Best Kids Bikes: 10 Best Brands

The best kids bikes are not the bikes and brands you’re most familiar with. After testing over 300 kids bikes over the last 13 years, we can confidently say that if you’re looking for the best kid’s bike, you need to turn your attention to online, kid-specific bike manufacturers.

These online brands don’t just produce kids bikes as an afterthought, they live and breath kids bikes! With impressive attention to the smallest details and built to meet the needs of small bodies, these bikes are simply much easier to ride.

Collage of four of the best kids bike brands - woom, Guardian, Priority, and Prevelo

The Best Kids Bikes

We have seen countless kids struggle on cheap, big-box store bikes only to hop onto one of the bikes below and pedal away like a champ.

Brand Standout Feature Price
Best on a Budget
Retrospec Koda 2 Great quality for low price $149
Guardian Bikes Innovative SureStop braking system $249
Best for Everyday Riders
woom Light weight for effortless riding $449
Priority Bicycles Sharp styling, easy to use and maintain $329
Best for Adventurous Riders
Prevelo Quick, nimble, light weight bikes $429
Polygon Bikes Light weight multi purpose bikes: 20", 24" only $279
Pello Confidence building all-terrain bikes $389
Cleary Nimble and extra durable $370
Frog Bikes Lots of bright color options $480

For additional details on each of these brands, jump down to our Best Kids Bike Brands below.

What Makes a Kids Bike Great?

But what makes these bikes so much easier and fun to ride? And why are they so drastically better than bikes by well-known brands like Huffy, RoyalBaby, or Kent? Here are a few guidelines that explain why they merit a higher price tag than a bike you could pick up at Walmart or Amazon.

Side by side image of a well designed kids bike and a cheap kids bike

Lightweight – Aim for less than 30% of kids weight

Easy to Use Handbrakes – Short-reach, easy-pull brakes

Child-Friendly Geometry – Narrow frames for small bodies

Quality, Replaceable Components – Fixable at a bike shop

Heavy! – These bikes can be a beast to balance and maneuver

Coaster Brakes or hard to use handbrakes

Poor Geometry – Often too tall with short wheelbases

One and Done – Limited or no option to repair

For a more in depth discussion on what to look for in a kids bike, jump down to our What Makes for a Great Kids Bike section below.

What about Trek and Specialized kids bikes?

Brands in local bike shops have made great strides over the last couple years to catch up with the best kid-specific brands. But as a whole, they aren’t quite there yet. Specialized is the exception here with their new Jett line for neighborhood riders, as well as their 24″ Riprock for true MTB riders. These are both phenomenal bikes that we happily recommend.

All in all, however, adult-centric brands focus on delivering killer adult bikes, but their main focus has never been kids bikes. As a result, their bikes tend to be heavier and don’t offer the same quality and performance for the price as the kid-specific brands.

Price vs. Quality

Quality, well-built, and easy-to-ride bikes do not come cheap. Mass-marketed kids bike brands, such as Huffy, RoyalBaby and Dynacraft, are built with a cheap price tag as the end goal, NOT the child’s experience on the bike.

Even adding something like an improved brake caliper for safer braking isn’t considered because it will raise the cost of the bike. With big-box store bikes, price trumps performance.

young child riding a pello revo kids bike

Our favorite kids bike brands are designed to be the best. From the ground up, every component is carefully selected to maximize the performance of the bike.

For those looking for an amazing bike on a budget, we also highly recommend looking for a quality used bike locally.

Our Favorite Kids Bike Brands – Mini Reviews

The brands we showcase on this page truly deliver the best kids pedal bikes on the market. If you have a child 18-months to 3 years old, be sure to check out our best balance bikes article.


Retrospec Koda 2 Plus

Reliable quality for neighborhood riders

5 year old girl riding 20" Retrospec Koda 2 kids bike in the bowl of a skatepark

SIZES: 16″ to 24″ (12″ not recommended, see below)
PRICE RANGE: $119 – $219
TRAINING WHEELS: Come standard on 12″ and 16″
HIGHLIGHTS: Great quality for the price, kid-friendly geometry, clean styling
OUR REVIEWS: Retrospec Koda 2 Plus

We have tested many “cheap kids bikes” over the years, and were impressed at the performance and quality of the Retrospec Koda 2 Plus kids bikes. When compared to big-box store budget bikes, the Retrospec Koda bikes really shine as they are considerably more lightweight and better designed to fit kids’ bodies.

Available in all standard kid sizes, the Koda 2 is suitable for kids who will be riding on paved surfaces. Unlike a few brands on this list, the Koda 2 line is also compatible with training wheels if you choose not to take the balance bike route (which we highly recommend!).

