From Halfords, Evan’s Cycles and Decathlon, we’ve found the best bikes for children 2022, from toddlers to pre-teens
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What should you consider when buying a children’s bicycle?
Unfortunately, it’s not the color scheme or whether there are decorations on the spokes. More practically, you need to consider your child’s height, age, and ability as a cyclist.
When looking at the bikes themselves, take a note of their weight. Heavy bikes don’t handle as well. There’s a correlation between the cheapest bikes and the heaviest, making the most compelling argument for spending a little more.
Best children’s bicycles at a glance:
What size bike should you purchase for your child?
Don’t fall victim to the fallacy of buying a bike that’s too big for your wee one with the rationale they’ll ‘grow into’ it. An oversized bike is difficult (and dangerous) to steer and handle.
To determine the right wheel size for your child, measure their height, then choose the corresponding wheel size on the below table:
If your child measures more than 145 cm, choose a 26-inch wheel.
1-5 years (toddlers and preschoolers)
For younger children, a balance bike is a smart choice. These simple bikes allow children to ‘pedal’ the ground with their feet – the bike itself has no pedals or gears.
It allows the child to familiarize themselves with balancing while in motion and sitting in a saddle. It makes the transition to a pedal bike as they grow smoother (and may mean you can skip using stabilizers then).
We’ve listed a few reliable balance bikes below, but Halford’s have an extensive rangeas do Tredz.
What do I need to spend?
It is worth paying for a decent bike, as a cheap bike will make learning to cycle terribly difficult and may serve as a deterrent.
If you’re thinking “yes, but it’s only for a small period of time – I don’t want to spend too much” – you are buying a moving vehicle for your child, however slow they’ll go, it’s worth safe- guarding them by buying quality.
Consider organizing a bike swap with fellow parents with differently aged/sized kids if you can, to get the best wear our of a bike.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, but a decent small bike is going to start at around £130 (for 12-inch wheels) and increase incrementally as the bike size increases.
When you get to teenagers’ bikes, the addition of gears means the prices jump considerably – close to what you’ll pay for an adult bike. The argument can be more easily made then (depending on growth spurts) to buy an adult bike.
Are stabilizers worth it?
Frankly – stabilizers will inhibit your child’s learning, as it takes away any impetus for them to learn to balance.
Scandiborn Little Dutch Balance Bike
Best for: toddler cyclists
Gorgeous to look at, this balance bike is the perfect first bike for children 2 years and up.
The frame of this balance bike is made of steel, with a scratch-resistant coating. The handlebars are easy to adjust, the wheels puncture-proof, and there’s a sweet little bell (your child will sees it)
Key Specs: Wheels 12” wheels, Weight 4.5Kg, Frame, Steel
The Micro Balance Bike Deluxe
Best for: kids who love charging around grassy parks
Simplicity itself, Micro Balance Bikes stand out for having extremely smooth wheel-action.
The 12 inch air-filled tires have great grip – making them ideal for rougher terrain, while the handle-bars handle extremely well. The back wheel has great suspension for bumpier bits, to keep your kiddie comfy.
With an ergonomically shaped, height adjustable saddle so it can grow with your child.
Key Specs: Weight 4.1kg, Tires: 12 inches, Frame, aluminum.
Trunki Folding Balance Bike – Pink – 12″ Wheel
Best for: a balance bike that’s easy to carry
This balance bike from family favorite Trunki collapses to an easy-to-carry, super light package – it even includes its own carry strap and protective bag (sort of Baby’s-First-Brompton).
You can easily fold it up and rest it on the back of a frame or over your arm when your wee one wants to walk. The handling is great and the wheels made from puncture-proof foam.
Key Specs: Weight 3.6kg, Wheel height, 12”, Frame aluminium.
Carrera Cosmos Kids Bike – 14″ Wheel
Best for: kids transitioning to pedals
This lovely bike from Carrera makes the ideal transitional bike for a child moving on from a balance bike to a real bike – around 4 to 6 years old.
It’s designed with younger kids in mind, with an efficient, sturdy chain runner, Kenda tires, and reliable alloy v-brakes.
With a great, unisex design, it’s light, easy to adjust, and simple to fit accessories to. A great bike.
Key Specs: Weight: 6.0 kg, Frame Material: lightweight aluminum, Tires: 14”
SPECIALIZED Riprock 20″
Best for: new peddlers who like cycling on bumpy surfaces
If your child, now relatively comfortable on a bike, is likely to head over bumpy terrain, this brilliant bike from Specialized will do them proud.
