We are a reader supported site. We earn an affiliate commission when you buy through our links.

10 Best Kids 12 Inch and 14 Inch Bikes: Bikes for 3 Year Olds

With hundreds of kids’ bikes on the market, finding the perfect bike for your toddler or pre-schooler can quickly get confusing. Kids 12 inch and 14 inch bikes are the best size bikes for 3-year-olds, but they vary greatly in cost, size and features. 

While some 2-year-olds can fit on a 12-bike, we have found that pedal bikes are usually too heavy for them to properly handle and a lightweight balance bike is better suited for their size. To help you narrow your search, we’ve outlined our top bikes, why we love them, and why you will too!

10 Best Bikes for 3 Year Olds

  1. woom 2 – Best Overall, $359 (*Pre-Order)
  2. Guardian Ethos 14 – Best Safety Innovation, $249 (*Pre-Order)
  3. Raleigh Jazzi/MXR – Best on a Budget, $149
  4. Joey 2.5– Best with Training Wheels and a Push Bar, $239
  5. Prevelo Alpha One – Best for Adventurous Riders, $359 (*Pre-Order)
  6. Pello Romper – Best for All-Terrain Riders, $339 (*Backorder)
  7. Cleary Gecko – Best for the Smallest Riders, $310
  8. Spawn Yoji – Best for Little Groms, $379
  9. Specialized Riprock – Best Bike Shop Bike, $220
  10. Strider 14x – Balance Bike/Pedal Bike in One, $200
  11. Schwinn Elm/Koen – Budget Honorable Mention, $130

Quick Tips about 12 inch and 14 inch 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 inch 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 inch 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 inches 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


woom 2 14" kids' pedal bike - red

MSRP: $359

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

WEIGHT: 11.2 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE14 inch

FULL REVIEWwoom 2

Easy and intuitive, the woom 2 is the perfect first pedal bike for balance bike graduates. At just over 11 pounds, it’s the LIGHTEST 12 or 14” bike on the market, which has a HUGE effect on a child’s ability to manage a bike. It also has a smart combination of top-end components, bike geometry, and brake design that work in unison to create a natural, fun, riding environment.  

The woom 2’s unique geometry centers the child’s weight over their hips (just like when standing), and keeps a child in a comfortable, upright position. This allows the bike and the child’s body to work together in a natural and easy process.

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 five colors

CONS:

  • Too upright for very aggressive riders

Guardian Ethos 14

Best Safety Innovation


2 year old riding Guardian Ethos 14 girls bike through splash pad

MSRP: $249

FITS KIDS: With inseams ranging from 15.5″ – 19.25″

WEIGHT: 16.5 lbs.

TRAINING WHEELS: Compatible, purchased separately

TIRE SIZE: 14″

OUR FAVORITE FEATURES: SureStop braking system, kid-friendly geometry, easy to balance, no coaster brake

FULL REVIEW: Guardian Ethos 14″

While there are a ton of things to love about Guardian Bikes, the proprietary SureStop braking system is what really sets them apart from the competition. SureStop brakes have a single brake lever on the right hand that activates both the rear and front brake! Yep, with just one brake lever, you get all the stopping power you need! And as the cherry on top, the Guardian 14 does not have a coaster (back pedal) brake, which is a big benefit for little ones first learning to pedal.

SureStop not only makes braking faster, but safer because it helps kids internalize proper braking technique from the get-go. As kids get older and ride much faster, braking with the front brake only (usually found on the left hand) can cause them to endo (flip over the handlebars). SureStop trains kids to rely on their right hand for braking.

While the single right-hand brake lever simplifies braking for all Guardian bikes (sold up to size 24″), this simplified system is an even bigger bonus on a 14″ bike. Two brake levers can be a lot for little ones to manage. We’ve found it very difficult to explain to 2 and 3 year olds the importance of braking with your right brake lever first, and never just with the left. With only one brake lever to manage, the SureStop braking system is a HUGE win for the littlest riders. 

