bikes Gecko $250 15 15 -21.5″*  Dual Hand  2.97 Flat 629 Backcountry.com
Specialized Hotrock 12″ $210 15 17 – 19″ Coaster 6″  2.89 Low 622 Bike Shop
Recommended
Commencal Ramones 14 $249 15.6 17.5 – 21.5″  Dual Hand 7.25″  3.5 Mid Chain Reaction Cycles
Haro Z 12 $189 17.5 Coaster  2.9 Mid Bike Shop
Recommended with Reservations
RoyalBaby 12″ BMX $99 18.9 17.3-21.3″  Coaster Mid 571 Amazon
Trek Precaliber 12″ (girls) $209 17.70  Coaster  2.9 High Bike Shop
Trek Precaliber 12″ $209 17.20  Coaster High Bike Shop
Raleigh MXR 12 (boys) $149 Coaster 2.9 High Amazon
Raleigh Jazzi 12 (girls) $149 Coaster 2.9 High Amazon
Giant Animator/Adore $170  Coaster 2.9 High Bike Shop
Not Recommended
Huffy Rock It $40 14.2 18-19.5″  Coaster High 533 Amazon

What is the best bike for a 4, 5 or 6-year-old?


KEY BUYING ADVICE

  1. Child’s Ability (1st pedal bike): Older and/or taller balance bike graduates often start on a 16″ bike.  In order to safely stop the bike with their feet like they are accustomed to, a child’s inseam should be within 1″ of the minimum seat height on the bike. This is necessary because the child is still gaining confidence and is not yet ready to rely solely on a braking system to stop without falling over.
  2. Child’s Ability (2nd pedal bike):  For those young riders who mastered a pedal bike on a 12″ or 14″ bike, they no longer need to rely on their feet to stop.  Look for a bike with a minimum seat height about 2″ above their inseam (they only need to touch the ground with tippy toes).
  3. Training Wheels: For an ideal fit when using training wheels, the minimum seat height should be close to 2″ greater than the child’s inseam.
  4. Weight: The lighter the bike the better.  As a child is learning to balance, a heavy bike can hinder their progress.
  5. Brakes: Bikes without coaster brakes are easier for kids this age to ride; kids naturally pedal backward when learning to pedal and the coaster brake causes them to unexpectedly stop.

For a More Detailed Breakdown: Check out our Ultimate 16″ Bike Comparison page to learn about 16″ bikes by type (best all-terrain, pre-road, beginner/timid, etc.).

Best 16" Kids Bikes include Stampede Sprinter and Commencal Ramones and Islabikes CNOC 16 and WOOM3

Stampede Sprinter 16 Commencal Ramones Islabikes CNOC 14 WOOM3

Best 16″ and 18″ Bikes

16″ bikes vary greatly in size.  Pay close attention to their seat heights.

Bike MSRP Weight (lb) Seat Height Brakes Q Factor Gain Ratio Handlebar Wheelbase (mm) Where to Buy
Exceptional
WOOM 3 16″ $369 13 18.8 -23.8″ Dual Hand 5.25″ 3.34 Mid 720 Amazon
Priority Start F/W $249 17 19 – 23.5″ Dual Hand  6″ Low  780 Priority Bicycles
Early Rider Belter $399 13.7 19.5 – 22″ Dual Hand 5.5″ Low 680 Amazon
Islabikes CNOC 16 $369 13.2 18.8 – 22.6″ Dual Hand w/ Coaster 5″ 3.55 Mid 707 Phone 503-954-2410
Spawn Banshee $350 15 18.5 – 23.5″ Dual Hand Mid 686 Spawn Cycles
Highly Recommended
Stampede Bikes Sprinter 16 $219 17.9 22 – 26″ Dual Hand  6.25″ 3.56 Low 749 Amazon
Ridgeback Dimensions $349 16 20.5 – 25.5″ Dual Hand 6.75″ 4.5 Low  705 WeeBikeShop
ByK E-350 $259 17.6+  18 – 23.3″ Front w/Coaster 6.25″  4 Low 800 Amazon
Commencal Ramones 16 $250 17.8 20.5 – 24″ Dual Hand 7.25″ 3.56 Low 700 Chain Reaction Cycles
Cleary Bikes Hedgehog $285 16 19 – 26″ Dual Hand  6″ 3.02 Flat 708 Backcountry.com
Pello Revo 16″ $299 16.3 20 – 24″ Rear Hand w/ Coaster 5.5″ 3.55 Mid 705 Pello Bikes
Norco Samuari / Mirage $265 17.9 20.25 – 22″ Dual Hand 6.25″ 3.9 Low 710 Bike Shop
Recommended
Specialized Hotrock 16″ Coaster $240 19 19 – 23″ Coaster Low Bike Shop
Trek Superfly 16 $309 18 19.5 – 24″ Coaster 6″ 3.25 Low 737 Bike Shop
Cannondale Trail/Tango 16 $260 20.11 Coaster Low  746 Bike Shop
Trek Precaliber 16 $229 19.95 Coaster Mid Bike Shop
Recommended with Reservations
Diamondback Mini Viper 16″ $110  20.8 20 – 24″  Coaster  3.5  High  758 Amazon
Diamondback Mini Impression $159  Coaster  2.9  High  747 Amazon
Raleigh MXR 16 $189 Coaster  3.5 High Amazon
Raeigh Jazzi 16 $189 Coaster  3.5 High Amazon
Haro Z 16 $209 23.5 Rear Hand w/ Coaster 4.0 Mid Bike Shop
Giant Animator 16 $180 19 21″ – Coaster High Bike Shop
Not Recommended
Next Rocket 16″ $40 19 22.5 – 23.5″ Coaster  6.5″ 3.5 High 685 Walmart
Bikestar Classic 16 $189 29 21 – 24″ Front Hand w/ Coaster Mid 715 Amazon
Royal Baby 16″ BMX $87 24.2 20.9 – 25.6″  Front Hand w/ Coaster  Mid 749 Amazon
RoyalBaby 18″ BMX $129 26.4 21.7 – 27.6″  Front Hand w/ Coaster  Mid 807 Amazon

What is the best bike for a 5 to 8-year-old?


KEY BUYING ADVICE

  1. Child’s Ability: The jump from 16″ to a 20″ can be significant as many 20″ bikes come with gears.  For many kids, gears can wait until their 24″ bike, but for advanced kids who are riding single-track mountain bike trails or long road rides with hills, gears can be a necessity.
  2. Seat Height: Minimum seat height should be 2″ – 3″ greater than the child’s inseam to allow for proper extension on the pedal for an efficient stroke.
  3. Standover Height: When standing over the bike (not on the seat) there should be 1″ – 2″ of clearance.  The gap helps prevent injury if the child slips forward off the seat during a fall.
  4. Gears: See 2nd 20″ bike chart for geared bikes.

Best 20" Kids Bikes include WOOM4 and ByK E-450 and Islabikes BEINN and Guardian 20

WOOM4 ByK E-450 Islabikes BEINN Guardian 20

Best 20″ Single-Speed Bikes

From family bike rides to neighborhood rides, single-geared bike are best for everyday riders.

Bike MSRP Weight Seat Height Standover Brakes GainRatio Wheelbase (mm) Handlebar Where to Buy
Exceptional
Guardian 20″ Single Speed $319 20.2 22.5 – 28″ Dual Hand, SureStop 898 Low Amazon
Pello Reddi 20″ $349 17 21.25 – 26″  18″ Dual Hand  4.5  880 Low Pello Bikes
Islabikes BEINN 20 $419 15  20.5 – 26.5″ Dual Hand  3.98 Low Call 503-954-2410
Highly Recommended
ByK E-450 $289  19.8+ 23.2 – 28.7″  16.5″ (g), 19.6″ (b) Dual Hand w/coaster  4 880 Low Amazon
Cleary Owl $345 19.1 24 -29″  20″ Dual Hand  3.2 842 Flat tikesbikes.com
Recommended
Specialized Hotrock 20 Coaster $240 23 lb. 9 oz. 19.8″ (b), 18.7 (g)  Rear Hand w/ Coaster Low Bike Shop
Cannondale Trail/Tango 20 Single-Speed $270 22.44 17.5 – 24″ 17.3″  Rear Hand w/ Coaster  3.6 886 Low Bike Shop
Recommended with Reservations
Trek Mystic 20 S $209  24.7  Rear Hand w/ Coaster  3.9 Mid Bike Shop
Trek Jet 20 S $209  24.7  Rear Hand w/ Coaster  3.9 Mid Bike Shop
Haro Z20 $229  25.80 20.5 ” (b), 18.25″ (g)  Rear Hand w/ Coaster 4.5 Mid Bike Shop

GEARED BIKE BUYING ADVICE


  1. Gears: Kids as young as 5 or 6 can begin to start using gears.  For most kids, grip shifters are best as their fingers are not long enough to activate some trigger shifters.
  2. Suspension: Suspension adds unnecessary weight to 20″ bikes and is rarely worth the added weight and expense.

Best 20″ Geared Bikes

Bike MSRP Weight Seat Height Standover Brakes BB Height Wheelbase (mm) Gears/Shifters Low/High Gain Ratio Suspension Where to Buy
Best for Street/Neighborhood/Light Trail Riding
WOOM4 20″ $449 17.6 21.8 – 27.5″ 19.6″ Mini V 835 8/Grip 2.3 / 6.7 No Amazon
Guardian 20″ Geared $399 21.2 22.5″-28″ SureStop Mini V 8.9″ 898 6/Grip No Amazon
Islabikes Beinn 20″ small $439 17.3 21.5″ – 26″ 18.5″  Mini V  8.2″ 814  7/Grip 2.2 / 5.9 No 503-954-2410
Islabikes Beinn 20″ large $499 17.3 23.5 – 28″ 20.4″ Mini V  8.9″  845 7/Grip 2 / 5.3 No 503-954-2410
Frog 52 $420 19.3 Mini V 8/Trigger  No  Bike Shop
Frog 55 $420 19.4 Mini V 8/Trigger  No  Bike Shop
Stampede Sprinter 20″ $249 22 23 – 28″ Mech Disc 939 7/Trigger No Amazon
Pello Rover 7-speed $429 18.5 22.5 – 27.5″ 18″ Tektro Mini V  8.5″ 880 7/Grip No Pello Bikes
Best for Beginning Cross Country/Trail Riding
WOOM4 Supra $549 16.5 21.8 – 27.5″ 19.8″ Mini V 835 8/Grip  2.3 / 6.7 No Amazon
Spawn Savage 1.0 $600 20 ~21″-26.5″ 450 Tektro Mech Disc  856 7/SRAM Trigger 2 / 5.3 No Spawn Cycles
Trek Superfly 20 $419  ~18 23.5 – 28.0″ V-Pull 9.4″ 863 6/Grip 1.9 / 3.8 No Bike Shop
Cannondale Trail/Tango 20 $290+ 25 21.5 – 27″ 19.7″ V-Pull 9.3″ 899 6/Grip 2.1 / 4.2 No Bike Shop
Best for Experienced Cross Country/Trail Riding
Spawn Savage 2.0 $950 22 Tektro Mech Disc  856 10/SRAM Trigger 1.7 / 5.8 No Spawn Cycles
Kona Shred 20 $529 21.3″ Tektro Mech Disc 895 6/Grip  1.9 / 3.8 Front Bike Shop
Other 20″ Geared Bikes
Trek Precaliber 20 6-Speed Boy’s $329  23.1 V-Pull 6/Grip 2.4 / 4.8*
2.1 / 4.2**
Front Bike Shop
GT Aggressor (boys) $310 20″  Tektro V-Pull 10″ 915  7/Grip  2.3 / 4.7 No Bike Shop
GT Laguna (girls) $310 19.7″ 10″ 890  7/Grip  2.3 / 4.7 No Bike Shop
Specialized Hotrock 20 6-Speed $360 21.8 (b), 20.2″ (g) 9.3″ 916  6/Grip  2.3 / 4.7 Front Bike Shop
Kona Makenna 20 $399 20.3″ Tektro V-Pull 897  7/Grip 1.9 / 3.8 Front Bike Shop

What is the best bike for an 8 to 11-year-old?


KEY BUYING ADVICE

  1. Child’s Ability: 24″ bikes come in a wide range of styles and functions. The bikes listed below are all suited for everyday riding and light trail riding.
  2. Standover Height: A child’s inseam should be at least 1″ to 2″ greater than the standover height of the bike (height of the top tube from the ground).  The gap helps prevent injury if the child slips forward off the seat during a fall.  Seat heights are given when standover heights are not available.
  3. Suspension: Suspension is only needed by advanced mountain bike riders. Suspension adds a lot of weight to a bike and should be avoided unless necessary.
  4. Gears/Shifters: Grip shifters are best for the average rider, as kids’ fingers are often not long enough to activate trigger shifters. Bikes with a 1x drivetrain (only one chain ring in front) are ideal for the average rider as they only have to use one shifter.  Bikes with one number listed in the “Chain Ring” column have a 1x system with one shifter, bikes with 3 numbers listed have a 3x system and dual shifters.

Best 24" Kids Bikes include WOOM5 and Dawes Zombie 24 and Islabikes BEINN and Guardian Bikes

WOOM5 Dawes Zombie Islabikes BEINN Guardian Bikes

Best 24″ Rigid Mountain Bikes (No Suspension)

Most online bikes are lighter and better quality than those found in local bike shops. Don’t be afraid to shop around!

Brand/Model (w/link) MSRP Weight (lb)/Frame Standover Height Gears/Shifters Brakes Chain Ring Cassette Seat Height Where to Buy
Exceptional
WOOM5 Supra $549  17.8/Alum  (24″ – 33″)  8sp/SRAM Trigger V-pull  27″-35.4″ us.woombikes.com
Islabikes BEINN 24″ $549  19.4 lb./Alum  (24″ – 30″) 8sp/SRAM Grip V-pull 32T 11-32, 8sp 25.5″-32″ Phone 503-954-2410
Highly Recommended
WOOM5 $449 19.2/Alum  (24″ – 33″)  8sp/SRAM Trigger V-pull 27″-35.4″ Amazon
Guardian 24″ $419 23/Alum  8sp/Shimano Grip SureStop V-pull  14-34 25″ – 33″ guardianbikes.com
Frog 62 $420 20.3/Alum  8sp/Shimano Grip V-pull  32T  12-32T Bike Shop
Recommended
Giant XTC JR 24 LTE $250 ~22/Alum  23.4″  7sp/Shimano Grip Linear Pull 36T 14-34 Bike Shop
Giant Liv Areva 24 LTE $250 ~22/Alum  7sp/Shimano Grip Linear Pull 36T 14-34 Bike Shop
Recommended with Reservations
Dawes Zombie 24 $287 24.2/Alum 18sp/Shimano Grip V-pull 42/34/24T Chain Reaction Cycles
Ridgeback Dimensions Boy’s $495 25/Alum 21sp/Shimano Easy Fire Trigger V-pull 22/32/42 14-28, 7sp Amazon
Ridgeback Dimensions Girl’s $495 25.9/Alum 21sp/Shimano Easy Fire Trigger V-pull 22/32/42 14-28, 7sp Amazon
Cannondale Street 24 $520 26.15/Alum  22.8″ 21sp/Shimano Grip Disc 24/34/42 14-28, 7sp 26″-31.5″ Bike Shop

 


 



  • Angelique Hofman

    Any chance to review some bikes that are more available in Europe, especially the Netherlands…the “big names” over here are Loekie and Puky. At the moment my nearly 3,5 yr old has been enjoying his FirstBike balance bike since he got it for his 2nd bday, but i think he is ready for a pedal bike and unlike most parents here in the netherlands i refuse to get him a bigbox disney cheap bike with training wheels that weighs a ton. Of the 2 brands i mentioned i am mostly interested in the Loekie Freestyle 16″ and the Loekie BMX 16″…they look pretty similar beside the bmx one having a pad on the frame. Puky has the ZL16, which looks very “tame” in comparison to the robust looking outdoor bikes of Loekie. Any chance for a TwoWheelingTots opinion?

    • Glad to here that you are settling for a big-box store bike. I recently compared one to some higher-end bikes and the difference was quite clear: http://www.twowheelingtots.com/specialized-hotrock-12-review/. As I pointed out in that article, there are several things to look for when purchasing a bike that can help find you determine your best choice. Between the the bikes you mentioned, all three seem very similar, but they also seem to have a short wheelbase, which will lead to more upright body position on the bike. While looking up the Loekie on this site, http://www.beslist.nl/products/fietsen/r/Loekie_Freestyle_16/, I noticed the Kawasaki BX Freestyle 16 inch Kraffity, which appear to have a much longer wheelbase as compared to the others for not much more. Of course, I have no idea how much it weighs or the quality of it, but the geometry looks better than the others. Between the bikes you mentioned, the PUKY looks to have a longer wheelbase than the Loekie, so as long as it isn’t significantly heavier, I would recommend that one over the others.

  • Matt

    Natalie – Any chance of adding some additional columns to your pedal bike comparison chart such as: wheel base, top tube and bottom bracket height? These were illustrated in the Islabike Cnoc 14 review. I’m looking for a more readily available alternative to the Cnoc 14 and wanted it to be close to the paramters listed in the review. Thanks!