The sizeable 2.8in tire width allows both bike and rider to tackle rougher road easily, while the 7 gear options are the perfect balance for those newer to inclines.
It’s not too heavy, either, and sleek enough for city riding.
Key specs: Weight: 12.2kg, Wheel size 12”, Number of gears:7, Frame Material: Aluminum.
Apollo Glitz Kids Bike – 18″ Wheel
A great bike for kids around 5-7 who love all things sparkly.
With a girl’s saddle, this lightweight number will be beloved by any child who enjoys bling (though it performs brilliantly, too)
With a stylish rose gold frame, bright pink chain, and both front and rear V-Brakes, it handles easily and will keep your little one safe.
Key Specs: Weight 10.5kg, Tire size: 18”, Frame, Aluminum.
Raleigh Pop 18 Inch Wheel Kids
Best for: gaining confidence as a cyclist
Lightweight and easy to handle, this is another terrific bike for children transitioning from more basic models to adult models. With an aluminum frame, and a low-bar making it easy for children to mount.
Raleigh’s internal cable routing minimizes the risk of accidents, while the aluminum brake levers are designed to be easy for little fingers to operate.
With non-slip pedals and punctured protected tyres, so your child is kept as safe as possible as they ride.
Key Specs: Weight 9.9kgs, Tires 18”, with puncture protection, Number of Gears 6, Frame Aluminum
Today Bonaly 20″ Superlight 2021 Kids Bike
The Hoy Bonaly is named after Olympic legend Chris Hoy’s most beloved off-road cycling spots, and is a brilliant choice for children who have gained some confidence as a rider.
It’s akin to a mountain bike, but not as complex or heavy. With short cranks and rigid forks, it’s comfortable and supportive for child riders.
Semi-treaded tires allow for off-roading if the fancy takes them.
Great for use on rougher terrains such as grass and even paths – if you want to go from road to park and back again, your child loves this.
Key specs: Weight 8kg, Wheel size 20in, Number of gears 6, Frame material, Aluminum
SCHWINN Shadow 20 Inch 2020 Kids Bike
Schwinn are a classic name in the cycling world, and have an earned reputation as making classic bikes.
This 20” model handles very well, has back and front brakes for added safety, and is easy to use for those who aren’t the most confident cyclists.
Key specs: Weight 13.4kg, Wheel size 20in, Number of gears 6, Frame material, Aluminum
PINNACLE Aspen 24 Inch 2020 Kids Bike
Best for: workshop kids who like to ride like the wind
The Pinnacle is great for taller kids who love cycling like the wind – it’s a light-weight little bolter.
Solidly enough built to withstand a typical kid’s slapdash approach to bike care, it’s nevertheless light enough to breeze up hillsides. All gears work perfectly and the brakes are terribly safe.
Twin chain-ring plates avoid derailed chains and greasy hands, and rear-only gears keep the learning process simple.
In short – this is the perfect bike for a pre-teen. We love it.
Key Specs: Weight 10.1 kg, Tyres: 24”, Frame Aluminum
Ridgeback Dimension 24″
Best for: a light city bike for taller kids (around 9-12 years)
This fleet, light-as-a-feather bicycle is crafted to the highest possible specifications and perfect for taller/older children who love the prospect of (to use the technical term) going vrooming around like mad.
The impressively light frame makes it great for climbing hills in the city, and racing down at a total pace. That makes it easy to handle and turn, very responsive. It won’t handle rough terrain, though, but that’s not its intended use.
Rest assured, parents: our tester found the brakes effective and responsive, so your child will be able to slow down when they need to, too.
Key Specs: Weight: 9.2kg, Wheel height: 24 in, Number of gears: 7 Frame: Alloy
Apollo Interzone Junior Mountain Bike – 26″ Wheel
This is a bike that will see a child of around 10 (depending on height) all through their teen years.
This is a seriously robust and indestructible bike, with chunky tires ideal for off-road adventuring, particularly if your child loves hillside terrain. The suspension handles bumpy ground well, making for a comfortable ride.
The brakes are excellent (a serious concern) and easily accessed, while our tester found changing gears easy and thrilling. This is a high-quality bike for a taller child transitioning to adulthood.
Key Specs: Weight: 15kg, Wheel Height: 26in, Number of gears 18, Frame: Air Filled Rubber
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.