It’s not everyday we discover a new bike brand, so we’re pretty excited to introduce the Btwin 100 14 inch kids bike. We’re even more excited because this little bike is an incredible find! The Btwin offers impressive value with its kid-friendly geometry and family-friendly pricing.
Every other “budget” 12 inch or 14 inch bike we’ve tested is cramped, somewhat difficult to ride, and offers minimal room for comfortable growth. From REI to Royal Baby, Schwinn to Huffy, the big players come up short. While the Btwin 14 certainly isn’t perfect, we will boldly say that this Btwin is easily the best 12 inch or 14 inch bike for families on a budget.
Read the full review below for all the pros and cons to this adorable $150 bike. (The Btwin also comes in other color and design options under the model Btwin 500, for $199. )
Btwin 14 Overview
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Kids in size 3T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 17.25 – 20.5″
WEIGHT: 16.3 lb.
BRAKES: Rear coaster, front hand brake
TRAINING WHEELS: Come standard
WHEELBASE: 595 mm
- Lighter than many other budget bikes
- Frame design offers plenty of room for kids to comfortably maneuver the bike
- Cleverly designed handbrake is easy for kids to use and simple for parents to adjust
- Adorable designs – lions, unicorns, fish, etc. (some designs are $199 vs. $149)
- Training wheels are included
- Rear coaster brake (but expected at this price point)
- Seat height adjustment requires a wrench to loosen the bolt (most bikes have a quick release or only require an Allen key)
- Pedals and grips are quite small
What is Btwin Bikes?
While you may never have heard of Btwin, it’s an entry-level European bike brand that could be compared to a Huffy or Schwinn in the United States. However, this “budget-friendly” European brand is much more thoughtfully designed and executed.
Btwin is the house bike brand for Decathlon, which is like the Dick’s Sporting Goods of Europe. They have 1,600 stores in 70 countries, two of which are in the US in San Francisco. In America, most Btwin kids bikes are sold through Walmart.com.
Results of our Test Rides on the Btwin Kids Bike
It’s a difficult challenge to design and manufacture a 12 inch or 14 inch bike that’s a natural fit and easy to ride. Most bikes this size are heavy, awkward, and make learning to ride a struggle. As a result, almost all good 12 inch or 14 inch bikes fall in the $250 to $350 price range.
For many parents, that’s a lot of dough to drop on a bike for a 3-year-old. Especially since kids tend to outgrow 12″ and 14″ bikes much more quickly than any other bike size. As a result, we’ve spent years searching for a budget-friendly alternative. And we’ve finally found one.
If your young balance bike rider is ready for a pedal bike, but your budget is about $150, the Btwin is absolutely your best option.
If you’re looking to use this bike with training wheels, we highly recommend getting your child a balance bike instead. They have so many benefits over bikes with training wheels, which you can read all about here.
Btwin Riding Experience – Easy to Maneuver
Based on our experience with every other cheap 12 or 14 inch bike, I was cautiously optimistic when we took the Btwin out for its official test rides. In a nutshell, it over-delivered on our expectations.
From the neighborhood to the skatepark, our 3-year-old confident rider was at ease on the Btwin. She was effortlessly able to maneuver down steep ramps, make sharp turns, and weave in and out of obstacles.
She could ride fast and manage small inclines much easier than other budget 14 inch bikes she’s tested. At one point she even accidentally rode down a set of stairs at the skatepark. As I looked on in horror, she reached the bottom with finesse and aplomb!
Unique Frame Design Offers More Room
At first glance, the Btwin 14 looks quite unique. Its low swooping frame and taller handlebars don’t look like any other bike on the American market.
But the Btwin 14 frame design and overall geometry are much more kid-friendly than other bikes in its price range. Take a look at our 3-year-old tester on the Btwin 14 ($149) vs the REI Co-Op Cycles REV 12 ($159).
The Btwin’s minimum seat height is 17.25″, while the REI REV 12’s is higher at 18″. A higher minimum seat height should be a larger bike designed to fit a larger rider.
But as you can see in this side by side comparison, our 3-year-old is a much better fit on the Btwin. There’s more room in the cockpit of the bike (distance between the seat and the handlebars) for her to comfortably maneuver and steer without feeling cramped. This also means she has more time to grow with the Btwin before it becomes awkward to ride.
