08 June 2021 (updated)

From Balance Bikes to BMX: The Best Kids Bikes

It can take a lot of effort to learn to ride a bike. Fortunately, if you start with balance bikes, your kids will soon be raring to hit the road! Find out here what to consider before buying a bike for your kid.

One of the most important parts of being a kid is learning to ride a bike. And, since this skill provides a challenge for young kids, it’s important to tackle it with patience and enthusiasm. Luckily, there are a lot of bikes out there to make the struggles of riding a little easier. Soon enough, your kids will be happy to get into the great outdoors for fun, family-centered activities! Whether it’s balance bikes or a BMX racer, there are options for every little adventurer.

@2lilbrobros on a Woom

What Are the Best Types of Balance Bikes?

When you're looking for the right balance bike, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Is it the right size? Is it adjustable? Having the right size is crucial to mastering balance and coordination.
  2. Is it lightweight? Little kiddos may not be able to manage a bike that's too heavy.
  3. Will this last and/or be able to be handed down to multiple kids? Not everyone needs to consider this, but if this is your first balance bike and you plan on having more kids, consider how well it will hold up. The $50 balance bike may not hold up as well as the $200 bike.
  4. Is this suitable for where my child will be riding the bike? Check out the tire materials/width. Depending on what kind of activities your child will be doing, you're going to want to make sure the tires are well-suited. If they're riding on the road, they wouldn't need a bike with a lot of traction. If they'll be off-road on gravel or dirt, they'll need a bike with a lot more traction and wider tires.

Best Balance Bikes for ages 18 months-2 years

There are plenty of good balance bikes for toddlers out there to test the road and get comfortable on wheels. There are some that shine above the rest and will provide for an overall better toddler biking experience.

  • Woom 1: With a lightweight aluminum frame, innovative rear brake, safety-first steering limiter, and top-notch Schwalbe G-One Speed air-filled Tires, the Woom 1 is a balance bike designed specifically for toddlers. And at 8 pounds, this bike is super light making it the best balance bike for ages 18-months to 2 years old. 
  • Chillafish Charlie: If you're looking for something affordable, this 10" balance bike runs just at $44.99 at Target! It has adjustable handlebars and an adjustable seat, too! With two color options and a lightweight 5.5 lb frame, and a customizable seat height, your little one will be zipping around in no time! If you're looking for the best bang for your buck, go check out a Chillafish. 

Best Balance Bikes for Ages 2-3 years

  • FirstBike: If your kiddo is off-road ready, this FirstBike makes their balance bikes with thick, air tires ideal for off-road conditions with mostly grass, gravel, or loose dirt surfaces. Perfect for the young adventurer who's ready to face the great outdoors!
  • Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike– If your child is just starting out, you may want to give them what brought balance bikes to the forefront. Luckily, the Strider bike has a lot of other things going for it too! While the price point is good at $139, you can also customize with a padded seat and thin grips. The flat-free foam tires may not have the traction of rubber, but this lightweight bike is easy to ride! The Strider 14x sport is a balance-to-pedal hybrid, perfect for transitioning as they get older and more comfortable with the bike around ages 4-5. 
  • Early Rider Alley Runner Balance Bike– This balance bike for toddlers might be more expensive than some. Fortunately, it makes up for the price with the speed and smoothness of the ride. This bike is just 7 pounds so your kids will have no trouble developing agility on its wide, rubber tires! One note: It doesn't have a footrest for coasting. 
  • Specialized Hotwalk: Specialized makes top-of-the-line balance bikes from a name brand you can trust. And with a newly redesigned frame, the Hotwalk features a lower standover height to accommodate little riders, as well as a longer wheelbase for more stable scooting. Specialized is different from the other brands in their sizing that uses age, we've based their sizes upon inseam. Different kiddos are different sizes at different ages, so inseam solves the "this doesn't look like it'll fit" problem.

Best Bikes for Kids Ages 3-5

  • First Go! Banwood Balance Bike: This is for the child with STYLE. With a vintage design in beautiful colors, white tires, and an adorable basket and bell, this bike is so cool, I wish it came in my size. Best for ages 18 months-5 years, your child will be rocking this sleek, vintage balance bike. Check it out at Dillard's!
  • Raleigh Jazzi 12 Complete Kids Bike – Balance bikes can be an ideal way to start out. However, balance bikes with pedals can also be great! This bike is a popular choice for its small wheels that will keep your kids comfortable and in control. If the design doesn’t draw your child’s enthusiasm, the bright colors will be sure to! This makes a great first pedal bike if your child is ready to upgrade from a balance bicycle. Trust me, it'll feel like 10 minutes before they'll be riding their first adult bike.
  • Janod: This French company makes a wooden balance bike that takes the cake for cuteness and style. It's not just a bike, it's a little Vespa balance scooter. Of course, if you get this one, you'll have to also purchase a pair of huge sunglasses and a little neck scarf to complete the ensemble.
  • Bixe 16: This balance bike is best for kids ages 5-9 who are still getting the hang of balance and coordination, but not quite ready for pedals. It's a great budget option, too. Because you know they'll be ready for a pedal bike in no time. 

What Size Bike Does Your Child Need?

There are a few ways to figure out which kids bikes sizes will work best. It might seem good to choose something they’ll grow into, but it’s much more important to have the right fit. You’ll also want to look for something lightweight that will be easy for them to manage. And, while you may think your child will be doing one kind of ride, a versatile bike is best. If your child is comfortable, you may want to consider a bike with brakes, levers, and pedals. Keep in mind that if you have any troubles choosing, you can always get help from your local bike shop!

@thefamilyclifford on a Schwinn

What Are the Best Bikes for Kids?

When your kids get a little older, you don’t have to worry about balance bikes or training wheels. Fortunately, for the 4-8 crowd, there are great options that will make them long for the cycling trails! If your child still needs help getting the hang of balance, you can buy a stabilizer like this to help prevent hard falls.

  • Metro Bicycle Rosie 16” Kids Bike– The great thing about this well-rated bicycle is that you can take it right from toddler to little tike! Instead of worrying about balance bikes, Metro Bicycles Rosie gives riders the ability to change their bike. With options like training wheels, the Rosie offers up versatility.
  • Kent Boys Pro Bike & Kent Girls Cupcake Bike – The Kent bikes cater to little boys and girls, and come in a variety of great colors too! Fortunately, there’s more to these pint-sized two-wheelers than good style. Most kids won’t need to worry about switching gears so these provide a great option. They also have foot brakes, which are user-friendly for young kids.
  • SE Bikes Lil’ Quad 16” BMX Bike– If your kids are getting older but still learning the basics, you won’t want to put them on this one. But, if they’re a big fan of cycling, a BMX bike can appeal to their adventurous spirit! With small wheels and a strong frame, this bike is perfect for the child who wants to pop wheelies.

Bike Adventures

Riding a bike is a rite of passage for every child. Fortunately, whether it’s a balance bike for kids or a pedaled powerhouse, there are ways to make riding easier. If you’re teaching your child to ride, share your experience in our comments. Some of your relatives might have a few pointers for you on FamilyApp! With so many great choices out there, getting started with cycling has never been easier.

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