Like getting your first car, the first bike is an important milestone for any child. It’s not only great for their ability, but also their confidence.
I remember how proud my eldest child was when she finally began to ride her bike without the assistance of training wheels. I bought it from her wish list her birthday – and along with my husband’s golf GPS, I made two wins that year!
With where we live in inner city Melbourne it also feels like a necessity! Bikes are everywhere – along with great bike tracks – and many kids ride them to school.
It all began by choosing the right bike. This was more difficult than we had anticipated – our daughter was outside of all the ‘normal’ percentiles and there wasn’t a piece of advice that said here’s the best bike for your child.
We did eventually find a bike suitable for her and learned a lot along the way that has helped shape our choices for our two youngest children. There are actually many things to consider when looking for a top-rated kids bike – and age suggestions aren’t always enough.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through what to look for in kids bikes to help you find the perfect bike for your child.
Bikes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and so do children, so it’s important to ensure that you buy the right size bike for your child. Whilst some people buy a bike that their child will “grow into” this can be dangerous as it means the bike will initially be the wrong size.
Dimensions of the bike
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when purchasing the best kids bike for your child is the bike’s size. Whilst the overall size of the bike is important, you should also consider other dimensions such as the size of the tyres, seat height as well as handlebar and pedal positioning to get the perfect fit for your child.
If these factors are not taken into consideration the bike could potentially be a danger to the child.
The most common way of determining a kids bike is by the diameter of the tyre. Generally, kids bike wheel sizes come in the following tyre sizes:
12”: 18 months to 4 years old;
14”: 3 to 5 years old:
16”: 4 to 6 years old;
20”: 5-8 years old; and
24”: 7 to 10 years old.
The above guide should not be used in isolation though as it is important to also consider the bike dimensions discussed below.
One of the best ways to determine if the size of a bike is right for your child is the seat height. Given many brands don’t advertise their bikes seat height, this information can be tricky to come by and so often the best way is by having your child try it out in person.
Provided your child has mastered the bike’s brakes, the seat height should be around 2.5 to 3.75cm (1” to 1.5”) taller than the child’s inseam (the measurement of the inside of the child’s leg to their crotch).
For children that have not mastered the brakes or are not confident riders, then it is best that the seat height matches their inseam (the child is able to place their feet fully flat on the ground).
The standover height refers to the height required to stand over the top tube of the bike (the tube which connects the front of the bike to the back). Your child should be able to comfortably stand over this with 3 to 5 cm (1.2″ to 2″) clearance. This clearance protects the child from hurting themselves should they slip off the seat.
Too often you see little kids on these giant kid bikes, which is quite a serious hazard.
It’s important to ensure there is enough room between the handlebars and the seat to ensure the child’s knees don’t hit the handlebars when turning (this space is referred to as the cockpit). The shape of the handlebars can also impact this space. For example, large handlebars that sweep back as opposed to ones that stick straight out will impact this space.
It is also critical to check the height of the handlebars. Too low or too high and this will put pressure on the child’s neck, shoulders and back. The best handlebar height for a child is usually low to mid rise, so their hands are in line with their hip area.
The last dimension to consider is the positioning of the pedals, also referred to as the Q-factor. The Q-factor is the distance between the inside edges of the two pedals. If the pedals are too far apart the child will need to splay their legs out to pedal. If the pedals are too close together the chance of the child hitting their ankles increases.
The Q-factor is particularly important for small or petite children. These children would benefit from a bike with a narrow Q-factor.
Weight of the bike
The weight of the bike is very important. No doubt at some stage your child is going to fall off their bike and given the bike may well fall on top of them, it’s important you look for a lightweight bike. It’s also important that a lightweight kids bike is light enough for the child to easily maneuver it around.
Ideally, the best first bike for your child should be no more than 40% of their weight. Often this is not always possible, particularly if your child is light as a feather – so just go for the bike that is close as possible to this weight guide.
The weight of the bike is going to depend largely on the size, the material it is made out of and the type of tyres. You should be able to determine a bike’s weight fairly easily as all the best bike brands for kids display their bikes’ weight.
