Guardian Bikes is a kids’ bike company that specializes in creating quality kids’ bikes equipped with their proprietary simplified braking system called SureStop. The SureStop system allows riders to stop faster and with more control as compared to traditional braking systems (both hand and foot brakes) found on kids’ bikes.
Based out of California, Guardian Bikes was thrust into the spotlight in 2017 after they landed a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank. We’ve been working with and testing out Guardian Bikes since 2016 and have personally tested out every model in their lineup.
Six Reason Why We Love Guardian Bikes
Based on our years of experience with Guardian, we’ve summarized our top 5 reasons why we love Guardian Bikes and why we think you will love them too!
- Fun and Safe Braking – No chance of going over the handlebars!
- Simplified Braking – One brake lever controls both the front and rear brakes
- Quality, Lightweight Build with Fun and Colorful Designs – Great quality parents want, fun graphics kids love
- Affordable Pricing – Low price, but high quality – easily the best bikes at this price point
- Seven Size Options – Various sizes to accurately fit kids ages 2 to 13
- US Factory – All Guardian bikes are assembled in the USA
1. Guardian Bikes Make Braking Safer and More Fun
Designed and patented by the founders of Guardian Bikes, the SureStop system is the first major innovative change to standard bike braking systems in decades. SureStop allows kids to brake faster and with more control than traditional caliper-based braking systems. The SureStop system also completely eliminates the risk of a child being thrown over the handlebars as a result of braking with the front wheel instead of the rear.
In addition to adding an extra level of safety, Guardian’s braking system makes braking more fun! Over the years we have had many kid testers describe how braking is not only “fun” on a Guardian, but that they also feel more in control while braking. As a result, many previously timid riders have gained confidence while riding a Guardian. With less anxiety about stopping the bike, they are willing to ride more adventurously.
Never wanting to miss out on the fun, we parents have hopped on our kids’ Guardians and tried out the brakes for ourselves. We quickly understood our testers’ perspectives. Like feeling anti-lock brakes in your car go into action, SureStop brakes not only feel different than standard brakes, but you feel much more in control of the bike as you stop.
How Does the SureStop System Work?
Guardian’s unique braking system allows the rear and then the front brake to be activated sequentially with the pull of ONE brake lever. The SureStop system uses standard brake calipers, so upon first glance, their braking system looks very similar to most dual hand brake bikes. The difference, however, is in the rear brake’s ability to activate the front brake.
The secret lies in Guardian’s proprietary rear brake pad that responds to the friction created between the brake pad and the rear wheel’s rim when the rear brake engages. This friction between the rim and the brake pad pushes the pad slightly forward. When the pad slides forward, it pulls on the attached wire that then triggers the front brake to engage.
Is the SureStop System for Everyone?
Almost everyone! The SureStop system is amazing for everyday kid riders but is not recommended for technical riding. If your child is planning on mainly hitting the mountain bike trails, the Guardian system isn’t ideal because technical trail riders need to brake the front and rear wheels independently. The SureStop system is designed for the average child rider who mainly rides on paved surfaces or dirt paths.
Is the SureStop System Safe?
Yes! The SureStop system uses high-quality brake calipers like those found on many other higher-end bikes. The only difference between the SureStop system and a regular dual hand brake system is that the brake pad on the rear brake engages the front brake. If for some reason the SureStop system were to fail (which we have never seen in our years of testing), the rear brake on the bike would still work, just not the front brake.
2. Braking is Simplified on Guardian Bikes
Dual hand brakes work great for advanced riders and are essential for technical youth riders (such as mountain bikers), but can be confusing for the average child rider. If they accidentally brake with just the front brake, the front tire can lock up, which causes the rear tire to come off the ground and potentially throw the child off the bike.
Sadly, we have seen this happen several times. With ONE brake lever on the Guardian, a child cannot accidentally brake incorrectly. They simply squeeze one brake lever and the SureStop system takes care of the rest.
3. Guardian Bikes are well built with kid-friendly designs
Guardian bikes are well-built machines designed to withstand rough and careless treatment from kids. While parents wish their kids carefully set down their bikes, and lovingly put them away when done, in the real world, that just doesn’t happen.