PROS:

  • SureStop braking system for faster and safer braking
  • Only one brake lever required to engage front and rear brakes – easier to manage for young riders
  • Child-friendly bike geometry places child in natural and comfortable upright position
  • No coaster brake! (Back pedal brakes can make it harder to learn to ride a bike)
  • Fun color combinations

CONS:

  • A bit heavier than other (more expensive) bikes on this list

Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12

Best on a Budget


side by side image of the Raleigh Jazzi 12 and the Raleigh MXR 12

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 inch

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

A known name in the bike industry, Raleigh’s 12 inch 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

Joey 2.5

Best with Training Wheels and a Push Bar


Joey 2.5 14 inch kids bike with training wheels and a push bar

MSRP: $239

FITS KIDS: With inseams from 15.5″ to 18″. With training wheels, inseams from 16.5″ – 18.25″

WEIGHT: 14.8 lb. (without training wheels)

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

TIRE SIZE: 14 inch

FULL REVIEW: Joey 2.5

With a long wheelbase, a lightweight build, and no coaster brake, the Joey 2.5 is a great starter bike for its price. Fun and easy to ride, the Joey can easily help your little one transition from balance bike to pedal bike.

If you didn’t go the balance bike route, the Joey 2.5 is a great choice because it comes with training wheels and a push bar to help get your child started.  With less than 2” of seat height adjustment, however, room for growth on the Joey 2.5 is minimal.

PROS:

  • Longer wheelbase for increased stability
  • Upright geometry for easier balancing
  • Push bar and training wheels both included
  • Lightweight for its price range
  • NO coaster brake! (back pedal brake)

CONS:

  • Only 1.75″ of seat height adjustments
  • Lower-quality, single-pivot brakes versus v-pull

Prevelo Alpha One

Best for Adventurous Riders


prevelo alpha one 14" kids' pedal bike - silver

MSRP: $359

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

WEIGHT: 14.4 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 14 inch

FULL REVIEW: Prevelo Alpha One

The Prevelo Alpha One  is one impressive and tiny bike for the smallest and most eager balance bike graduates. With high-end components, sophisticated, yet kid-specific design, and durability to last through several kids, you’ll be wishing you were small enough to ride it.

With lower-set handlebars than most other bikes on this list, the Alpha Zero is a solid choice for aggressive balance bike riders ready to tackle pedals. The lower handlebars allow for more of the child’s weight to be over the handlebars, which helps the aggressive rider to better maneuver and control the bike.

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)


Pello Romper 14

Best for All-Terrain Timid Riders 


Pello Romper 14" kid's bike in orange

MSRP: $339

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

WEIGHT: 15 lb.

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

TIRE SIZE: 14 inch

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 and single-track dirt trails. 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. 

With a minimum seat height about 1.5 – 2” taller than our other favorite bikes on this list, the Pello Romper will be a better fit for kids transitioning to a pedal bike around 3 or 3.5 years old.

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


Cleary Gecko

Best for the Smallest Riders


Cleary Gecko 12" kid's bike in blue

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 inch

FULL REVIEW: Cleary Gecko

The smallest bike on our list, the Cleary Gecko is the best bike for the smallest and youngest of balance bike graduates.  With a low minimum seat height, the Gecko is a great option for little 2 or 3-year-olds already eager to tackle the world on a pedal bike.

 The Gecko’s flat handlebars result in a more aggressive body position best suited for adventurous balance bike graduates. Cleary does offer an optional high-rise handlebar if the flat handlebars are too aggressive for your little one.

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


Spawn Yoji 14″

Best for Little Groms


spawn yoji 14" kids' pedal bike - blue

MSRP: $385

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

WEIGHT: 14.25 lbs.

TIRE SIZE: 14 inch

TRAINING WHEELS: Not provided.

FULL REVIEW: Spawn Yoji 14

Have a future shredder on your hands? The Spawn Yoji is for you!

Fine-tuned from top-to-bottom for the true young trail rider, the Yoji 14 inch bike 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. And with pretty sweet components, Spawn bikes are a mountain bike parent’s dream come true.

