Best Bikes for Toddlers

Table of Contents

The transition from tricycle to bicycle is a joyous occasion. It’s one that requires patience and practice…but most importantly, the right bike.

I’ve done the research and tracked down the best bikes for toddlers:

 

 

Choosing the Best Bike

Whether you’re an expert on adult bicycles already, or a beginner to cycling, choosing a bike can be challenging.

I’m going to tell you about some fantastic toddler bicycles. But before you peruse them, I’ll teach you some basics.

Bicycle Size

Most people consider a toddler to be in the 1–3 years age range, but nothing is too definitive size-wise. Ultimately, it depends on the size of your toddler.

I recommend measuring your toddler’s inseam, and matching the bike’s seat height to it:

  • Place a book horizontally between the toddler’s legs, mimicking a bicycle seat.
  • Measure from the floor to the top of the book.

If a toddler thinks they’re going to fall, they’ll stick their legs out, and plant their feet on the ground. You want this to be easy for them. However, if there’s a large gap between your toddler and the seat when they’re standing over the bicycle, it’s too small.

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Wheel Size

Wheel size is a different matter. I’m of the opinion that bigger wheels are almost always better. The larger the wheel, the more shock they absorb. I feel less shock is best for growing bones—especially since cycling can reduce bone density.

However, larger wheels are also best for toddlers new to obstacles. The road will be laden with rocks and twigs, and toddlers aren’t experts at dodging them yet! So, 14-inch wheels are a smart choice.

Was your kid a pro-tricycle rider from an early age? If so, they may know more about navigating obstacles. In this case, you can go for smaller wheels if you’d like. It’s ultimately a decision based on your toddler’s skill, your preference, and safety.

Smaller wheels have the benefit of being lighter, but that’s about it.

Weight

Weight plays one of the most important roles in a bicycle. Imagine trying to push something half your body weight, at speed, down the street for an hour. With your legs. Does that sound fun?

In general, I prefer light bicycles, and like to put kids on lighter bicycles. It lets them go farther faster, for longer.

But for younger kids, I like to go heavier. It helps them build strength and endurance! You can safely say your toddler is getting plenty of exercise, and will grow up strong, healthy and energetic.

Heavier bikes mean shorter playing time at first, though. This may frustrate some toddlers.

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Training Wheels

Now, here’s a controversial point. Some parents will tell you to let the toddler master a balance bicycle first. Then, switch to a pedal bike, no training wheels.

I believe you should let the child choose. Take them to their friend’s house, who has a bike with training wheels. Then take them to one without. Get whichever they like best.

And if your toddler is already a master of a balance bicycle, I’d skip the training wheels.

Brakes

Obviously, the bicycle you choose needs breaks. But what kind?

I prefer hand breaks, on the handlebars. It’s what you’ll find in most adult bicycles. I don’t see the point in using coaster brakes.

Coaster brakes let your child stop the bicycle upon pedaling backwards. I think it’s a nice invention, and might suit a child who doesn’t have great hand coordination yet.

But when I brake my bicycle, I want to plant my feet on the ground as soon as possible. It helps my stability, and it’s my natural instinct. Many kids I’ve taught are the same way. So, having to pedal to brake might not be the best idea.

Material

Material comes down to preference. There are two materials used most for toddler bikes.

Steel

Steel is strong, and unlikely to break after a few bangs. And let’s be real—your toddler’s going to crash and fall, probably more than once. This makes steel budget-friendly, as you likely won’t need to replace the bicycle until the child grows.

Although steel is heavy, which you may not like for your toddler.

Aluminum

Aluminum is in many adult bicycles, so you know it’s sturdy enough to withstand some weight. It’s also very light, and you may prefer your toddler on a light bicycle.

But remember, the crashing and falling. Aluminum will likely take more damage from this. You may need to pay for repairs or replacement.

 

Best Bikes for Toddlers Reviews

I’ve done some digging, and rooted out the best bikes for toddlers, in my opinion. There’s one overall best—but the rest have their own best for uses, too!

#1
Best Bikes for Toddlers 1Best Bikes for Toddlers 2
5/5
Our Overview

You know how kids get attached to toys? This is why I love this bicycle.

The bike starts out sized for the average 3-year-old, but the largest version can hold a 9-year-old. This way, you can upgrade this bike model as your child grows.

Wheels range from 12 inches to 20 inches and the handlebars can be updated, as well, from the typical toddler style to a straight bar.

It’s an excellent bicycle to grow up with, I feel. It’s steel, meaning each iteration has a long lifespan. Plus, it’ll help your growing child keep fit—powering that heavier thing down the streets.

Unfortunately, not all components—the pedals, for example—are as fantastic as the steel frame. However, you can upgrade them as necessary. Another downside is all the stickers on the bicycle saying “baby.” That’s not something a growing kid wants to be called! It’s easy to remove or cover them, though.

Pros:
  • Different sizes of the same model can grow up with your child.
  • Comes with training wheels at no extra cost.
  • There’s an array of bright color options.
  • Easy to assemble.
Cons:
  • The word “baby” is everywhere on this bike.
  • Some components aren’t high quality.
Specs:
  • Weight: Varies, at least 22 pounds.
  • Material: Steel.
  • Size: Varies, fits average ages 3-9.
  • Wheel size: 12-20 inches.
#2
Best Bikes for Toddlers 3Best Bikes for Toddlers 4
5/5
Our Overview

Here’s a bicycle similar to the last, but with a different color scheme. This is dubbed for girls due to the pinks and purples used.