Bikes get tossed to the ground, left in front of friends’ houses or thrown into a pile of bikes in the garage or at school. Unlike bikes found on Amazon or big box stores, Guardian Bikes are built to last. From stronger, more durable components, to proper assembly by trained mechanics (about 95% assembled BEFORE the bike even gets to you!), you can feel confident that your Guardian Bike will last for years to come.
With steel frames and more basic threaded headsets, Guardian bikes would be considered “mid-tier” compared to high-end and more expensive child-specific bike brands (woom, Prevelo, Cleary). However, while Guardian Bikes aren’t the most high-end bikes on the market, their frame geometry is absolutely on par with the best kids bikes you can buy. Every Guardian is sized and fine tuned to work naturally with a small child’s body, making riding as comfortable and fun as possible.
To ensure quality and ease of assembly for parents, every Guardian bike is checked, tuned, and re-packaged by Guardian’s own mechanics in their US factory BEFORE they are shipped out to customers. Guardian bikes are ridiculously easy to assemble and can typically be put together in less than 15 minutes.
The color-schemes and designs of Guardian’s bikes are also very unique and very kid-approved. From the contrasting rims to their fun geometric designs, kids are drawn to the look of Guardian bikes.
4. Guardian’s Affordable Pricing
Over time, Guardian Bikes has evolved their bike designs and manufacturing processes to make their high-quality bikes insanely affordable. One of their primary missions is to make great kids’ bikes attainable for more families.
If you’re looking for a quality kids bike that is easy and fun to ride, but also has a modest price tag, Guardian Bikes is the market leader.
5. Guardian’s Sizing Options: From 12″ to 26″
Guardian Bikes are available in seven different sizes ranging from a 12″ balance bike to 26″ wheels. Their 12″, 14″, 16″, 24″ and 26″ bikes come in one size each, while their 20″ comes in two sizes.
Like the 14″ and 16″ pedal bikes, the 20″ small is a single-speed designed for beginning to everyday riders. The 20″ large size, like their 24″ and 26″ sizes, has gears for more advanced riders.
Guardian Bikes Sizes
|Size||14"||16"||20" Small||20" Large||24"||26"|
|Child's Height Range||37" - 43"||40" - 46"||43" - 51"||45" - 53"||49" - 57"||52" - 62"|
|Seat Height||16" - 21"||18.5" - 23.5"||20.8" - 26.8"||22.5" - 28.5"||25" - 33"||27.7" - 33.5"|
Guardian’s 12″ balance bike is generally a good fit for kids 2 – 4 years old.
Guardian Bikes’ Virtual Bike Sizer
To help make purchasing the right size bike for your child easy, Guardian created a unique and clever tool called RideSizer. Simply enter your child’s height, inseam, birthday, and riding experience and RideSizer will display an avatar of your child’s size on whichever size bike Guardian recommends for your child. You can also change the bike to other sizes to see how your child would fit on them.
As an added bonus, if you enter your email into the RideSizer, Guardian will email you a chart of their estimations for how long your child will fit on the bike.
Based on our experience, the RideSizer tool works great, but if your child is right on the edge between two sizes, be sure to compare their inseam to the bike seat height to ensure a perfect fit—check our bike sizing chart for help.
6. Indiana, USA Factory
In 2022, Guardian opened a factory in Seymour, Indiana. Currently, all Guardian bikes are assembled there. This allows Guardian a much higher level of quality control than having bikes assembled in a factory overseas. Almost all bikes sold in the US are assembled in overseas factories and Guardian is the only kids bike brand to have a factory in the USA.
Eventually, all Guardian bike frames will be manufactured in the USA as well.
Guardian Bikes in Action: Video Review
Check out Guardian Bikes in action to see for yourself how much our testers love Guardian Bikes.
Detailed Guardian Bikes Reviews by Size
- Guardian Balance Bike: Best for Ages 2+
- Guardian 14 inch Bike Review: Best for ages 3+
- Guardian 16 inch Bike Review: Best for ages 4+
- Guardian 20 inch Bike Review: Best for ages 5+
- Guardian 24 inch Bike Review: Best for ages 7+
- Guardian 26 inch Bike Review: Best for ages 8+