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

Specialized Riprock

Best Bike Shop Bike


Specialized Riprock 12" kid's bike in hot pink

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 inch

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

Park Cycles 14

Best Bang for Your Buck


3 year old riding Park Cycles 14" on a paved trail

MSRP: $215

FITS KIDS: Transitioning out of 2T to 4T

WEIGHT: 16.1 lbs.

TIRE SIZE: 14 inch

FULL REVIEW: Park Cycles 14″

Hailing out of Canada, Park Cycles is a new and growing kids bike brand gaining a lot of excitement with parents.

With a mission to provide great kids bikes at affordable prices, Park Cycles bikes are an insane bang for your buck. The Park Cycles 14” features kid-friendly geometry and a low center of gravity similar to our other favorite bikes on this list…and is also lightweight, coming in at 16 lbs! 

Park Cycles keeps costs down by featuring more basic components, but those components are still kid-friendly and are much better quality than anything you’ll find at a big-box-store. If you’re a family on a budget, but are serious about getting your young rider started off on the right foot, Park Cycles is a fantastic option.

PROS:

  • Kid-friendly build at a parent-friendly price
  • Natural, upright body position optimal for kids learning to ride a pedal bike
  • Lightweight aluminum frame
  • Tektro dual hand brakes
  • No coaster brake!!
  • Wide, knobby tires for varied terrains
  • Available in several fun colors

CONS:

  • Grips are basic and hard
  • Pedals don’t have much bite for traction
  • Assembly a bit tricky for some parents

Strider 14x

Best Balance Bike/Pedal Bike in One


strider 14x convertible bike 14" - yellow

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 inch

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 14 inch 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

Comparison Chart: 12 inch & 14 inch Kids Bikes

Bike

Bike WeightMin Seat HeightMax Seat Height

MSRP

Freewheel OptionGain RatioFrame Material

Multi-Use: Paved and Dirt Trails

Prevelo Alpha One

14.4 lb.15.6"17.5"

$359

Yes3.7Aluminum

woom 2

11.2 lb.16"19"

$359

Yes3.7Aluminum

Spawn Yoji 14"

14.25 lb.16.5"18"

$370

Standard3.67Aluminum

Park Cycles 14

16.1 lb.16.75"19.75"$215Standard3.11Aluminum

Pello Romper 14

15 lb.17.5"21.75"

$339

Yes3.57Aluminum

Cleary Gecko

13 lb.15"19"

$310

Yes2.97Steel

Neighborhood and Paved Trails

Guardian Ethos 1416.2 lb.15.5"19.25"$249StandardSteel
LittleBig14.5. lb.18.5"21"$240Yes3.9Aluminum

Royalbaby H2

15.2 lb.18.25"20"

$240

StandardAluminum

ByK E-250

14.4 lb.15.7"18.1"

$239

No2.45Aluminum

Specialized Riprock

17 lb.15.5"18.5"$220No4Aluminum

Joey 2.5

14.8 lb.16.5"18.25"

$210

StandardAluminum

Strider 14x

12.5 lb.15"22"

$190

NoSteel

Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12

17.75 lb.18"21"

$150

NoSteel

Schwinn Elm/Koen

$130

NoSteel

Diamondback Micro Viper

17.4 lb. 17.5"20.5"

$110

NoSteel

How to Choose the Best Bike for your 2 and 3-Year-Old

For a more detailed discussion about how to choose the perfect kid’s bike, check out our post: Best Kids Bikes: The Authoritative Buying Guide. 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 and 3-year-old.

Size

A 12 inch or 14 inch 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 inch and 14 inch 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 inch 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 inch and 14 inch bikes generally serve the same age of rider, 14 inch 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 inch bikes.

Within the 12/14 inch 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 inch 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 inch) 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 inch 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.

The properly-designed 12 inch and 14 inch 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 inch and 14 inch 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 inch bikes come with a coaster brake and handbrakes.

Many higher-end 14 inch 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.

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.


Related Articles


10 Best Girl Bikes: Looking for a high-performance bike in pink, purple, or cute designs? Check out our list!

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

Training Wheels: 10 Frequently Asked Questions: Training wheels make learning to ride a bike harder. Find out why!

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend