Best kids’ bikes 2023: tips for choosing a children's bike

The best kids' bikes will get your child cycling confidently - here's our pick across the age range

best kids' bikes - riding confidently without assistance

Choosing the best kids' bike for your child is just as serious a business as picking out the best road bike for yourself, if not more so. If it's your child's first bike, you want to ensure that their initial cycling experience is a joyful introduction to life on two wheels.

For your child to be comfortable and in total control when cycling it's vital to get the best kids' bike for them, which ultimately means one that fits them. With the cost of bikes and the speed at which children grow, there's a huge temptation for any parent to buy a kid's bike that their child will 'grow into'. But this will backfire and will have your child in tears of frustration as they attempt the impossible task of trying to ride a bike that's far too big and heavy for them.

It's worth noting that many kids' bikes will be branded as off-road or mountain bikes until the wheels start getting to around 650b (more on wheel sizes below). Even if you are the most hardened of road riders, or have never dabbled in the mud yourself, don't let a label put you off! Realistically these are more akin to hybrids, and will provide a child with the ability to experience all kinds of riding. The important thing at this age is to regularly get kids out on two wheels for lots of exploring and adventuring by bike.

As availability is quite territory dependent, we've split this guide into USA specific models first and then UK and then by age range. Also check out our Buyer's Guide to children's bikes at the bottom of the page for more advice.

Best kids' bikes USA

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USA: Best kids' bikes – ages three to five

In this age category, bikes will have pedals and a chain to drive the wheels. Gears aren't really needed at this age, as they will add weight and unnecessary complication to the bike.

At this age it's all about learning the basic skills of pedalling and controlled braking, without the added the mental challenge of changing gear.

Tyres will often be multi-use and wheel sizes usually measure between 14 to 16 inch, but very occasionally 12 inch.

Cannondale Trail 12 inch

(Image credit: Future)

1. Cannondale Trail 12

Best for moving up from a balance bike

Specifications

Ages: 3-4.5
Weight: 15lb 10oz
Wheel size: 12"

Reasons to buy

+
Decent quality
+
Kid sized components for easier use

Reasons to avoid

-
Steel frame is quite heavy

A good option for kids just progressing from a balance bike, the Cannondale Trail is also available in 16 inch wheel size (opens in new tab) for slightly older kids. It comes with proportionately sized components so that it's easier to get to learn on, while the stabiliser wheels will suit kids who haven't learned on a balance bike before graduating to pedals.

There's a rear coaster brake so they don't need to learn brake use at the same time and a chain guard to keep clothing safer. Although there are plenty of alloy components, the frame and fork are steel - robust but quite heavy.

Batch the kids 16

(Image credit: Future)

2. Batch The Kids 16

Best for adaptability

Specifications

Ages: 3-4.5
Weight: 19.25lb
Wheel size: 16"

Reasons to buy

+
Decent quality
+
Kid sized components for easier use

Reasons to avoid

-
Another heavy frame

The Batch The Kids 16 provides simplicity and reliability for youngsters just getting going on a pedal bike. It mixes an alloy frame with a steel fork and comes with training wheels and a coaster brake on the rear wheel.

Wide tyres and a riser handlebar make for a comfortable ride and the fully enclosed chain helps keep clothes and fingers out of the gears. There's a 20" wheel option (opens in new tab) for older kids too.

Marin Donky Jr 16"

(Image credit: Future)

3. Marin Donky Jr 16"

Best for adaptability

Specifications

Ages: 3-4.5
Weight: 19.25lb
Wheel size: 16"

Reasons to buy

+
Decent quality
+
Kid sized components for easier use

Reasons to avoid

-
Another heavy frame

This SE Ltd version on the Marin Donky JR features 16 inch wheels and an aluminium frame and steel fork. It's single speed, making it easy to learn to ride and the slick treaded tyres make for faster riding. 

The Donky Jr comes with removeable training wheels and a clear full-cover chainguard that provides protection, but still lets your little one see what's going on inside. Stopping power comes from Tektro V-brakes front and rear.

Specialized Riprock 16"

(Image credit: Future)

4. Specialized Riprock Coaster 16"

Best for loose surface riding

Specifications

Ages: 3-4.5
Weight: Not specified
Wheel size: 16"

Reasons to buy

+
Big tyres for plenty of grip

The Riprock Coaster comes with wide 2.3" tyres, so there's plenty of grip if they want to head off into the dirt. As its name suggests, there's a coaster rear brake for stopping power. The bike is made of Specialized's A1 premium aluminium and comes with training wheels to help them if they need a bit more time to learn their balance.

