Whether your child is budding mountain or road biker, or an absolute beginner, these are the best children’s bikes to choose from
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Watching your child learn to ride a bike is one of the greatest chapters in a parent’s life. This, undoubtedly, is one of those unforgettable moments – a child pushing the pedals independently for the first time and pulling triumphantly away from their parent. If you want to give your children the best two-wheeled start in life, however, then you’ll need to invest in the right bike.
You may have got your little one started early on a balance bike, some stabilizers or a trike of some sort. But, at some point, the training wheels quite literally need to come off, and you need to pick up the best children’s bike on the market that suits your child’s unique needs.
This important purchase can seem daunting, with the rise of the internet adding a maddening array of options in this and every other field. So, to help you make the right choice, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids bikes on the market.
How to pick the best children’s bike to buy
What size bike does your child need?
Picking the right size of bike is absolutely vital, since you don’t want to end up in a situation where your son or daughter is whacking their knees on the handlebars or failing to the reach the pedals. Most bike shops and websites will offer their own guides, relating the size of your child to the various wheel size options on the market, but this chart from IceBike.org provides a suitable system for estimating your child’s bike size before perusing the options:
What sort of bike does your child need?
Is your child an absolute beginner, a budding cycling prodigy or something in between? Depending on where they sit on that sliding scale of bike-based proficiency, you’ll want to pick an option with the right amount of features to suit your child’s needs. It’s best to start the youngest and smallest riders off with a simple balance bike to help them get the hang of riding a bike (you can check out our balance bike buying guide here), then move them up to a simple single speed model with a single brake. Once they’ve mastered that, you can start looking at models with dual brakes and multiple gears which will allow them to both go faster and tackle more hilly terrain. We’ve included every kind of bike in the list below.
Will your child outgrow a perfect bike too quickly?
If your child is right at the upper end of one of the segments in the wheel size tables above, you’ll want to take care as to which size of bike you choose. To avoid this pitfall, it’s worth making sure that a bike has some adjustability which will allow it to grow with them. Check if the manufacturer has any recommended inseam measurements, and make sure that your child’s inseam fits at the lower end of the range – that way you can simply raise the seat and or handlebars as they grow. Failing that, take them to a shop and get them to try a few sizes from different brands to give you an idea of how the sizes match up in the real world.
How much do you need to spend?
If you’re limiting your spend to £100 or thereabouts, you should still be able to pick up a single speed bike for a younger child to learn with. If you can push past the £200 mark, you’ll be able to get something bigger with a variety of gears. And if you can go up to between £300 and £500, you’ll find really impressive features like adjustable frame sizes, suspension and hydraulic brakes.
Which tyre width do you need?
As a general rule, slimmer tyres are better for speed on smoother paths, while chunky ones are better for bumpy off-road terrain. In this article, we’ll cover a range of options from sleek 1.5-inch tyres to all-terrain-friendly 2.8-inch ones. Thinner tyres will roll a little more quickly on smooth ground, but if you want a true do-it-all bike you might want to consider a bike with wider tyres – that way your child won’t get put off exploring rougher ground or forest paths.
If you’ve got a child around the age of three and you’re worried that they’ll outgrow any bike that you buy, you should check out the Pinto. It’s the most adaptable children’s bike on the market, with a ‘growing triangle’ frame that you can adjust as your child grows. There is also a ‘growing gear’ system, which allows you to add more gears into the mix as your kid becomes more proficient.
The bike has three distinct modes, each of which is suited to a different stage of your child’s development. You start off with a very low saddle (which is effectively a balance bike), but as your child grows in confidence, skill and size, you can enlarge the frame, boost the seat height and add the extra gears. This bike will last longer than your average, and literally grow with your child.
Key specs - Approx age: 3-5; Wheel size: 14’’; Number of gears: Adaptable ‘growing gear’ system; Weight: 5.7kg; Tyre width: 1.5’’; Stabilizers included: No