    • Yes, it is in the works, but generally only higher-end bikes provide that info (you can generally find it on their website), so only a few of the bikes will have it listed. It may be a month or so, however, before it gets up and running as I am working on re-formatting all the tables on the site in order to make them more user friendly for both desktop and mobile users.

    • Got the table updated to include some info on geometry. With most manufactures not listing their specs for kids bike, there are a lot of gaps, but it’s a good start!

  • Sandra

    What is the right size of bike for a 37″ boy? He is almost 4 but small for age.
    How much of his feet should he be able to get on the ground?

    Sorry if this info is on the page but ipad is cutting the right side of the table off.
    Thanks

    • No worries! Ideally you want the child’s entire foot on the ground, but that is often a challenge with the smallest bikes. At 37″ he would fall into the 12″ bike range. The only 12″ bikes I recommend at the Specailized HotRock and the Cleary Gecko.

  • Jody

    Any input regarding the Ridgeback MX16? I can’t find much online about this particular bike. We are seriously considering purchasing this one, but not sure if it’s as good as the Cleary or Islabike Cnoc?

    • You have great timing as I just received the MX14 for a review yesterday. From the day or so that we have had it, I can say that the bike is very well made and does not have a coaster brake which is really beneficial to kids who are graduating from balance bikes. Compared to the Islabikes, they are heavier and have a higher bottom bracket, but our 5-year-olds tester who rode it around last night, who loves the Islabikes 14″, also loved the Ridgeback. From watching her on both bikes, the lower-center of gravity of the Islabikes helped her to balance quicker and easier on the bike, but I don’t think the difference was that much worth the additional price increase for kids who just plan on riding around the neighborhood. If you plan on going on longer rides on a regular basis, then I believe the lighter weight Islabikes or Cleary would be worth the additional money, if not, then I the MX16 would be a great choice.

      • Jody

        Thank you very much! That helps a lot! 🙂

  • Justin

    Ridgeback MX14 vs Islabikes CNOC 14. My child is 38lbs and 39″ tall w/ 17″ inseam and is ready to graduate from a balance bike. I started off looking at the Huffy Rock It 12″, but quickly realized that althought he can probably ride, he probably wouldn’t be able to maneuver very well. I have slowly given in to the fact that if i want my child to be able to do more that simply ride his bike, he’ll need something better than a big box store bike. That brings me to my question. Are the advantages of the CNOC worth the difference in price? The CNOC is now $309 + $30 (shipping) = $339 total. I can get the MX14 for $249 total. That’s a $90 dollar difference.

    • With a 17″, your son won’t be able to touch the ground flat footed on the MX14 which has a minimum seat height of 19″. The tester in our review also had a 17″ inseam and you can see how she has to stand on her tippy toes. Having already mastered riding a pedal bike, this wasn’t an issue for her, but for a new rider, who is used to running on a balance bike, it could be a challenge, especially if he is used to stopping mainly with his feet. The minimum seat height of the CNOC 14 is an inch shorter, so it is going to be a better fit and is also lighter, BUT the CNOC does have a coaster brake while the MX14 does not. So which is the better bike? Overall, I think the Islabike is better, but is it $90 better? That is really your call. The Islabikes probably has a better resale value, so it may save you more money in the long run, but probably not much.

      • Justin

        Thanks for the tip on the seat height. Most of the info I’ve seen on the internet states a min seat height of 18″ on the MX14, but you can see on the side by side pics on this site that the CNOC 14 has both a lower seat height and standover height. Thanks.

        • That is exactly why I always try to include a side-by-side comparison. Over the years I’ve found that the specs provided by the manufacturer are not always accurate as often times it really depends on where you measure on the seat as well as the top tube. Glad that it helped!

  • ChrisK

    1st off what a great site. Very informative. My son just turned 3. He is 39″ tall has about a 17″ inseam. He currently has been using a balance bike and has been amazing with it. His uncle wants to get him a pedal bike. We have been looking at the Giant Animator 16 ($148), The Specialized Hotrock 16 ($192), The MirraCo. Veurne 16 ($130),Torker Throttle 16 ($163) and the TykesByke 16 ($190.) I have been leaning towards the Giant because of the aluminum frame and the price. Anyone have any experience with the bikes that Twowheelingtots.co has not reviewed. I think they are all pretty good choices just didn’t see enough reviews of some of the other bikes. Some of the bikes are only available online and not at a bike shop nearby.

    • With a 17″ inseam, I think any 16″ bike will be too big for him, especially if his current balance bike does not have a handbrake. Having mastered a balance bike, he should be able to easily transition to a pedal bike, but if he is used to being able to stop with his feet, to stay safe on a pedal bike he will need to be able to do the same. If his balance bike has a hand brake and he has mastered the brake, then he might be able to get away with a bike in bike in which he can almost put his whole foot down, but I wouldn’t recommend it. So I would either look into a smaller pedal bike, such as the Cleary Gecko or a CNOC 14. Then again, those do cost a lot more, so if they are out of your budget, I would keep him on the balance bike for a while or even look at the Specialized Hotrock 12.

  • Kellyb

    Thank goodness for your website. I have learned so much from reading your reviews. My son is 5.5 years old and is not yet proficient on a bike. I was prepared to buy the Islabike 16″ based on your reviews and the wheelbase. …until I measured his inseam, 20″. He is 43″ tall. I looked at the Beinn 20″, but the minimum height is 44″ and the price is awfully high. Aside from the Hedgehog, can you suggest another bike based on his age, inseam and height (and lack of experience)? I see all the options above, but it’s a little overwhelming. Thank you a million times over

    • No problem, glad to help! First off, nice work in measuring first, a mistake parents often make. If you looking for good quality bike that is more affordable than the Islabike or the Cleary, I would head to a local bike shop to try him out on some bikes. I would be sure to check out Specialized and Cannondale line of bikes as their kids bike are lighter weight than most. While at the store, make sure the bike fit him now. Ideally, you will want him to be able to put both feet fully on the ground while he straddles the seat. Proficient riders can get away with having only their tippy toes touch the ground, but for a beginner, they are less likely to get scared and intimidated by the bike if he knows he can put his feet all the way down to stop. Lastly, when you do find a bike that works, I would first have him ride it as a balance bike with the pedals removed (just the pedals, not the entire crank arm) first, to ensure he has mastered balancing. Once he is able to balance and run on the bike without any concerns, then I would put the pedals back on and then simply watch him ride away! Hope that helps!

      • Kellyb

        Thank you! I’m actually okay spending $285 on the Cleary bike. However, my concern is that he will grow out of the 16″ bike too fast since he is 43″ tall with a 20″ inseam. Then again, the saddle has a lot of wiggle room with 19-26″ and the inseam from 18-24, so maybe this is the best bike? Thoughts? …we tried the Specialized Hotrocket this weekend and the 16″ was way too small and the 20″ was too big. I’m torn. I feel like the Cleary 16″ is the best, but I suppose I was just looking for confirmation. 🙂

        • With a 20″ inseam, I agree that the Hedgehog would be a great fit for him. He will, however, most likely outgrow it in less than 2 years, but that is normal. The good news, however, is that any higher-end bike, including the Hedgehog, will have a high-resale value, so your long term investment won’t be too significant.

  • Jessica

    Thank you for making this table and maintaining this site! We were planning to get an Early Rider Belter for our very tall now-4 1/2 year old son late last summer, but it seemed to be out of stock everywhere and then it got to be wintertime. He has a big-box store Craigslist 16″ bike that he is unable to ride, and his FirstBIKE (with hand brake) is getting comically too small, so it’s really time for a good bike. The Belter STILL seems to be out of stock at places like Weebikeshop and Tikesbikes. Now I see that the Cleary Hedgehog has come to market in the interim. I confess that I like the look of the Belter much more than the Hedgehog, and the belt drive seems really cool. Should we try to get a Belter directly from the UK? Is there some other US source for them? Do you think the Cleary would be better? It certainly seems like one would be easier to obtain (and less expensive!). I suppose we could look at the Spawn Banshee again, too; I remember looking at it a little bit last summer but deciding on the Belter. I’m not sure how tall our son is at the moment, but I would hazard a guess at about 44.5″, so probably 45″ with shoes on. He is very proficient with the balance bike (and with the hand brake) and I think if he had the right pedal bike he could just take off on it. Thanks!

    • Honestly, I would not pay extra for a Belter to have it shipped from the UK. It is certainly a great bike, but I would certainly recommend the Hedgehog or the Islabike CNOC 16 over the Belter if they were more affordable when shipping from the UK is factored in. Yes, the Belter looks cool and the belt drive is amazing, but in the end, it doesn’t perform any better than the others.

  • Lindsay

    I am very excited to have found your site! My 2 1/2 yr old son in a pedal bike rock star! He graduated from his balance bike to a crappie Craigslist dinosaur about 6 months ago and is ready for a nice bike. Your information has helped us to decide on the Islabike CNOC 14 for him. He regularly rides 3-5 miles at a time and over 10 when he is attached to my bike with a Trailgator. Thank you for creating a truly informative resource.

    • Wow, that is amazing! I have never heard of a 2.5 year old riding that far independently. Good call on the CNOC 14, an awesome bike for an awesome rider!

  • Alisha

    Hi Natalie,
    At your advice, I got the Frog balance bike for my 3 year old for Christmas. She is already starting to glide along!
    Looking now for your recommendation for my almost 6 year old. He has a cheap 16 in bike, which I was just able to take training wheels off( we missed the boat and didn’t do balance bike with him first). He still needs a push to get going, but getting the hang of it. Need recommendations for an upgrade. The 16 in cheap bike has poor dimensions and looks a little small for him in my opinion. He is 46 in tall. Do we need to wait until 48 in to get a 20 in frame bicycle? Which model do you recommend?
    Thanks a bunch!!

    • Glad to hear that your daughter is doing well on the Frog! As for your son, it is his hard to know what size bike he would be better on without having him stand over the bikes. Since he can ride a poorly designed bike, the good news is that he should really excel on a higher-end bike that will be easier to ride as well as balance, so he could probably ride a 20″, but it really depends on his inseam. As a result, I would probably look into getting a smaller 20″, such as the BEINN 20″ small or the Cannondale Street 20″.

  • Derek

    Hi there, just wondering why the Cult bike is not on your list? I was looking at getting my 3 year old son Cult 16″ or the Spawn, which do you think is a better bike?

    Thanks!

    • I actually have never heard of them, so thank you for bringing them to my attention! If this is the bike you are considering, http://www.cultcrew.com/hardgoods/signature-chase-hawk-4073.html, then I would certainly go with the Spawn as this bike has the geometry for a BMX rider, which does not suit well for the everyday young rider. The main issues are the leaned back seat and the extended reach for the handlebar. This works set up works great for BMX riders and kids who are hitting the pump track, but for kids who plan on riding trails, sidewalks, etc., a more upright position is much more comfortable and easier to ride for kids.

      • Plus, I forgot to mention the really high gear ratio on the Cult. While it makes it easier to start to pedal the bike, it severely limits the amount of speed a child can get on the bike. Plus, it doesn’t have a hand brake!

        • Derek

          Thanks for the info about the gear ratio!
          Just to clarify all Cults come with hand brakes, but no coaster brake.

          One more question about fit, so I’m really wanting to get him a Spawn bike, but having trouble with picking the right size. My son is 3, but will be 4 in couple months and has a inseam 16.5″ and is 39″ in height, which bike do you think is a better fit 14″ or 16″ for Spawn bike?

          Thanks!

          • Thanks for the correction, I hadn’t noticed that. As for the Spawn, it is really hard to know which would be best as they don’t list their seat heights on their website. I would call the and find out. With their first bike, it is best to have to minimum seat height about equal with their inseam so that they can use their feet to stop is needs be. Technically they can ride a bike with a minimum seat height an inch taller than their inseam, but if they are not 100% confident with using a hand brake, it can be intimidating for them.

      • Derek

        Great advice and right on about the fit of the Colt bike! I took my son
        yesterday to try out the Cult 12″ and 16″ and no way he could ride ether
        the 12″ or 16″ with the leaned back seat and the reach of the
        handlebars. I guess I should have stated we will be riding pump track
        most of the time, but still the fit of the Cult would not work for his
        size maybe the 12″ with some practice , but he would soon out grow the
        12″ in a couple months.

        Thanks again for the help!

  • Janina

    Just wanted to mention that in your chart, the islabike 20 small and large numbers are reversed.

    • You’re right, thanks so much for pointing that out to me, I will fix it asap!!!

  • Ashley Lee

    Hi! We are looking to buy our four year old, who is not the most coordinated boy, a new 16 inch bike. We wanted to buy aluminum, but are wondering what the best overall 16 inch bike would be? Thank you!

    • Based on our comparison tests, I would go with the WOOM3, which is currently not in stock, but should be in a couple weeks. It is pricey, but amazing. My review of the bike is actually done, but we are waiting for the bikes to be available before I post it. The main difference is that is had an upright geometry that allows the rider’s weight to be centered over the seat, thereby providing a natural balancing position. To compensate for the higher-center of gravity of the rider, the bike has a longer wheelbase and the frame itself has a low-center of gravity. Some comparison picks are below. My second pick would be the CNOC 16″ and then the Cleary Hedgehog (but not for hesitant riders and the geometry is much more aggressive). Hope that helps.

      • Ashley Lee

        Natalie, thanks so much for responding so quickly! Your info is so helpful! My husband has a couple more questions. Are training wheels available for the Woom? Our boy isn’t ready to go without yet. The Woom is pricey but looks amazing. Would you have a pick in the $250 range and below? Also what are your thoughts on Giant’s Animator? Its only $185. The geometry and specs may not be that great though? Thank you so much!!

        • If possible, I highly recommend going without training wheels. If he gets used to them, it will take him a lot longer to learn to ride without them than if he learned on a balance bike first. If you would rather not buy a balance bike, I would at least remove the pedals on his pedal bike and have him learn to balance on the bike before he learns to pedal on it. Learning to pedal is really easy, but learning to balance is not. Plus, pedaling is reliant on knowing how to balance a bike, and if you can balance a bike, you can’t pedal it (which is quite clear with kids who are trying to learn to ride after using training wheels).

          For bikes under $250, I would look at Specalized’s, Giant’s and Cannondale’s locally and see which on fits best. As a word of caution, if you plan on not using training wheels, you will want to make sure he can touch the ground while seated on the bike. Kids can technically ride a bike if they can touch the pedals (not the ground) if the bike has training wheels on it, but in the end it is a big disservice to the kids as learning that way will only delay their progress.

          • Ashley Lee

            Natalie, once again thank you for the wealth of information you share here! We just went up to our local bike shop and picked up a 16 inch Specialized bike. They had a deal that made it hard to pass on: $20 off the bike plus a free Bell Small Fry helmet. We also bought a balance bike for our younger son (trying to do it right with him) but our older son is riding it as well.

            I love your thoughts on going without training wheels. A little scary but makes total sense! We also ordered him a Lazer Nutz MIPS helmet and I think he’s going to need it with all of this! Thanks again for answering our questions!

          • Yeah, glad you found a good deal, good luck and have fun :)!

      • Janina

        I’m looking forward to reading your review of the Woom 3. They are available now in the color red on their website…

        • You’re right, they are! I will get the finishing touched done on it and should have it up by tomorrow night.

  • Kristina

    Hello Natalie! Which bike would you choose trek Mystic 12″ 209$ or Giant Adore 12 ” 189$ for a girl . That’s Canadian price.

    • I much prefer the Giant. The Trek 12″ are heavy and in my opinion, priced to high for what you get.

  • Lauren Janzen

    Natalie, first let me say I love your site! After extensive reading of your reviews when my oldest was turning 2, we bought him a Firstbike balance bike and loved it so much that we bought a second one when his brother turned 2 the next year. We’ve seen our kids do more than we dreamed a toddler/preschooler on a balance bike could do, regularly tackling 2-4 miles! Now my oldest is almost 4.5, and he’s raring to get his feet on some pedals. I think we’ve narrowed it to the Specialized Hotrock 16 or the Cleary Hedgehog. I know the Specialized Hotrock seat height measurement is not available, but I wondered if you might have any comparison pictures that might hint at whether one might be outgrown before the other? It seems like the Cleary has several inches on the Islabike, for example, and I’m thinking that if we were going to get another year of use out of a bike, it might entice us to go for the more expensive option (especially since our kids are too close in age to hand down bikes). The hand brake with no coaster brake on the Cleary is tempting too, as my son has ample practice with his Firstbike hand brake, but if seat height ranges seem similar it’s probably not tempting enough to justify another $80. (Or more than that, as there are several used Specialized Hotrock 16s available on our local craigslist, and we may try to snag one of those.) I appreciate your insight, and thank you again for the Firstbike recommendation!

    • Yeah, glad to hear you have had such great experiences with your FirstBIKEs. Isn’t is amazing what these little guys can accomplish on these bikes. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the Hotrock 16″, so I can’t give you any comparison shots. Between the two, the main benefit of the Cleary is it’s lack of a coaster brake, which will certainly help you son progress faster on the bike. The geometry between the two is very different though. The Specialized is more upright, which is better for more hesitant riders, while the Cleary is really aggressive (see pics below), which can be a turn off for some kids. If you could find a good used Hotrock 16″, I would start there, otherwise I would take him to a bike shop and see how he fits on the Hotrock before you purchase the Cleary. I believe the Hotrock will have a taller minimum seat height, but I’m not sure.

  • emac

    What do you think about the Trek mystic 12, is that a worth while bike?