It's another bike with plenty of size options -  there's a 20 inch wheel version (opens in new tab) between this and the 24 inch bike we've highlighted below.

public bikes sprout

(Image credit: Future)

5. Public Bikes Sprout

Best for moving up from a balance bike

Specifications

Ages: 3-4.5
Weight: 19.25lb
Wheel size: 16"

Reasons to buy

+
Decent quality
+
Kid sized components for easier use

Reasons to avoid

-
Another heavy frame

The Public Bikes Sprout comes as a 16" either with a straight crossbar as here or with a dropped crossbar. There's also a 20" model (opens in new tab). for larger kids, which doesn't get the training wheels which come with the 16" wheel bike. 

The Sprout has 1.95 inch tyres for plenty of grip and cushioning, single speed gearing and a rear coaster brake. It's another bike with proportionately sized components, making it easier to use for smaller children.

USA: Best kids' bikes – ages five to ten

Of course, children will grow a lot in this age bracket - and wheel sizes usually start between at 16 inches and go up to 27 inches - which is the start of an adult bike wheel (commonly referred to as 650b).

Most brands will estimate the wheel and frame size ideal for each age. But clearly children grow at different rates, so check the size guide and ideally organise a test ride so you can be sure the bike fits and is actually the best kids' bike for the rider.

At this age, children have usually started to develop the ability to master more than pedalling and braking, along with the urge to want to explore the world a little more and ability to ride further, it's often the size that gears will be added.

At the younger / smaller wheel size range of this category it's still worth limiting the amount of multitasking to just including rear gears. These will be more than enough to help negotiate any obstacles and gentle terrain changes.

As the age bracket go up and wheel sizes increase, additional gears can be added in the form of two chainrings at the front, so right and left hand gear leavers.

At the 24" wheel size, bikes start to resemble adult size, so it's not uncommon to see the introduction of disc brakes and front suspension, although it's worth having a more detailed read on these additions lower down this page before investing in an all-singing all-dancing bike.

Norco Kids' Storm

(Image credit: Future)

6. Norco Kids' Storm

Best for the budding off-roader

Specifications

Age: 5-7
Weight: Not specified
Wheel size: 20"

Reasons to buy

+
Wide tyres and single speed drivetrain for off-road simplicity
+
Alloy frame and rigid fork help keep weight down

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one gear means that steeper trails may be off-limits

A single speed drivetrain on an alloy frame makes for simplicity in the Norco Kids' Storm. A short stem and wide bars mimic the geometry of modern adult mountain bikes.

It's fitted with 2.25" tyres for plenty of grip and Tektro V-brakes for assured stopping power. There's a 24" option (opens in new tab) with 7-speed gearing available as well, to suit older kids.

Cleary Bikes Owl

(Image credit: Cleary)

7. Cleary Bikes Owl

Best for mixed-terrain and jumps

Specifications

Age: 5-7
Weight: 19.1lbs / 8.66kg
Wheel size: 20"

Reasons to buy

+
Wider 1.9" tyres for increased comfort, grip and puncture protection
+
Robust build can handle drops and jumps

Reasons to avoid

-
No coaster brake

The 20" bike gains size but, thanks to the single gear set up, there's no shifting complications making this a great kids bike for a rider still working on mastering the foundations of balance, pedalling and braking.

Build for multi-terrain, the geometry has been specifically designed for kids, meaning the steel frame and fork offering will be stable to help build rider confidence.

It will be heavier than the top end bikes in this size, but is also a $100 or so cheaper, and with well known components from the likes of Tektro, the well respected brand will still provide a lot of fun for any novice rider.

The only real downside is that it's limited to only blue or pink colour choices.

Cannondale Quick 24W kids' bike

(Image credit: Cannondale)

8. Cannondale Quick 24W kids' bike

Best for transitioning to adult bikes

Specifications

Age: 8+
Weight: TBC
Wheel size: 24"

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight alloy frame and fork
+
7 speed 11 - 28t cassette for increased range
+
Comes with kickstand

Reasons to avoid

-
Tires are a little skinny for off road use

The 24" wheels of the Aluminium frameset is a great stepping stone between kids and adult bikes. The lower gearing of 30T chainset and a 11-28 7-speed cassette will is a good introduction to gears to get up the hills without the over complication of a double chain ring.

It's a bit of a pick'n'mix of branded parts, with both Promax and Shimano making an appearance, but you know that with a highly regarded brand such as Cannondale it will be a great bike for any mini shreader.

Like most bikes in the bigger sizes, colours do become limited, and this time it's just to the one - what Cannondale call Acid Red.

