Most of us probably have memories of learning how to ride a bike as a young child – even if that memory isn’t necessarily a good one. I can easily say that riding a bike was one of my favorite activities as a young child, but I definitely remember lots of scraped knees, elbows, and tears (don’t forget to buy a helmet! And maybe some knee pads – safety first!).
Is your little one now getting ready to hop on a bike? As a mom of 4, I know getting ready for a bike can be a little nerve racking. I personally felt like 18 months was a good time to introduce balance bikes because it helped with gross motor skills, cross body coordination which is great for the brain, and most of all – it planted the seeds for a love of fitness and the outdoors.
How to Find the Best Toddler Bike for Your Child
A great bike can make a huge difference in your toddler’s physical development! Finding a bike with the right features and that’s the right size (that’s the most important thing of all) can make this experience a little bit easier for you and your little one.
There are a range of sizes of bikes and most have adjustable handlebars and seats. Make sure to check your child’s inseam to assess for a low standover height so you know they’ll be able to hop on and off their bike with ease.
You’ll also want to check your child’s weight against the bike. A child’s bike should be less than 40% of their weight to make sure they can maneuver their bike without falling too often.
Whether you’re getting them a new bike for the holidays, or just another way to expend their energy, I’ve put together a list of 9 of the best balance bikes and pedal bikes for young riders.
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9 Best Toddler Bikes
Why we like it: This kid’s balance bike is lightweight but made with a good quality, sturdy steel frame and puncture-proof tires meaning that it will last for a long time. The seat height and handlebar can be adjusted from 12-20 inches, making sure this bike will fit the youngest riders (18 months) and our older toddlers (up to 5 years old).
This bike is a great way for your little one to learn to balance before moving to a bike with pedals and the Strider Sport balance bike comes in several different colors, so you’ll likely be able to get your little girl or little guy’s favorite color!
Why we like it: The Banana LT Balance Bike is one of my top picks for young riders. The Banana LT features an original banana shaped bicycle frame leading to a lower center of gravity and making it easier for your little one to step over the frame to get on and off when it’s in an upright position.
It’s lightweight with a unique twin bearing headset so your little one can maneuver and steer this bike easily.
This bike has many extra features to ensure a comfortable ride: wide cushioned bar-ends, an extra padded, ergonomically shaped seat, quick release clamps for easy seat adjustment, and environmentally-friendly, non-toxic paint so you can feel safe knowing you made a great choice in this bike.
Plus, the puncture proof foam tires will ensure that you won’t be carrying any little riders home (or you can use this bike inside on your hardwood floors without any scratches!).
Why we like it: The Radio Flyer Classic Trike would be the cutest (re-)addition to your family - just like the one we had when we were young kids. This trike features an all-steel frame, 12” front wheel, durable rubber tires, and hand grips for comfort.
The adjustable seat fits 2.5 to 5 year olds and the best part? Streamers and a chrome ringing bell for fun at a great price point.
Why we like it: The KaZAM No Pedal Balance Bike is a great first bike for little kids. It has a one-of-a-kind center footrest to help your child build their sense of balance. The footrest lies where their feet will later rest when transitioning to a pedal bike.
This bike has 12-inch wheels, an adjustable seat and handlebars and will fit children between approximately 2-5 years old.
Another good thing is that the foam tires ensure that you won’t have any flat tires and you can use this bike inside without scratching up your floors.
Why we like it: The Schwinn Koen Boys Bike is one of the best bikes if you’re looking for a training bike that will easily transition your little one to full-sized adult bikes later on.
This bike can be used in a variety of different ways due to the removable training wheels and saddle handle and has both rear coaster brakes (meaning you can pedal in reverse and the rear brakes will make you stop) and a front caliper brake (a hand brake like we have on adult road bikes) to support all skill levels.
The Koen Boys Bike has 14-inch wheels and a lighter, sturdy steel frame for easy maneuverability and redesigned bike geometry - a smaller grip diameter and narrow pedal position to perfectly fit little hands and narrow hips (who knew bike geometry was a thing?).
The adjustable saddle and seat post ensure the bike is comfortable for your little one.
Why we like it: This is a popular choice for toddler bikes as all features of this kids’ bike are designed to make this bike ultra-lightweight - which is one of the most important things when searching for a bike your little one will be able to maneuver.
The Croco Balance Bike has a lightweight aluminum frame and foam tires - helping make the total weight of the bike only 4 pounds. It comes with a bell, handlebar pad, ultra-soft hand grips, and a padded seat.
Why we like it: The Costzon Tricycle is the perfect bike for your young children and for your older children (10 months to 6 years old). It can be transformed into four different bikes: an infant tricycle, a steering tricycle, a learn-to-ride tricycle, and a classic tricycle.
This bike is the best choice if you’re a family of three looking to head out on frequent walks where you can acclimate your little one to the idea of bike riding while you’re also getting some exercise!
Depending on your configuration, this bike is fitted with a 3-point safety harness, top canopy for sun protection, and has a breathable, soft seat pad. There is a removable tray with a spot for a water bottle or cup and extra storage for you.
Why we like it: The JOYSTAR Kids Bike is one of the best high-quality bikes made from a premium durable steel frame. This traditional bike comes in three different sizes: 12-inch with training wheels, 14-inch with training wheels, or 16-inch with training wheels. The 14-inch wheel size is a good choice for ages 3-5 and the 16-inch wheel size is a better choice for ages 4-7.
There is also an 18 inch bike option that comes with a handbrake and kickstand.
The JOYSTAR Bike is one of the best options if you want one bike you can transition based on your child’s ability level, due to the removable training wheels and saddle holder, while still allowing your little one to have their “big kid bike”. Plus, the quick release seat allows for easy height adjustment to ensure you have the right bike size as your little one grows!
This bike features coaster brakes for rear wheel foot breaking, a chain guard to protect all little fingers, and DIY stickers to personalize the frame.
Why we like it: The RoyalBaby Kids Bike is an excellent choice when looking at small bikes for bigger kids. It comes in five different sizes: 12-inch, 14-inch, 16-inch, 18-inch, and 20-inch wheels.
This bike is the definition of safety: front caliper brakes with a handbrake, rear coaster brakes (pedal backwards to stop), wide tires for stability, sturdy steel frame, saddle handle for teaching or loading, chain guard to keep little fingers safe, non-slip pedals, and non-bendable training wheels (available on the 12-, 14-, and 16-inch options only).
Plus, it comes with a water bottle holder to make sure your little one can keep hydrated on the road!
Your kiddo will be ready for the mountain bikes in no time!
Happy riding and be safe out there!
MEET THE AUTHOR
As a mom of 4 kids (and the oldest of 4 kids herself), Amanda has over 30 years of parenting experience. A former special education teacher, Amanda has a Master’s degree in Special Education and a second M. Ed. in Educational Leadership.
When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, and long walks through Target.