    • While Trek makes come great adult bikes, I think their kids line in lacking. The main problem with their kids bikes is their weight. Due to their steel construction and the “extras” on the bikes, they are simply too heavy for their price tag.

  • emac

    What do you think about the Diamond Back Delta cruz?

    • While I haven’t seen it in person, it would be hesitant to recommend it due to the inward positioning of the handlebars. With most kids, this position is much more difficult as compared to the standard straight bar, and leads to more twitchy steering and handling.

  • Monika

    Hi Natalie! Love your site! I learnt so much in the last week or so. Done a lot of reading.
    We just bought my little boy (who is turning 4 in May) a Giant Animator 16″ today. He tried it in the shop and did great on it. He loved the bell on it. We didn’t bring it home yet as it was gonna be his birthday present.
    On our way home I remembered some great info about the having a handbrake on the bike. Then I realized this bicycle we just purchesed didn’t have one.
    I was wondering if you think we should be getting one that has a handbrake instead?
    I really liked the Specialized Hotrock 16″ but that doesn’t have one either. Oh, and is actually a bicycle that’s available here in Canada. Had a hard time finding bicycles on your list that sells here.
    Appreciate any help! Thank you 🙂
    Monika

    • If he can already pedal the bike without training wheels and without any real problems, then a bike with a coaster brake will be just fine. If he was using training wheels, then I would try to look for one without a coaster brake, as it will slow his learning process. Most bikes, however, will have a coaster brake, so in the end, if you can’t find one, stick with the one you have, especially since you know it fits him.

  • Janina

    Hi Natalie. Based on all the information on your website, I got my 4 y ear old the firstbike and she loves it. It’s a fabulous balance bike. she does great with it. Only problem is that she is soooooo slow when we go on bike rides on the dirt trails. She just doesn’t have the leg strength yet to really go much faster than walking speed. This is becoming a problem for family bike rides, as she can’t keep up. Since my almost 6 year old just got her Woom 3 and she first used it without pedals on the trails and then quickly learned how to pedal, I could tell how much more efficient pedaling is over “walking” the bike as is done with a balance bike. I think my 4 year old could learn to start using a pedal bike so she has some chance of actually keeping up with us. (right now I have to put her in the trailer with the 18 month old and the extra weight is just killing me). So I’m looking into what kind of pedal bike might work for he. She is 4 but barely the size of a 3 year old. 36″ tall with an inseam of about 15″. We really love our Woom 3 and I just ordered a Woom 1 for my 18 month old to grow into, and would love the Woom 2 to round out the stable, but I think she is still way to small for it. From what I read, the Cleary gecko is the only one that would fit her. I’m not sure how I feel about a 12″ pedal bike. I was hoping for a 14″ and when she outgrows it, she could move on to the Woom 3. Any thoughts? Thanks 🙂

    • Janina

      Growth spurt in the last month apparently. I just remeasured her and this time with shoes on (so that added an inch) since that would be how she rides and she is 38″ tall and has an almost 16″ inseam. You think the Woom 1 would work?

      • If she is a confident rider, is eager to get on a pedal bike AND you upgrade to the freewheel, then I think she would do well on the WOOM2. With a 16″ inseam, she is still 1.5″ away from touching the ground, but she should be able to touch with her tippy toes. For most kids, this is very uncomfortable as they are used to putting their feet down on the ground to stop and get started, but if you believe she is adventurous enough, then it might be worth a shot. Plus, if you remove the rear reflector on the seat, you can lower the seat almost another 1/2″, which should help. If you think being on her tippy toes will turn her off transitioning, then I would go with the Gecko as it will certainly fit her now.

  • emac

    It would be really helpful to put the pedal bikes in the recommendations format that you use for the balance bikes.

    • I agree, that would be useful, but since there are so many different variables when it comes to pedal bikes and considering I haven’t had a chance to test out even a small fraction of these bikes, I wouldn’t feel comfortable assigning them a rating. I hope to be able to review more pedal bikes in the future, but sadly, getting pedal bikes to review is A LOT harder than balance bikes.

  • Daniel

    You should really include the Redline Pitboss in the 16″ comparison chart. Yes it’s a BMX bike but if you are looking for a super high quality – light bike for your kid it shouldn’t be overlooked.

    • You’re right. I have heard amazing things about the Pitboss and it really should be on this list. Thanks for the reminder.

      • Daniel

        We had a Pitboss for our daughter that we bought when she was 5. At the time it was lightest bike we could find. She rode it until just a few weeks ago – she’s now 8. It worked very well. A few things we did change on it were to put on shorter cranks, softer saddle and add a front brake.

        Great site by the way! Your comparison chart led us to purchase a 20″ Cleary Owl – just waiting for it to arrive!

        • Wow, sounds like you got great use out of the bike. I had heard from other readers that the Pitboss was the lightest they could as well, so I certainly need to track one down to get a closer look. Plus, awesome job on the upgrades. Very few parents would even think to swap out the cranks. Keep my posted on how you like the Owl as I would love any feedback you have on it.

  • emac

    Have you heard anything about the 12″ Scott bike?

    • No, sorry. Plus, it looks like they don’t have the bikes specs on their website, so I really can’t tell you much about it.

  • Shannon

    Fabulously helpful. I knew just where to turn after the great tip on the Tykes Bykes balance bike (love). Now my son has a Specialized Hotrock that fits him perfectly. I kinda wish I had gotten the Cleary but never even would have known such a bike existed if it hadn’t been for your site. Keep it up!

    • Yeah, glad to be of help! The TykesBykes and the Hotrock are both great bikes and I’ll glad to hear that you agree. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  • Kevin

    Spawn has updates there builds since this was put out & the links are broken.

    • Thanks for the heads up, I REALLY appreciate it. I’ll get to updating those now.

  • kniknak

    Hi! Thank you for that great website about kid bikes.
    Please, help me to choose cycling/buying “strategy” for my 2.5 yo son.
    He is 38″ tall and 15″ inseam, about 13-14kg weight. He rides balance bike for a year and does it well.
    What is perfect bike for him and what is the best time to buy the first bike?
    I trying to choose between Cnoc 14 buying it now and Cnoc 16/Belter 16 buying it next spring.
    It it theoretically possible to ride 16″ or 14″ bike for such a small kid?

    • With a 15″ inseam, the only pedal bike I would recommend right now would be the Cleary Gecko as it has a minimum seat height of 15″, otherwise, I would wait until next summer to get the CNOC 14, which has a minimum seat height of 18.5″. Technically he might be able to barely reach the pedals on the CNOC 14 now, but since he wouldn’t be able to touch the ground, he would have a challenging time getting started and stopping on the bike, especially since that is all he is used to with his balance bike.

  • Laurie

    We so appreciate your site!! Refer to it tons! My son is turning 5 this month, is petite for his age but ambitious. He is currently 41″ tall, has a 17″ inseam. Started on a FIRSTBike and rides a 12″ pedal now but is ready to move up (wants to ride faster with the bigger kids) I really lean toward the Islabike CNOC 14″ or if we wanted to choose a 16″ what is your recommendation, per his size? He can ride his friend’s BMX motorcross 16″ but has to crash/jump off because he can’t quite reach the ground. I can get a specialized hotrock 16″ at a local bike shop. Your thoughts…

    • Glad to help and thanks for sending people my way, I really appreciate it! With a 17″ inseam, I would stick to the WOOM2 or the CNOC 14″, which both have 14″ wheels. Technically he could fit on a 16″, like you mentioned, but having him have to jump off the bike can certainly hurt him, as well as cause damage to the bike. Between the two, if he likes to pedal fast, I would go with the WOOM2 as the larger chain ring on the front will allow him to ride faster than the smaller chain ring on the front of the Islabikes. Both bikes, however, are amazing and I’m sure he would go fine on either.

  • lex

    i’m torn between the islabike 16 and the specialized hotrock 16 i can get at my local bike shop. This would be my 5 year old’s first bike, he never took to his strider balance bike, but his grandpop got him a 12 inch tonka bike shaped 25 pound monster that’s too small for him, but nevertheless he just learned how to balance on it without training wheels last weekend. his inseam is 19 and height 44.5. Suggestions?

    • With a 19″ inseam, the Hotrock will probably be too small for him. While he technically can fit on the Hotrock, he won’t be able to put his full foot on the ground, so learning to start and stop is going to be much more challenging for him. On the Islabikes, however, he will be able to put his full foot on the ground, so learning to ride will be easier and more natural. Before you order the Islabikes, would take him to the local bike shop to have him try out the Hotrock. If he can touch the ground, and not just the pedals, then you could certainly consider it. As a headsup, the Hotrock does come with training wheels, which you will not want him to use, so don’t let the bike guys convince you that the bike does fit as long as he can reach the pedals. Your goal here is to get him to ride without training wheels, not with them.

      • lex

        Thanks Natalie. When I spoke to Islabikes they felt the cnoc16 was already a little small for him, wouldnt last a season, and suggested the beinn small, but I think that wouldve been too much bike for him as a first bike. At the bike shop, he seemed to be comfortable on the hotrock 16, and able to reach the ground with his feet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the hotrock won’t be a problem, and I’ll keep you posted! Thanks for your advice!

        • If he can touch the ground, then he should be good to go. Please keep me posted!

  • Lindsey

    Have you seen the Opus kids’ bikes? Their 12 inch offerings (Dash/Pixie) seem like they are another nice higher end option–aluminum frames, hand brakes, etc. Our 4 year old has short legs and I expect will get at least 2 years of use out of a 12 inch bike (no one locally carries any 14 inch options, either, so he will probably go straight to a 16 inch), and his brother will use it after, so we don’t mind spending a bit more. I’m thinking the Dash may be a better option than the HotRock.

    • I have seen them briefly at a trade show, but since they don’t have a large presence here in the US, I didn’t spend a lot of time looking them over. Since you don’t have to worry about coaster brakes in Canada, the offset crank-set of the Hotrock won’t be as beneficial as it is here since back pedaling won’t stop the bike. Before you purchase the bike, make sure you weigh it as well to make sure it isn’t too heavy.

      • c g

        Unfortunately, Opus puts a coaster brake on their 12″ and 16″ kids’ bikes. 🙁 They are lighter than big box store bikes, our 16″ is 18 pounds with the chain guard, but the coaster brake is a pain for learning to pedal. I am currently looking into how to convert ours to freewheel for the next kid who has grown into the bike.

        • Removing a coaster brake is a challenge. The best way is to change out the hub, which isn’t worth the expense. If you come across an affordable way, please let me know.

  • FrenchFry

    Hi, I am shopping for new bikes for my two kids (girl age 6, inseam 20.5″, height 47″ and boy age 3, inseam 16″, height 39″). After more time than I ever thought I would spend researching kid’s bikes ;), I have narrowed down my choices to the Isla and Woom bikes. Both kids learned to ride on the LikeABike Kokua Jumper – little guy is still on it but ready to transition to pedals – and enjoy getting off the pavement onto the trails. We are in Canada and it isdifficult to find kid’s bikes that don’t weigh the same as they do! Would welcome your suggestions or recommendations. Thanks in advance.

    • FrenchFry

      My daughter also fell in love with a Trek Superfly 20 today when she test rode it. Would it be comparable to the quality/fit of the Isla and Woom?

      • lex

        So my boy just graduated today from a 12 inch tonka to a 20 inch specialized hotrock. He’s five years old, inseam 19, height 44.5 I was impressed by how well he took to it! I was looking at islabike and cleary and woom but I’m glad he’s going well on the specialized and i saved some cash. The bike shop said he fit the 16 inch perfectly but that he’d grow out of it in a year, and the seat was already high. So the bike shop cut an inch off the seat post on the 20 inch hotrock so he could reach the ground with his feet. An hour later he was riding so fast i had trouble keeping up in MY bike! Mind you he’s only been on 2 wheels for 3 weeks. So i think your 6 year old will do fine on the trek if she can reach the ground.

        As for your 3 year old, i think your choices are islabike or woom. The woom is a faster bike, the islabike will be easier to start (gear ratios). Call islabike, they can be very helpful.

        • Sounds like you found an awesome bike shop! Glad to hear that your son is doing awesome on his Hotrock as well. As for the other bikes, you have done your research, nice work. I agree that Islabikes is a great help, as it WOOM, so I would agree that giving them a call is well worth the time. Lastly, the gearing on the 14″ and 16″ WOOMs vs. the Islabikes are different, but they are much more similar on the 20″ and the 24″. Thanks for your input!

        • FrenchFry

          Thanks so much for the feedback. This website is an amazing resource! Thanks for sharing the pictures – helps a lot to be able to compare the models.

          I am going to call both Woom and Isla and chat with them but I am leaning towards the Superfly for my daughter (after I double check fit) as she already loves it, had no trouble with the shifters, and we can buy it here in town so we save on shipping and duties. I think the Woom2 might be the way to go for my son – he loves to go fast and the steering limiter is something that we have always loved about the Kokua Jumper. We’ll see…

      • I’ve heard great things about the SuperFly 20, but have yet to see it in person. Since the Superfly is their higher-end model, I assume it would be on par with the Islabikes and WOOM (unlike Trek’s lower-end kids models which are less than impressive). As for fit, it is hard to say without seeing the same child on all three bikes, but based on these pictures of my 6yo on the WOOM3 and Islabikes 20″ Small, and another kid on the Superfly, they look similar. One major difference to consider is that the WOOM3 has a trigger shift versus a grip shift like the others. Adjusting to the trigger shift has been a challenge for my 6yo, but it is easier for him to shift.

  • Helen McCormick

    LOVE your site and used it extensively when buying our balance bikes a few years ago! My 3 year old twin girls just learned how to ride our friends’ fantastic Specialized Hotrock. Unfortunately, buying two of them, my budget is much closer to $100. They have a 15.5″ inseam. One is definitely not as eager to ride the pedal bike (they are pros on their Striders). Do I wait another summer to buy a 14″? Buy a Hotrock second hand and have it shipped for $150 each? Or is there ANY pedal bike that would work for them in my budget? I keep trying to research and the only other new bike I keep coming back to is the various Royalbaby styles…

    • Awesome! I love hearing about 3 year-olds that have mastered pedaling. The good news for you is that since they already know how to pedal, as long as they are confident riders, they won’t have as much issues with the lower-end bikes than someone who is learning to ride for the first time. So, while a higher-end bike will be easier, more efficient and more fun for them to ride, they will probably do fine on a lower-end bike if you are just having them ride around the neighborhood vs. on longer bike rides. Having only seen a few of the lower-end bikes, the problem that we both have, is that it is really hard to know what the minimum seat height is a bike without having seeing it in person. Most lower-end 12″ bikes have a minimum seat height of around 17″, which is going to be a stretch for them. With a 15.5″ inseam, they can technically reach the pedal on a bike with a 17″ inseam, but they won’t be able to touch the ground, so stopping is going to be a major concern, unless they have also mastered the coaster brake on the Hotrock.

      So what to buy? From what I’ve seen online, the Royalbaby’s seem to have the same geometry as the WalMart bikes, so I’m not sure if they are worth the added expense (if someone reads this and has purchase a Royalbaby bike, please correct me if I am wrong!!). One brand that I know is better quality than big box stores is the bike*star brand, but they are in the $150 range. Based on looks (which can be deceiving, especially with bikes) this Tauki 12″ looks to have a longer wheelbase than the RoyalBaby and the Huffy’s, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MFENLFA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00MFENLFA&linkCode=as2&tag=aperpla-20&linkId=5EJ2SU5LX7QPINIH. Hope that helps!

      • Helen McCormick

        The Tauki was another one I was looking at! My son had an Avigo 12″ that is a piece of junk and they can’t fit on. I just got a 20″ Specialized Hotrock for him today for $90 and it’s a great fit, considering he is already a confident rider and is excited it’s so big. Would it still be worth two used Hotrocks for $150 each? It’s hard to find them in the Cincinnati area with local pickup 🙁

        • As long as they are in good condition, then yes, the Hotrocks would be worth it. I would be sure to have them send a picture of the tires as if they are worn through, the cost of buying two new sets of tires would be an additional $25 a bike on your end.

          • Helen McCormick

            So I decided to get them and I’m pretty happy that I have gotten the 20 inch and two 12 inches all for $370! I think this is a pretty good price considering the resale value. Thank you so much for your help!

          • Awesome, that is a great deal. I’m sure they will love them.

      • Helen McCormick

        …will they fit on the Tauki if the seat height is 17.72″?

        • It would be a stretch to fit on it. With a 15.5″ inseam, a 17.72″ seat wouldn’t allow him to touch the ground, so starting and stopping the bike would be a challenge. While on the seat he would probably be able to reach the pedals, but stopping would be hard as he could no longer use his feet to stop, like he is used to on his balance bike,

  • JW

    Which 12″ has the lowest seat height, and shortest reach? I did read your article understand the balance bike first. He started on a kinderbike mini before he was 2. This spring he moved upto a raleigh balance bike we had for our daughter. He is very confident on the balance bike, he rides all over, no problem with feet up balancing. Rides equivalent to single track easier trails on it, also right up the considerable hill in front of our house. He is 3 with only a 16″ inseam. I plan on putting him on the tag in the next few weeks to learn pedaling, worked great for our daughter. He really wants to move up to a peddle bike, seems to have the confidence and balance for it. Price is definitely an issue, I need to keep it under $100, used preferably.