Specialized Riprock 24

(Image credit: Specialized)

9. Specialized Riprock 24

Best for off-road action

Specifications

Age: 8+
Weight: 26.4lbs / 12.0kg
Wheel size: 24"

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of traction available
+
Hydraulic brakes
+
Wide gear range

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit chunky if they plan to ride on road

If they're more interested in pushing their limits off road than riding around on tarmac, the Specialized Riprock 24 has plenty to offer. That includes big, grippy 24x2.35" Specialized Ground Control Sport tyres and hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors.

There's loads of gear range from the 9-speed 11-42 tooth cassette for both steep unhills and fast descents. The fork is a rigid alloy number which should be fine for an eight year old, as they're still a bit too light for a suspension fork to operate effectively. 

Diamondback Youth Metric

(Image credit: Future)

10. Diamondback Youth Metric

Best for graduating to gears

Specifications

Age: 9-12
Weight: 23.3lbs
Wheel size: 24"

Reasons to buy

+
Decent gear range
+
Short cranks and kids' saddle

Reasons to avoid

-
A little heavy

An alloy frame helps keep the Diamondback's weight down, while 7-speed Shimano shifting gives plenty of gear range, with a 13-28T cassette. The bike comes with short cranks for shorter legs and there's a junior saddle fitted. 

It rolls on 24" wheels with 1.75" tyres, which give a comfortable ride that's fast enough for exploring. V-brakes provide stopping power, while the flat bar provides effective grip for smaller hands.

Diamondback Division

(Image credit: Future)

11. Diamondback Youth Division

Best for stopping power

Specifications

Age: 9-12
Weight: 23.3lbs
Wheel size: 24"

Reasons to buy

+
Disc brakes for consistent stopping
+
Short cranks ad kids' saddle

Reasons to avoid

-
A little heavy

Another entry from Diamondback, the Division comes with mechanical disc brakes for more consistent, stronger stopping power than the more normal V-brakes and less maintenance.

Like the Metric, it rolls on 24" wheels with a 7-speed drivetrain, but the tyres are that bit wider to handle tougher off-road terrain.

USA: Best kids' bikes – 10 years+

Vitus 24 Kids Bike

(Image credit: Vitus)

12. Vitus 24 Kids Bike

Best for transitioning to multiple gears

Specifications

Age: 10+
Weight: 20.72lbs / 9.4kg
Wheel size: 24"

Reasons to buy

+
8 speed gearing uses mountain bike components for improved durability
+
Larger tyres offer better roll over for control  and efficiency 

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing!

The 24" wheel bike is a good balance between a road and off road option, with the aim of allowing kids to build confidence, control and agility on mixed terrain. To put a rough bound on it, this bike is good for ages 8 or 9 plus, but measured height is the most accurate determinant. The suggested range is 4' 1" -  4' 6". 

The Aluminium frame and fork is teamed with a mix of components, which has helped keep the over cost of the bike down, but keeping with known brands such as Shimano and Tektro makes the Vitus 24 a first-rate kids' bike for the money.

The 9-speed 32t x 12/32t cassette gearing ratio should be enough for most climbs, without sacrificing speed on the flat. It's an ideal transition on to either road or off road adult bikes, but colours limited to three.

Fuji Dynamite 24

(Image credit: Future)

13. Fuji Dynamite 24

Best for off-road comfort

Specifications

Age: 10+
Weight: 26lb 7 oz / 12kg
Wheel size: 24"

Reasons to buy

+
Suspension fork
+
8-speed gears

Reasons to avoid

-
Tyres are not the most grippy in muddy conditions

The Fuji Dynamite 24 is an alloy framed junior mountain bike with a 50mm travel Zoom suspension fork. It has eight speed Shimano gearing and V-brakes. It's equipped with 1.95" Kenda Small Block Eight tyres for off-road grip and comes with a Fuji rider bar and Selle Royal saddle for comfort when hitting the trails.

Cube Acid 260

(Image credit: Future)

14. Cube Acid 260

Best for gear range

Specifications

Age: 10+
Weight: 29lb 12oz / 13.5kg
Wheel size: 26"

Reasons to buy

+
Suntour suspension fork
+
3x8-speed gears give lots of range

Reasons to avoid

-
Triple chainset may be hard for a kid to use

Cube's junior mountain bike, like the Fuji, is an alloy framed mountain bike that comes with a suspension fork and V-brakes. There's a triple chainset though, for loads of gear range, although kids might find that over-complicated and hard to get the best from.