The similarities with my top pick lie in the sizing. Once again, this is a bicycle that starts with 12-inch wheels and goes up to 20. Except, before the 12-inch pedal bike, there’s a balance bicycle option—a pedal-free bicycle, that toddlers sit on and run/walk while balancing.

I think this is an excellent bicycle for parents who want to skip the training wheels stage. Of course, the bicycle comes with training wheels, but they’re easily removed. You can save them if your toddler is struggling and in distress about it.

So if you want a bicycle that can start with balance and last until later childhood, this is one to pick. It’s a little heavy, being steel, but I feel the ability to evolve and it’s combination of hand-activated and coaster brakes make up for it.

Pros:

 

  • Two types of brakes.
  • Useful basket for carrying toys and playing pretend.
  • Balance bike option available.
  • Sturdy steel construction.
Cons:
  • Difficult assembly.
  • The basket is flimsy.
Specs:
  • Weight: 15-33 pounds.
  • Material: Steel.
  • Size: 14-inch wheels are for riders 36-40 inches tall.
  • Wheel size: 12-20 inches.
#3
Best Bikes for Toddlers 5Best Bikes for Toddlers 6
5/5
Our Overview

If you really desire that 12 to 20-inch wheel option, but didn’t like the last two bicycles, here’s a third. It has darker color options some toddlers may find desirable, and a well-constructed basket.

The entire bicycle is sturdy, a hefty steel, which makes the bicycle heavy but adds a workout for your little one. This may make the balance bike option harder to handle, but it’s nothing too ridiculous.

It’s a bicycle that hits all the marks with the array of sizes, and brake styles. There’s a hand (caliper) and a foot (coaster) brake to utilize.

But something the other bicycles don’t have is the curvature on the seat. The last two have a somewhat curved seat—just not quite as curved as this one. The curve can help keep your toddler nestled in the perfect position on the bicycle.

This, I think, is a subtle but standout inclusion. And there’s another: the pedals.

Many bicycles have their pedals out too wide for kids. Their legs have to be wider than normal. But this bicycle has the pedals in line with the child’s hips. It can help ease aches and pains, and make it an all the more comfortable experience.

Pros:
  • Great curved seat.
  • Optional training wheels.
  • Two brake options.
  • Great pedal position to reduce pain and help coordination.
Cons:
  • The chain is very tight, which may make pedaling harder.
  • Instructions aren’t great, or specific to this model.
Specs:
  • Weight: Over 20 pounds.
  • Material: Steel.
  • Size: 12-inch version is for kids 28-38 inches tall.
  • Wheel size: 12-20 inches.
Our Overview

If you want something a little more affordable than the last three, here’s a bicycle to consider.

There are further differences here too—this bicycle won’t take you from 12 to 20-inch wheels. But it will take your toddler from balance bike to pedal bike.

Little Tikes’ bicycle has pedals, but they fold in and out. This lets your child go from balancing to pedaling whenever they’re comfortable.

This is also a great pick if you want to skip the training wheel stage. That’s what it’s designed for! Learning faster.

It’s definitely a pick mainly for younger toddlers, though. It doesn’t have real wheels (inflatable and rubber) and it has 12-inch wheels. The handlebars and seat are adjustable, so your toddler can use it for longer, but it’s one you will need to upgrade quite soon.

Pros:
  • Helps your toddler learn faster.
  • Durable wheels.
  • Adjustable handlebars and seat.
  • Easy to switch between pedal and balance bike.
Cons:
  • The tires are EVA foam, not inflatable.
  • Hard plastic seat—but you can replace it with something softer.
  • May work best for taller kids.
Specs:
  • Weight: 13 pounds.
  • Material: Unspecified, most likely aluminum.
  • Size: Unspecified.
  • Wheel size: 12 inches.
#5
Best Bikes for Toddlers 15Best Bikes for Toddlers 16
5/5
Our Overview

Here’s another affordable bicycle, that has 12, 16 and 20-inch wheel options. It has plenty of color schemes to pick from, too.

For a budget bicycle, I think this is excellent. It’s on par with the pricier bunch above, most of the time. It has the same durable steel frame, and the seat is very comfortable, large and padded, more so than some of the saddles above.

It also comes with training wheels.

However, the brakes set it apart from the ground. These are coaster brakes only, so if you want that for your child, consider this bicycle.

In my opinion, I’d only use them with training wheels, in case of balance issues when the toddler switches to pedaling backwards. So if you agree, then you may like this.

Pros:

 

  • Optional training wheels.
  • Large, padded, comfortable saddle.
  • Comes with reflectors fitted.
  • Highly affordable.
Cons:
  • Only one brake type.
Specs:
  • Weight: 18 pounds.
  • Material: Steel.
  • Size: Unspecified, but should fit kids 38 inches tall.
  • Wheel size: 12 inches, 16 and 20-inch options available.

 

bike 3604879 1920 1

 

Best Bikes for Toddlers Conclusion

I feel the best bike for toddlers is the RoyalBaby Kids Bike. It’s true, the word baby everywhere won’t suit many growing kids. But you can always grab a can of metallic spray paint, and banish the baby for good.

The cheaper pedals and other plastic parts are a little unfortunate, but it keeps the price reasonable. Anyway, kids grow fast. You’ll likely be onto the next bicycle by the time one breaks.

And, that bicycle can be the next size up of this same model. There are several others with this feature here, but none have what the RoyalBaby has: evolving handles!

The sturdy, steel frame and easy assembly make it all the better.

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