The Best 16 Inch Bikes for 4 and 5-Year-Olds

When it comes to 16 inch bikes, they’re often a kid’s first taste of true independent riding, so finding the perfect fit is key! But with such a wide range of sizes among 16 inch bikes, it can be tricky to nail down the perfect one without a bit of guidance.

Why trust us? Over the last decade, we’ve tested over forty 16 inch pedal bikes with dozens of kids! Through hands-on experience, we’ve mastered the art of fitting your child to a bike (hint: it’s not just about wheel size!) and discovered which bike brands cater best to different types of riders.

group of a 16 inch bikes lined up on a lawn

While our top picks all have 16 inch wheels, check out our mini reviews below for a closer look at their actual size. Aim for a minimum seat height 0-2″ greater than your child’s inseam for the ideal fit. Check our kids bike sizes guide for further details.

Best 16 Inch Bikes for Kids Ages 4 to 5

Bike Noteable Features Price
Budget-friendly Bikes
Retrospec Koda 2 Bang for your buck design, coaster brake $149
Guardian Bikes 16 Innovative Sure Stop braking system $249
Raleigh Rowdy 16 MTB styling with great value for taller riders $280
Neighborhood Bikes: Better for Mainly Paved Riding
woom 3 Fine tuned for beginning and timid riders $449
Prevelo Alpha Two Smallest 16" bike, best for short riders $429
Priority Start 16 Sharp modern styling, quiet belt drive $329
Biky 16 Most room for growth $399
Multi-Use: Great for Paved and Dirt Trails
Pello Revo Versatile fit for timid to dare devil riders $399
Early Rider Belter 16 Impeccable build with aggressive geo, belt drive $479
Cleary Hedgehog Durable build, low gain ratio for hills $350

The Best 16 Inch Bikes Video Summary

Wondering what all of our favorite bikes look like in action? Check out our video summary below to watch our kid bike riders put them to the test.

BUDGET FRIENDLY 16 INCH BIKES

What We Look for in a Budget-Friendly Bike
While these bikes are not as high-end or as lightweight as the bikes that take our top recommendations, they all perform impressively for their price tag. They also feature good basic geometry with properly placed handlebars (not too high, not too low), a reasonable weight (under 21 lb.), and a durable build.

Guardian Bikes 16

SureStop braking system safety innovation

5 year old riding a Guardian 16 inch kids bike original
  • MSRP: $249
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 18.25″ – 22.6″
  • WEIGHT: 17.5 lb.
  • TRAINING WHEELS: Compatible, but not included
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Proprietary braking system helps kids stop bike with more control
  • FULL REVIEWGuardian Bikes 16

While Guardian bikes boast lightweight frames and a kid-specific design for a good price, what really makes Guardian stand out is their proprietary braking system called SureStop.

Designed to prevent unsafe braking, SureStop has only one brake lever that sequentially engages the rear and front brakes. Not only it is the safest system on the market, but it’s also much easier to use than most traditional dual-hand brakes. 

When braking with just the front hand brake while at high speeds, bikes can tilt forward, bucking the child off the bike and over the handlebars. SureStop on Guardian bikes prevents this by having only one brake lever engage the front and rear brakes.

What this also means is that the Guardian 16 does not have a coaster brake (back pedal brake). This is the most affordable 16″ bike without a coaster brake. Why does this matter? Coaster brakes actually make it much harder for kids to learn to ride.

Retrospec Koda 2 16″

Bang for your buck quality and kid-friendly geometry

Girl riding 16" Retrospec Koda 2 Plus down the sidewalk
  • MSRP: $149 (Plus model), $119 (Non-plus model)
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 18.3″ – 23″
  • WEIGHT: 19.1 lb.
  • TRAINING WHEELS: Compatible and included
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Kid-friendly geometry for a comfortable, natural ride, great fit over time
  • FULL REVIEWRetrospec Koda 2 Plus Kids Bikes Review

Affordable bikes are often low quality and poorly designed, creating a frustrating riding experience for your child. But the Retrospec Koda 2 (and Koda 2 Plus) is that rare gem of a kid’s bike that we are so excited to find. It’s super affordable, and also thoughtfully designed to be easy to ride! These types of bikes shouldn’t be rare gems, but unfortunately, they are.