Stopping power comes from powerful V-brakes and the wheels are shod with Cube's own 2.1 inch tyres. Wiggle also sells the Cube Acid 240 (opens in new tab) with a 1x7-speed drivetrain if your kid isn't ready for a larger wheeled bike yet, but still wants to hit the trails.

Best kids' bikes UK

UK: Best kids' bikes: Ages three to five

best kids bikes

15. Frog 40 starter bike

Best for transitioning from a balance bike

Specifications

Age: 3-5
Weight: 13.88lbs/ 6.3kg
Wheel size: 14"

Reasons to buy

+
Small 14" wheels a closer match to a balance bike
+
Wide range of colours
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't come with a coaster brake

Designed for three to around five-year-olds, this a great kids bike for the smallest of riders in the household.

The smallest of the Frog pedal range, which extends to Frog 48, the Frog 40 comes with 14" wheels and the addition of Tektro brakes, which Frog say are small and easy to reach, allowing full rider control and helping to improve bike riding confidence.

With just one gear, the overall weight is kept minimal and keeps riding complications low, allowing a love of simply riding to develop.

With six colour options, including a multicoloured spotty option, it offers probably the biggest choice on the market, keeping even the most demanding of colour pallets content.

Vitus 16 Kids Bike

(Image credit: Vitus)

16. Vitus 16 Kids Bike

Specifications

Age: 3-5
Weight: 14.99lbs/ 6.8kg
Cost: $259.99/ £229

Reasons to buy

+
Wider 1.75" tyres for comfort, grip and better puncture protection
+
Lightweight
+
Stylish tan sidewalls

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't come with a kickstand
-
Doesn't come with a coaster brake

Another perfect kids' bike for the grand tour wannabes. Designed for riders around three to five-year-olds, the Vitus 16 Kids Bike is actually the second smallest of the range, which starts at 14", going all the way up to a 26" wheel size bike, with rear gears getting added at around the 20" wheel stage.

The aluminium bike comes with short reach Tektro brakes and All-Purpose Vee Speedster tyres, which Vitus say are equally happy on hard pavement or off-road trails.

A great progression from either a balance bike for a taller little one, or a size up grade from a 14" wheel starter bike, without the overly complicating things and with three class colourways to choose from, there should be an option for every rider.

Islabikes Cnoc Starter Bikes

(Image credit: Islabikes)

17. Islabikes Cnoc 14 Small

Best for attention to detail

Specifications

Ages: 3 - 4+
Weight: 11.46lbs - 14.55lbs/ 5.2-6.6kg
Wheel size: 14"

Reasons to buy

+
Super lightweight
+
Mudguard option
+
Bespoke chainguard

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

The cream of the crop for the best starter bike. The Islabike Cnoc range is Islabikes' smallest pedal bike and mostly constructed using proprietary elements developed just for kids.

There are three beautiful colour choices for the bike ideally suited children from three to four years +. Wheel sizes vary from 14 to 20 inches, ideal for tall young riders, or kids who started their cycling journey a little later.

All Cnoc bikes feature a chainguard, to help keep little hands safe, and singlespeeds, meaning there's no gears to change allowing the child to focus purely on learning to pedal, balance and control the bike.

HOY Bonaly

(Image credit: HOY)
Best for shorter legged riders

Specifications

Age: 4-6 (aprox)
Weight: 13lbs - 22.48lbs/5.9kg - 10.2kg
Wheel size: 14"

Reasons to buy

+
Particularly short 92mm crank length good for smaller riders
+
Relatively lightweight
+
Variety of wheel sizes
+
Variety of colours

Reasons to avoid

-
No coaster brake

Designed by the multiple Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, the Hoy Bonaly is the ideal kid's bike for straddling a couple of categories age wise.

Acting a great lightweight starter bike for children from four years old, it is available in wheel sizes up to 24", gaining rear gears at the 20" wheel version, allowing your child to grow with the brand, which is exclusive to Evans Cycles (opens in new tab).

There are three bold colours in all sizes of the Hoy Bonaly, which is named after the area where Sir Chris first rode a bike, which come with aluminium tubing, low weight components and use micro-drive gearing to help reduce weight further still. The 14" wheel version even comes with an extra small brake leaver for tiny hands to master.

UK: Best kids' bikes – ages five to ten

best kids bikes

Best for accessories

Specifications

Age: 5+
Weight: 16.31lbs -20.28lbs/ 7.4-9.2kg
Wheel size: 20"

Reasons to buy

+
Variety of accessories: mudguards, bottle mounts, pannier racks, kickstand
+
Lightweight for the wheel size
+
Relatively large wheels for the minimum height 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive 

The Islabike Beinn range covers a large age group, from five to ten years old, with wheel sizes between 20" to 26" available.