Australian standards require that a child’s bike must have at least two braking systems with one of those systems to be a back pedal brake (sometimes referred to as coaster brakes). Usually, the other method will be handlebar brakes.
Whilst back pedal brakes are required by law, they can be problematic for younger children. When young children learn to ride they often pedal both forwards and backwards. Of course, back pedal brakes prevent this method of pedalling and often unexpected sudden stops cause children to lose their balance and at times fall off their bike.
Recently experts tend to prefer the handlebar brakes as the better option for children bikes. Handlebar brakes don’t impact child’s pedalling. However, there are still a few things you need to look out for. It’s important to ensure the hand brakes are easy to activate by little hands. A good test for this is to see if you can activate the brakes with just your pinky finger.
It is also worth noting whether the handlebar brakes stop just the front tyre or both tyres. For handlebar brakes that only stop the front tyre when the brake is applied the rear tyre will lift off the ground causing the child to go flying across the handlebars. Try and find a bike that the handlebar brakes stop both tyres.
Types of Bikes
You have probably heard of a balance bike and wondering what they’re all about and if they are actually worth the hype. Basically, a balance bike is a two-wheeled pedal-less bike designed to teach young children (as young as 18 months) how to balance on two wheels.
The beauty of balance bikes is that the child is putting all their efforts into balancing rather than pedalling, this provides them with the skill of balance so they can go straight to a regular child’s bike without the need for training wheels.
Unfortunately, bikes with training wheels teach children to pedal, but not to balance. Therefore once the training wheels are removed from the bike the child needs to learn how to ride their bike all over again.
Balance bikes are recommended for children from the ages of 18 months to 5 years of age. Generally, children progress to a typical child’s bike after 2 years of riding the balance bike.
Road bikes are good all rounder bikes, designed for riding on the road. These kids bike brands have narrow tyres designed for riding on smooth surfaces and to go as fast and as far as possible out on the open road.
Mountain bikes are designed to handle all kinds of terrain, particularly unpaved surfaces. These bikes have thicker more durable tyres in order to be able to go over small rocks, branches and logs and gears.
BMX bikes are ideal for older children who are confident riders and are into bike racing and / or tricks. There are various types of BMX bikes depending upon the different purposes such as off-road racing, street racing and stunts. Kids have always loved BMX bikes mainly due to their smaller sizes and quite frankly just because they are cool!
Of course, you are always going to be limited by what you are able to spend on a bike. However now that you know exactly what to look for in a bike, you will be able to prioritise what is important and purchase the best bike for your child within your budget.
Whilst the cheapest bike you find is generally not going to be the best bike for your child, similarly, the most expensive bike is unlikely to be the best bike either.
If budget is of a concern to you, you can always purchase a second-hand bike, or better still by the best bike you can for your child brand new with the mindset to resell it once your child outgrows it.
If you do plan to resell it be sure to keep receipts, spare parts, reflectors, instructions etc to maximize the resale value. Another tip is to buy the bike in a neutral colour so it can suit a boy or a girl.
7 Best Kids Bike 2019 Reviews
Now that you know what it is you’re looking for, what are the best kid bikes? Which brands of kids bike is the best?
Below you’ll find top rated kids bikes below to find one suitable for your child’s needs.
If you are looking for the best boys mountain bike or even the best girls mountain bike, you will love Hasa Kids Mountain bike. This bike is super light, agile and responsive on the toughest terrain as well as perfect for riding to school.
Unlike other kid’s mountain bikes which are simply scaled down adult bikes, this bike has been custom designed and tested to suit the young mountain bike rider. With huge 24 inch wheels, it’s the biggest kids bikes on our list.
The bike has a fully adjustable seat with alloy front and rear brakes, full grip pedals and reinforced alloy wheels. Other features include safety reflectors and a 7 speed crankset.
Of course a bike this awesome doesn’t come cheap and some parents might find the hefty price tag a little too much, but it’s definitely a worthwhile purchase for your serious young mountain bike rider.