While the Koda 2 16 bikes aren’t as fine-tuned or as lightweight as the more expensive budget bikes, their overall geometry and kid-friendly fit are pretty similar. If your budget is only under $150, we happily recommend these bikes.

What’s the difference between the Koda 2 16 and the Koda 2 Plus 16? A few things, but the biggest is that the Plus model has a hand brake. After extensive testing, we’ve found that the hand brake doesn’t offer much stopping power for little ones, so they will need to rely on the coaster brake.

As a result, if you can find a non-Plus model in stock in a color your kid will get excited about, you could save $30 and get essentially the same experience.

Raleigh Rowdy 16

Fun and aggressive little pony that won’t break the bank, for taller riders

boy riding a red raleigh rowdy 16
  • MSRP: $280
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 21.5″ – 26″
  • WEIGHT: 15.6 lb.
  • TRAINING WHEELS: Compatible, but not included
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Great quality for the price, no coaster brake
  • FULL REVIEWRaleigh Rowdy 16

The Raleigh Rowdy’s low, flat handlebars and wide cushioning tires make this little pony a solid option for kids who will be adventuring off the beaten path. For its price, it’s impressively lightweight AND doesn’t have a coaster brake!

Compared to other bikes on this list, the Rowdy 16 is a bit larger. For example, the minimum seat height of the Rowdy is 21.5″, while the minimum seat height of the Prevelo Alpha Two is 17″. That’s a huge difference, and a good reminder that kids’ bikes are not one size fits all.

BEST FOR NEIGHBORHOOD RIDERS

What We Look for in a Neighborhood Bike
Most kids on 16 inch bikes stick to riding around the neighborhood. Stable and lightweight, high-quality neighborhood bikes should also be be easy to ride, easy to balance, and perform consistently. Dual hand brakes and NO coaster brake are also a requirement to make our list.

woom 3

Super lightweight, fine-tuned design for beginners

4 year old riding a green woom 3 16 inch bike
  • MSRP: $449 for single speed, $499 for Automagic
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 19.1″ – 25.2″
  • WEIGHT: 13.1 lb., or 14.6 lb. for Automagic
  • TRAINING WHEELS: Not compatible
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Comfortable, upright geometry, super lightweight
  • FULL REVIEWWOOM 3

The go-to bike for beginning riders. woom Bikes is a high-end, child-specific bike company that takes pride in designing bikes built specifically for children’s smaller frames. Smaller, lighter, and with a lower center-of-gravity than the average bike, the woom 3 is incredibly easy to balance and has a special brake system to help little newbies learn to properly use dual hand brakes for the first time.

Of all the bikes on this list, the woom 3 is the easiest bike to learn to ride on for true beginners. If you think your child will develop into a confident speed demon, the woom 3 AUTOMAGIC is offered with a 2-speed rear hub that automatically shifts a child into a higher gear when needed.

Prevelo Alpha Two

Lightweight bike for the smallest neighborhood riders

4 year old riding Prevelo Alpha Two bike in red
  • MSRP: $429
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 17″ – 25″
  • WEIGHT: 14.4 lb.
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Frame hugger saddle allows for a super low minimum seat height
  • FULL REVIEWPrevelo Alpha 2

Engineered for kids with a lightweight frame and higher gearing, the Prevelo Alpha Two is a great option for kids who want to enjoy a long ride with the family.  With a 3.8 gain ratio, the rider gains considerable distance with each pedal stroke, making long rides easier for young riders.

But what really sets the Alpha Two apart is its super low minimum seat height of 17″. As the smallest 16″ bike that we know of, this Prevelo is uniquely sized to allow younger riders to reap the benefits of larger 16″ wheels at a younger age.

Priority Start 16

Low-maintenance, grease-free, quiet belt drive and sophisticated styling

Child giving a big thumbs up while riding his Priority Start 16
  • MSRP: $329
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 18.5″ – 23″
  • WEIGHT: 15.9 lb.
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Packed with features for the price
  • FULL REVIEWPriority Start 16

Built with high-end components that provide durability and performance, the Priority 16 packs a lot of punch in its price tag.  Priority Bicycles got their start with Kickstarter and has grown into a well-respected, innovative bike brand.

