20″ Bikes: The Best of the Best for 2018
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20″ Bikes: The Best of the Best for 2018
Which 20″ bike is best for my child?
From gears to brakes to frame size, kids’ bikes can start getting a lot more complicated when your child is ready for a 20″ bike. While they are generally the best fit for kids ages 5 to 8, 20″ bikes can vary greatly in size, price, and features. To help you wade through all the options, we tested twenty different 20″ bikes, ranging from $50 to $900, to help you find the best bike for your child’s riding style and your budget.
Top Picks Summary
So which 20″ bike is best for your child? Use our handy chart below to check out our top picks for your child’s riding style, then scroll down for more detailed info on each bike.
Best for Biking Around the Neighborhood
What We Look for in a Neighborhood Bike
Bikes for kids who mainly ride around the neighborhood should be lightweight, easy-to-ride, and provide a comfortable riding position for the rider. The average child rider doesn’t need gears or shocks or other extra add-ons that require maintenance and greatly increase the overall weight of the bike. Keep it simple here – what your child needs is a dependable, durable, and fun bike to carry them comfortably around the neighborhood.
Top Picks for 20″ Neighborhood Bikes
Guardian Single Speed, Best Braking System: Lightweight and well-designed, Guardian bikes come with a proprietary braking system called SureStop that prevents unsafe braking. When braking with just the front hand brake while at high speeds, bikes can tilt forward bucking the child off the bike and over the handlebars. SureStop on Guardian bikes prevents this by having only one brake lever engage the front and rear brakes. Not only it is the safest system on the market, but it’s also much easier to use than most tradition dual-hand brakes. Also available in geared models. Full Guardian review.
Islabikes CNOC 20″, Best for Small, Timid Riders: Ultralight and specifically built to meet the needs of small riders, the CNOC is easy to ride, easy to balance, and its smaller size is easier to maneuver to help young, timid riders build confidence in their riding. With a low minimum seat height of 20.5″, the CNOC is a very small 20″ and is only slightly larger than many 16″ bikes. This allows kids who would normally be on a 16″ bike to ride a 20″, which is advantageous because the larger the wheel size, the easier it is to balance. Full CNOC 20 review.
Pello Reddi, Best for Everyday Riders: Lightweight with a low center-of-gravity, the Pello Reddi is the perfect bike for everyday neighborhood riders looking for a fun, steady ride with a comfortable upright position. With the highest gain ratio of the three, it takes slightly more effort than the others to get started but can reach faster speeds, making it ideal for fun rides around the neighborhood. Full Pello Reddi review.
Comparison Chart of 20″ Neighborhood Bikes
Best for Aggressive Riders or Basic Trail Riding
What We Look for in Aggressive and/or Basic Trail Bikes
Built for adventure, bikes for aggressive riders or all-terrain riding should have a wider handlebar for increased control and to place the rider in a leaned forward body position to allow them to more easily shift their weight as they jump off curbs, sail down hills, and tackle tougher terrain. Geared bikes are ideal for basic trail riding or any riding around hills. As far as shocks go, due to the additional weight, they add to the bike, we only recommend them for more advanced mountain bike riders.
Top Picks for 20″ Aggressive or Basic Trail Bikes
Cleary Owl, Best for Aggressive Neighborhood Riders: Single-speed, but with a more leaned-forward body position, the Cleary Owl is an amazing bike for those ambitious kids ready to tackle any jump or curb the neighborhood can throw at them, and who don’t want the extra hassle of shifting gears. Well equipped for basic trail riding as well, the Cleary allows kids to easily throw their weight around, but its single speed does limit its use to basic trails. Full Cleary Owl review.
Prevelo Alpha Three, Best for Basic Trail Riding: Lightweight and nimble, the Prevelo is an amazing first mountain bike for kids ready to hit the hills, as well as for aggressive neighborhood riders who need gears. From the Alpha’s Kenda knobby tires to its trigger shifters, it’s well spec’d out and ready to play. Full Prevelo Alpha Three review.
Raleigh Rowdy 20, Best on a Budget: The Rowdy packs a lot of punch into its $229 price tag. While built with lower-end components than our other top picks, it’s amazingly light for its price, is built with the easy-to-use Shimano grip shifter, and has responsive, dual-hand brakes. Full Rowdy 20″ review.