NOTE: Due to the general difficulty of making 12″ kids bikes that are easy to ride and easy to stop, we don’t recommend the 12″ Koda (or any 12″ budget-friendly kids bike.) If your budget is limited, please consider a balance bike instead.

Guardian Bikes

Innovative SureStop Braking System

7-year-old riding Guardian Ethos 20" Small bike in black and red

SIZES: 14″ to 26″
PRICE RANGE: $239 – $399
HIGHLIGHTS: Kid-friendly braking system
OUR REVIEWS: Guardian 14, Guardian 16, Guardian 20, Guardian 24, Guardian 26

Guardian Bikes‘ innovative SureStop braking system has been a game changer in the kids’ bike world. Safer, faster, and more fun than your standard bike brakes, SureStop has simplified the braking process, while also making it more effective.

Every Guardian bike has just one brake lever on the right hand. But that one lever activates both the rear and front brakes sequentially. This results in more stopping power, and prevents kids from accidentally engaging the front brake only, which can result in a child flipping themselves over the handlebars!

Young kids typically have difficulty learning the difference between braking with their right and left hands, but SureStop removes any confusion, while offering the superior braking power of dual brakes.

Guardian bikes are also a favorite amongst our readers due to their fun color combinations and patterns, as well as their shockingly low prices.


woom Bikes

Lightweight masterpieces for effortless riding

toddler riding woom lightweight kids bike at the skate park

SIZES: 14″ to 26″
PRICE RANGE: $399 – $629
TRAINING WHEELS: Not compatible on any size
HIGHLIGHTS: Lightest kids bikes on the market, exceptional kid-friendly geometry
OUR REVIEWS: woom 2 (14″), woom 3 (16″), woom 4 (20″), woom 5 (24″) and woom 6 (26″)

Easy, intuitive, and incredibly lightweight, woom bikes are meticulously designed to make bike riding as natural as possible.  With every component specifically designed to fit the needs of small bodies, everything from the grips to the tires are selected with fit and efficiency in mind.

The woom 2 (14”) and woom 3 (16”)  bikes are the perfect first pedal bikes. If your child is a timid rider or has struggled to learn to ride on other bikes, the woom will be a game-changer!

In addition to the frames being designed with a child’s kinesiology in mind, the bikes are also the LIGHTEST kids bikes on the U.S. market, which has a HUGE effect on a child’s ability to manage a bike.  

Woom’s larger bikes have an evolved design that keeps riding simple and natural, but allows kids to get more adventurous and aggressive as they grow their skills. In addition to maintaining their light weight, the larger woom bikes feature a unique, adjustable-height stem to allow for kids to customize the height of the handlebars as they grow.

Priority Bicycles

Low Maintenance Simplicity

Child giving a big thumbs up while riding his Priority Start 16

SIZES: 16″ to 24″
PRICE RANGE: $329 – $449
TRAINING WHEELS: Compatible on 16″
HIGHLIGHTS: Belt drives, internally geared hubs, 3 gears for simplified shifting
OUR REVIEWS: Priority Start 16″, Start 20″, and Start 24″

Priority Bicycles are uniquely suited for parents who are looking for a top-quality bike with modern, clean styling, but also easy to maintain and easy to use.

Three features help accomplish this purpose: (1) a belt drive instead of the traditional bike chain, (2) an internally geared hub with just 3 gears for easy shifting on their 20” and 24” bikes, and (3) ultralight aluminum frames with classic thin tubing.

While greasy bike chains typically require regular maintenance and can easily fall off, belt drives are grease-free, maintenance-free, and will almost never fall off.

For the 20” and 24” geared bikes, the internally geared hub requires minimal maintenance compared to finicky derailleurs. Derailleurs can easily get damaged, especially on kids bikes, but internally geared hubs are enclosed, protecting them from damage.


Prevelo Bikes

Nimble bikes for all-terrain adventure seekers

Young boy riding the Prevelo Alpha bike

SIZES: 14″ to 26″
PRICE RANGE: $399 – $649
TRAINING WHEELS: Not compatible
HIGHLIGHTS: Trigger shifters, lightweight build, lower minimum seat heights
OUR REVIEWS: Alpha One, Alpha Two, Alpha Three, Alpha Four, Alpha Five

If you have a confident and adventurous rider on your hands, Prevelo Bikes should be your go-to option. Built with lightweight, narrow frames to precisely fit young bodies, Prevelo bikes are quick, nimble, confidence-building machines that will help take your child’s riding skill to the next level.