A great first “real” kids bike with more sophisticated adult styling, the Start will have your child craving adventure on two wheels in no time. But what makes Priority Bicycles different from all the rest? The Gates carbon belt drive, which replaces a traditional bike chain.

Kids think the super quiet belt drive is ninja cool for stealth mode, and parents love that the belt drive requires basically no maintenance, and won’t get hands or pants greasy.

Biky 16

Offers most room for growth, super lightweight

Young girl riding the Biky 16 kids bike
  • MSRP: $399
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 17.5″ – 25″
  • WEIGHT: 12.5 lb.
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Superlight weight, comfortable semi-upright body position
  • FULL REVIEWBiky 16

In addition to being one of the lightest 16″ bikes on the market, the Biky 16 also offers an impressive fit range. With a low minimum seat height of 17.5″ and a maximum height of 25″, the Biky stands out for its versatility, accommodating a wide range of riders.

The Biky’s mid-rise handlebars strike a perfect balance—they aren’t too high for the smallest riders, avoiding an awkward high-rise position; they aren’t too low for taller riders, ensuring comfort without forcing an overly aggressive posture. This makes them a perfect Goldilocks height.

One drawback of the Biky 16 is its single handbrake on the rear wheel. While our testers had no trouble safely stopping the bike, adventurous speed demons might prefer a bike equipped with dual-hand brakes for increased stopping power.

BIKES FOR ADVENTUROUS RIDERS

What We Look for in a Bike for Adventurous Riders
Riders ready to hit the trails—whether paved or compact dirt—and tackle every ramp or curb will benefit from low-rise handlebars that place the body in a more forward-leaning position.

This allows riders to easily shift their weight to maintain balance on uneven surfaces, ramps, curbs, etc. Wider and knobbier tires, as well as dual-hand brakes and no coaster brake, also help little adventurers to maneuver safely through more technical terrain.

If you’re raising a little shredder and are looking for a dedicated 16 inch mountain bike, be sure to check out our favorite 16″ bikes for single track.

Pello Revo

Versatile fit for everyone from timid to aggressive riders

Young boy riding 16" Pello Revo kids bike.
  • MSRP: $389
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 19″ – 24.5″
  • WEIGHT: 14.6 lb.
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Lightweight build, adjustable handlebars, knobby tires, high-end components
  • FULL REVIEWPello Revo

Whether your little one is timid to get started on a bike or is ready to charge full on into the world via two wheels, the Pello Revo is ready for action. With a lightweight build, quality brakes that stop on a dime, and handlebars that adjust to fine tune the fit, the Revo provides a comfortable, exciting, and nimble ride.

Built with a semi-upright geometry, the Revo positions the rider upright enough to help timid riders feel comfortable. With the ability to tilt the handlebars closer or farther away from the rider, the Revo can easily be customized to your rider’s preferred fit.

If your neighborhood rider decides to get aggressive and take their love of riding off-road, the Revo’s all-terrain tires are ready for the job! If they happen to fall in love with the dirt, the Revo is also compatible with up to 2.1″ wide tires (1.5″ is standard).

Early Rider Belter 16

Impeccable build with aggressive geo and a belt drive

young boy riding the 16 inch Early Rider Belter at a bike park
  • MSRP: $479
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 19.5″ – 23.5″
  • WEIGHT: 13.7 lb.
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Super smooth, grease-free belt drive; amazing quality; aggressive geo
  • FULL REVIEW: Early Rider Belter 16

If the showstopping build and aesthetics of the Early Rider Belter don’t draw you in, its performance certainly will! Built with a grease-free belt drive instead of a traditional bike chain, the Belter rides exceptionally smoothly and, as an added perk, requires very little maintenance.

The Belter’s aggressive geometry makes it ideal for city riders eager to tackle every curb, ramp, or jump they encounter. The bike’s low-rise handlebar allows riders to easily lean into the bike and shift their weight when getting adventurous.