We love the multi-purpose experience on offer with the Beinn, finding it one of the best kids' bikes for hitting both smooth tarmac or the off-road trails thanks to it's well balanced geometry and tyre choice.

A single front chain ring is paired with a good spread of gears at the back, which when combined with the Aluminium frameset and bespoke kids size components, keeps the overall weight low, minimises shifting complications and keeps maintenance low for the adults.

There are four bold colours to choose from, which should keep even the pickiest of riders happy.

Frog 52 hybrid bike

(Image credit: Frog Bikes)
Best for easy gear shifting

Specifications

Age: 5+
Weight: (from) 19.3lbs/ 8.75kg
Wheel size: 20"

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Youth-specific 8-speed gear shifters

Reasons to avoid

-
On the heavier side

Hybrid title bikes are incredibly popular among adults for their versatility in combining the best of road and MTB design - making these great kids' bikes for and off-road.

All models feature a single chainring with 32-34 teeth, with a wide spread of gears at the back to allow kids to tackle more challenging terrain, as well as increase speed on the flat.

The great thing about Frog bikes is the size range, starting all the way back at balance bikes, then starter bikes and then this model starts at the Frog 53 with 20" wheels, and extends to the Frog 78 with 26" wheels. So if you do become so accustomed to the range you really can grown with the brand.

One of the biggest things we love about Frog bikes is the bold colourways, there are generally between four and seven colour choices depending on the model, and often specials/ limited editions, such as the bright yellow Tour De France Range.

Raleigh Pop 20

(Image credit: Raleigh)

21. Raleigh Pop 20

Best for nostalgia

Specifications

Age: 6+
Weight: 10.7kg
Wheel size: 20"

Reasons to buy

+
Rear mech protector
+
Tan sidewalls
+
Grippy pedals

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Quill stem makes reach and stack adjustments for difficult than with an A-headset

Taking design cues from the 1970's, this is the perfect kids's bike if you want the retro look. The Raleigh Pop is an aluminium framed bike and cro-moly (steel alloy) forks from the well known and loved brand.

Selected the highly regarded Shimano Tourney 6-speed to drive the bike with adjustable child specific brake leavers for stopping, and teamed with 1.5" puncture protected tyres, suitable for mix terrain riding, means this bike has function as well as form.

Giant ARX Kids's bike

(Image credit: Giant)
Best for colour choice

Specifications

Age: 6-10 (approx)
Weight: from 17.19lbs/ 7.8kg
Wheel size: 20"

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Tough
+
Simple to use
+
Grown-up colours
+
Competitively priced
+
Should hold its value

Reasons to avoid

-
None, according to our six-year-old tester: "I like everything"

For cycling parents looking for a ‘proper’ bike for their future Tour de France champion the Giant ARX ticks all the boxes and is competitively priced too.

There are two wheel sizes to choose from, 20" and 24", with both size bikes made from the same Aluxx-grade aluminium as the grown-up bikes meant we found the Giant ARX 20 fast, fun and light on test.

Child specific geometry means the bike has a lower centre of gravity which helps with stability and versatile tires that allows for two wheel adventures on rough roads, paths and even some dirt.

Lightweight components are sized specifically for young riders, but colour choice is limited to just two.

Frog Road

(Image credit: Frog)

23. Frog Road

Best for introducing drop hanldebars

Specifications

Age: 6+
Weight: from 19.4lbs/ 8.8kg
Wheel size: 20"

Reasons to buy

+
Fits road and cyclocross tyres
+
9-speed gearing
+
Interrupter brakes for an additional braking position from the hoods. 

Reasons to avoid

-
On the heavier side at 8.2kg

Available in both 20" or 24"wheels makes the Frog road one of the smallest dropped bar road specific bike for kids.

The 9-speed 34t - 12-27t geared Aluminium Alloy road bike is a middling weight, not particularly heavy but also not the lightest in this age range. Despite its name, the Frog Road comes with plenty of tyre clearance so popping a pair of knobbly tyres for a bit of cyclocross action is easy-peasy.

Narrow and short-drop child-specific handlebars and 9-Speed gears with Microshift short-reach brake levers making braking easier and more comfortable for smaller hands. On the larger model an additional chainring (34/42T) is fitted to double the number of gears.