Bonus: Prevelo Zulu Three, Best for True All-Terrain Riding: For those young rippers ready to tackle true single-track, look no further than the Zulu. With wider 2″ knobby Kenda tires, Promax hydraulic disc brakes, and the clutched Shimano ZEE derailleur for maximum clearance, the Zulu is the ultimate ride for young groms. Full Zulu Three review.
Comparison Chart of 20″ Aggressive or Basic Trail Bikes
Best for Longer Distances (Paved)
What We Look for in a Bike for Riding Longer Distances
Lightweight bikes with narrower tires, higher gearing, and a comfortable body position are ideal for riding longer distances on paved surfaces. With less rolling resistance, thinner tires more easily roll over the pavement and are also lighter than wider tires. Higher gearing is essential for helping bikes gain speed, especially on flat rides.
Top Picks for 20″ Longer Distance Bikes
WOOM4, Best Multi-Use: With mid-range 1.5″ tires, grip shifters, and weighing in under 17 lb., the WOOM4 is well-suited for anything from longer rides on paved bike trails to cruising dirt roads. With a wide gain ratio (gearing) range of 2.3 to 6.7, the WOOM4 is elevation-change friendly and well equipped to fly down flat paved trails or easily climb rolling hills. Comes in four fun colors for particular kids. Full WOOM 4 review.
Islabikes BEINN, Best for Pre-Road Riders: Like the WOOM4, the BEINN is ready to tackle a wide range of challenges, but is slightly more “road bike” than the others. With a strong road racing background, all Islabikes are designed with the road in mind and come with narrower tires and tubing as well as small-reach, very responsive and powerful hand brakes. The gain ratio of the BEINN ranges from 2.2 to 5.9, and to ensure a proper fit, is available in two frame sizes – the 20″ small and large. Full Islabikes BEINN 20 review.
ByK E-450, Best on a Budget: Half the cost of the WOOM and Islabikes, the ByK E-450 is single-speed and isn’t as fine-tuned and fancy, but is well equipped for basic road riding. The ByK is lighter than most mid-range 20″ bikes and has narrower tires. With its single-speed gain ratio of 4.0, the ByK-450 easily allows kids to gain speed on flat roads with limited effort. Full ByK E-450 review.
Comparison Chart of 20″ Longer Distance Bikes
Best Budget Bike
What We Look for in a Budget Bike
Whether you’re on a budget or just need a basic bike for your child to get around the neighborhood, we’ve tested out numerous 20″ bikes under $250 to help you find the best bang for your buck. Bikes under 30 lbs. with good frame design and a durable build are the most important features. In general, due to the complex nature of gears and shifters, we generally recommend NOT getting the cheapest geared bikes on the market as they will cause more pain and misery than they are worth. For ultra-budget bikes under $100, please reference our ultra-budget girls and boys 20″ bike comparison reviews.
Top Picks for 20″ Budget Bikes
Schwinn SmartStart, Best Under $150: A big step up in quality and design from $75 big-box store bikes, Schwinn’s SmartStart series offers a lightweight bike at an easy-to-swallow price. Its overall geometry makes pedaling easy, but the handlebars are very tall for kids which limit maneuverability for riders with shorter torsos or those with inseams in the 22″ to 24″ range. The taller bars, however, does allow taller riders, whose have grown above the maximum seat height, to continue to ride the bike without much trouble.
Diamondback Insight 20, Best Geared Budget Bike: For those who live near hills or simply want or need the flexibility of a geared bike when riding, the Diamondback Insight is a great basic geared bike. Full Insight 20 review.
Raleigh MXR 20, Best Bang for Your Buck: An amazing build for the price, the MXR offers a comfortable ride with a durable build that is sure to last through several children. Like the Schwinn is also has a coaster brake, but the rear V-brake on the MXR is much more responsive and better quality than the brakes on the Schwinn.
Comparison Chart of 20″ Budget Bikes
Other 20″ Bikes we Recommend
To compare even more 20″ bikes, check out our Kids’ Bikes: Ratings and Comparison Charts page.
By: Carrie Wren
Last Updated: September 2, 2017