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Guardian Bikes: 5 Reasons We Love Them

What is Guardian Bikes?

Guardian Bikes is a kids’ bike company based out of California that was thrust into the spotlight in 2017 after they landed a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank.  Guardian’s main differentiator from other online child “boutique” bike brands is their innovative SureStop braking system.

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.   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.

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

We’ve personally tested every model in Guardian’s line-up with lots of different kids to determine just how well they stack up to other kid-specific bike brands on the market.  From their 14″ bike for the littlest beginning riders to their 24″ bike for experienced 8 to 11-year-olds, our testers and parents all love the overall build and quality Guardian bikes offer, as well as their innovative braking system.

Why Buy a Guardian Bike?

  1. Fun and Safe Braking – No chance of going over the handlebars!
  2. Simplified Braking – One brake lever controls both the front and rear brakes
  3. Two Pricing Levels – Different pricing levels to accommodate different budgets
  4. Quality Build with Fun and Colorful Designs – Great quality parents want, fun graphics kids love
  5. Four Size Options – Various sizes to accurately fit kids ages 4 to 12

1. Fun and Safe Braking

Guardian’s proprietary braking system allows kids to brake faster and with more control than traditional 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 felt 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 were willing to ride more adventurously.

Girl riding 20" Guardian kid's bike down the sidewalk. (Turquoise)

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, 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.

Graphic showing three steps to Guardian's SureStop braking system. Step One: Child activates brake lever, Step Two: Rear Brake Engages, Step Three: Rear brake activates front brake.

The secret lies in Guardian’s proprietary rear brake pad that responds to the friction created between the brake pad and the 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.

On Guardian kids' bikes, the rear brake pad slides slightly forward due to friction from the rim, and then the wire on brake is pulled which triggers the front brake.

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.

5-year-old Boy and Girl on 16" Guardian kids' bikes - pink and blue

2. Simplified Braking

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.

Single brake lever on Guardian 20" kid's bike

3. Two Pricing Levels

To accommodate various budgets, Guardian offers all of its models in two different lines – their entry-level “Ethos” line and their premium “Original” line.  Both lines come standard with the same SureStop braking system.

The Ethos line, however, has a steel frame versus aluminum, a threaded headset versus a threadless, and has a slightly lower level of components in the drivetrain.  Although the Ethos and Original lines feature different frames, the geometry (the body position of the child on the bike) is the same on both lines.

Guardian Original vs. Guardian Ethos

4. Quality Build with Fun and Colorful Designs

Guardian bikes are built with lightweight aluminum frames and many of the same high-end components of other child-specific brands.  We’ve found their build quality to be on par with, and often better than, most kids’ bikes manufactured by the major bike brands. 

Compared to other online child-specific brands, Guardian’s quality is also on par with other bikes in its price range.  With several amazing child-specific brands on the market, Guardian does have some tough competition. But for everyday neighborhood riders, especially those who would benefit from extra stopping power, the Guardian is our bike of choice.

To ensure quality and ease of assembly, every Guardian bike is checked, tuned, and re-packaged by Guardian’s own mechanics in California BEFORE they are shipped out to customers.  Bikes are NEVER shipped straight from the factory to the consumer. 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.

5. Five Size Options

Guardian Bikes are available in 5 different sizes ranging from 14″ to 24″ wheels.  Their 14″, 16″ and 24″ bikes come in one size each, while their 20″ comes in two sizes. Like the 16″, the 20″ small is a single-speed designed for beginning to everyday riders.  The 20″ large size, like their 24″ size, has gears for more advanced riders.

Guardian Bikes Sizes

Features14"16"20" Small20" Large 24"
Size14"16"20" Small20" Large24"
Est. Age2+4+5+6+8+
Ethos Model$249$259$279$319$339
Original Model$359$379$419$439
Child's Height Range36" - 42"40" - 46"43" - 51"45" - 53"49" - 61"
Seat Height15.5" - 19.25"18.5" - 23.5"20.8" - 26.8"22.5" - 28.5"25" - 33"

Guardian’s 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.

Detailed Guardian Bike Reviews by Size

Guardian 14 inch Bike Review – Ethos : Best for ages 2+

Guardian 16 inch Bike Review – Ethos and Original: Best for ages 4+

Guardian 20 inch Bike Review – Ethos and Original: Best for ages 5+

Guardian 24 inch Bike Review – Ethos and Original: Best for ages 7+

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, the reviewed product was supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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