For a little extra cushioning through the city jungles, the Belter comes with 2.0″ wide tires with a smooth street tread. If dirt trails or single track are in your little rider’s future, the Early Rider Seeker 16 model offers the same build as the Belter but with knobby tires for better off-road performance.

However, due to the Belter’s lack of a chain guard (or belt guard), take caution to ensure your little rider isn’t wearing baggy clothes (such as pants, skirts, or dresses) while on the Belter – they could get caught in the belt. While we haven’t experienced this issue with the new Belter 16, it was a problem with their older model.

Cleary Hedgehog

Durable build, low gain ratio for hills

Young child riding Cleary Hedgehog 16 inch bike through park
  • MSRP: $350
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 17.5″ – 24.5″ (17.5″ min requires purchase of shorter seat post)
  • WEIGHT: 17.5 lb.
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Lightweight yet sturdy steel frame, vegan leather saddle and matte paint job, optional rear cogs to change the gain ratio
  • FULL REVIEWCleary Hedgehog

With a lightweight steel frame and impressive stability, the Hedgehog is the perfect ride for hitting the skatepark or cruising through the neighborhood. Responsive handbrakes and very low gearing make it ideal for more ambitious and/or uphill terrain.

On the flip side, the lower gearing makes this bike less ideal for long paved rides where higher gearing would allow a child to gain more distance with each pedal stroke.

With the purchase of an optional shorter seat post, the Hedgehog’s seat can be lowered to 17.5″, making it one of the smallest 16″ bikes on the market. The Cleary Owl, which is the 20-inch version of this bike, is sized like a larger 16 inch bike and is often a great fit for taller 4, 5 or 6-year-olds.

Over many years of testing Cleary Bikes, we’ve found them to be incredibly durable, making them a great option for families who want to pass bikes down to younger siblings.

OTHER 16 INCH BIKES TO CONSIDER

Not every bike we test can make our Top 10, but here are a few honorable mention bikes you should also consider. Some bikes below are normally on our Top 10 list, but are currently out of stock.

Schwinn Elm/Koen

Cute and sporty designs

4 year old child riding a red and purple 16 inch bike
  • MSRP: $189
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 20.5″ – 24.5″
  • WEIGHT: 20.6 lb.
  • STANDOUT FEATURES: Easy-to-ride, kid-specific design
  • FULL REVIEWSchwinn SmartStart Series

Available in multiple styles and from multiple retailers, Schwinn’s SmartStart Series collection of bikes (which includes the Elm 16 inch girls bike and Koen 16 inch boys bike) are a big step up from cheap big-box store bikes. Lighter than those bikes, the SmartStart Series also provides a better, child-specific geometry which allows for a more stable and comfortable ride for kids.

While the overall design is still a lower-quality, budget build, the price tag is much more affordable for many parents. The SmartStart Series does come with a handbrake, but it’s poorly made and riders will have to rely on the coaster brake to stop.

While we have a much more detailed discussion about what makes a great bike in our best kids’ bikes buying guide, here’s a quick summary of the most important things to look for to find the perfect bike for your 4 or 5-year-old.

Size – 16 inch bikes vary widely

A 16 inch bike is generally the best fit to purchase for 4 and 5-year-olds. If your child is a very tall 5-year-old, a 20 inch bike should also be considered to allow for more room for growth.

Within the 16 inch wheel size, there is a very large range of seat heights. The smallest 16 inch bike we recommend has a 17″ minimum seat height, while another has a minimum seat height of 21.5″!  To allow for the most room for growth, find a bike that has a minimum seat height that comes as close as possible to your child’s ideal seat setting (which will vary based on inseam and whether or not this is your child’s first pedal bike).

If this bike is your child’s first pedal bike after a balance bike, the bike’s seat should be set at or just below their inseam measurement. This allows a child to sit on the seat and easily put their feet down to steady themselves or stop the bike. This is critical as they learn to pedal to instill confidence, and for maximum safety.

If your child has already mastered pedaling, you should set the bike’s seat about 2″ above the child’s inseam to allow for maximum efficiency while pedaling.

12 different 16 inch bikes lined up in a row. They vary in size.