    • Never thought of using a tag-a-long to teach pedaling, good one! For the 12″, most 12″ bikes have a minimum seat height of around 17″, so I would first look for a used Hotrock and then look for other well-known bike brands (except Trek, their little bikes clunkers). For the most part, they should be better than big-box brands, but not necessarily. Other brands to look for are Performance, Novara and bike*star, but they are all going to be on the heavier side.

      • JW

        Thanks, yes the tag worked beautifully for our daughter. After a few short rides, we took a 25 mile ride, she lived it and was pedaling the whoke time. We found a raleigh on Craigslist has a 16″ seat height. Looking forward to him having fun on it.

  • Melissa

    Have you heard of Commencal bikes? http://www.commencalusa.com , also on http://www.tikesbikes.com I found them by happenstance. While the 16″ appears to be out of stock, the 14″ looks like a decent product offering. It’s under 16lbs and has a front and rear handbrake (no coaster brake), nice flatbar handlebar, for $240 on sale.

    • Another reader recently pointed them out to me, but I am not yet really familiar with them. I do know that Commencal is a great bike company, so I know it should be high-quality. The question is, what is the minimum seat height on the bike? CPSC requires that all bikes with a seat height 17″ or under have a coaster brake, so more than likely, Commencal is selling the 14″ with an extra long seat post, so that they can sell it with a freewheel. The main problem with this method, is that the bike was originally designed for a shorter seat post, so the overall geometry of the rider will be off (coaster brakes are not required in Europe where the bike was designed). If, however, you were to saw off a portion of the seat post, than the minimum seat height would drop a couple inches, which would allow a shorter child to ride it as well as provide for an overall better geometry. Consider I have not seen the bike in person, I would double check all this with Tiffany over at TikesBikes first.

      • Thomas

        Natalie – great site – thank you for putting all this information together for those of us looking for more information on quality bikes for kids. We bought our daughter a Tykes Bykes 12″ balance bike last summer based on your site’s recommendation, and now that she’s finally gotten the courage to ride it, she’s ready to graduate to a pedal bike after a few short weeks of riding it!

        We are currently looking at the Commencal 14″ and 16″ Ramones bikes, because they seem decently lightweight, have front/rear brakes and no coaster brake. I contacted Commencal USA and was told that “the 14inch bike has a minimum standover (kid being on the saddle) of 17.5 and you could rise the saddle up to 21.5.” Our (now) 4-year-old daughter’s inseam is 18.5″ and her height is 43″, so I’m trying to figure out whether we just buy the 14″ because it’s available, wait until September when the 16″ is back in stock, or go some other route. My concern is that the 14″ would only last her a year, and I would prefer not to have to buy a 16″ and then a 20″ bike as she grows in the next few years.

        • Humm. I was told that the 16″ has a minimum seat height of 17.5″ and max of 21.5″, not the 14″. Considering you daughter height, she is most likely too tall for a 14″, so I am assuming those numbers are for the 16″, which would be the better bike for her. If they do happen to be the 16″, then I won’t worry about getting it as from a 14″ you can move directly to a 20″ and not need a 16″.

          • Thomas

            Per the Commencal USA Manager, the seat standover heights for the 14 and 16″ bikes:
            14″ = 17.5-21.5″
            16″ = 20-23.6″

            Tikes Bikes also confirmed the 14″ seat height as 17.5-21.5″, so you may want to update your comparison charts.

          • Thanks so much for help! I greatly appreciate it when people catch my mistakes, it is such a huge help. I have updated them, but just to be sure, the standover height and the seat height are actually different measurements, so they can’t be the same for the 14″. Since a bike with a minimum seat height under 17″ has to have a coaster brake, and the 14″ doesn’t, I am going to assume that the 17.5″ is the minimum seat height not the standover height. If I am wrong, please correct me!!

          • Spencer Coleman

            Here’s the geometry specs from the Commencal tech book for the Ramones 16: http://www.commencal.net/web_bicycles/2016/geometry/geometry_ramones_16.pdf The stand over height listed says 400mm or 15.75 inches. I just ordered one so I’ll update you when I get the bike. Nice site, BTW!

  • lex

    Have you heard about jyrobike? Interesting idea. It uses a gyroscope…

  • Leigh

    I am trying to figure out the best option for my 3 year old (4 in September) son. He has been riding a balance bike since he was less than 2 years old. He really really wants to ride a pedal bike, but he is small for his age. His inseam is barely 15 inches, and he is about 38.5 inches tall. My plan was to find a used hot rock 12, but I haven’t been able to snag one after looking for a couple of months. I don’t want to pay full price for a hot rock, so I started looking at the Woob 2 and the ByK E-250. The Woob is really out of our price range. I would splurge for the ByK since it is $100 less than the Woob, but I am not sure what the minimum seat height is or if it would be much different than paying full price for the hot rock 12. Suggestions?

    • Leigh

      BTW – We would possibly shell out the additional money for the Woob, if it seemed like we could use it longer before having to buy another bike. Basically, I would like whatever bike we get to mostly fit now and last as long as possible. I am concerned that for the money, the hot rock and ByK wouldn’t fit for long.

      • Our review of the ByK E-250 should be out by the end of the week, which should help your decision. In the meantime, the seat measurements are 15.7″-18.1″. Overall, we love the geometry of the bike and feel that it is a great buy for the price, but the coaster brake was an issue for us. One of our 3yo testers had a lot of issue with it, and as a result, has not been able to actually ride it. On the other hand, our 4yo tester, rides it like a champ, so it can depend on your child. Compared to the HotRock, I would easily go for the ByK over it due to it’s lower seat height. Lastly, the other feature of the ByK we didn’t love is the front hand brake. It was really hard for our testers to use, so they had to rely on the coaster brake. The Hotrocks brakes are better. Compared the the WOOM2, the WOOM2 is better quality, but they have very similar geometries. Hopefully these pics will help.

        • Leigh

          Thank you so much for your reply. All of the information is really helpful, and your site is fabulous!

  • kniknak

    Do you know anything about BMW kidsbike? Is it good competitor to all of these first bikes candidates?

    • Based on what I have seen it looks great, but with a max seat height of 18″, unless a child learns to pedal really young, they are going to outgrow the bike before they get much use out of the pedals.

  • Kristin

    Hi Natalie,

    You recently answered a question for me as to whether my almost 5 year old was too old for a balance bike and you were a huge help thank you. My problem is my husband doesn’t want to spend the money on a balance bike for her age. That said, you had mentioned it would be okay to purchase a pedal bike and remove the pedals so she can practice as if it’s a balance bike until she was ready to pedal on her own.

    My question to you is, her inseam is 18.5 and she weighs about 42 pounds, in your opinion, which bike might be best for her at this point? I’m willing to spend the money here if need be as I know it’s preferable to have them pretty light and with the hand brake. Any direction you can provide me with would be wonderful! Thanks so much for all your time. Kristin

    • With a 18.5″ inseam, I would go for the CNOC 14 as the minimum seat height is 18.5″. Since she will be using the bike to learn how to balance, she will need to be able to put her feet on the ground. Actually, the WOOM3 might be a better option as its minimum seat height of 18.9″, it gives her a little more room to grow, while still allowing her to be able to touch the ground. WOOM bikes also have the option of converting it into a freewheel (no coaster brake) which will come in handy when she is learning to pedal.

      With this method, however, you will want to really encourage your daughter to switch to pedals asap as most kids outgrow their bikes in two years, so you don’t want the first year to be spend without pedals. If you had a balance bike, however, you wouldn’t be as much in a rush as when she was ready to move up, you could buy her a bike that fit her at that time (but that’s not an option as you mentioned).

  • Matyeha

    This article goes on about low centers of gravity being more “stable”. This is exactly the opposite of the truth. On a bicycle, a low center of gravity is *less* stable. Think of balancing a broom on your hands. If the broom is long, it’s much easier to balance. Or compare a regular bike versus a lowrider recumbent. A regular bike is *far* easier to balance than a lowrider recumbent is. I am concerned that this site is misleading readers in a very serious way.

    Along the same lines, by far the most important element in how easy a bike is to ride is its mechanical trail, yet this site doesn’t mention trail *at all*, much less indicating the degree of trail of each of the bikes, which gives me very serious misgivings about following its suggestions. Mechanical trail is the tendency for the front wheel of a bike to act like a caster. Bikes with high mechanical trail want to go straight.

    It is very difficult to achieve high mechanical trail on a small-wheeled bike, which is one reason why it’s so difficult to steer (a similar problem occurs, for example, in folding bikes). Mechanical trail is a function of three things: the wheel size (bigger wheels generally mean more trail), the steering angle (steeper angles generally mean more trail), and the degree of “rake” in the fork — the bend of the fork away from the steering axis (less rake, even negative rake, means more trail). But it’s easy to measure. Draw a line following down the steering column, at its angle, until you hit the ground. Drop another line straight down from the wheel axis until you hit the ground. The distance between the two points is the trail. You want bigger.

    Lastly, and of some concern, this site can’t be bothered to provide the gear inches for their bikes, even in specifications, much less explain what good gear inch values would be for children’s bikes! This is almost the most important feature of a pedaled bike! The site hints at it — for example, it says that the Byk E-250 has a smaller front chainring and so can’t go as fast as other bikes — but doesn’t say what the chainring *is*, much less the actual gear inches.

    This is pretty bad.

    • Thanks for your feedback. If you think it is pretty bad, then let’s make it better! I am by no means an expert on bikes and have no problem tweaking this article. In the end, I am just a mom trying my best to help others find a good bike. I don’t sell bikes, I don’t claim to know all the answers and I don’t even have a single bike related bumper sticker on my car, I’m just here to help. Plus, being a mom comes first to me, so yes, this site isn’t going to be pretty and polished and will have typos, mistakes and perhaps some incorrect info at times.

      This site is not directed towards biking experts (many whom openly discuss the pros and cons of various components, gear ratios, etc.) as there are many sites and forums for that. Plus, many bike enthusiasts want to assume that what is best for an adult bike, is best for a kids bike, which is not the case (and I’m not suggesting that the issues you brought up are). Considering most local bike shops just merely want to sell the brands they stock and online forums are usually really technical and over the heads of most parents, I created this site. One place for parents to easily find what they need without spending hours without sifting through details that for most kids bikes, aren’t a huge issue OR aren’t even an option on most kids bikes.

      So, if you just want to argue and point fingers, sorry, I don’t play that game. If you want to teach, then yes, I am all ears as I’d love to learn how I can improve my site for my directed audience.

      If you are willing to teach, then let’s start with rake and trail. You are absolutely right that it can make a huge different on the maneuverability and handling of a bike. The reason why I did not address the issue is that I have yet to find a bike that has a longer wheelbase (which I mentioned) that also had a disconcerting amount of rake. If you believe any of the bikes I mention do, please let me know.

      As for the overall geometry of a bike, you are right in that this page needs to be updated. I believe this page has a better explanation: http://www.twowheelingtots.com/specialized-hotrock-12-review/, but probably isn’t perfect either. Plus remember, this bikes are for kids, not adults, so having a really aggressive geometry is not an advantage for beginning riders. In addition, a simple test with several preschoolers with the bikes I mention will show you how much easier it is for kids to ride bikes with lower geometry. For a quick and easy test, just grab a 12″ Huffy at WalMart and the ByK E-250 as mentioned, and will a beginning rider (who is ready to graduate from a balance bike), you will easily see the difference. Maybe I am wrong and it isn’t the geometry of the bike, but in my opinion, that is the most significant difference between the two.

      Lastly, you’re right again. I should have mentioned what the chainring is and not assume that readers know what that means. As for the chainring size, I do get into that a little with the larger 24″ bikes I have reviewed, but not as much for the smaller 12’s and 14’s, but perhaps I should.

  • Awesome. Thanks for the link and please keep me posted on their bikes as I have yet to see one in person, but hear great things about them.

  • Melissa

    The weight for the Giant Areva Lite seems like it can’t possibly be right. If a Woom 5 with an alloy steer tube and seatpost and 1.75″ tires weighs 22 lbs, it seems inconceivable that the Giant, with a hi-ten steel fork, a steel seatpost and 1.95″ tires is the same weight.
    Also, the weight on the 24″ Street Hotrock may be high. We just picked up a 2010 Girl’s Street Hotrock from Craigslist and it was 24.5 lbs with all of the stock components. We quickly shaved a full pound off the weight by swapping out the steel handlebar with an aluminum flatbar.

  • Eliza

    Hello, it seems to be impossible to find weights for trek bikes. In comparing the bikes in the exceptional 16″ section, does the weight of the trek seem comparable? Around 15 pounds?

    • Eliza

      The trek superfly 16 is what I am asking about.

      • The only way to get the weighs on a Trek is to call a shop (or go to a shop) and ask then to weigh it for you. Trek does not want the weights of their bikes listed as they want to be able to switch out components if needs be, without someone worrying about the bike weighing more or less than stated. I can somewhat understand that mentality for adult bikes (especially higher-end road/mountain), but for kids, it makes no sense and it really bothers me, but not much can be done. If I had to guess I would put it around 15 lb. as well. Last time I called a shop (a couple months back), they didn’t have one assembled to weigh, but perhaps it’s time to try again. If you do find the weight, please let me know!

  • Ashley

    I have 2 children a 3.5 year old and 18 month old. My 3.5 year old loves his balance bike, but it is literally falling apart, it was a Prince lionheart I got second hand. We are looking at getting a new balance bike, but since my son seems to have mastered balance we want to get him a pedal bike. We cannot afford $200 for a bike, do you have any suggestions for a good bike under $150? Or if certain brands/ sites do good black friday deals? We are looking at the Ezee Glider balance bike for my daughter.

    • No worries, I totally understand. The first bike we bought for our kids was a $40 old Specialized that needed a lot of love. It ended up working great for us, so I would certainly consider looking for a used bike. For new bikes, we are actually currently reviewing several 16″ bikes that we purchased off of Amazon and hope to have the reviews and comparisons done by Black Friday. For most 3.5 years old, a 16″ is going to be pretty big, so he might do better on a 14″. I would stay away from a big-box store bike as there are a couple options available online. This Royal Baby (in 14″), http://amzn.to/1Okallz, is a decent bike for the money, so I would consider it.

  • Aleks

    What do you think of the Norco Viper 20?

    • I was able to see a couple of Norco’s new line of kids bikes last month and was really impressed with them, but it looks like the Viper has been discontinued as it is no longer listed on their site, https://www.norco.com/bikes/youth/20-inch/. From what I saw, I really liked them better than Trek’s youth lineup and they were more affordable, yet comparable to Specialized’s. Currently, I don’t have them listed on my site as I don’t have their seat height measurements, but it is on my list of things to do.

  • JoAnn

    My son is 4 yrs old and 41″ with an inseam of 17.25″. Would you recommend the Woom 2 or the Woom 3? He will turn 5 next February. He also started on the balance bike and is very confident on it. Any advice is greatly appreciated as I am not sure if I am interpreting the stats correctly. Is the stand over height the height standing while sitting on the saddle? Please clarify. Thank you.
    JoAnn

    • The height I have listed are the minimum and maximum seat heights. A “standover” height is the height at which a child can stand over the frame, not the seat. There are not standards for bike measurements, so it can be confusing. With a 17.25″ inseam, he will be able to touch the ground while seating on the WOOM2, so that would be your best bet. With the minimum seat height of the WOOM3 at 18.9″, it is going to be slightly too big. If he is a determined rider, then he could make the WOOM3 work, which would provide him more room for growth, but if he is hesitant at all, I would go with the WOOM2.

  • HezM

    We’re looking at the Giant Anmiator 16″ for our 4.5 yr old; he’s graduating from his balance bike (Kinderbike Laufrad). The Giant seems to be the best we can find in the $200 range (we’re in canada). I noticed that the Giant Animator is recommended in the 12″ category but not in the 16″ category, why is that?
    Also, we’re thinking about adding on a back hand brake to the Giant as he’s used to a hand brake from his Kinderbike. Good idea?
    Thank you!

    • There is a lot more competition in the 16″ bikes as there are several small companies that now make 16’s, but not 12’s, so my standards for 16’s are higher than for 12’s. Giants are great bikes, but are pretty heavy as compared to newer companies such as Islabikes, WOOM, Cleary and Priority.

      In regards to handbrakes, if he is already used to one, I would be cautious about adding it, as he will most likely use it a lot. Since the Giant has a coaster brake, the hand brake will have to be mounted to the front tire. When riding quickly, braking solely with the front tire can lead to endo’s, so I wouldn’t recommend it until he got the hang of the coaster brake.

  • Maribel Casas Cortes

    Hello ! this information has been so helpful to understand the sophisticated world of quality bikes for kids! We are grateful for your research and everybody’s contributions!
    Our 6 years old daughter has been riding a no pedal early rider bike since she was 4. She was and still is no so interested in biking as his older brother. She is thin, not ready for risk, no so physical…all those reasons make us go for the Woom or Islabike ones, but since our budget is tight we just called the bike recyclery here in our hood, NoDa, in Charlotte, NC. They told us they have a light 20 inches Trex bike… We would love to have your opinion!!
    Thanks! M&S

    • Glad to help, plus I LOVE that you have a bike recyclery and that you considered it, so cool! Unless you daughter is really tall, however, a 20″ Trek is going to be really big and heavy for her, so I doubt she will take to it well. With a tighter budget I would be sure to check out our recent comparison of budget 16″ bikes here, http://www.twowheelingtots.com/best-budget-16-kids-bike-under-200/. If you prefer a bike similar to WOOM or Islabikes, I would look at the ByK E-350, which is still over $200, but cheaper than the others. If she is too big for a 16″, then I would try looking for a good used 16″ or higher-end 20″. The 20″ I found on Amazon were all 30lb. or more, which is going to be too heavy for her.

