bikes that won't break the bank
Riding a bike can be one of life's simple pleasures, but choosing the best kids' bike can be far from simple for parents. It can also be costly, whether you shell out a lot of money for a bike your child will outgrow in a year or two, or choose a bike that's incredibly cheap but so poorly made that it falls apart in no time or, worse yet, poses an actual risk to your child. Our advice: Pay a little more but don't pay too much for a solid, good-quality kids' bike from a reputable brand.
We've rounded up the best kids' bikes for the money and for your needs, whether your child is just learning how to ride or has a few years of experience. The bikes we recommend come from well-respected names like Striker, Raleigh, Specialized, Trek, Mongoose, and more, and all provide a great balance of value and performance. Many offer features that let them "grow" with your child, from balance bikes that can be fitted with pedals to models with highly adjustable seat and handlebar stems. All are made to withstand the punishment a young rider can dish out over a few years of enthusiastic use.
To make our picks for the best kids' bikes, we read through expert assessments on enthusiast sites such as Two Wheeling Tots, Rascal Rides, and BikeRadar, among others. We also consulted product reviews from sources like Wirecutter, where they conduct rigorous hands-on testing. Consumer reviews of kids' bikes on retailer and manufacturer sites also provided valuable feedback on how these models fare with real-world use over time.
An important word of caution from the experts: Don't buy a bike that's too large for your child to ride under the assumption that they'll grow into it. Riding a too-big bike is an invitation to an accident. A child should be able to easily get on and off a bike and straddle it standing with flat feet. Not sure what size bike your child needs? Kids' bikes generally are broken into four categories grouped roughly according to wheel size: 12 inches for ages 2 to 5; 16 inches for ages 4 to 8; 20 inches for ages 6 to 10; and 24 inches for ages 10 and up. To be sure you're getting the right size, measure the inseam of your child's leg and use this International Bicycle Fund chart to select the appropriate fit.
*Prices and availability are subject to change.