This bike is suitable for confident riders around the age of 9 – 12 years of age.
For the young rider who wants the coolest bike in the neighbourhood, they will love the Jamis Laser BMX style bike. Not only does the bike look awesome but the bike is designed with size specific components to provide the best and safest fit for the young rider.
With its low standover, the Jamis Laser is easy to mount and dismount. This bike is also made with aluminium parts where possible; to save on weight.
The bike features a lightweight aluminium frame, Electroplated black steel rims and BMX style handlebars and pedals. It also includes training wheels for younger kids.
The new and improved Jamis Laser bike is suitable for children aged 4 to 6 years of age.
The Royalbaby RB18B-6B BMX is a great sporty bike for the young rider who is looking to upgrade or who has grown out of their previous bike. It comes with training wheels, so perfect for kids that haven’t yet mastered riding without them.
Parents will love how quick and easy it is to assemble this bike, whilst the kids will love the range of bright colours available making it the perfect bike for both boys and girls.
On this bike, you’ll find 2.4” knobby tyres, non-slip resin pedals with reflectors and a super easy quick release seat post.
Other features include BMX style handlebars, a bell, water bottle and training wheels
This Royalbaby bike is suitable for children aged 5 to 8 years of age.
This is a great bike for parents who are wanting to try out a balance bike but still want the option of a traditional pedal bike. Children can ride the Eurotrike 2 in 1 as a balance bike until they, master the skills of balance and steering without pedals. Once the child is ready to transition to a pedal bike, parents can simply add the pedal unit.
This bike is great for those on a tight budget as you are basically getting a balance bike and your child’s first pedal bike for the price of one bike.
Features include an adjustable handlebar with safety pads on crossbar and stem, adjustable padded seat with an integrated parents hand hold and 12” pump up tyres. There is also a strong steel frame and mini mag wheels.
The Eurotrike 2 in 1 is perfect for first riders aged between 3 to 5 years of age with a maximum weight of 25 kgs.
If you are searching for a great bike for active kids then look no further than the BYK-E-350. This is a great looking bike for the young rider who wants the very best to ride around the backyard and neighbourhood.
This bike is lightweight and has a low standover height which makes mounting and dismounting easy.
One thing that would make this bike even better is if it came with a kickstand, however, you can easily add one.
Features include a strong frame, large 18 inch wheels offering one of the smoothest rides, handlebar and back pedal brakes. It even has 3 different speed levels which which is great for varying terrain.
This bike is suitable for children aged 4 to 6 years of age whose height is 97 to 117 cm.
If you are after a premium kids bike, this is one of the best you’ll find.
This is a fantastic lightweight bike perfect for the beginner pedal bike rider and by far the coolest on our list. Everything on this bike has been designed with the smallest of riders in mind including grips, handlebars and easy to use brake levers.
These bikes are made with the highest quality components, as well as some of the safest kids bikes on the market. The kids will love the range of bright colours to choose from.
Features include front and rear specific hand breaks as well as double brakes, an easily adjustable seat and a frame made of high carbon steel.
The bike comes in both a 12 inch and 14 inch wheel size, with the 12 inch bike best suited to children from 2 to 6 years of age. An awesome bike indeed which is the best bike for 4 year old Australia offers.
If you’re still asking hat is the best bike to buy a toddler, the Baby Shining Baby Balance toddler bike is a nifty design with safety in mind.
This is a great kids cycle for learning to walk and the lightest kids bike for doing so. What’s more, the wheel is specially designed so as to avoid running over little feet. Kids bike reviews have frequently voted it favourably.
Another feature is that it has a strong carbon frame and environmentally friendly dust free body – another push in the direction of the best kids bikes Australia offers toddlers.
Finally, we have another balance bike which answers the question, which one is the best balance bike for my toddlers.
The reason this bike is suitable for so many parents is the range of colours, so offering girls bikes and boys bikes, as well as the budget price point. In comparison to other kids bikes it fairs well, albeit slightly more expensive.