10 Best 12″ and 14″ Bikes

Bikes for Kids 2 to 4 Years Old

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

Why trust us? We have seen and tested out every bike on this list and have a garage storage problem to prove it :)!  With 9 years of bike testing under our belt, we’ve personally met and consulted with many top brands in the industry including WOOMStrider, Prevelo and Cleary.

10 Best Bikes for 2, 3, and 4-Year-Olds

Best Balance Bike

Why We Love It

MSRP

woom 2

Best Overall$339
Raleigh Jazzi/MXRBest Mid-Range$149

Prevelo Alpha One

Best for Adventurous Riders

$359

Specialized Riprock

Best Bike Shop Bike$220

Diamondback Mini Viper

Best Budget for Long Torsos$112

Pello Romper

Best for All-Terrain Riders

$339

Spawn Yoji 14

Best for Little Groms$385

Cleary Gecko 12

Best for the Smallest Riders$310

Strider 14x

Best Balance Bike/Pedal Bike in One$190

ByK E-250

Best for the Youngest Kids to Grow With$239

 

Quick Tips about 12″ and 14″ Pedal Bikes

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

 


WOOM 2

Best Overall


MSRP$339

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 16″ to 19″.

WEIGHT: 11.2 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE14″

FULL REVIEWWOOM2

The WOOM 2’s exceptional combination of top-end components, bike geometry, frame design, and proprietary brake design creates a natural, fun riding environment.  WOOM 2’s unique geometry centers the child’s weight over their hips (like when standing), allowing them to more naturally learn to balance a bike. Its larger 14″ wheels provide more room for growth than traditional 12″ bikes and at 11.2 pounds, it’s the lightest kid’s bike on the market!

PROS
  • Natural upright body position and easy to balance
  • The lightest pedal bike on the market (just 11.2 lb.)
  • High-end components
  • Green right-hand lever to promote safe braking
  • Optional freewheel kit (gets rid of coaster brake)
  • Available in four colors

CONS
  • Too upright for very aggressive riders


Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12

Best Mid-range


MSRP: $150

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

WEIGHT: 17.3 lb. (without training wheels)

TRAINING WHEELS: Comes with training wheels.

TIRE SIZE: 12″

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

A known name in the bike industry, Raleigh’s 12″ bike is well-built frame and promotes a comfortable body position for the rider.  The Raleigh MXR and Jazzi 12 provide a smooth and steady ride for under $125 and are a solid choice for families who plan on riding shorter distances around the neighborhood.

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

PROS
  • Upright body positioning is comfortable for beginning riders
  • Sturdy build can take a beating
  • Good quality for the price
  • Fun and colorful graphics

CONS
  • Coaster brake with no handbrake
  • Too heavy for petite riders


Prevelo Alpha One

Best for Adventurous Riders


MSRP: $359

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

WEIGHT: 14.4 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEW: Prevelo Alpha One

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

PROS
  • Lower rise handlebars make shifting weight around a breeze for adventurous riders
  • Responsive, easy-pull, dual-hand brakes
  • Low center-of-gravity for better balance
  • Top quality components
  • Lightweight, low step-through frame

CONS
  • Coaster brake (can be removed with a freewheel kit)


Specialized Riprock

Best Bike Shop Bike


 

MSRP: $220

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 17″ to 19″.  With training wheels, fits inseams 15″ to 17″.

WEIGHT: 15 lb. (without training wheels)

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

TIRE SIZE: 12″

FULL REVIEW: Specialized Riprock (formerly Hotrock)

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

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

PROS
  • Forward-positioned pedals make learning to pedal easier
  • Available in local bike shops
  • High-quality training wheels (if you need them)
  • Wide 2.3″ tires increase stability

CONS
  • Coaster brake and no hand brake
  • Minimal seat height range leaves little room for growth


Diamondback Micro Viper

Best for Longer Torsos on a Budget


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

MSRP: $112

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

WEIGHT: 17.4 lb. (without training wheels)

TRAINING WHEELS: Comes with training wheels.

TIRE SIZE: 12″

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

The Micro Viper, however, has a slightly shorter wheelbase than the MXR, which slightly decreases the bikes overall stability when used without training wheels.  The overall quality of the Diamondback was also slightly less than the MXR.

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

PROS
  • Upright positioning for a more natural ride for beginners
  • Geared low for easy pedaling
  • Tall handlebars provide a comfortable fit for taller kids

CONS
  • Coaster brake, no handbrake
  • Too heavy for young, petite riders


Pello Romper 14

Best for All-Terrain Timid Riders 


MSRP: $339

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 17.5″ – 21.75″

WEIGHT: 15 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEW: Pello Romper

From Kenda tires and Tektro brakes to Cane Creek headsets and lightweight aluminum frames, Pello Bikes ooze quality while excelling on paved bike trails to single-track. On paved rides, little ones can happily keep up with the older kids in the pack, while on single-track, the knobby tires provide much-needed grip for rocky trails.