Vitus 24 Kids Bike

(Image credit: Vitus)

24. Vitus 24 Kids Bike

Best for transitioning to adult bikes

Specifications

Age: 8/9+
Weight: 20.72lbs / 9.4kg
Wheel size: 24"

Reasons to buy

+
Wide 1.95" tyres
+
Durable MTB components to withstand rust and a stretched maintenance schedule 

Reasons to avoid

-
No mounts for a pannier rack

The 24" wheel bike is a good balance between a road and off road option, with the aim of allowing kids to build confidence, control and agility on mixed terrain.

The Aluminium frame and fork is teamed with a mix of components, which has helped keep the over cost of the bike down, but keeping with known brands such as Shimano and Tektro makes the Vitus 24 a first-rate kids' bike for the money.

The 9-speed 32t x 12/32t cassette gearing ratio should be enough for most climbs, without sacrificing speed on the flat. It's an ideal transition on to either road or off road adult bikes, but colours limited to three.

Salsa Journeyman 24

(Image credit: Salsa)

25. Salsa Journeyman 24

Best for a first bikepacking adventure

Specifications

Age: 8/9
Weight: 23lbs/10.4kg
Wheel size: 24"

Reasons to buy

+
Disc brakes
+
Many mounting options: Pannier mounts, fork leg bosses, underside and inside downtube bosses
+
Wide gearing range

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

As our range guide states, there are few bike brands as synonymous with the gravel and bikepacking scene than Salsa Cycles. We are genuinely thrilled that the much loved brand has a dedicated model for youngsters, making the Journeyman 24 the leading kids' bike in the gravel and adventure category.

The 24" wheel Aluminium frame and fork is paired with 9-speed micoShift Advent and mechanical disc brakes, a rare find in this size bike.

The multi-terrain bike uses a single chain ring and 9-speed rear cassette with a wide spread to which should balance flat riding at reasonable speed and the ability to tackle most climbs, with or without cargo.

The frame has a variety of cargo mount options including both fork pack and rear rack mounts. Colour choice is limited to red or teal, but the bike is so beautifully presented, even the pickist of riders won't help but fall for one or other colour options.

Hornit 16 kids' bike

(Image credit: Future)
Best for low weight and servicing simplicity

Specifications

Age: 5+
Weight: 5.7kg
Wheel size: 16"

Reasons to buy

+
Very light
+
Carbon belt drive is cleaner and longer wearing than a chain
+
Mudguard mounts 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Hornit is a relative newcomer to the kids' bike market, having initially started out making cycling accessories (the infamous world's loudest horn, no less). It's on the more premium end of the market and is competing against the likes of Islabikes' Cnoc and the Frog 44.

At 5.7kg, it is notably light – helped by the aluminium frame, lightly spoked wheels and the use a carbon belt drive instead of a traditional chain. A carbon belt might sound superfluous on a kids' bike, but they are highly practical as well as saving weight – not being susceptible to rust or mucky and oily.

As a first step up from a balance bike to one crank propelled, the low weight makes the transition a much easier process. Climbs barely perceptible to adults can feel like a mountain to small kids – and a heavy bike really amplifies that.

UK: Best kids' bikes – 10 years+

Best kids bikes

27. Islabikes Luath Road and Cyclocross bikes

Best for drop bar off-road riding

Specifications

Age: 8-13+
Weight: from 18.29lbs - 20.7lbs / 8.3kg - 9.4kg
Wheel size: 26"

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra compact drop handlebars better fit for smaller hands
+
Disc brakes for better control in wet and mucky conditions
+
1x gearing
+
Wide range of accessories: Mudguards, kickstands, pannier racks 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Technically the Islabike Luath should straddle a couple of age brackets as it's comes in three sizes 24", 26" and 700" (considered and adult bike sized wheel).

Popular among junior racers, the much loved brand of bikes supports youngsters in their early road and criterium races as well of off-road and in cyclocross exploits.

The chainrings remain single - ranging from 34 to 36 tooth depending upon wheel size - with large rear cassettes to allow for plenty of gear changes. Mudguards and pannier racks can be fitted, to make a perfect kids' bike for family-holiday touring on or off road.

Colours are much more muted at once kids bike reach this size, but for an additional £9.99 you can add your name to the top tube.

B'Twin Triban 100 Junior Road bike

(Image credit: B'Twin)

28. B'Twin Triban 100 Junior Road bike

Best for a low cost introduction to drop handlebars

Specifications

Age: 9-12yrs
Weight: from 22.48lbs/ 10.2kg
Cost: £299.99 / $499

Reasons to buy

+
Low price
+
Mudguard and pannier mounts
+
Simple 1x gearing 

Reasons to avoid

-
Narrow gearing range
-
Non-integrated shifters 

The adult Triban bikes have almost a cult like following, with their performance and cost hard to beat, and with all scoring nines or tens in our cycling weekly reviews, we're big fans too.

