The 7 Best Kids' Bikes for All Skill Levels

Our favorite bikes from Schwinn, Mongoose, Razor, Joystar, and more

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As with any pricey purchase, when buying a kids' bike, you want to make sure the cost matches the quality. There’s also the safety factor: If a bike isn’t the right size (or the helmet doesn’t properly fit), you could be putting the child’s safety at risk. 

To help with your search, we spent hours researching the best kids' bikes, considering a child's age, size, and strength level. Our favorite picks include a balance bike from Woom complete with safety features, a steerable tricycle from Radio Flyer, and high-quality options from Schwinn, perfect for mountain biking.

From a basic first bike to a more specialized ride, here are our picks for the best kids' bikes.

Our Top Picks

Best Balance: Woom 1 Bike

4.1
Woom 1 Bike

Courtesy of Woom

Pros
  • Grows with your child

  • Easy-to-use handbrake

  • Steering limiter prevents accidental overturning

  • Lightweight for easy for travel

Cons
  • More expensive than other balance bikes

  • Seat may not go low enough for smaller children

Who else recommends it? Wirecutter also picked the Woom 1 Bike.

What do buyers say? 86% of 150+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

“The best first bike for a child is a balance bike,” Kristen Bonkoski, the founder of Rascal Rides says, adding that they aren’t just for toddlers: Bigger kids should start on a balance bike if they haven't mastered pedaling yet. Her favorite, the woom 1, is ergonomically designed to fit the anatomy and biomechanics of a child, making it a comfortable bike that ensures a child’s balance as they “ride.” It also doubles as a walker to help children learn how to take their first steps. 

Dimensions: 12 inch wheels, 18.7 inches (handlebar height) | Material: Aluminum | Training Wheels: No | Recommended Age: 18 months to 3.5 years | Recommended Height: 32 to 39 inches | Maximum Weight Capacity: 110 lbs

Best Tricycle: Radio Flyer Deluxe Steer and Stroll Trike

Radio Flyer Deluxe Steer & Stroll Trike

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • High seat back provides support that new riders need to learn to pedal

  • Grows with child

  • Steering handle allows adults to assist children

  • Covered rear storage bin for toys and accessories

Cons
  • No breaks, meaning your child has to use their feet to stop

  • Loud, even on smooth pavement or concrete

The Radio Flyer is a classic tricycle which, thanks to three different settings, can grow with your child. But what makes this a great first-trike is the adult-sized steering handle, which allows you to better support your child when they’re first learning to ride. (Not to mention it’s easier to steer the trike rather than carry it if your child decides they don’t feel like pedaling anymore).

Dimensions: 28 x 21.5 x 19 inches | Material: Alloy, steel, plastic | Training Wheels: No | Recommended Age: 2 to 5 years | Recommended Height: Not listed | Maximum Weight Capacity: 49 lbs

Best Bike with Training Wheels: JOYSTAR Little Rock Kids Bike

JOYSTAR Little Rock Kids Bike
JOYSTAR Little Rock Kids Bike.
Pros
  • Easy to assemble

  • Front brake lever provides additional safety

  • Removable training wheels and adjustable elements

  • Flexible steering makes for a smoother ride

Cons
  • Adjusting brakes and handlebars may be difficult

  • Smaller children may struggle to grip the brake lever

Training wheels are meant to prepare kids for two-wheeled rides, but JOYSTAR takes the prep a step further by including a brake lever to teach kids how to properly stop a bike. And if they’re ready for a two-wheeler sooner than expected, all you have to do is remove the training wheels to give them an upgraded bike. 

Dimensions: 33 x 7 x 19 inches | Material: Steel | Training Wheels: Yes | Recommended Age: 3 to 9 years | Recommended Height: Not listed | Maximum Weight Capacity: Not listed

Best Mountain Bike: Schwinn High Timber

Schwinn High Timber Step Thru
Pros
  • Easy to assemble

  • Reflector pedals keep riders visible in the dark

  • Upgrade options allow the bike to grow with your child

  • Easy to control for a smoother, safer ride

Cons
  • Smaller children may struggle to grip the brake lever

  • Plastic pedals may be flimsy

This all-terrain bike is perfect for riding around the neighborhood or taking on the woods. And there are plenty of elements to keep your child safe and comfortable when roads get rocky. The knobby mountain tires provide grip and stability, while the suspension fork helps absorb bumps in the road for a more comfortable ride.