Coming standard with knobby all-terrain tires, Prevelo’s Alpha series empowers your little rider to effortlessly transition from sidewalks to trail riding and back again. If trail riding becomes the norm, the Alpha’s standard 1.75″ tires can also be bumped up to wider 2.1″ tires.

Starting on their 20” bikes, Prevelo bikes feature trigger shifters, which are particularly suited for aggressive riders who may advance to mountain biking. The speed and maneuverability of Prevelo bikes are also backed by powerful and responsive Tektro caliper brakes.

Polygon Premier Ultralight

Quality and performance with a mid-range price

Boy riding Polygon premier ultralight kids bike

SIZES: 20″ and 24″
PRICE RANGE: $279 – $399
TRAINING WHEELS: Not compatible
HIGHLIGHTS: Lightweight, solid-quality components for the price
OUR REVIEWS: Polygon Premier Ultralight Kids Bike

For timid or aggressive riders, paved or dirt trails, Polygon Premier kids bikes boast kid-friendly geometry and solid-quality components for a seriously low price point. Because Polygon owns their own factories, they are able to produce bikes for less and they pass that savings on to the customer.

Overall, these bikes are incredibly versatile, and will be easy for almost any kid to ride – no matter their skill level. For the average rider, the Ultralight is available in an Urban model with multi-use tires, while the Ultralight MTB is equipped with knobby tires and a suspension fork for dirt warriors.

So what are you sacrificing by spending less on a Polygon? The components are mid-level vs. high-end, and they aren’t as lightweight as the best bikes on this list. For example, the 20″ Polygon is 3 pounds heavier than the 20″ woom, and the drivetrain is base level Shimano with a much more narrow gearing range.

Pello Bikes

Confidence building versatile bikes

child riding an orange Pello Reyes mountain bike

SIZES: 14″ to 27.5″
PRICE RANGE: $369 – $709
TRAINING WHEELS: Compatible on 14″ and 16″
HIGHLIGHTS: High-end Tektro, Kenda, and Cane Creek components
OUR REVIEWS: Pello Romper (14″), Revo (16″), Reddi (20″ small), Rover (20″), Reyes (24″), Roovi (27.5″)

Pello bikes are incredibly versatile and can easily tackle any terrain you choose. Pello’s smaller bikes are ideal for timid to average riders working to build and grow their skills. Providing a unique, semi-upright body position that works for both timid and confident riders, Pello’s smaller bikes excel at transforming new and timid riders into playful and adventurous riders.

For their larger geared bikes, Pello’s versatility continues. The 20”, 24” and 27.5″ geared bikes are all available with an optional suspension fork. If you think you may have a budding mountain biker on your hands, Pello is a perfect choice because you can help your child develop their trail skills with a rigid fork, and then upgrade to the air fork to convert the Pello into a little mountain pony.

Cleary Bikes

Rugged build for neighborhood adventures

Child standing up on the pedals and riding Cleary Hedgehog bike

SIZES: 12″ to 24″
PRICE RANGE: $370 – $680
TRAINING WHEELS: Not compatible
HIGHLIGHTS: Rugged and durable construction built to last for years and endless adventures
OUR REVIEWS: Cleary Gecko (12″), Hedgehog (16″), Owl (20″), Meerkat (24″)

Rugged and durable, Cleary Bikes are designed for your neighborhood adventurer. The wider tires and slightly aggressive geometry of Cleary Bikes empower kids to take things off-road, through ditches, down dirt hills… basically whatever terrain your neighborhood is made of, your child can dominate on a Cleary. For kids who have a passion for riding and push their bikes to the limit, a Cleary Bike is ideal.

With steel frames, Cleary bikes weigh just a bit more than a brand like woom, but these bikes are made to take a beating and will keep on rolling for years to come. To aid in durability, Cleary’s geared bikes are built with internally geared hubs, which eliminates the need for notoriously finicky derailleurs.

Frog Bikes

Super lightweight, tons of fun colors

Girl doing a trick at the skatepark while riding the Frog 52

SIZES: 14″ to 26″
PRICE RANGE: $465 – $720
TRAINING WHEELS: Compatible on smaller models
HIGHLIGHTS: Lots of sizes to get a precise fit, quality build and construction, fun color options
OUR REVIEWS: Frog 48 (16″), Frog 52 and 55 (20″), Frog 62 (24″)

With lightweight frames and top-of-the-line components, Frog Bikes are a unique blend of versatile performance and proper fit. 

Like other high-end bikes on this list, Frog bikes have kid-focused geometry, lightweight frames, and narrow q-factors. What makes Frog Bikes stand out from the rest really is their color options. If your kid just has to have an orange bike, purple bike, or even a polka dotted bike, Frog probably has a color your child will love. They consistently have seven or more colors to choose from.