The Decathlon house brand junior range uses 7-speed 40t/ 14-28t Shimano drive train, with double Tektro brake leavers, for stopping and speed modulation from the handlebars and hoods.

The Junior version sports 650b (27.5") wheels, but in the US only a 700c version is available, which will make it only suitable for slightly taller riders, but keeping the single front ring means it's still keeps things simple. Both version also still come with an Aluminium frame, with a quick release wheels (front only for Junior version) for ease of transport and storage the Triban lifetime guarantee on frame, handlebar, stem and fork.

Read more: Decathlon bikes range: guide to Triban and Van Rysel bikes

Best kids' bike: Specialist bikes

Best kids' bike: Specialist bikes

Frog 58 track bike

(Image credit: Frog)

29. Frog 58 track bike

Best for the velodrome

Specifications

Age: 6-14
Weight: 14.9lbs - 17.12lbs/ 6.78- 7.77kg

Reasons to buy

+
Fixed hub and no brakes – perfect for riding track

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite specialist use case

For children who love to ride the track, there's a range of three bikes from Frog. They all feature short drop handlebars, 114m patented short cranks, quick release seat posts and Kenda track tyres with a flip flop hub to allow for fixed and free-wheel riding. Sizes start at 58 and extend to the 70.

Black Mountain Kapel

(Image credit: Black Mountain)

30. Black Mountain bikes

Best for developing with your kids

Specifications

Age: 2.5 - 6+ yrs
Weight: TBC

Reasons to buy

+
Frame can be adjusted for a wide range of heights
+
Components such as cranks, gears and derailleur can be swapped out

Reasons to avoid

-
Often sold out

Black Mountain is doing something a little different. Launched in 2018, it offers bikes that grow as easily and quickly as children's legs do.

The range is kicked off with the Pinto, which claims to fill the role of a balance bike, a 12" and 14" bike, the Skog replaces 14" and 16" bikes for children aged 5 to 8.

The range has since expanded (opens in new tab) to include the 18" Kapel and 20" Hutto added to fill gaps in the size range, with the latter available with disc brakes and front end suspension. The fit is dialled in via a ‘growing triangle’ frame and gears can be replaced as little legs get stronger.

Buyer's guide to kids' bikes

What features should I look for in a kids' bike?

  • Pay attention to weight: heavy kids' bikes represent a large percentage of the child's weight (see table below for weights on recommended bikes)
  • Don't buy a bike for a child to 'grow into': it'll gather dust - quality kids' bikes hold their value in resale anyway
  • Look for bikes with gear and brake levers that are child specific, smaller and easier to use
  • Avoid multiple gears: double chainrings (front gears) add weight and complication
  • Avoid suspension until pre-teen years: it adds weight and they often aren't heavy enough in the upper body to use it
  • Remember to leave some cash for a kids' bike helmet

What size kids' bike should I choose?

There are two ways to shop for a kids bike; age or wheel size.

We've broken our best kids' bikes buyer guide into age categories, but remember this is worked out on average heights and leg measurements, so we've also included a hand quick link table to help find the right size category by wheel size too.

It's important to recognise that every child is different, especially in terms of height and development. Our age categorisation is just to help you find the right ballpark, for the average journey, but remember, only move to the next stage when your little one's legs are ready.

For children younger than three, check out our page on the best balance bikes for toddlers, these are excellent starter bikes that help children learn the skills of cycling before they're ready to pedal.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Age (years)Wheel size (inches)Height (feet / cm)Inseam (inches/ cm)
18mtns +
 
12”2’10 - 3’4ft / 86 - 101cm14 - 17” / 35 - 43cm
3+14”3’0 -3’3ft / 92 - 98cm13.4” - 14.7” / 34 - 38cm
4+16”3’5ft/ 104cm16.5” / 42cm
4-620”3’7 - 3’11f t/ 110 - 120cm18.5 - 20.5”/ 47 - 52cm
7+24“4’2ft / 127cm22.4” / 57cm
8+26”4’5ft / 135cm24.4” / 62cm
10+27”4’9ft + / 146cm+26.7” + / 68cm +

What are the common mistakes when buying a kids' bike?

These are the pitfalls we see all too often

  • Don't buy a bike which is too large in the expectation that a child will grow into it. They will have a nervous time until they do;
  • Don't get a bike which is too heavy for a child to enjoy riding;
  • Try not to buy a bike without the flexibility for different types of riding;
  • Don't only consider the up-front cost of the bike; longevity and resale value are important too.