  • donna

    I IM’ed with the Trek customer service rep and the weight on the Superfly 16′ is 18lbs. Considerably heavier than the Islabike and a surprise to
    me. I have a 35lbs 4 year old daughter I think though the Superfly was highly recommended 18lbs is a little heavy and we are going to go with the Islabike. Thanks for all the work in compiling all this information it makes it so much easier to understand the unique challenges that kids face in learning to ride, this info is invaluable!!!

    • Thanks for passing along with weight! I really appreciate it 🙂

  • Jess

    I found the weight on the Trek Mystic – 21.5 pounds w/o training wheels, basket, or tassels (all of which come with the bike). Glad to see the other reviewer found the weight on the Superfly but bummed none of our local bike shops carry the Superfly…

    • Thanks, I’ll get that added to the chart. Trek’s bike are typically heavier than other brands, which is why I don’t recommend them very often. Trek seems to have taken the path of lower-end bike in putting looks a priority over functionality.

  • Bridgett34

    The Torker Throttle bike you listed as a 16″, however on their site (not available on Amazon 16″) it shows the 16″ as not being all blue, but rather blue and white. The 12″ is all blue like pictured in your comparison. Also, your list shows the 16″ Torker as being aluminum, however their site says steel for the 16″ and aluminum for the 12″. Please advice…Thank you!

  • Lu

    Do you have any thoughts on Electra bikes? They describe that their geometry is the best but it seems to be a completely different style than what you’re describing here (Flat feet and sitting up straight). Just wondering if worth a look. Thanks!

    • Yes, they have a great flat-footed design and I had no idea they were introducing a kids line this year. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention! Their concept is very similar to what I have outlined here, so I assume they would be great starter bikes for some kids, based on what I can see on their site, they look heavy though! With fenders, a stylized frame and a steel frame, they are probably going to be pretty heavy for kids. Their handlebars are also more “cruiser” style that swing back towards the rider which requires elbows to drop down to steer. While this isn’t a problem for adult riders, it can hinder maneuverability for beginning riders. So considering the price, while the flat-footed technology would be really beneficial to kids, all-in-all, I don’t see the performing as well as other bikes in their price range.

  • Peter Yango (payango71)

    Natalie: This has been the most helpful website on kids bikes that I have ever. Just enough info for the researcher parent. I was wondering if you had a chance to review the Commencal bike yet. I’m very curious about how they stand up to the Woom and Islabike. The price is right for us. My son is a tall almost 3.5 year old. 41″ tall with a 16.5 inch inseam. He has loved his Schwinn balance bike for a year but is beginning to outgrow it. I wish I came upon this site before I bought it but that’s water under the bridge. He has shown interest in an old beat up 12inch pedal bike that our neighbors own and has even rode and pedaled with moderate success on several occasions. He has the balance down but couldn’t quite figure out stopping and controlling himself. And I wanted to keep the experience positive so i kept running along side him so he wouldn’t crash. I want to keep the momentum going but with a bike that has better geometry and comfort. I was thinking about the Commencal Ramones 14″ but have found very little reviews on it except your highly recommended chart. He’s a confident balance bike rider and I don’t want to buy him bike that will intimidate him, We’ve had good success so far and just want to keep it going. Any thoughts?

    • Hey Peter! Sorry again for the delay over on the Schwinn page, but I’m glad to read that you’ve researched some more bikes. For the Commencal, I haven’t had a chance to review them yet, but am hoping to this year. Based on what I know, they are lightweight, but don’t have as low center-of-gravity frame than the Islabikes and the WOOM. For the price, however, since your son has already had some experience pedaling a bike, I think he will probably do just fine of the Commencal. He would probably do better on the others, but that much that it is worth going out of your budget for.

      • Peter Yango (payango71)

        Hi Natalie: thanks for the response. I decided to go with the BYK 350. I tested him out on a 16inch specialized hotrock at a bike shop that had a 19″ minimum seat height and he was fine riding it without training wheels and catching himself on his tiptoes. Since the BYK has an 18″ minimum seat height I decided he could grow into this bike well and not be intimidated due to the lower center of gravity. We got it from tikesbikes on sale for about $200 bucks so we’re excited to give it a try. Thanks for the help.

        • That’s awesome. I had no idea TikesBikes was selling the ByK so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I agree, that since he was on his tippy toes with the Specialized, the ByK should be a perfect fit for him.

  • Jenn Scheck-Kahn

    I love this site; I’m learning so much about kids bikes! I have one question: under 16″ Highly Recommended section, you list ByK E-350, but when I click the link, I’m landed on a page about the E-250. Because the E-250 is a 14″ and the E-350 is an 18″, I’m not sure which bike you’re recommending in the 16″ section. Also, how recent is your data?

    • Jenn Scheck-Kahn

      We are looking for a bike on which my daughter will learn to ride. In a local bike shop, my daughter tried out the Specialized Hot Rock 16″ and it fit well, but after reading your review, I’m more inclined to the ByK series. Which size would be the right one for her? The 250 seems to have more features for a first time rider, but I’m worried that it would be too small for my daughter, who is nearly 5yrs old, but very small for her age. She never took to the balance bike we got because it was too heavy.

      • Glad to help and sorry to confuse you. You are right in that the ByK 350 does link to our 250 review, since they only provided the 250 for a review. Since the 350 is similar to the 250 is design and theory, I felt it was better to read about the 250 than to simply link to the 350. The sizing of the ByK’s are also slightly different than those bikes, including Specialized, that you will find at your local bike shop. With their lower set frames, children can ride on a bike with a larger tire size on a ByK. For example, the Specialized 16″ Hotrock has minimum seat height of 19″ while the 350 has a 18″ tires with a minimum seat height of 18.1″. So, if she fits on the Specialized, she will certainly fit on the 350. The 250 will probably fit her now, but she will quickly outgrow it.

        The 350, however, does not come with the handle, that I can certainly see would come in handy, especially since she isn’t experienced with a balance bike. Luckily, there are several after-market handles that should work, such as this one, http://amzn.to/1RYctAl. The 350 also comes with training wheels if you end up needing them.

        Hope that helps!

        • Jenn Scheck-Kahn

          So, so helpful. Do you know how I find a local retailer that sells ByK bikes? I wrote in on their contact us page, but have heard nothing back and so far none of the shops near us in Boston carry anything but Specialized and Trek. It would be good to try out the bike before we buy one, but I’m willing to forgo that if I need to. Also are you rewarded in any way if I buy from a particularly retailer? Your site has been so helpful to me; you’ve more than earned my “commission.” I believe that you included a link to Amazon, a place where i prefer not to shop, but I will buy from there if it means you receive a cut.

    • I forgot to add that I try to update my info as soon as the new releases come out, so all the info should be for the most current model. ByK did not change their bikes for 2016, so all the info should be up to date, but I can’t 100% guarantee as bike manufacturers don’t always pass along when then make changes.

      • Jenn Scheck-Kahn

        Thanks!

  • Patricia B

    Thank you for the great info on this site. I am trying to decide between a 16 or 20 Specialized Hotrock for my
    son’s 6th birthday. He is 3 ft, 9 inches tall, weighs 45 lbs, and has a
    20 inch inseam in bare feet. He rode a 10 inch strider balance bike
    until age 5. At 5, he received a 12 inch Trek Jet with no training
    wheels. He has mastered pedaling, but still really likes to use his
    feet on the ground to start off and sometimes stop. He is a cautious
    rider. The bike shop is recommending the 20 inch, but it looks so big to me. However I like that the 20 inch has handbrakes. Both bikes are used so I’m okay with getting the 16 inch if
    that is the better fit even if it means he’ll outgrow it faster. I
    would appreciate your guidance.

    • Glad to help. The proper fit for a child on a bike really depends on their skill level and “athleticism”. Some kids easily and happily ride bikes that are way too big for them, while others struggle. If your son is cautious, I would go for the 16″. Even though he will outgrow it faster than the 20″, it sounds like he will be happier and more confident on it, especially since he stops with his feet. The hand brake on the 20″ is nice, but I quite sure that the bike shop can throw a hand brake onto the 16″ for a reasonable price. If they can’t or want to charge a fortune, I would call around other shops to ask.

      As a head-up, the reason why the 20″ looks big for him, but it still the “best fit” according to the bike shop comes down to how they fit bikes for experienced riders. To get the most efficient pedal stroke on the bike a riders should only be able to touch the ground with their tippy toes while on the seat. Since experienced riders are comfortable with riding and braking, they rarely stop with their feet, so it really isn’t an issue. With beginning riders, however, they generally are more successful and comfortable on a bike when they can stop with their feet. As your pointed out, this does mean that they will outgrow the bike quicker, but they should also be able to ride the bike sooner and without as much stress.

      • Patricia B

        Thanks so much for the input. Any thoughts on a trek jet 16 vs the specialized hotrock 16. Thank you!

        • I much prefer the Hotrock as it is lighter and seem to be easier for kids to use than the Trek.

          • Patricia B

            Thank you for all your assistance. You provide a great service!

    • CherylB

      My son is 3’9″ and the seat post is up almost as far as possible on his Hotrock 16. He sits flat-footed. It may be better for your son now but he will have outgrown it by next summer. In any case it’s s a good bike with decent resale value.

  • Brian

    What are your thoughts on the new rei 2016 Novara Polpo 16″ bike? Looks light at 16lb 14.4oz and reasonably priced at $179. How does the geometry look?

    http://www.rei.com/product/895250/novara-polpo-16-boys-bike-2016

  • CherylB

    Have 3 (average height) and 7 (on the smaller side) year old boys currently riding a Specialized Hotwalk and a 16″ Hotrock respectively. Both bikes have served us well since my oldest started riding. My oldest is moving up in size and we have ordered him the Guardian 20″ thanks to the information on this website.

    I’m thinking about the following three options for my almost 3 year old who currently wears 3T and enjoys riding the Hotwalk:

    1) Buy the Byk e250 this year.
    2) Buy the Specialized Hardrock 12″ next year.

    Since he’s average height, I’m presuming that he’ll be about 5 before he’ll be tall enough for the Hotrock 16″ we have without training wheels. Any thoughts?

    • Awesome, glad to hear you found out about the Guardian. Please report back on how you like it. For your 3yo, I would really play it by ear. If he is happy and content on his Hotwalk, then I would keep him there and get the Hotrock next year. If he is eager to move up to a pedal bike, then I would go with the ByK. Some kids love the simplicity of balance bikes while others want a bike like the big kids. In the end, it is really up to them.

      • CherylB

        Thanks. I’ll wait until he can pedal to decide. Part of the downside of the balance bike is that he wants to be pushed. Ugh, my back.

        We received the Guardian 20″ 6 speed. My son really is enjoying it. He likes that it has a kickstand and a hand brake. Good grief! He was racing a more athletically inclined peer on a Magna 20″ and blew him away. He is also able to keep up with me riding at a casual pace on my bike.

        It is slightly bigger than I expected though. The website says it’s for kids approximately 3’8″-4’5″. My son is 3’10”. He’s not able to sit on the bike while flat-footed with the seat all the way down. The standover, though, is fine.

        The brakes are great. He has the habit of riding with one hand (usually the left) from having coaster brakes so we need to break him of that. Doesn’t seem to have the safety concerns that I have about being ready to stop.

        So far so good. It’s too be seen how it holds up over time.

  • Ahh, sorry I missed this days ago! At 16lb. the bike is really light for the price, but the geometry does look really aggressive. Unless your child is an aggressive rider, I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • saara

    Hi Natalie. I have a 5 year old in 5T pants and shirt, with a 17 inch inseam. My first question would be do I go with a 14 inch bike or a 16 inch bike? He hasn’t ridden his balance bike as of yet this year but was good with it last year. I am looking for something light and not too aggressive. Am looking at the islabikes and Byks in both sizes but open to suggestions of others as well. What do you recommend?

    • saara

      also looking at the sprinter. seems like a great price for a quality bike?

      • It really depends on the bike. Some 16″ bikes have similar minimum seat heights as 14″ bikes, so it is best to go my inseam rather than tire size. With a 17″ inseam and in 5T pants, I would probably go for the ByK 350 or the CNOC 16. My little guy is in 4T pants and will likely outgrow the ByK 250 and the CNOC 14 he is currently riding within a year. Considering he already knows how to ride a bike, it is better to buy a bike with a minimum seat height 1 to 2 inches greater than his inseam. This won’t allow him to touch the ground with his full foot, but would allow him to touch with his tippy toes. For kids who have already learned to ride, this generally isn’t a problem. Lastly, for it’s price, the Sprinter is a great bike, but with a minimum seat height of 22″, it is going to be too big for your son.

        • saara

          Ok so I just realized I really don’t want a coaster brake. I am not looking to spend more than 300 though. How would you compare the Ramones to the Islabike CNOC in terms of aggressiveness? I want a medium bike that he can use on some trails but not overly aggressive as we will be doing mostly paved track and I want to pass it down to his peanut of a brother.

          • I have not yet had a chance to test out the Commencals, but from what I heard about them, it sounds like they would be a great choice for you. They are more aggressive than a standard bike, but not as aggressive as others. They are also lighter weight, which would benefit both of your sons.

          • Saara

            Sorry to bother you again, but with an almost 18 inch shoeless inseam (I remeasured) should I go with the 14 or 16 ramones and would you still say the stampede bike is too big?

          • Saara

            Ok I answered my own question regarding the stampede. How about the ramones?

          • Saara

            For a bit more perspective, I put him on a 16 inch hotrock that was about an inch higher than minimum setting and the tips of his shoes just thouched.

  • tc

    Hi, my son is on a 14″ bike right now but I saw someone selling a used Specialized Hotrock 16″ (manufactured in 2012) for a great price. Thinking of buying it and saving it for when my son outgrows his 14″. Do you know how much heavier a 2012 version is compared to a new one? Were they steel frames back then?

    • Ahh, sorry I am just now getting to this. As far as I know, Specialized hasn’t made any major changes to the Hotrock since 2012 that would greatly reduce the weight, so I assume it is similar in weight to the current model. I’m not sure when they switched from steel frame though. If it is still available, I would check it out, especially if it is a great deal.

  • Tina Chang

    Any thoughts on the 14″ Byk-e vs. the Commencal for a 3-1/2 year old with a 15″ inseam and 40″ tall? My son is already a speed demon on his Stryder. Thank you for the fantastic website!!

    • With a 15″ inseam, I would go with the ByK as he would be able to touch the ground with his toes while on the seat. Since he is used to starting and stopping a bike with his feet, it is important that he is able to stop with his feet on a pedal bike while he is still learning. With time he will be able to use the handbrake or coaster brake to stop, but from the beginning, it is safer, and more comfortable for him, to be able to touch with his feet. The minimum seat height on the Commencal is 17.5″, which won’t allow him to touch the ground at all.

  • Biblionerd

    Do you have any recommendations or reservations about the giant adore 16 inch? I noticed it was recommended in the 12 inch category. Would you still recommend it in the 16? If familiar, is it sized similarly to the hotrock 16? She tried that today and fit well and liked it, but it is a bit out of our budget. We may be able to swing it, but also have to buy my son a bike as well and it would really help us if the adore would be a decent started bike. Thanks!!

    • I don’t know much about the Adore, especially since they don’t list their weights on their website. I would call bike shop that carries the Adore and ask them to weigh the bike for you. If it in similar in weight to the Hotrock, I would go for it. The Adore does appear to have a more upright geometry than the Hotrock, but unless she plan on riding it down singletrack, I’m sure the geometry will be just fine for her.

      • Biblionerd

        Thanks so much. I heard from the bike shop and they weighed it at 22 lbs with the training wheels, basket, and bell. Is the 19lb weight of the hotrock on your chart without all of the accessories or with?

        • The 19 lb. is without the accessories, so it sounds like they are very similiar in weight.

  • Mike Roberts

    Hello, I’m trying to figure out which size of Cnoc would be better for my almost-4yo daughter. She’s been riding Specy Hotrock 12″ but the coaster is a nightmare so I want to get rid of it right away. She is 100cm tall and I had the chance to test the Early Rider Belter 16″: with the saddle all the way down she can put her feet flat on the ground. She can reach the handlebar but a little streached out. Comparing to the Belter 16″, the Cnoc 16″ is longer/bigger? I can’t find the top tube length specification in your chart so I cannot compare them. What’s your opinion? Thanks a lot!

    • The CNOC 16 has a coaster brake, so you are better off on the Belter of the WOOM3. You can see the Belter and the WOOM3 compared here, http://www.twowheelingtots.com/woom2-and-3/. Hope that helps!

      • Mike Roberts

        Thank you Natalie for prompt reply. Actually I live in Europe and I would buy it from Islabikes UK that has Cnoc 16 with vbrakes.

        • Gotcha. That makes more sense. The top tube on our Belter is 336, so it is shorter than the CNOC 16. It also has flat handlebars compared to the uprights on the CNOC, so their geometry will be different. I would go with the CNOC if you are going more riding around town and the Belter if you plan on hitting more trails or more aggressive riding. My 4yo takes our Belter to the pump track and is doing great on it. Around the neighborhood, he is more comfortable on the CNOC 14 (we don’t have a 16), although the coaster brake messes him up now and then.