Dimensions: 12-24 inch wheels | Material: Aluminum | Training Wheels: No | Recommended Age: 10 to 15 years | Recommended Height: 56 to 66 inches | Maximum Weight Capacity: Not listed

Best BMX Bike for Kids: Mongoose Legion L16

Mongoose Legion L16
Pros
  • Affordable compared to competitors

  • Anti-slip tires absorb impacts for comfort

  • Great introduction to BMX riding

Cons
  • May be difficult to assemble

BMX requires riders to manipulate rollers, jumps, turns, and other tricks in style. To do that, your child will need a strong, lightweight bike, and the Mongoose Legion L16 fits the bill. Plus, the aluminum rims and chunky tires absorb every impact, keeping your child comfortable as they master new moves.

Dimensions: ‎ 23.62 x 8.66 x 48.82 inches | Material: Hi-Ten steel | Training Wheels: No | Recommended Age: Not listed | Recommended Height: 42 inches or less | Maximum Weight Capacity: Not listed

Best Lightweight: Co-op Cycles REV 16 Kids' Bike

Co-op Cycles REV 16 Kids’ Bike

Courtesy of Rei

Pros
  • Easy to assemble

  • Sturdy, yet lightweight

  • Sticker pack for customization

  • Free adjustments for one year after purchase date

Cons
  • Smaller children may struggle to grip the brake lever

  • Seat may not go low enough for shorter riders

Parents can’t stop raving about this ride from REI. Despite being made from durable and sturdy, the bike is light, which makes it easy to load and store. And as an added bonus, kids can use the included sticker pack to make their ride standout from the rest.

Dimensions: 16 x 1.75 inch wheels | Material: Aluminum | Training Wheels: Yes | Recommended Age: 4 to 6 years | Recommended Height: Not listed | Maximum Weight Capacity: 80 lbs

Best Dirt Bike for Kids: Razor Dirt Rocket Electric Motocross Off-Road Bike

 Razor Dirt Rocket Electric Motocross Off-Road Bike
Pros
  • Twist grip throttle allows for better control

  • Broad, thick tires make for a more comfortable ride

  • Quieter than most dirt bikes

  • Rubber grips helps hands stay in place

Cons
  • Does not arrive fully assembled

  • No throttle modulation limits speed variability

Designed to handle uneven terrain, this battery-powered dirt bike is scaled down to give kids better control. The 12-inch tires allow for excellent traction and better shock absorption, while the adjustable handlebars allow the rider to drive more comfortably. Note that these bikes cannot be operated in the street.

Dimensions: 24.5 x 31 x 44 inches | Material: Alloy Steel | Training Wheels: No | Recommended Age: 13 years and up | Recommended Height: Not listed | Maximum Weight Capacity: 140 lbs

Final Verdict

The Woom 1 Bike checked all of our boxes for a great balance bike. With a lightweight aluminum frame, adjustable design, and safety considerations, this is a great pick for beginners. If opting for a tricycle, we love the Radio Flyer Deluxe Steer & Stroll Trike for its back support, available storage, and guided steering.

What to Look for in Kids' Bikes

Size 

No matter the type of bike, Anneke Efinger, an account manager for Schwinn, says you need to consider fit. “A well-fitted, comfortable bike can make the learning experience easier and more enjoyable,” she tells us. “After all, a comfortable ride inspires confidence and the motivation to learn.”

When choosing a bike for your child, look at the wheel size. Smaller kids need bikes with smaller wheels (for instance, 12-inch wheels for two to four-year-olds and 14-inch wheels for three to five-year-olds). Bigger kids can ride bikes with bigger wheels: Look for 16-inch wheels for five year olds, 20-inch wheels for six to 10-year-olds, and 24-inch wheels for eight to 12-year-olds.

Also, look for bikes with adjustable seats to fit your child’s leg length. The bike must fit your child’s current size in order for it to be safe and comfortable to ride.