How much should I spend on a kids' bike?

Like most things in life, you really do get what you pay for with the best kids' bikes.

The best kids' bike will also be one that your child can handle on their own, and unless you grab a bargain of a deal price wise, in general the cheaper the bike the heavier it will be. So always aim to get the best you can afford.

It's also worth bearing in mind that although the best kids bikes can seem pricey, especially as children do grow out of them - they hold their value. So even once your tribe has earned their riding stripes with a mini bike, you can sell it for not a lot less on sites like eBay, or grab one from their in the first place, or even take advantage one of our quick link deals.

How can I save money on a kid's bike?

The options above are perhaps not the cheapest kids' bikes, and though lightweight bikes with ergonomic touch points will offer the best entry point into cycling, we realise they're not affordable for everyone.

Shopping in the sales can get you a much better bike for the budget you have, as will checking auction sites such as eBay. It's much better to take the best kids' bikes with a few scuffs and scratches over something not as good but looking shiny. After one ride on the best kid's bike, and you'll all totally overlook any superficial marks for the superior riding experience.

If you are looking for a children's bike that isn't too expensive, try to keep it simple - suspension and lots of gears be appealing to little ones, especially if they have seen your bike. Their enjoyment and confidence will be bolstered by a lightweight construction and in most cases they won't need suspension until they're ready to ride an adult bike anyway due to their light body weight. While a few gears are handy, they can sometimes prove more complicated than expected, so perhaps stick to a single chainring at the front for as long as possible.

Teach your child to ride in just 45 minutes

Why is weight significant?

As mentioned above, cheap kids' bikes will often have several flaws, most notably their weight. When cutting costs, brands will have to use heavier components and the frame will often weigh more too - creating an overall mass that often represents a significant percentage of the child's weight, which is why many don't make our best kids' bikes guide. Parents sometimes struggle to understand why every incline results in an outbreak of the waterworks - but we'd be crying too if our bikes weighed half as much as us.

Do kids' bikes need suspension forks and lots of gears?

Some children want a bike that looks just like an adult version - and if they're aspiring to look like an adult mountain biker, things can get tricky. It's common to see children's bikes with suspension forks, but most manufacturers of the best kids' bikes don't provide this until children are at least eight years old.

This is because a young child's upper body mass is low and they're rarely able to get the most from even finely tuned, responsive forks - and suspension will always add to the overall weight of the bike.

When it comes to gears - these should be introduced gradually. Most of the best kid's bike brands opt for single chainrings, with a wide spread at the rear cassette. For learners, this makes the whole process easier - and for older children, even those on racing road bikes, the single chainring helps to keep the weight down.

What should I look for in a kids' bike's geometry?

The best kids' bikes will have optimum kids' geometry. Reach is the first thing to consider. With longer legs relative to their torso, and musculature that doesn’t allow them to lean forward as an adult would, a shorter reach is a must. As a minimum requirement the best kids' bikes will have a proportionately shorter top tube, and a short stem.

The best kids' bikes on the market will also come with custom-designed bars with a short reach and drop to maintain a comfortable riding position. Specialist kid's bike brands like Islabikes and Frog also uses custom-made brake levers with shorter reach and greater leverage for smaller hands with a less powerful grip.

Get them started on a balance bike

Foot placement is equally important, and getting that right for narrower hips calls for more bespoke components.

To create a closer foot placement, the best kids' bikes companies will design their own bespoke narrow bottom brackets with cranks in multiple lengths. This has the added benefit of improving ground clearance when the bike leans over, while also making it easier for the child to put their foot down.

Are boys' and girls' bikes different?

Some brands will offer separate models for boys and girls. However, anthropometric data showed no notable differences between the measurements of boys' and girls' limbs.

Later in life, some women might choose to opt for female specific bikes, but at a young age this isn't deemed necessary by most experts, or most of the best kid's bike brands.

Liv bikes (opens in new tab), the sister company of Giant bikes, is a women's only brand and therefore does cater just for girls, with options ranging from first balance bikes all the way up to 26" mountain bikes.

Most children will want a bike they find aesthetically suited to their own tastes, so most of the best kids' bikes will come in a range of paint jobs to suit the tastes of young riders.

best kids bikes

Kids' bikes need to fit if you don't want them to gather dust. Photo: Chris Catchpole

What if I want a specialist junior road or cyclocross bike?

Junior road and cyclocross racing are big news - and of course having the right bike for the job will help to spur on your child's enthusiasm. Versatility is key - Frog's Road range (opens in new tab) and Islabikes' Luath family (opens in new tab) both hav