PROS
  • Thick and knobby Kenda air tires are perfect for all-terrain riding
  • Low-rise handlebars allow for easier balance and increased control on trails
  • For ultimate responsiveness in steering, built with a sealed cartridge bearing Cane Creek headset
  • High gearing allows kids to gain more speed with each pedal stroke
  • Larger frame and higher handlebars allow for more room for growth for taller or larger-framed kids
  • Coaster brake can be removed with Pello’s $20 freewheel kit

CONS
  • Bigger tires add weight – may be an issue for some riders


Spawn Yoji 14″

Best for All-Terrain Riders


MSRP: $385

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

WEIGHT: 14.25 lbs.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

FULL REVIEW: Spawn Yoji 14

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

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

PROS
  • Semi upright body positioning perfect for transition from beginning to adventurous riding
  • Knobby, all-terrain tires for riding in various conditions
  • Freewheel, no coaster brake
  • Top quality construction
  • Available in 5 colors

CONS
  • Purchase of additional seat post required
  • Complicated and time-consuming (or professional) assembly required


Cleary Gecko

Best for the Smallest Riders


MSRP: $310

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 15″ to 19″.  Best for balance bikes graduates still in size 3T/4T clothes.

WEIGHT: 13 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 12″

FULL REVIEW: Cleary Gecko

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

PROS
  • Very low minimum seat height accommodates little riders
  • Easy-reach, easy-pull dual-hand brakes
  • Reversible tire to allow for two gearing options

CONS
  • Flat handlebars minimize room for growth


Strider 14x

Best Balance Bike/Pedal Bike in One


 

MSRP: $190

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

WEIGHT: 12.5 lb.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEW: Strider 14x Convertible Balance Bike

A great option for preschoolers who have yet to master a balance bike, the Strider 14x is a balance bike that converts to a pedal bike.   No need for training wheels, once a child has learned to balance while in balance bike mode, simply put on the pedals and within a couple of minutes they’ll be pedaling away, no help needed! Once your child outgrows the pedal bike mode, they will be ready for a 16″ bike.

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

PROS
  • Starts as a balance bike and easily converts to a pedal bike
  • Larger frame and tire size fit kids from ages 3 to 5
  • Comfortable, upright body positioning promotes confidence for beginners
  • Cushioned, ergonomic seat

CONS
  • No hand brake, coaster brake in pedal mode
  • Very short crank arms in pedal mode – difficult for kids over age 5 to ride

 


ByK E-250

Best for the Youngest Riders to Grow With


MSRP: $239

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

WEIGHT: 14.4 lb. (without training wheels)

TRAINING WHEELSComes with training wheels for kids and a push bar for parents.

TIRE SIZE: 14″

FULL REVIEW: ByK E-250

The only bike under $270 with a minimum seat height of 15″, the ByK E-250 is a great option for young, small kids. Often times ambitious 3-year-olds are ready to transition from a balance bike to a pedal bike, but they simply aren’t tall enough to fit over the 17″ minimum seat height on most 12″ bikes.  We also love that the frame size and design of the ByK allows a small child to grow with their bike.

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

PROS
  • Low center-of-gravity design for easier balancing
  • Included push bar to help parents balance unstable kids
  • Lightweight for its price range
  • Available in four colors

CONS
  • Quality of components could use improvement
  • Coaster brake

12" & 14" Bikes for Kids 2 to 4 Years Old

Bike

MSRP

WeightMin Seat HeightMax Seat HeightFreewheel OptionGain RatioFrame Material

woom 2

$339

11.2 lb.16"19"Yes3.7Aluminum

Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12

$150

17.75 lb.18"21"NoSteel

Prevelo Alpha One

$359

14.4 lb.15.6"17.5"Yes3.7Aluminum

Specialized Riprock

$22015 lb.17"19"No4Aluminum

Diamondback Micro Viper

$110

17.4 lb. 17.5"20.5"NoSteel

Pello Romper 14

$339

15 lb.17.5"21.75"Yes3.57Aluminum

Spawn Yoji 14"

$370

14.25 lb.16.5"18"Standard3.67Aluminum

Cleary Gecko

$310

13 lb.15"19"Yes2.97Steel

Strider 14x

$190

12.5 lb.15"22"NoSteel

ByK E-250

$239

14.4 lb.15.7"18.1"No2.45Aluminum

How to Choose the Best Bike for your 2, 3 or 4-Year-Old

For a more detailed discussion about how to choose the perfect kid’s bike, check out our post: Kids’ Pedal Bikes: How to Choose. If you’re looking for something quick, here’s a short summary of the most important things to look for to find the best bike for your 2, 3, or 4-year-old.