          • Mike Roberts

            Thank you very much for your reply. If it were up to me I’d buy Belter but my daughter does not like the color. So now I’ll consider repainting the belter vs buying Cnoc 16. Thanks again

          • Oh, if you do repaint it, please send some pics over. I’d love to see it!

    • Mike Roberts

      Just an update that could help others making the right decision. I eventually went for Cnoc 16 because my daughter asked for it, pink of course. She is 101cm tall with 42cm inseam, I set the saddle to the minimum height and turned the handlebar toward her. That automatically lowered the handlebar a little as well. Now the bike does fit perfectly. She can correctly reach the handlebar, touch the ground with the ball of the foot and pedal very comfortably.
      I think Cnoc’s high riser handlebar is an advantage over Early rider’s one because allows to shorten more the reach.

      • Awesome, glad you love it. In my testings of 16″ bikes, I would agree that bikes with a slight handlebar rise are better for most riders. They put kids in a more natural position that flat or high-rise handlebars found on most big-box store bikes. Good point about tilting the handlebar in towards your daughter, I will have to remember that one!

  • Eric Neumann

    My son turned five two weeks ago and has pretty much outgrown his balance bike. He’s 44″ tall with a 19″ inseam and weighs 40lbs. Our budget is tight, but I want his first experience with a pedal bike to be a positive one. So I think I’ve narrowed it down to the Byk E-350 ($225 on Amazon) vs. the Specialized Hotrock 16″ ($215 at my LBS). I like supporting my LBS and my wife likes that the Hotrock has a fully-enclosed chain (getting your pantleg caught mid-ride can be terrifying!). But we also like the brakes on the Byk and I think it will last him longer. (18.1-23.2 seat height range vs. 16-21″ on the Hotrock. The LBS guy measured the Hotrock by hand.) We tried the Hotrock out (with pedals and training wheels removed), and my son liked it, but he seemed rather too upright to me. But I can’t testride the Byk. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

    • Wow, the Specialized Coaster 16″ is 16″-21″? Are you sure that isn’t the standover height which would be the height of the top tube? I have the Hotrock 16″ seat height at 19″-23″, but perhaps they changed things up? Anyway, if he fits on it, then the height of the seat shouldn’t matter too much. As far as being upright, most 12″ and 16″ bikes are upright as it is a more natural position for kids. There are several bikes that have more aggressive geometry, but they best for kids who will be doing light mountain biking. For average, everyday rider, slightly upright is better as long as the bike has a longer wheelbase and lower bottom bracket to compensate. The ByK’s also have the child sitting upright, but they sit lower on the frame. In fact, the ByK is actually an 18″ tire versus a 16″, even though they have very similar seat heights. This is indicative to the difference in their geometry. Lastly, Hotrock does have a fully enclosed chain, which is a huge bonus, but we haven’t had any issues with ByK’s half shield. All in all, if your son is timid I would go with ByK, if he is more adventurous, he will probably be fine on either.

      • Eric Neumann

        Thanks for your input. I’m pretty confident about the seat height on the hotrock. They took the pedals off so my son could try using it as a balance bike, and with the seat raised about two inches from the minimum, his knees had a slight bend as his whole foot touched the ground. I’d forgotten to measure the seat height in person, so I called the shop the next day and he said it had a 5″ possible rise, then he measured the min height at 16″. I’m glad to hear that the half shield on the ByK seems sufficient.

        • Good to know about the Specialized 16″, I will be sure to track one down locally to update my specs, thanks for the heads up!

  • steven

    my son is 42″ and is turning 4 and im torn if i should go with a 16 or 18 for him to grow into any input/recomdations? thanks

    • There are several factors to consider to determine which size bike will be the best for him. The main ones are weight (ideally no more than a 3:1 ratio – i.e. 30 lb. kid : 10 lb. bike), minimum seat height (the same as his inseam if he is learning and 1.5″-2″ taller than his inseam if he is experienced) and brakes and gears. I generally prefer bikes without coaster brakes (pedal brakes) as they don’t stop kids unexpectedly as kids naturally pedal backwards when learning to ride. Taking all those into considerations, I would look at the charts and see what bike works best for him. While a larger tires size is generally better, the overall fit of the bike is the most important.

  • Katie Cunningham

    Hi Natalie, I am looking at two used 16″ bikes for half price for my 3.5 year old’s first pedal bike. One is the Specialized Hotrock and the other is the Raleigh MXR. My son is about 40 in tall, weighs about 35 lbs and has a 17″ inseam. He has been riding a Kinderbike and has gotten quite good. I realize both of these bikes have coaster brakes, which could be tricky, but at half price it is hard to pass up. Which bike would you go with?

    • Used is often a great way to go! Which is best really depends on the bikes minimum seat height. I would go with the one that has a minimum height as close to 17″ as possible. Without the specs on the bike, I am apt to choose Specialized as I know they have a great line of kids bikes.

      • Katie Cunningham

        Thanks for your help! You are so knowledge about bikes!! We ended up getting a used Diamondback RM16, which apparently they haven’t made since 2013, from our local bike store. It’s a great little bike, but we had to leave the training wheels on because it was a little high even at the lowest seat. (They do not sell any 14″ bikes at our store!) This was good, however, because in the few times he has been out on it he has finally figured out how to pedal! Who knew that would be so hard? Anyway, I now have a chance to get a used Ridgeback MX14 for $60, which may be better for now because of the smaller/lighter frame and no coaster brake (my son really struggles with this!). My concern is: do you think these bikes would overlap too much? In other words, once he is too big for the Ridgeback, would he also be too big for the Diamondback? And what do you think about going from no coaster brake back to a coaster brake on the bigger bike?

        • Great questions. For $60 I would go for the Ridgeback as the lack of coaster brake (as well as the small frame) will be a huge help! My son learned to pedal on a bike with a coaster, but really got confident when he began riding one without. So I image your son will do a lot better on the mx14 without the coaster. The two bikes, however, are going to overlap a lot and once he is outgrown the 14, he will only have a little time left on the 16. Generally, kids skip either a 14″ or a 16″ since they are so similar in size.

  • Shabazz

    Hi, thanks so much for all the information! Both my kids have been riding for a few years, first on a strider balance bike, then on hand-me -down bikes from the big box stores. We are now looking to buy nicer new bikes but my husband is not interested in spending a lot. My 4 year old has an inseam of 19.5 inches, and my 6 yr old has an inseam of 21.5 inches. They are both fairly confident riders! Would you recommend a 16 inch and 20 inch for them? Which ones? Thank you!

    • Since these bikes won’t be their first pedal bikes, I would look for a bike in which the minimum seat height is about 2″ taller than your kids inseam. This would allow them to get the most use out of their bikes. The problem is that very few bike companies actually have the seat heights listed, so if the bike is not available online, you will have to call around local bike shop and have them measure the bikes for you. Out of the bikes I have reviewed, I would go with the ByK 450 for the 6yo and the Sprinter 16 for the 4yo (http://amzn.to/1NniQgb). Both of these bikes are over $200 though, so they may be too much. As long as you are riding around the neighborhood and not on trails, I would consider the Diamondback Viper series, http://amzn.to/1SnDp96.

  • Joe

    Hi! I’ve greatly benefited from your website. My son loves his 16″ Specialized Hotrock, which I picked up used at our LBS for almost nothing after seeing it as recommended on your site. Our LBS also sells Giant brand bikes, which I don’t see any reviews for on your site. Is there any chance you can review some 16″ and 20″ bikes from Giant? Thanks!

    • Awesome, the Hotrock’s are a great line of bikes and so much better than Trek’s (well in my opinion :). As of now, I am hoping to review the Giant 16″ this summer, but it will most likely be a quick review as I won’t be able to take it out of the bike shop :(. I have only heard great things about the Animator though. Most likely, the Giants and Specialized are built with a similiar grade of components, so I would base your choice on weight, seat height and geometry. Take a picture of your son standing over both and them compare the two to see the differences in geometry. If he is sitting more upright, the bike is better for everyday riding around the neighborhood, if he is leaned forward more, it is better for more aggressive riding. The bike shop can also easily weigh the bikes and measure the seat heights.

      • Joe

        That would be great! The Animator is $60 less than the Hotrock. Finding these bikes used is hit and miss, so it would be great to find lower cost alternatives!

  • CL

    Hi! Thank you for all the useful information. I’m looking for a pedal bike for my 3-yr-old son, who is 40 in and 37lb, in 4T clothes. Will the new KaZAM pedal bike be a good choice? I haven’t seen much reviews on this bike yet and would like to hear your opinion. Thanks!

    • I was able to see the Kazam bike in person and thought it was on the heavier side, especially if your son is 37lb. They don’t list the exact weight, but I assume it is around 20 to 25 lbs. Even if it was 20 lb. that would be more than half of his body weight, which would be A LOT of a 3yo to handle. The problem is that most lightweight bikes are going to be pricey though. The general rule of thumb would be to aim for a bike that is around 30% of his weight. You won’t find a bike that is 11 lbs., so that’s not ideal, but there are several bikes in in high teens, such as the ByK or Specialized kids bikes. They are pricey new, so I would try to look for one used if possible. Furthermore, if he has not yet mastered a balance bike, I would be sure to start there.

  • Anya

    Thanks for this great chart–lots of good info. I am trying to pick a first bike for my very little 6yo (yes I know we’re late to the game but better now than never!). He’s only 36lbs, maybe 46″ tall, and in 4 and 5 pants (don’t know exact inseam, but short legs, proportionally longer in the torso). He’s never ridden a balance bike, but used a tricycle pretty well a year ago. I was hoping to keep it under $200 and had settled on the Torker Throttle, only to find it’s being discontinued and out of stock almost everywhere. Also considering the Sprinter (though it’s above our desired price range), the Raleigh MXR, the Giant Animator, and possibly the Haro Z16 although I am concerned about the weight for my little guy. Any preferences among those, or suggestions for others? Thank you!

    • Anya

      FYI, I just called a LBS, and they weighed the Giant Animator 16 for me, and with the training wheels their stock model was 21.6 lbs. I’m assuming most of your weights above are without the training wheels, so that sounds pretty good to me. I think I’m going to take my son in and have him try that one out (and the 20″, but I suspect it will be too big for him).

  • Ty

    Looking for some advice. Looking to purchase a new bike for my 4y, 10m old boy. We have had him on a bike for 2 years but unfortunately with training wheels and not a balance bike. He has outgrown it and is ready for a new one. So wondering if we should go “back” and get a balance bike or go directly to “big boy” bike. He is very comfortable on the bike and with a little practice can probably go trainer free. He has an 18 1/2 in inseam. Appreciate any advice. Thanks

    • It really depends on your son. If he is eager to ride a pedal bike on his own, and is not too timid, then I would actually remove the pedals on his current bike and have him ride it as a balance bike for a while. If he quickly gets it, then I would go shopping for a pedal bike. If the bike is too small to be used as a balance bike, then I would get a balance bike now and then upgrade to pedal bike when he masters balancing. You could also get a larger pedal bike now, remove the pedals, and have him use it as a balance bike at first, BUT if he takes a while to master balancing, then he will likely outgrow the pedal bike pretty quickly once the pedals are back on. If you go with a balance bike first, then you may be able to get him a 16″ bike instead of a 14″ bike which will probably fit him better right now. Lastly, balance bikes are a lot lighter than pedal bikes without their pedals, so if he is timid at all about weight (especially since he is not used to dealing with the weight on the bike due to the training wheels) then I would go with a balance bike.

  • sm

    Hi, I just had my daughter, who will be 4 at the end of May test ride the Cannondale 16″ and Hotrocks 16″ at our local bike shop. I don’t have her inseam measurements right now (she is sleeping!) but wears 4T pants and 4T shirts, but can fit in her 3T clothes sometimes. She could be considered petite.

    What is your opinion on these in comparison to each other? She was leaning/reaching for handlebars with the Cannondale and looked much more comfortable/upright in the Hotrocks, but she seemed to ride much better with the Cannondale, and had smoother movements. But my neck and back just hurt looking at her! This is her first pedal bike, she has used the tricycle Radioflyer for fun and has been using a Y Scooter recently so she is pretty new to bike riding. I would go with the Cannondale immediately because she seemed to do SO MUCH better on it, but I am worried about the leaning for the handlebars as I know she isn’t a professional adult cycling, where that is actually beneficial to them. Will that reach do more harm than good for her?

    • Did the bikes have training wheels on them? I assume no, but just wanted to make sure. If they did, then she will likely be much less comfortable on the Cannondale once she has to balance the bike on her own. If they didn’t (awesome for her!), I would probably go with the Hotrock if you plan on riding mainly around the neighborhood and the Cannondale if you plan on doing any trail riding. We found that kids get more tired quickly on bikes with aggressive geometries, unless they are riding them downhills, on trails, etc.

      • sm

        The bikes did have training wheels on them! Still same thought process though?

      • sm

        Whoops ok just re-read. Thank you!

  • Remy

    Hi, this is a superb site! Thanks for putting all this information out there.
    I’m looking at some 24″ bikes: the Cleary Meerkat vs 24 Beinn vs Woom 5 for my 7 year old son, going on 8. We do mostly paved trails, and sometimes bike to and from school.

    The Meerkat has disc brakes and is priced accordingly. Ignoring that, I’m more focused on the riding experience of each bike. Can you compare/contrast? Thanks in advance!

    • Melissa

      We had Cleary Bikes Hedgehog and my frustration with the Hedgehog — the gear ratio — carries across to the Meerkat. I’m not sure why they put such a small chainring up front. Both the Woom and the Islabike have a 32t ring up front and all three have the same 11-32 cassette in the back. What that means is that the Meerkat is going to have a lower low gear but also a lower top gear. So if you’re constantly climbing large hills on dirt trails, the Meerkat might be better, but if you live anywhere relatively flat, he’s going to run out of gears on the Meerkat before he hits top speed and is going to end up spinning out. By comparison, my daughter has a 20″ Fuji Ace (the predecessor to the current Fuji Absolute) with a 40t front chain ring and a 14-34 rear cassette and only rarely has trouble making it up a hill. Also, if you haven’t already, you might want to take a look at Hot Rock Street 24″. It has a rigid fork and is probably about the same weight (maybe even lighter) as the Meerkat.

      • Melissa

        I just realized I didn’t include that the Meerkat front chain ring is 28t. That would be relevant information

        • Remy

          Thanks! We will probably go with the Woom5 once they restock it.

  • Anya

    Back again. My son (tiny 6o, 43″, 19″ inseam and 36lbs) tried out the Specialized Hotrock 16, the Giant Animator 16, and an older model steel frame Torker Throttle 16 today. The Hotrock was the clear winner–shortest, lightest, and best handlebar position for him; he didn’t want to get off! However, it was clear the coaster brake was hanging him up on all three. We were also considering the Byk E-350, but now I’m worried about the coaster brake. I looked at the chart again, but both the Cleary and the Priority (no coaster brake) have a much more forward handlebar, and I’m concerned that it will be uncomfortable given his size. The Commencal Ramones looks a little better but it’s hard to tell just from the pictures. (The others are too expensive or too tall.) Any suggestions? (I don’t suppose we can remove the coaster brake on the E350…?) Thanks!

    • Melissa

      Did you look at the TykesBykes Sprinter? That seems like it would be a good option — lightweight, not as aggressive, no coaster brake.

      • Anya

        Thanks–I would, but the chart above says the min seat height is 22″, which will be way too tall for him. Of the ones we tried in person, the Giant was 20″ and the Torker was 21″. Only the Hotrock at 19″ really seemed short enough for him.

        I realized we have friends with the Cleary, so we are going to try that one out soon.

        • Melissa

          As Natalie notes in her review of the Sprinter, the minimum seat height is with the stock seatpost, which actually sticks up quite a bit above the seatpost collar even at its lowest height. So you could either saw off part of the seatpost or replace it with a shorter 220 mm seatpost. We had to do that with our Hedgehog when we first got it. Odds are that he would be ready for a 20″ bike before you’d need the extra seatpost length anyway.

          • Anya

            Yes, I saw that too, but she said it only got down to 20″. And honestly I’m not crazy about having to modify a bike that expensive (plus I assume it’d hurt resale value). Where do you get a 220 mm seatpost?

    • Anya

      My son got to try the Cleary Hedgehog and Islabikes CNOC 14 at a friend’s house yesterday. Both bikes had training wheels on and the seats were much too high, but he still loved them both! He definitely preferred the Islabike; his body position was much better, it was lighter, and surprisingly, while he loved having a handbrake, he liked also having the option of the coaster brake–it didn’t seem to hang him up as much as last weekend. But after the Islabike had to go home, he spent another hour riding the Cleary around and still loved it.

      At this point I think we are leaning towards the ByK e350, because it’s geometry seems very similar to the Islabike, but it’s significantly cheaper. I know the Islabike is much lighter, but he did fine on the Hedgehog and Hotrock in terms of weight. Other than that, I don’t see any major differences. Are we missing anything? Thanks!

