Schwinn Elm Girls Bike Review

The Schwinn Elm girls bikes is the ultimate girly bike for little ones looking for a cute bike to ride around the neighborhood – especially for those who plan on using training wheels.  From the wide variety of sizes available to cute designs (with included basket!), there’s plenty love about the Elm.  Check out our review for all the details.

young girl riding a schwinn elm 16 inch bike

Schwinn Elm Girls Bike

RATING: Recommended


BEST FOR: Everyday riders who want a quality, lightweight bike without breaking the budget

SIZES: 12″, 14″, 16″, 18″ and 20″ (Age 4 to 10)

SEAT HEIGHT: 19.25″ – 23″ (16-inch)

WEIGHT: 20.5 lb. (16-inch)

BRAKES: Coaster, Front Hand


What We Love About the Schwinn Elm Line

  • The Elm is the current line of Schwinn girls bikes
  • Decent quality build in a budget-friendly price
  • Fun, colorful and cute designs that girls LOVE
  • Available in many different sizes – 12″, 14″, 16″, 18″ and 20″
  • Bikes place a child in a comfortable upright position that helps a child learn to balance a bike

What You Should Know Before You Buy

  • The Schwinn Elm are great bikes for the price.  They certainly aren’t the best bikes out there, but you won’t find a better bike for the price.
  • All models have coaster brakes.  Some have handbrakes, but they are not reliable.
  • They come in a wide arrange of sizes. If your child is in between sizes (see chart below), be sure to size down. You can also use our Kids Bike Sizes Chart for additional help.
  • The Koen is the Schwinn’s “boys” version of the Elm

Schwinn Elm Girls Bike Review – Results of our Test Rides

Over the years we’ve tested out both the 16 inch boys and girls Schwinn SmartStart (kids bikes) lines.  With the recent update of the SmartStart line we were able to test out the new 16-inch girls Elm.  From first glance, our 5-year-old tester was in LOVE.  The cute colors, styling, and especially the basket of the Elm had her running towards the bike at full speed!  Having just transitioned from a balance bike to a pedal bike, it took her sometime to get started on the Elm, but she was able to pedal away within minutes.

6 year old girl riding Schwinn Elm 16 inch girls bike in the street.

With her extended family watching her on, she was all smiles as she proudly rode the Elm around the circle.  While she wasn’t as nimble and couldn’t ride the Elm as fast as she could on her higher-end pedal bike, she wanted to ride the Elm and happily pushed through the learning curve.  Motivating kids to ride is often part of the challenge and Schwinn hit a home run with the styling of the Elm.

All three color options for the Schwinn Elm girls bikes

The weight of the bike, however, was noticeable as she was riding.  Lifting the bike up to ride as well as attempting to ride up driveways was more challenging than other bikes she has tested. Most kids her age, however, are more likely to ride the Elm using training wheels. In that riding scenario, the overall weight of the bike won’t be as noticeable.  If you do plan on having your child ride the Elm without training wheels, just be patient, with time they will get it!

Compared to the weight of other budget bikes, the Schwinn girls bike still shines.  The Elm 16 inch weighs in at 20.5 lb. while the best-selling Royalbaby Freestyle 16 weighs a whopping 26.6 lbs!  For those petite riders who would benefit from a lighter-weight bike, the Raleigh Jazzi 16 is 2 pounds lighter, but with an increase in cost.

Elm 16″Royalbaby 16″Raleigh 16″
Weight20.5 lb.26.6 lb.18.5 lb.
Seat Height19.25″ – 23″21.3″ – 25″19″ – 23″

Brakes – Handbrake is Finicky

Most bikes under $175 don’t have a hand brake, so with a front hand brake as well as a coaster brake, the SmartStart bikes are a step up.  However, while the coaster brake worked flawlessly, the front hand brake was very finicky and hard to adjust.

Upon first assembling the bike, the front hand brake didn’t work at all as the brake pads wouldn’t engage with the tire rim when the brake was activated.  After tweaking the brake for about 30 minutes, we were able to get the brake functioning, but it was still not sufficient.  As a result, don’t allow the hand brake to be a deciding factor when purchasing a SmartStart bike as it can’t be relied on to stop the bike.

Also keep in mind that whenever a painted rim gets wet, caliper brakes don’t work as the brake pads will slide on the rim.  Since the Elm series has painted rims (the light purple part of the wheel), expect your child to use the coaster brake to stop the bike.

We encourage you to consider other 16 inch bikes as well, many of which have high-quality dual handbrake systems.

Caliper brake and brake lever on Schwinn Elm 16 inch bike

Schwinn Girls Bike Sizes

One of our favorite features of the line of Schwinn girls bikes is the wide range of sizes they are available in. Having tested out Schwinn’s line of bikes in both the 16″ and 20″ sizes, we do suggest to size down if you find your child in between sizes.

For example, if your child is 40″ tall, according to the Schwinn’s sizing guide, they would fit in both the 14″ and 16″ range. Based on our experience, we would recommend going with the smaller 14″.

Wheel SizeRider Height

Schwinn Elm Bottom Line

With designs kids love and a price-point that parents want, the Schwinn Elm girls bike is a great option for everyday riders ready to cruise the neighborhood in style.  With 5 sizes and three different color options, there are plenty of options in the Elm line to choose from!

For other great budget-friendly options, check out our page: Best Cheap Kids Bikes.

And if you’re interested in other ideas for girls bike baskets, we’ve compiled a list of 7 of our favorites!

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review.  The product reviewed was provided by Schwinn. 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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