Weight – Lightweight is key to gaining confidence

Ideally, your child’s bike shouldn’t weigh more than 30% of their body weight. In general, the lighter the bike, the easier and less tiring it will be for your child to ride.  Heavy bikes are really hard to manage for little ones who are still mastering the art of balancing and pedaling at the same time!

For example, can you imagine a 4-year-old trying to ride the Royal Baby 16″ bike which weighs 24 pounds compared to the woom 3 at 13.1 pounds?? Since kids are often starting off their pedal bike journey on a 16″ bike, when possible, we often encourage parents to step up their budget a bit in order to get their kids on a lighter weight bike. With a lightweight bike they can quickly become confident little pedalers. Once confident, they can often tackle a heavier, often lesser quality bike for their next bike.

Frame Design – It goes way beyond looks!

A bike’s frame design plays a major role in the overall feel and performance of a bike.  Some bikes put a child in an upright position that feels very natural for beginning riders and is great for neighborhood riding.

41 inch tall girl riding the woom 3 16 inch bike and the Prevelo Alpha Two 16 inch bike. She is much more leaned forward on the Prevelo.

Other bikes require a rider to lean forward to grip the handlebars, putting kids in a more aggressive position. These types of bikes are generally better for more experienced, adventurous riders who will be doing more aggressive riding.

Brakes – Try to avoid coaster brakes

Coaster brakes (back pedal brakes) are often found on 16 inch bikes, but they can inhibit a child’s ability to learn to pedal while balancing a bike.  Why?

When learning to pedal and balance on a bike, kids (like adults!) naturally pedal backward when attempting to regain their balance.  If the bike has a coaster brake, pedaling backward inadvertently activates the bike’s brake, which slows the bike and often leads to a crash. Without a coaster brake, pedaling backward to regain balance isn’t a problem.

5 year old engaging the handbrake of a 16 inch bike

As a result, we much prefer bikes without coaster brakes and with responsive hand brakes that are easy for small hands to operate.

Gearing – How fast will the bike go?

For kids ages 4, 5, and 6, gears are just too much to handle and bikes with gears and shifters are not available on 16 inch bikes. However, the gearing of a bike is still worth taking into consideration. In the biking world, the gain ratio relates to the gearing of a single-speed bike and is often used to determine how hard it is to pedal a bike.

High gain ratios (3.7+) are harder to get started pedaling but can more easily maintain higher speeds. Lower gain ratios (3.3 and below) are really easy to start pedaling but can’t reach high maximum speeds. Gain ratios in the middle do a little bit of both! For 16 inch bikes, we generally prefer mid-range gain ratios from about 3.5 to 3.8.

4 year old riding a pello revo 16 inch kids bike

Price – What does a more expensive bike get me?

Good bikes are not cheap. Every bike on this list is significantly better than a bike you’ll find at Walmart, but also costs more. Why? It’s not easy making a high-quality, lightweight bike! There is a reason some adults bikes cost more than a car.

In the end, after testing over 50 different 16 inch bikes, we can confidently say that higher-end bikes are MUCH easier for kids to ride than budget bikes found at big-box stores.

While any bike (well, any safe bike) is better than no bike, if you want your child to start their biking journey off with a smile versus tears and frustration, we highly recommend splurging on a nicer bike when possible. Higher-end bikes also typically have great resale values, with many re-selling for close to 70% of their MSRP.

Girls vs Boys Bikes

Is there really any difference between girls bike or boys bikes? Beyond color or design patterns, not really. There are a few cheaper girls bikes that have swooping frames, but in today’s world, all of the best kids bikes have identical frames and components for boys and girls.

All kids bike brands offer a range of colors from “girly” to “boyish” or gender neutral. You don’t need to look for a “girl” or “boy” bike, just choose the best kids bike, and find a color your child loves. If you’re wondering which brands have purple and pink and turquoise colors for a 4 or 5 year old girl, check out our page on the best bikes for girls.

You also always have the option of adding cute bike accessories to any bike to make it more feminine. For our favorite girls bike accessories, check out our list of best kids bike accessories.

Training Wheels: 10 Frequently Asked Questions: If you’re considering training wheels, read this first!

How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bike – It doesn’t have to be painful!

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

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