      • Glad to help and sorry I missed your comment earlier! All in all, sounds like you got it all down :). Having the ability to test out all these bikes is huge, so I would really go with the bike he is most comfortable on. My only concern about the Hedgehog is the aggressive geometry seems to really tire kids out on longer bike rides as compared to the bikes with more upright geometry, such as the CNOC 14. This past week, my son has tried out every 16″ bike in the bike stores we could find, and he was by far the most comfortable on the CNOC as well as the Early Rider Belter. He also does great on the ByK 250 we have, but it is on the smaller side for him. If he really likes the CNOC, then the ByK would be a great bike for him as they are similar in many ways. It won’t be as light and the components aren’t as nice, but they have a similiar feel.

  • Jen

    Hi, thanks so much for this chart and for this discussion. My boys are 3.5yo average height but on the lighter side weight wise. I live near Stanford university in CA. Lots of high end bike shops but nothing good used, even on Craigslist. I am a mom to twins and to be honest, I can’t afford any of these bikes (except for the ones in the do not recommend part) for two boys. I have been reading there are bike recyclers but how do I find out if there is one near me?

    • No worries, I completely see where you are coming from. I started this site when we were living in San Jose, and with the price of living there, buying one bike, let alone two, would be a challenge. First off, are you planning on using training wheels or have they mastered balance bikes? If they haven’t done balance bikes yet, I would start their are they are a lot more fun and much easier to ride in hilly areas. Pedaling a heavy bike up a hill with training wheels is essentially impossible, but walking or running your bike up a hill is pretty easy to do. If they have already mastered a balance bike, they things get a little tricky as I have yet to find a really good, lightweight pedal bike under $200, especially in 14″. So what to do? Unless they are really eager to have a pedal bike, I would get them a balance bike or keep them on their current balance bike until they are tall enough to fit on a 16″ bike. There are a lot more options for 16″ pedal bikes than 14″, so you will be able to get more bang for your buck.

  • Jen

    Back again…forgot to add that he expensive bike shops thought they would fit the 14 inch ones the best. Thanks!

  • Jeffrey M. Gould

    Hi there. Love your site, thanks for all the great info. My twins will are just shy of 4 and are ripping happily and mightily on their Skuut bikes on roads, grass and even some trails. They’re small kids and I’m struggling to find a 12″ pedal bike that’s worthwhile. Wondering if you’ve seen the Novara 12″ bikes from REI and what you think of them as I’m not seeing any user reviews:

    https://www.rei.com/product/895252/novara-danza-12-girls-bike-2016
    https://www.rei.com/product/895249/novara-polpo-12-boys-bike-2016

    Geometry looks decent and we could skip the training wheels. 16 pounds sounds a bit heavy for them but should be less with no training wheels. Can’t quite tell lowest seat height although an REI tech says minimum standover is 14″.

    Thanks in advance!

    Jeff

  • All bikes are weighed without the training wheels, so 16 lb. is going to be the weight of the bike. If the minimum stand over (the height needed to stand over the top tube, not the seat), than the minimum seat height is going to be 3″- 4″ taller. All in all, REI bikes are generally better quality than big-box store bikes, but their geometry isn’t that much better. This bike doesn’t look bad, but the seat seems high, as well as the weight as your mentioned.

  • Kelli Riley

    Hi! I would like to get my 5&1/2 year old son either a WOOM or an Islabike CNOC. He is 42 inches tall, his inseam is 17″ and he wears 5/6 size clothing. Based on his measurements, would one of those 2 options work better for him? Also unsure about whether to get him the 14″ or 16″ model since he’s kind of on the fence between sizes. Thanks so much!

    • It really depends on whether or not he has mastered a balance bike as well as a hand brake on a bike. Learning to pedal a bike without a coaster brake is ideal (as kids accidentally pedal backwards all the time!), but if a child cannot use a hand brake, they will need to be able to touch the ground with their full foot in order to stop the bikes. If he has mastered a balance bike and a hand brake, then I would go for the CNOC 16 or the WOOM3. On both, he won’t be able to touch the ground with his foot flat on the ground, only tippy toes, but if he is anxious to learn to ride, then it shouldn’t be an issue. Both bikes are amazing, but I do favor the WOOM3 simply because it doesn’t have a coaster brake. If he has mastered a balance bike, but not a hand brake, then I would go for the CNOC 14 or WOOM2 as they would allow him to use his full foot to stop. Both 14″ bikes have coaster brakes, but WOOM does sell a freewheel kit that would allow you to remove it. If he hasn’t mastered a balance bike, I would start there :).

  • SG

    Thanks so much for running this website. We want to buy a 24″ bike for a not super comfortable bike rider. I had hoped to buy an IslaBike or a Woom5 but delivery won’t happen until late June or mid July which is later than we had hoped. So, I’m interested in better understanding the Giant Liv Areva. I couldn’t find a review by you on the site. I was hoping you could explain why you ‘recommended’ it as opposed to ‘highly recommended’ or ‘recommended with reservations.’ Thanks in advance

    • Giant has some great kids bikes, but they aren’t nearly as lightweight and kid-specific as they Islabikes or the WOOM’s. The reason why it is in the middle of the pack on the chart is really due to weight. At 22 lb., its right in the middle. Some of the higher rated bikes have the same weight, but they also have more components on them to justify the weight. I believe your best bet would be to have her try out as many bikes as possible and have her decide which she likes best.

      • SG

        Thank so much for the reply. We took your advice and went to REI and a local bike store. She liked the Giant Gloss and the Diamondback Clarity. I haven’t been able to find any online reviews about the Giant Gloss – do you have any thoughts? For both bikes, she is fairly upright – which seems like the body position that you don’t recommend (am I understanding that right?) but she says she feels more comfortable.

        • An upright body position is more comfortable for kids, but it can also make riding more challenging. Kids (and adults!) are naturally more comfortable when our body weight is centered over our hips, but when riding a bike that makes for a very high center of gravity, making it harder to start balancing. As a result, several kid-bike companies (Islabikes, WOOM, etc.) created bikes that are lightweight, with a low-center-of gravity (the entire frame is closer to the ground that regular bikes), that also have an upright seating position for the rider. Therefore, the child gets the most comfortable seating position without having to tackle the high-center of gravity of a bike. For larger bikes with more experienced riders, the high center-of-gravity isn’t as big of a deal if they plan to just ride around the neighborhood. If they are going up hills or for longer rides, then they are going to feel it more and get tired more quickly on a bike with an upright position.

          For the Gloss, the overall geometry looks great for a neighborhood bike, but I would be sure to have them weight the bike before you buy it. Compared to Islabikes, it is going to provide a very different ride. The Islabikes is going to be faster, easier to ride and much better for road or trail riding. The Gloss is going to be great for neighborhood riding, but less than ideal for longer rides or trail riding. The Clarity has a different frame than the Gloss, but appear to have the same overall geometry as you pointed out, so the same applies there. Great for around the neighborhood, but not ideal for anything else. Like the Gloss, be sure to get the weight before you buy it.

          In the end, your best bet is to figure out what she is going to use the bike for. For around the neighborhood, there are tons of great options and I would stick to the one she feel more comfortable on. If you are planning on longer distances, I would be sure to take the weight of the bike, as well as the geometry into consideration.

  • joe

    Hi Natalie, this website ruined my plans on getting a sub $100 bike. I’m ok with that knowing i have another one about 3.5 years younger and he can inherit his big brothers bike. so anyway i have a boy turning 4 in 2 weeks. He is short for his age, about 36 inches tall and 28 pounds. He has a 15 inch inseam. I dont think he has any interest in a balance bike(nor does my wife) i saw mentioned elsehwere on your site the Ramones 14 but there seemed to be a debate about the seat height. on websites of my local bike shops i have come across the Schwinn Trooper 12 inch which is both a balance and pedal,the giant animator 12, the raleigh mxr 12, and the haro z12/shredder 12(i believe the z12 is the 2015 version). do you know anything about any of these? Having trouble finding seat height and weight info in wording i understand except for the Haro. Also the whole riding position thing is difficult to figure out based on the pictures online. I was leaning towards the BYK e250 but the boys version seems to be sold out in the U.S. I was really hoping to get a 14 incher so it would last him longer and wouldn’t look as small when he is say 5 or 6 years old compared to other kids. The $300 bikes are out of budget. Thanks for any info you can supply

    • Ha, sorry to ruin your plans :). Over the last couple months I have had the chance to see most of the bikes you mentioned in person. I can honestly say that I would stay clear of the Schwinn Trooper. We tested out their last hybrid bike and it was beyond terrible. In addition to being really heavy, it a bad balance bike and a worse pedal bike. The newer version seems to be a rework of the old model and is likely a tank as well, but if they have it at a local Performance bike shop, I would ask them to weight it for you. As for the others, the geometry of the Giant Animator is less than ideal, plus the bike is pretty clunky, the same goes with the Raleigh. The Haro are the best of the ones you mentioned that you can get at a local bike shop. All of these bikes also have a minimum seat height around 17″, so they would be too tall for him to use as a balance bike. If you plan on using the bike with training wheels, instead of going with a balance bike first, I would actually go with the ByK E-350. With a 15″ inseam, he will be able to pedal the bike with training wheels. The bike will be slightly too big for him from the get go, but that will provide him more time to grow on the bike, since it will take him longer to ride without the training wheels. If you prefer to have him use a bike as a balance bike (i.e. remove the pedals on the bike), then the ByK would work, but as you mentioned, it is currently sold out. Besides the Cleary Gecko, there isn’t another small pedal bike that I know of that has a seat that lowers down to 15″. Hopefully that helps!

  • Ernest

    Hi Natalie,
    Thanks again for all the information and advice. I am now looking for a hitch bike rack to transport our new bikes. Do you have any recommendations for loading a Woom 2 and Scoot Ridgeback? I am considering the Thule Helium Aero and the Kuat Beta 2.

  • Michelle

    Hi, thanks for all the information. Currently my 6 yr old is using a 16″ big box store bike. Hes fairly tall around 49″, but not sure of his inseam. I wanted to take off the training wheels, but he can’t balance and I’m wondering if the weight of the bike is a contributor because he’s only about 45 lbs so it’s over half his body weight. I think he needs to move up in size because his knees are very crunched on this bike too. It seems all balance bikes are small. Is there a way to teach a kid to balance w/o training wheels on a pedal bike and what would be the best bike for a beginner kid? The guardians seem pretty nice, but still a little heavy?

    • Michelle

      After reading more I decided to go for the tykes bikes 16 ” balance bike so I can get him practicing balance with something lighter. I think my 6 yr old and my 4 yr old, who is 40 in with a 17″ inseam should be able to use that. I’m still leaning towards the guardian 20″ geared bike when he learns to balance and a 16″ tykes bikes sprinter for when my 4 year old is ready for a larger pedal bike. My 4 yr old is currently using a 12″ big box store bike and doing ok, but even months later he still struggles with the coaster brake. As a result he still rides his tricycle sometimes, which I suspect is because there’s no coaster on that so it allows him to pedal backwards on accident.

      I’d like to eventually get to some light trail riding within a couple years, but only once they’re both good riders. Do you have any other suggestions or any adult suggestions because I have a really bad big box store bike for myself? I’d likely need to stay under $500 or so.

      • VS

        Hi Michelle.. Try Islabikes.. you will never look back.. My son went from balance bike started at 2 yrs and at 3 yrs to Cnoc 14 and it took him 5 minutes to figure out the bike.. In 30 minutes he was a pro.. They are worth the money.. he loves loves loves riding and now we are planning to get him the next islabike.. They are really good bikes.. Expensive but worth the fun and pleasure on your kids face.. and If you are looking for a 2nd hand Cnoc 14 i might have one for you soon..

        • Ammie

          HI VS – do you still have the Cnoc 14 for sale?

      • Michelle

        Thanks for answering the questions on the contact page thread. Only remaining question is best adult bike suggestion for me under $500?

        • Depends what type of bike you want. If you simply want a bike to ride around with the kids, i would look at Priority Bicycles and their bikes are easy to ride and are essentially maintenance free, http://www.prioritybicycles.com/. If you want a bike to ride with as well as get some occasional exercise on, I personally love my Specialized Ariel. I have the cheapest model and it has been amazing to ride around with the kids, as well as take on longer paved trail rides, https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/fitness/ariel/106302.

        • Kheggem3

          Trek 7.2 FX

  • CS Simpson

    I have a 9 year old boy, very comfortable on the bike, we have been ridding for a few years. The porblem is he is quite short (50 inches or so). I saw a trek mt 220 24 inch online for a reasonable price and in great shape. Do you think he will be able to ride this? I know it will be a bit big but I figure because he is a good rider it will work out and I will not have to replace within the next year. Any thoughts?

  • VS

    Hi, thanks for posting this fantastic chart.. We had got Islabikes Cnoc 14 for our son on his 3rd bday. And he moved from his First Bike Balance Bike to that one in 5 minutes. We have never used the training wheels with it. He was off to the races in 30 minutes and has never looked back. Fantastic bikes hands down and super light.. so easy to carry back when they are too tired to ride them.. and put them up in the garage.. I was looking for the 20″ for him now and came to your site again. A good bike store was pushing Norco but i wasn’t sure and after researching online can’t find their weight.. Back to Islabikes.. Thanks for the detailed list once again.. Wish there was something for adults specially for Hybrids that every brand under the sun carries..

    If anyone is interested in a 2nd hand very well maintained Cnoc 14 please do let me know. We are in Toronto,Canada..

  • FirstBIKE Canada

    I need help Natalie! We’d like to get a 16″ bike for our 4 year old son (he’s on a 14″ cnoc but now needs 2 hand brakes for off-road). We’d like something aggressive specific to trail riding and “mountain biking” with older kids. LOVE the cnoc, but he’s struggling going downhill. Which of the reviewed bikes do you think would suit best? I recognize our son might not be the typical rider… Right now I’m mostly considering the Cleary Hedgehog and the Dimension 16. Was also looking at the Spawn, but after a week of trying – I’m unable to get in touch with the company. Seen as you have seen most of them, any advice? Whatever bike we get, I may put wider tires on it (if they are too narrow).

    • Glad to help! If you are looking for a real mountain bike for a 4yo, I would recommend the Norco Samauri or the Commencal Ramones 16. They both have wider tires and handlebars as well as dual hand brakes and coaster free. Plus, I know they are both widely available in Canada. The Dimensions 16 is an awesome bike, but is geared higher than the others, which will make it more challenging for riding uphills. It is, however, lighter than the others, put it has more of a road tire on it than a mountain. Between the Norco and the Commencal, I would go with the Norco as it is narrower than the Commencal, which will make riding easier for your little dude as it will require less splay on this legs, making it easier and less tiring to ride. Actually, the Pello Revo is another one to consider. It has wider tires as well, is lightweight and is very well made, but it does have a coaster. Coasters are a pain for his when riding uphill, so then again, maybe not.

  • Laura Bukovitz Paschall

    Thank you so much for your website and reviews! This website by far is the best out there for kid bike info. I have been reading through the reviews and articles and it is so helpful! I have some questions… I have 2 boys, who are both ready to upgrade bikes.

    1) My 6 year old is ready for a 20″ geared bike, and I am deciding between the Guardian 20″ geared, and the Pello Rover 7 speed. I love the surestop option on the Guardian, but I wonder if the geometry of the Pello might be better suited for him. How aggressive is the Guardian? Also, does the 2.5 pounds of weight between the two bikes make much difference? He is experienced on his 16″ bike. Not a timid rider, but not adventurous. Do you recommend one over the other?
    2) My almost 4 year old is ready to graduate from his Strider bike to a 16″ bike. He is 42″ tall, and has an 18″ inseam. I want to get him a bike with dual hand brakes rather than coaster, but I need to know the brakes are easy reach for him, since his hands are so small still. I’m choosing between the Woom3, and Spawn Bansee.

    We mostly ride on the street with occasional off road, and want to start doing more off road tracks with them.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Michelle

      I asked a very similar question on her contact page. Natalie said they’re loving the pello and I think it climbs a little better than the guardian. I don’t think you can go wrong either way. In the end, I let my son decide and he loved the look of the guardian more so that’s what I ordered yesterday.
      Also, on Woom 3vs spawn banshee, I think Woom 3 is better for beginners. However, Woom 3 is on back order until September, so that may help the decision.

      • Laura Bukovitz Paschall

        Thank you so much! I would love to hear how your son is liking the guardian after you get it. I haven’t decided which one yet.

        • Michelle

          We got it today and setup was just handlebars, pump up the tires and put the pedals on. It’s an awesome bike and the brakes are outstanding. He loves it and even though he fell a couple times, he was still eager to get back on and didn’t cry at all (which is what he did before when trying to ride his old bike). It’s definitely lighter than his old bike, which is great.

          • LauraPtennessee

            Thank you, Natalie, for all the help. And thank you for update, Michelle.

        • Not sure how I missed this thread, but I so happy to see that another reader has helped you out. This past week we were able to get many rides on both the Pello and the Guardian and they are both great. Our testers loved both rides and begged to ride them any chance he got. All in all, I would say that the Pello is a better build for beginning riders, who may be more timid as it has a more upright position. The Guardian is slightly more aggressive, but would be just fine for the average rider. After several rides, our testers preferred the positioning of the Pello, but once he tried out the brakes on the Guardian, he was hooked! He LOVED being able to stop really fast and then would only ride the Guardian. Since your son is experienced, I think he would do fine on either.