However, it’s also important to show the difference between a budget-friendly good 14 inch bike and a higher-end great 14 inch bike. Here’s a side by side comparison of the Btwin 14 and the Pello Romper 14 ($349). They both have minimum seat heights of 17.25″.
On the Pello, our rider has even more room to move around, more room to grow, and more room to lean in and get aggressive. Her arms are in a more relaxed position, and her knees don’t come as high on the up stroke. The Romper is also more durable, more expensive, and features much more high-end components.
Who is the Btwin 14 best for?
The Btwin 14 is an ideal choice for balance bike graduates with inseams within a range of 16.5″ – 19″. Our 3-year-old tester is 40″ tall and has a 17″ inseam. With the Btwin set to its lowest seat height of 17.25″, she can sit on the saddle with her feet flat on the ground. Because she’s an experienced rider, we have the seat raised to 18.5″ so that she can reach the ground with her tip toes.
Balance Bike Graduates
If your child is currently on a balance bike and you’re looking for a small pedal bike, the Btwin 14 is the smallest affordable bike on the market. Remember, when a child is first learning to pedal, they should have their feet flat on the ground when sitting on the saddle. This means the minimum seat height should be approximately equal to your child’s inseam.
With a 17.25″ minimum seat height, the Btwin 14 is a bit taller than high-end 14 inch bikes like the woom 2, Prevelo Alpha Two, or Guardian Ethos 14. Those bikes have minimum seat heights ranging from 15.5 – 16″.
As a result, if your budget leads you towards the Btwin, you won’t be able to transition your child to a pedal bike quite as early. But don’t worry, kids love balance bikes and can happily ride them for a few extra months until they grow a bit taller!
Compared to other cheap 12 inch and 14 inch bikes, the Btwin is on the smaller end, providing one more reason it’s the best budget-friendly option for balance bike graduates.
For example, the RoyalBaby Freestyle 14 (see below) has a minimum seat height of 19.25″ (2″ taller than the Btwin)! When our 3-year-old rider was testing the Royalbaby bike a few months ago, the bike’s saddle was so tall she couldn’t get on and start riding without us helping her!
3-year-old Tester on RoyalBaby Freestyle 14
First Time Riders with Training Wheels
While we firmly believe that most children are much better off on a balance bike than on training wheels, we understand that some families choose to go the training wheels route.
The Btwin comes with training wheels which attach easily with an Allen key. The Btwin 500, which costs $199, has upgraded traning wheels that don’t require tools to put them on or take them off.
Children using training wheels should be able to touch the ground with feet flat or solid tip toes on the Btwin. It’s definitely possible to fall over while riding with training wheels, so a child needs to be able to reach the ground to help prevent themselves from falling.
For more information on how to find a bike that is the perfect fit for your child, check out our Kids Bike Sizes Guide.
Btwin 14 Sizing – Best Fit for Narrow Height Range
The seat height of the Btwin 14 has a range of 17.25″ – 20.5″, and is a best fit for kids with inseams ranging from about 16.5″ to 19″, depending on their riding ability. This narrow range of seat height is standard for 12″ and 14″ bikes, which causes kids to outgrow 12″ and 14″ bikes fairly quickly.
The headset of the Btwin 14 is designed to be raised or lowered to make the handlebars higher or lower. They have 1.5″ of adjustability. The headset and handlebars of the Btwin are basic, and are the one part of the bike that feels a little bit cheap.
While the Btwin came almost fully assembled out of the box, we raised the handlebars to their maximum point after our tester’s first ride. (The handlebars are raised to the max in all the pictures in this review and in the pic below.) The ability to adjust the height of the handlebars is hugely helpful for customizing a great fit for your child.
Weight – Lightweight for the price
At 16.3 lbs, the Btwin is heavier than boutique brands like the woom 2 (11.2 lbs.), but much lighter than other budget brands like the RoyalBaby Freestyle (21. lbs.)
A lightweight bike can make learning to ride much easier, especially for children young enough to ride a 14 inch bike. Most bikes under $200 are significantly heavier than the Btwin, which puts one more point in the “pros” column for this little pony.