Besides their more popular hybrid bikes, Frog Bikes also makes kids mountain bikes and kids road bikes.

What Makes a Kids Bike Great?

Why are these kid-focused bike brands so good and why are Walmart bikes just so bad? Here are seven key features, and a deeper dive into each.

  1. Weight
  2. Frame Geometry
  3. Brakes
  4. Gearing and Shifting
  5. Ease of Assembly
  6. Exceptional Customer Service
  7. High resale value

Lightweight Bikes Are Easier to Ride

Most adults ride bikes that are about 20% of their total weight, while kids’ bikes are usually around 50% of a child’s weight! Ideally, a child’s bike should be less than 40% of their weight.  While all kids benefit from lightweight bikes, a few pounds makes an even bigger difference for young, timid, or beginning riders.

young child holding up her lightweight woom kids bike

While all the brands on this page build bikes that are much lighter than the average bike, woom bikes is king when it comes to lightweight kids bikes. For example, the 16″ woom 3 bike weighs only 13.1 pounds while the RoyalBaby 16″ bike weighs 22.3 pounds. For a 40 lb. child, the woom 3 is 33% of the child’s weight while the RoyalBaby is 56%!

Weight, however, should never be looked at in isolation.  Some cheap big-box-store bikes are similar in weight to higher-end bikes, but only because their wheelbases are narrower (they have a too-small frame) and they lack components such as hand brakes.

Kid-specific Bike Geometry

The design and shape of a bike’s frame goes way beyond looks. If a bike’s frame is poorly designed, it will be very hard for a child to ride.

Wheelbase and Cockpit Size

If you’ve ever had to drive a car sitting WAY too close to the steering wheel, you know that is greatly affects your ability to drive the car. From slower reaction times to inhibited maneuverability, you need space when driving!

Riding a bike is the same way. If the bike seat and the handlebars are too close (the cockpit), a bike will be significantly harder for a child to ride.

raleigh MXR kids bike with wheelbase and cockpit pointed out with arrows

A major factor in creating an ample-sized cockpit is the bike’s wheelbase (the distance between the wheels’ axles). With kids bikes, a smaller wheelbase almost always means a smaller cockpit.

Take a look at the example below. The small child is riding a green budget bike on the left, vs. a purple Prevelo bike on the right. Although both of these bikes are meant to fit the same size child (the seat heights are set to the same height), the Prevelo has a much larger cockpit.

Side by side comparison of young child on Royal Baby Freestyle and Prevelo kids bike. She is much more cramped on the Royal baby bike.

Notice that the distance between the child’s knees and the handlebars is much greater on the Prevelo. As a result, the rider feels much less cramped on the bike and it is easier for her to maneuver.


The q-factor of the bike is a measurement of the width between the pedals. Lower-end bikes are typically wider and require kids to splay out their legs in order to pedal. This splay in their pedaling greatly decreases the efficiency of each pedal stroke.

side by side image of a Islabike CNOC  and a schwinn bike, q factor is pointed out on both

Bottom Bracket Height – Lower is Better

The bottom bracket of a bike is essentially where all the components that allow for pedaling (crankset, crank arms, etc.) attach to the frame of the bike. The distance between the bottom bracket and the ground plays a role in the bike’s overall center of gravity and in the efficiency of each pedal stoke.

the cleary owl as compared to the specialized, the lower bottom bracket height of the owl is pointed out

Lower Center of Gravity Makes it Easier to Balance

If a bottom bracket is positioned high on a bike, the child will sit higher off the ground, creating a higher center-of-gravity. A higher center-of-gravity on a bike is much less stable at lower speeds. Since kids typically ride at lower speeds (they start and stop often), a bike with a lower center-of-gravity is much easier for them to balance.

Pedal Angles

Higher bottom brackets produce less efficient pedaling. The higher the bottom bracket, the less space there is between the child’s seat and the pedal at the top of the pedal stroke. As a result, the child will have to bend their knee at a greater angle on the pedal upswing, which places their legs in a much less efficient position once they hit the downswing.

Side by side image of child's leg at the top swing of their pedal stroke on a 12 inch bike and a 14 inch bike. The child's leg is cramped on the 12 inch bike.

Quality Handbrakes for More Stopping Power

The brakes on kids bikes range vastly in quality and performance. The brakes on higher-end bikes stop faster and with much less effort required by the child. Being able to stop your bike quickly and consistently affects both the safety and confidence of your child.