Durability

Kids' bikes should be well constructed and sturdy enough to withstand tipping over. It might be tempting to be the most inexpensive kids' bike, but a flimsy bike will not stand up to frequent use. Unless you are buying an in-home balance bike, make sure to look for a bike that is make from steel, aluminum, titanium, or some combination of the three. The wheels and tires should be strong and durable.

Style

New riders (ages two to four) might be more comfortable starting out with a study tricycle or a balance bike, which allows them to glide along with feet raised or quickly put their feet on the ground to stabilize themselves. Kids five to seven are usually ready for a two-wheeled bike. Many bikes designed for kids this age offer training wheels, which can be removed once kids gain the confidence to pedal without balance assistance. Older kids can ride traditional bikes with more advanced pedaling and braking features.

FAQ
  • What is the best bike for a child?

    If this is their first bike, Bonkoski says that it’s best to start with a balance bike. “This way, children can learn to balance and coast without the complexity of pedals,” she says. From there, you will likely upgrade to a bike with training wheels, which can be removed when the child gains more confidence and skill. 

    Efinger says, “Balance bikes help your child learn to ride by putting the focus on balance." Bonkoski notes that even older children who haven't learned to pedal yet can benefit from starting on a balance bike. If your child has outgrown the standard size for balance bikes, she suggests purchasing a training wheel bike and removing both the wheels and the pedals.

  • How can you tell when a child has outgrown a bike?

    A quality bicycle—that hasn’t been involved in any crashes—should last for years. Replacing a bike has less to do with the bike and more to do with the child. “You should replace your child's bike when it starts to get too small for them,” Bonkoski says. “Are there legs super bent even when the seat is fully raised?  Do they look cramped? If so, it's time to move up to the next size bike.”

  • What should you look for in a child's bike helmet?


    “Regardless of the child’s size and experience, the most important piece of bike safety equipment is a properly-fitted helmet,” Nadji Kirby, Senior Program Manager for Domestic Road Safety at Safe Kids Worldwide, tells The Spruce. She adds that protective pads, a bike bell, and horn may also be beneficial for first time riders. As a child gets older and starts riding at night, she suggests getting “reflective tape, gear, or other accessories to make sure the kid is as visible as possible.” 

    Prior to shopping, measure the circumference of your child’s head, ideally an inch above their eyebrow. This will ensure you purchase a helmet that will stay in place if you try to move it from side to side. From there, check inside the helmet for a Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) sticker. This means the helmet meets the CPSC standard and ensures that it will provide a high level of protection in case of any impact. You will also want to see if the helmet has Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), which allows the helmet to move around the head during a crash for full protection.

     

    Of course, you still want your child to try on the helmet to make sure it’s comfortable and fits properly. The Cleveland Clinic has several tests you can do to make sure the helmet fits, including:

    • If the helmet pulls down on their head as they open their mouth, it fits. 
    • If the helmet is one to two finger-widths above the eyebrow, it fits. 
    • If your child can still hear clearly when the helmet is tightened, it fits. 

     

    Some of the top recommended helmets include: Giro Scamp MIPS for toddlers, Joovy Noodle for kids, and Lazer Gekko MIPS for teens.

  • How can you tell when a child needs a new helmet?

    Unless your child has been in a crash, Kirby says the Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends getting a new helmet every five to 10 years, “based on the wear and tear of your helmet.”  Some common signs of wear and tear include cracks in the foam, chin straps have frayed or weakened, or faded color.

Why Trust The Spruce?

For this article, Leah Rocketto, a writer with years of covering parenting content with a focus on kids’ toys, performed hours of research on products, and consulted Kristen Bonkoski, Anneke Efinger, and Nadji Kirby. Bonkoski is the founder of Rascal Rides who helps families find the perfect bikes for every member so they can make memories on the patch. Efinger is an account manager for Schwinn, which has provided her with a lot of bik-related knowledge. Kirby, who is the Senior Program Manager for Domestic Road Safety at Safe Kids Worldwide, manages the pedestrian, bike, and rail safety programs to ensure everyone is protected on the road. 

Updated by
Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown is an award-winning writer with over two decades of pet publishing industry experience. She's overseen many leading pet magazines, including Dog World, Cats Magazine, the award-winning Rescue Proud, and contributed to "National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Pet Health."

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  1. The Best Balance Bike. Wirecutter. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-balance-bike/