Size

A 12″ or 14″ bike is generally the best fit for 2 and 3-year-olds, who may continue to ride the bike while they are 4-years-old. If your child is already 4, a 16″ bike should also be considered to allow for more room for growth.

We only recommend 12″ and 14″ pedal bikes for young riders who have already mastered a balance bike. If you have a 2 or 3-year-old that has never used a balance bike, they will almost certainly need training wheels to ride a 12″ pedal bike. We highly discourage training wheels, and instead encourage you to look at balance bikes instead. To learn more about why balance bikes are so much better than training wheels, check out our post all about it!

3 year old fits well on Cruzee balance bike, but looks perched on top of the Raleigh MXR 12 with training wheels

While 12″ and 14″ bikes generally serve the same age of rider, 14″ bikes are usually better proportioned for a child’s body and are almost always found on higher-end bikes. A few mid range-brands such as Raleigh have good quality 12″ bikes.

Within the 12″/14″ tire size, the seat height range of bikes varies. Just because your child is 3 years old doesn’t mean that every 12 or 14″ bike will be a great fit. The petite 3-year-old below loved both the woom 2 and the Prevelo Alpha One, but by the time she was approaching her 4th birthday, the slightly larger woom 2 was a better fit for her.

Child riding woom 2 and Prevelo Alpha One 14" bikes. The Prevelo is smaller than the woom.

Because this will be your child’s first pedal bike, the seat height should be set at or slightly under their inseam to allow them to stop the bike with their feet, like they are used to on a balance bike.

This gives them confidence that they won’t fall over and is an added measure of safety as they learn to balance and pedal at the same time. As time moves on and your brave 2 or 3-year-old masters pedaling, the seat height can be raised for better leg extension while pedaling.

 

Weight

Ideally, your child’s bike shouldn’t weigh more than 40% of their body weight. Learning to pedal and balance at the same time can be challenging, but even more so if your child has to work extra hard to keep a heavy bike upright. Getting up from a fall is also far more discouraging when your bike weighs a ton!

For example, the RoyalBaby 12″ bike weighs 19 lbs, while the woom 2 (14″) only weighs 11.2 lbs. That’s almost EIGHT extra pounds of bike! Which bike do you think will be easier for your 3 or 4-year-old to maneuver??

3-year-old riding woom 2 14" bike at the 9th Street BMX bike park in Austin

Frame Design

The majority of 12″ bikes are poorly designed.  Most suffer from short wheelbases (the distance between the center of the two wheels), which causes kids to be scrunched on the bike with little room between the handlebars and the seat. This negatively affects kids riding with or without training wheels. Read more about our issues with 12″ bikes in our article Why You Should Never Buy a 12″ Bike (with a few exceptions).

The properly-designed 12″ and 14″ bikes we do recommend have longer wheelbases which provide more space for the child rider, increase stability and maneuverability, and make the bikes easier to ride.  They also generally keep a child in an upright position which is the most comfortable position for beginning riders.

Brakes

Coaster brakes (back pedal brakes) are required by CPSC standards on all 12″ and 14″ bikes in the US, but they can make it much more difficult to learn to pedal while balancing a bike.  Because a child naturally pedals backward to regain balance, coaster brakes become problematic as they cause kids to brake accidentally, which can lead to falls and lost motivation.  Even once they have mastered balancing, preventing the child’s natural inclination to pedal backward to regain balance puts the child at a disadvantage.

If a child is coordinated enough to be riding a bike without training wheels, they are most likely also coordinated enough to use a hand brake. The best 12″/14″ bikes come with a coaster brake and handbrakes.

Many higher-end 14″ bikes also offer an optional “freewheel kit” that allows you to swap out the back tire and remove the coaster brake on your own. These bikes are then coaster-brake-free and rely on the much better handbrake system to stop the bike.

 

Price

Many parents are hesitant to pay more than $50 – $100 on a child’s first real bike. While you certainly can go to Walmart and pick up a bike at that price, we strongly urge you to choose a bike from this list instead. While your child may just be a 3-year-old, the extra cost of a high-quality bike is so worth it! A child just learning to ride a bike is especially in need of a lightweight, quality bike that’s easy to ride.

 


Related Articles


Kids’ Bikes: How to Choose: Everything you need to know to choose the perfect bike for your child

Kids’ Bikes: Comparison Charts: To view, sort, and read reviews on over 50 kids’ bikes

Why You Should Never Buy a 12″ Bike (With a Few Exceptions): Why most 12″ bikes are so heavy and difficult to ride

The Best Kids Bikes of 2018: Bicycling.com kids bike’s favorites, from balance bikes to 24″ bikes.  While we share many top picks, we’ve actually seen and tested these bikes in person ;).


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