Kids Bike Buying Guide

Kids Bikes Buying Guide

Everyone remembers their first bike – that first ride and that feeling of freedom. From early-years balance bikes to trail-ready mountain bikes, kids’ bikes are all about building confidence and having fun.

Equipped with child friendly components, wheels and size specific frames, there are bikes for kids of all ages – from toddlers through to teenage riders.

Unlike adult bikes, where sizing is determined by seat tube length, kids bikes are sized by their wheel size. The table below will act as a general guide for sizing based on a child’s age and height and will determine which size is most suitable.

Kids Bike Size Guide

Rider HeightAgeSuggested Wheel Size
86 – 102cm2-4 yearsBalance Bikes and 12”
99 – 117cm3-6 years14” and 16”
114 – 132cm5-8 years20”
127 – 150cm7-10 years24”
146 – 170cm10+26 and 27.5”

Balance Bikes and 12″ Wheels (Age 2 – 4 years)

Kids Balance Bikes

Suitable for riders up to 4 years old, balance bikes are the gateway to life on two wheels for the youngest riders. Balance bikes don’t come with pedals or gears and are propelled and stopped with the rider’s feet, reducing the number of things a child needs to think about when they take to two wheels. Taking away the complications of a drivetrain system allows the toddler to focus solely on learning how to balance and steer the bike.

Equipped with 10 or 12″ wheels, a balance bike such as the Trek Kickster or Specialized Hotwalk will be the perfect platform for a toddler to get to grips with moving around on two wheels.

14 and 16″ Wheels (Age 3 – 6 years)

Kids 16" Wheel Bikes

After mastering the balance bike and aged between 3 to 6 years old it’s now time for your child to make the step up to a first pedal bike. At this stage kids’ bikes begin to resemble adult’s bike with the introduction of gears, pedals and brakes. The gearing on these bikes tends to feature a single speed setup for simplicity and ease of use. The majority of bikes for children of this age are designed as multi purpose bikes with features allowing for riding on tarmac as well as light off-road use such as bridleways and canal paths.

The Cube Cubie 160 and Frog 48 come spec’d with 16″ wheels and are available in an array of eye-catching colours with a host of child-friendly features.

20″ Wheels (Age 5 – 8 years)

Kids 20" Wheel Bikes

Welcome to the world of gears and the potential to explore further on two wheels. Kids’ 20″ wheeled bikes open up new avenues for a child to explore with confidence inspiring frames and features that tailor bikes to a more specific style of riding. Bikes will come equipped with features such as front suspension for more comfort and the ability to ride off-road trails. A wider range of gears will give the rider more scope to tackle varied terrain both on and off-road.

For the aspiring mountain biker there’s the Cannondale Kids Trail 20 or Trek Roscoe 20, both built around high quality frames that will last and equipped with reliable components and wide tyres for taking on easy forest trails.

24″ Wheels (Age 7 – 10 years)

The final step before a child becomes a teenager and starts the transition towards adult bikes. Bikes equipped with larger 24″ wheels take on many trickle down features from a manufacturers range of adult bikes and become more specific to the different types of riding. Off-road bikes will feature front suspension, wider, treaded tyres and favourable gearing for tackling gnarly terrain. Whereas bikes that focus on paved riding and bridleways resemble adult hybrid bikes with narrower tyres and a rigid front fork.

Available in two colour options, the Cannondale Kids Quick 24 is perfect for building confidence on cycle paths and bridleways. For young mountain bikers there’s the Cube Acid 240 Disc, equipped with disc brakes and wide-ranging gears this is a great option for building skills on the trails.

26″ & 27.5″ Wheels (Age 10 years and above)

Kids 26" Wheel Bikes

As children become young teenagers their options open up even more and bikes become more specialised. A 24″ bike offers much of the same tech, features and benefits of an adult bike but built around a slightly smaller wheel size. The gear system will be similarly optimised for either road or off-road riding and frame geometry will be filtered down for smaller riders. Road bikes of this size feature drop handlebars and a wide range of gears and 24″ mountain bikes will be equipped with front and sometimes rear suspension along with gears ready for steep inclines and technical descents.

A 24″ wheel road bike such as the Frog Road 67 is perfect for the budding roadie and features child-specific handlebars and shorter cranks with a spin-friendly 34T chainring. For youngsters looking to do some serious off-road riding there’s the Whyte 405, a scaled-down version of Whyte’s trail adult mountain bikes, which will inspired confidence  and build skills on forest trails and singletrack.