          For your 4yo, the brakes on the WOOM3 are really easy for small hands to use. My son is 4.5 in 4T clothes (average build) and can activate the brakes on the WOOM3 much either than many other bikes we have tested out. I have not seen a Spawn in person, so I can’t attest to how easy they may be.

          • Laura Bukovitz Paschall

            Thank you so much! Do you have any pictures of the kids on each bike? The pics in your reviews have really helped me in my research. I’m glad you clarified the body positions of each bike because I assumed the Pello is slightly more aggressive, based on the dimensions. Guardian and Pello both told me that if the position is too aggressive, they can change out the handlebars for $20-$30. The braking system on the guardian really appeals to me for safety reasons, but if the Pello is more upright, I think he may like that better. Decisions!

          • That’s great that they are both willing to modify the bike for you. Here are pictures of our 5yo tester (tall for his age) on both the Pello Redii and the Guardian. Now that I look at it, the geometry of the two are about the same, but the “cock pit” the space between the seat and the handlebars is much longer on the Guardian. Seeing as our tester has a very long torso, he position on the Guardian is better, but if your son has a shorter torso, he would probably be better off on the Pello. Changing the height of the handlebars won’t affect spacing of the cockpit very much.

          • Laura Bukovitz Paschall

            Thank you so much! These pictures help. I think my son would be just fine on either of these bikes. The Pello Redii has different handlebars (higher and closer) than the Pello Rover (the 7-speed). Shane offered to put the Redii handlebars on the Rover if we prefer (for a small upcharge). Do you know how these bikes compare to the Trek Superfly 20″ by chance? He tested out one at the bike shop and his position seemed much to aggressive for him, so that is why I am obsessing over the geometry of these bikes. PS- I’m getting my almost 4 year old the Early Rider because he got to test one out at our local bike shop and loves it (was pedaling for the first time on it in the bike store after only ever riding a balance bike and the occasional big wheel).

          • Gotcha. The handlebars on the Revo are higher than those on the Reddi, which would make for a more upright position. That’s great that Shane is willing to swap them out. Here’s a picture of our 4yo on the Revo, which has a more upright position. As for the Superfly, we have the Superfly 16 and I am not impressed by it at all, but I image the 20 would be better as it has real brakes and gears. I can’t image the components on the Trek being better than those on the Pello though. Shane’s bikes are really top notch.

          • Laura Bukovitz Paschall

            Both these bikes look awesome. Did you also test the Rover (20″ 7 speed), or just the Reddi (20″ single speed) and the Revo (16″)? The Reddi and Revo look so easy to ride for these kids from the pictures. The Rover has a larger frame I am interested to know how that worked for the kids if you also tested that one. Thanks!

          • We tested the Reddi, the Revo and the Romper (14″), but not the Rover, so I can’t attest to it’s size. With the minimum seat height being only an inch taller on the Rover, it would have likely been a better fit for our tall 5yo tester.

  • Cynthia

    I’d like to get my adventurous little guy a pedal bike for his 3rd birthday or Christmas in 4-5 months. He is at least 36 inches tall, with an inseam of 12 inches (3t pants). I am debating between the cleary gecko and the furi. Both recommend an inseam of at least 15 inches. He likes racing down dirt hills and the concrete hills at the skate park on his balance bike, as well as curbs. He seems eager to try stairs. He may want to try BMX tricks soon. Which bike do you recommend? I want a freewheel option.

    • Hopefully Helpful

      I’m not Natalie, and so I can’t help with the finer details, but the Furi has a min seat height of 17in, which would likely be too tall. The Gecko can get down to 15in with a shorter seatpost (but you would have to buy one or hack the original one down, I believe). The only other bikes with a 15in min seat height are the Cnoc 14 small and the Byk E-250, both of which have a coaster brake. (Though I believe I read here that someone had luck using a Woom 2 freewheel kit on a Cnoc 14 large, so that could theoretically work on the small.)

      • Cynthia

        Thank you very much. The Furi Website lists 15 inches as the minimum inseam, so I thought that was what it would be with the shorter seat post. But it does make sense that a bike with 14 inch wheels would have a seat at least 17 inches tall. So unless he has a major growth spurt, we will have to go with the Gecko. I just don’t like the stance as much, and would appreciate larger wheels when he attempts to ride down steps and over obstacles.

        • The Furi does have a minimum inseam of 15″, but that is not the same measurement as the minimum seat height. A child can usually ride a bike with a seat height 2″ taller than their inseam, which would put the minimum seat height around 17″. The Gecko’s seat can get down to 15″, so it will be a much better fit for him considering his inseam is 14″.

  • Curious

    Are you sure the height on the Cnoc 20 is 18.5 – 22.5 inches? I find it kind of hard to believe it has a LOWER seat range than the Cnoc 16 (and the same as the large 14).
    When you look at Islabike’s recommended inseams they are consistently a little shorter than min seat; the Cnoc 16 recommends an inseam of 16.5in or more with a min seat height listed here as 18.8in, for example. I’d think that the seat height on the Cnoc 20 would be close to the Benin 20 small, as they share the same recommended seat height. I’d also double check that 13in min on the small Cnoc 14, while you’re at it. (Not trying to be mean here, just pointing out a possible inaccuracy.)

    • Nope, you are right. I listed the min and max inseams as the seat heights on both of the CNOC 14 Small and CNOC 20 by mistake. I emailed Islabikes asking for the seat heights and I simply copied their email over, but it looks like the sent over the min and max inseams instead. My mistake, I should have picked up on that. Thanks for pointing it out!

      • Curious

        Glad I could help! (And just realized I made a typo of my own in my comment, saying the Cnoc 20 and Benin 20 small shared a “recommended seat height” when I meant inseam!)

        • Ha, yep, it is so easy to get those two confused. Islabikes is different from others in that they list inseam versus seat height, so it always throws me off if I’m not paying attention.

  • Michelle

    Natalie, I just want to say thanks for this amazing website. We got the 20″ guardian today, which is an awesome little bike. My 6 yr old struggled for months with many tears on previous attempts on a bad bike. After a few weeks on a balance bike (thanks to your charger suggestion) he was able to ride the guardian by himself today. We still have to work on more gradual braking and controlling the turns better, but he’s doing great thanks to your suggestions. Even though he fell a couple times, there were no tears and he jumped back on, which is unusual for him and is a testament of how much he loves the bike.

    I’m looking forward to guardian releasing 16″ bikes this fall so we’re probably going to hold out for their 16″ for my 4 yr old and keep him on the charger balance bike until then. He loves his balance bike and is really getting the hang of it.
    Thanks again. 😃

    • Yeah! Thank you so much for reporting back. I love hearing success stories, especially about kids who have previously struggled. Plus, hoping on right after he fell, that just makes my day :).

  • Marco Grubert

    I don’t see any kickstands in the photos. It would be helpful to have a column indicating whether a stand is included or can be added.

    • Good point. All WOOM and most Islabikes offer a kickstand to purchase. Most 20″ and 24″ bikes are compatible with kickstands, but not all smaller bikes are. Due to their short size, most kickstands won’t fit as they are too long. WOOM’s kickstands are available to purchase separate from their bikes and will adhere to any bike with a kickstand plate. You can find their kickstand here: http://us.woombikes.com/collections/accessories/products/kickstand. The WOOM2=14″, WOOM3=16″, WOOM4=20″, WOOM5=24″. The kickstand plate will look something like this and is found on the bottom of the bike, just behind the bottom bracket (where the pedals attach to the frame)

  • morri85

    Also what do you reckon better to get a 12 “(puky) for learning to ride (price no issue you get plenty of bikes for 50€ and less used )even or a 16 inch (atm my kid is 1 cm short of the in step (bike has 45 cm frameheight and kid has a 44cm instep) I have been thinking it is better to start on a littler bike so feet can meet the ground same as a balance bike at first(shes got a balance bike(puky) and is good at freewheeling on straight and downhill paths

  • Dan Liu

    Hello Natalie, first off, I love this website – thank you very much. That being said, my son is 4 with a 16.5 inch inseam. He is definitely very comfortable on his FIRST-BIKE after riding it for one year and I am looking into purchasing his first pedal bike. I was leaning towards the cleary 12 inch but could that be too small? The sales-guy at the bike store thought that a cleary 16 inch would be better but the seat height seems too high at 20 inches or so for my son at this point. I also have a 20 month old daughter so even if my son out grows it fast, I figure she can use that as a first pedal bike as well … Can you give me your recommendation please? I am hoping to stay in a $250.00 range.

    Thanks!

    • LauraPtennessee

      I’m not Natalie, but my almost 4 year old son test rode the Cleary 16 inch and the Early Rider Belter 16 inch at our local bike shop. The Early Rider is the best bike in the neighborhood; the rest of us are jealous of our 4 year old. We found that the reach on the cleary was just way to long of a reach. The Early Rider isn’t upright, but it’s not super aggressive either. Just wanted to share our experience because it took us months to decide on a bike. Good luck!

    • The Gecko would be the most comfortable bike for him to start off on, at is it small and would allow him to touch the ground, BUT it is a really small that he will likely outgrow very quickly. With a 16″ inseam, however, he won’t be able to touch the ground to start and stop the bike (like he is used to on his FirstBIKE), so he will likely be hesitant on a 16″. The WOOM3 is the smallest 16″, but the minimum seat height is still 18.8″, but it is also over $250. I think the ByK e-250 is going to be your best bet. It has a minimum seat height of 15.8″, so he will fit the bike now and will have room to grow into it. It also has 14″ tires as compared to the 12″ on the Gecko.

  • Michelle

    Does the Torker scale down okay? You have it discussed in 16″ bikes under $200, but not listed on this page and it also goes down to 12″.

    Another question is the bikes you list as “recommended with reservations” is that because they aren’t as rideable or you simply haven’t had a sample to test?

    • I haven’t tested out the Toker 12″, but it is on the list for future reviews. I assume it is better than most big-box 12″ bikes, but I can’t be sure. For the bikes in the “Recommended with Reservations” category, some of them I have tested out (but not reviewed) or have reviewed and find some redeeming qualities, but more concerns. They are all rideable, but I found them to be more challenging to ride as compared to those in higher categories.

  • Jacob

    Trying to find a bike for my soon to be six year old daughter. This will be her first pedal bike. I wanted to stay under $200 but see that the ByK E-350 is $235 on Amazon and I would go up that high. Wondering if that is worth it versus the Diamondback mini-impression. I read the under 200 review but the torker is no longer available… So much to consider that I just get confused.

    • Glad to help. I have tested out both bikes (the ByK 350 review is still in the works) and they are both good bikes, but very different. The ByK 350 is a great bike for around town as it is fast, lighter weight and is geared higher for faster riding. The Diamondback is heavier, taller and lacks a hand brake and is going to be more difficult to ride than the ByK 350. If the ByK is in your budget, I would certainly go for it.

  • Karin

    Hello,

    My son is turning 8 and has outgrown his current bike. His inseam is between 20.5 and 21 inches (as measured per Islabike instructions with a book between his legs which I found difficult to do) and he is 48 inches tall. He mostly rides sidewalks and a bit in the grass (just riding/no jumping… so far)

    Looking at WOOM and Islabikes, mostly because of their relative lower weights.

    There’s some argument for the WOOM over the Islabike in case the neighborhood kids ever do decide to try jumping with their bikes (not that I am in favor of it, but cannot be fully ruled out down the road). For the WOOM 5 he is too small (minimum height 49 inches per WOOM website), but he is halfway through the size recommendation of the WOOM 4 (range per WOOM is 45- 51 inches). Then again, he might be o.k. with the WOOM 4 as his inseam is slightly shorter than average. However, WOOM does not publish recommended minimum and maximum inseams and did not provide them when I emailed them.

    For the Islabike Beinn 20 large he seems to have the perfect measurement in terms of possible growth with the bike – but I am under the assumption that the bike would fall apart should he ever try jumping.
    Any thoughts or possible other recommendations?

    • Islabikes are made with the same high-quality as WOOM, so there is absolutely no need to worry about the bikes falling apart! If the Beinn 20 Large is the perfect size for him, I would absolutely go for it. My son happily rode his BEINN 20 Small for years on several long single-trail mountain biking trails without any problems. Lastly, the issues with geometry and jump riding, really only applies to the 14″ and 16″ WOOM bikes. Those bikes are designed specifically for first riders, their 20″ and 24″ bikes have a more aggressive positioning that allows for more aggressive riding.

  • Alex Meier

    Hi, my son turns 5 at the end of the month, and is of average height for his age. He has never ridden a bike. He’s a pretty quick learner, and we just moved to a very bike friendly neighborhood. I want to get something that he won’t immediately outgrow and that his currently 3 year old sister can inherit when he does outgrow it. I’m leaning towards a belt drive and/or without a coaster brake. I would greatly appreciate your suggestions.

    • With an 18.5″ inseam, he will fit both bikes just fine. Assuming he has mastered a balance bike, he should be able to get on either bike and ride off. Between the two, the Priority does have a more aggressive position than the Early Rider. If you son has a shorter torso, I would go with the Early Rider. On our Ultimate 16″ Bike Comparison (http://www.twowheelingtots.com/ultimate-16-inch-kids-bikes-comparison/) you can see pictures of our 4 and 5 year old testers riding both bikes. The 5yo has a longer torso than the 4yo, so he is more comfortable on the Priority while the 4yo has a shorter torso and prefers the Early Rider.

  • emac

    Hi, you use to have Redline bikes rated pretty high on the chart and now they aren’t there at all. Why is that?

    • The charts were getting too long, so I had to take some bikes out. Redline bikes are still amazing, no complaints against them. They are, however mainly BMX bikes, which I don’t have enough experience with to provide good feedback about. I have heard amazing things about the Pitboss 16 though, http://redlinebicycles.com/bikes/2016-proline-pitboss/.

  • JP

    Hi – Thank you very much for compiling all this information on your website. It has been very helpful. With your help, we picked out a Scoot and it has been a great balance bike. With the upgraded knobby tires, it has been a dirt shredding machine. The hand break has been a really good introduction and the wide riser bars have made the bike stable over roots, rocks and drops. It still fits him really well, but he wants to move to a peddle bike like his buddies.

    I’ve been looking at your recommended list and was leaning towards the Islabike CNOC, but my nephew has one and is not enjoying the coaster break. My brother-in-law contact Islabike and they were not able to provide the version without one (or provide instructions on how to disable it). Even though my son fits on the Islabike CNOC (barely), I’ve started looking into other bikes that have hand breaks only. The Spawn Furi has caught my eye, but I haven’t been able to find a decent review and the link on your page goes directly to the manufacture. Have you had a chance to test the Furi and compare it to the other highly recommended bikes like the Islabike? Any info you could provide would be appreciated. Thank you for all of your help. – jp

    • Awesome to hear about the Scoot. It is a great bike, but with the upgraded tires it’s a force to be reckoned with :). As the for Islabikes, the coaster brake is a problem, but legally Islabikes cannot tell you how to disable it or sell you a version without one. It is due to an old law that bike manufacturers have to get creative to get around, but often times there isn’t a solution. The law isn’t applied consistently across the board, so it’s honestly a mess for these bike companies. For the Spawn, I haven’t had a chance to test in out. I do know that is built for a more aggressive rider than the Islabikes, but I have only heard great things about it. If you believe the coaster will be a problem, then I would go with the Furi. If you child is is solidly in 4T pants, then the WOOM3, which is a freewheel (no coaster) would also be an option.

  • Abigail

    Hi! I love your website and blog. thank you for taking the time to put so much work into this! You helped me a year ago with balance bikes, and now my kids want & are ready for pedal bikes. Budget is not an issue as this will be their Christmas presents, and I’m willing to pay for safety, etc. That being said, if I’m going to drop $400 on an excellent bike, I’d like for it to last for a couple of years, too.

    My problem is that both my kids, especially my son, are tall for their ages, so I’m wondering about the best balance between first-pedal-bike but also size: that they’ll fit, but where they can also grow into it so the bike lasts awhile.

    My 3 year old’s inseam is 16″ and she’s wearing 4t clothes (although some brands are a tad long on her). I was going to do the Woom 2, but think maybe the 3 is better? or other recs.

    Then my son is 5, but has a 20.5″ inseam and is wearing size S (6) in boy’s clothes. It seems like he’d need maybe a 20″ bike? and are there ones out there that are great first bikes, too? Maybe the Pello, CNOC 20? Or whatever you recommend for both of them. Thanks so so much!

    • Thanks for coming back 🙂 Glad to help out! A child’s first bike is always problematic for size. To get started on the bike, they need to be able to touch the ground with almost their whole foot (so they can stop the bike!), but that also provides them a lot less room to grow into the bike. When trying out bikes for size, the ideal fit is that kids can only touch the ground with their tippy toes when the seat is at is lowest position, or if the minimum seat height is about 2″ greater than their inseam. Due to their need to be able to stop the bike with their feet, kids first bikes are never an ideal fit.

      For your daughter, I would go with the WOOM3 over the 2. My son is in 4T clothes and fits just fine on the WOOM3. My son is almost outgrowing 4T however, so there is a chance that it would be slightly too big for her, but due easy ride geometry of the WOOM’s, I think she would do just fine on the 3.

      For your son, a 16″ is going to be too small. With a 20.5″ inseam, I would go with the Pello or the single-speed Guardian for maximum room for growth. The Islabikes is a bit smaller than the two.

      • Abigail

        thanks so much!!

      • Abigail

        thoughts on the Guardian vs the Woom 4?