Hand brakes vs. coaster brakes

Hand brakes on a child’s bike are always preferred over coaster brakes (back-pedal brakes). Unfortunately, the vast majority of kids bikes on the market come with coaster brakes. Why? They are very cheap and don’t add a lot of money to the production costs of the bike.

Quality hand brakes add significant costs to a bike. With more parts and even more time required to install and tune the brakes, reliable handbrakes are simply not available on low-cost bikes.

Tektro dual handbrakes on the pello rover kids bike

So what’s wrong with coaster brakes? Coaster brakes are particularly tricky for young kids as they prevent them from naturally pedaling backward. Upon doing so, the bike unexpectedly stops, which often results in a fall. This can make learning to pedal much more difficult.

Coaster brakes also prevent kids from properly lining up their pedals to “go position” which makes it more difficult to start pedaling from a stop.

Quality vs. Budget Hand Brakes

A quality hand brake is easy for a child’s hand to reach and requires minimal effort to pull without loosening their grip on the handlebar. The easier a brake is to engage, the more likely a child will use it!

the comparison of an easy reach kid brake lever versus a standard brake lever, child's hand shown the easy reach lever is closer to the handlebar

While some cheap kids bikes have hand brakes, they are typically hard to reach and very unreliable. Often built with single-pivot calipers, budget hands brakes are almost impossible to properly adjust and should not be expected to stop a bike.

Don’t assume that a cheap bike is better because it has a hand brake. It’s usually not. Also don’t assume that because the hand brake passed CPSC certification that it’s going to work well.

an unadjusted single-pivot brake caliper, the brake pad does not come close to the rim of the bike

Gearing and Shifting

How High or Low is the Bike Geared?

How high or low a bike is geared will determine how easily a child can climb up a hill or pedal quickly to keep up on a flat path. When referring to the gears on a bike, we compare bikes based on the gain ratio of the bike’s gears.

A high gain ratio requires more effort to get started but allows the bike to travel farther with every pedal stroke.

A low gain ratio requires less effort to get the bike started but requires more “pedal spinning” to get the bike going.

Single Speed Bikes: A 16″ bike with a gain ratio of 3.2 is going to to take much less effort for a child to start pedaling than a 16″ with a gain ratio of 4.0. However, the top speed of the 3.2 bike is going to be much slower than the bike with the 4.0 gain ratio.

Geared Bikes: It’s important to look at the ranges of the gain ratio. A 7-speed bike with a gain ratio range (the spread between the lowest and the highest gear) of 2.2 to 4.45 offers a much more narrow gear range than a 7-speed bike with a 2.2 to 6.7 gain ratio range.


close up image of the drivetrain on a Prevelo

If your child in on a 20″ bike or larger and needs gears, versus wants them, purchasing a bike with a quality drivetrain will make a huge difference in their ability and desire to use their gears. Higher-end bikes typically have more robust drivetrain systems that can better handle the wear and tear from kids, and allow for smoother shifting. With a cheaper drivetrain, shifting will feel more clunky and awkward.

Grip Shifters vs. Triggers Shifters

The type of shifters on a bike can make shifting a breeze or a challenge for young riders. The shifters on higher-end bikes are typically significantly easier for a child to use and wear better with time.

There are two main types of shifters – grip shifters and trigger shifters. Grip shifters are common on kids bikes as they are the most intuitive to use. To shift, kids simply twist forward or back on the grip. For more advanced or aggressive riders, grip shifters aren’t ideal as they don’t allow kids to shift as quickly.

trigger shifters versus grip shifters on  the best kids bikes
Trigger shifters (left) vs. Grip shifters (right)

Trigger shifters offer faster (and often smoother) shifting, but they can be more confusing for kids to learn. Instead of twisting with their hands, trigger shifters require kids to push or pull a lever with their fingers.

Easy to Assemble!

Assembling a bike can be very complicated, but for the best kids bikes, brands have made an art out of simplifying the process. From clear and concise instructions to included tools, most of the high-end bike brands can be assembled in about 10 – 15 minutes!

Quality Customer Service

Passionate about bikes and their products, one of the major benefits of purchasing from a kid-specific bike brand is the customer service they provide. Whether something isn’t quite right with your bike or you are confused about assembling it, their customer service is exceptional.

High Resale Value

Quality kids bikes aren’t cheap, but they are a great investment. As long as they are properly maintained and cared for, each of these brands have a high resale value, so you can expect to get at least half (but likely much more) of your investment back once your child outgrows it.

Our Best Bikes by Size Lists

Looking for more details on bikes of specific sizes? Check out our list of favorites for kids of every age.

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