Clever and Easy-to-Use Handbrake
The Btwin 14 features a front hand brake (v-brake) on the left hand and a rear coaster (back pedal) brake. The handbrake has great stopping power and is easy to use. This is actually shocking for a bike at this price point.
Most cheaper 12, 14, and 16 inch bikes don’t have a handbrake at all. And when they do, they are low-quality, hard to adjust, and are mostly added to a bike so the manufacturer can say, “Our bike has a hand brake! Yay!” For your average parent who doesn’t know better, they think they’re getting a deal!
So when our 3-year-old tester was approaching a neighborhood intersection at top speed and I was screaming at her to stop, you can imagine my apprehension. I was relieved to find that upon pulling that handbrake lever, she stopped as quickly as I would have expected from her much nicer bikes.
The hand brake is not only kid-friendly, but parent-friendly as well. The hand lever tension on all hand brakes can be adjusted to make the lever easier or harder to pull. While this is normally a bit tricky, the Btwin features a knob with a +/- symbol to make adjusting that tension completely fool-proof.
While Btwin did a great job on the handbrake, we don’t love that it has a rear coaster brake. Coaster brakes make learning to ride more difficult because they prevent kids from backpedaling to regain their balance. Unfortunately, antiquated laws require coaster brakes on most 12″ and 14″ bikes, so this isn’t something Btwin can control.
If you can spring for an extra $120, the Guardian Ethos 14 is a high-quality option that doesn’t have a coaster brake.
Wheels and Tires – Street Tread Ideal for Pavement
With a smooth street tread, the 14″ air tires on the Btwin are ideal for sidewalks and paved trails. The hubs and wheels are quite basic, with a fair amount of rolling resistance. We test this by turning the bike upside down, spinning the bike’s wheels with our hand, and timing how quickly they come to a stop compared to other bikes.
The Btwin’s wheels stopped very quickly, in line with the budget-friendly Raleigh Jazzi. However, unlike the Jazzi, our 3-year-old speed demon tester didn’t have any trouble riding so fast that I had to sprint to keep up.
Saddle and Seat Post
Adjusting the seat height of the Btwin 14 is more difficult that most other bikes, even at this price point. While other bikes have a quick release lever or just require an Allen key, you need a wrench to adjust the Btwin saddle’s height.
With kids growing so quickly, this is honestly a bit of a pain. Especially since you can’t adjust it on the fly unless you happen to carry a wrench around in your pocket.
Pedals and Grips are Quite Small
While not a deal breaker, it is worth noting that the Btwin 14’s grips and pedals are quite small compared to other bikes this size. As you can see, our tester’s hand barely fits on the grip. And while our tester did not have an issue with the small pedals on the Btwin, if you feel that your child would benefit from a wider platform, you could easily swap them out for larger pedals.
Ease of Assembly
You can expect assembly to take you about 5 to 10 minutes! The only thing you’re required to do is align the handlebars, install the pedals, and add the decorative stickers. We were pretty excited to see the Btwin 14 almost fully assembled right out of the box!
Btwin 100 14 vs. Btwin 500 14
The Btwin 14 inch bike actually comes in two different models. The Btwin 100 ($149) only comes in the Lion design. It is the bike featured in this review.
The Btwin 500 ($199) comes in several additional colors/characters and features fenders. Its training wheels have a mounting knob, making them tool-less assembly. As another bonus, the seat post can be adjusted up and down with an Allen key, rather than a wrench!
The 500 has a different braking technology, and we can’t speak to its effectiveness because we haven’t used it.
Bottom Line on the Btwin 14
If you’re on a budget and need a small 12 inch or 14 inch bike, the Btwin 100 14 is the best designed bike you can get for $150 or under. It is significantly better than similarly sized bikes by well-known brands like Huffy, Schwinn, Royalbaby, and even the 12 inch bike by REI Co-Op Cycles.
If you’re interested in spending a bit more for a much higher-quality bike with a shorter minimum seat height (allowing you to transition your child from a balance bike earlier), check out the $269 Guardian Ethos 14.
Another high-quality 12″ option is the $229 Trek Precaliber 12. It has a shorter minimum seat height like the Guardian, but does have a coaster brake.