Why Follow Our Lead
At Gearbikesreview, a cluster of young talents and expert bike mechanics dedicate weeks in researching and testing a wide range of bikes and bike gear before coming up with authentic reviews and how-to blogs. We know our bikes and gear better than the back of our hands. Our decades of professional experience with bike mechanics authorizes us to be the most reliable reviewers in this category on the internet.
Needless to say, we don't have any affiliation with any brand or manufacturer, we maintain our impartial and objective approach in carrying out our research and tests, so our readers have the right understanding of the market scenario. Our mission is to reveal as many facts as possible, in the following section, you'll get to know more about our enterprise.
How We Made Our Selection
We went through several stages including online market research, feature comparison and analysis, field-tests, and reevaluation to hunt out the best toddler bike.
First, we conducted over 30 hours of extensive online research to track down 25 toddlers' bike models with the highest number of ratings and the maximum number of real user reviews.
Once we got the first list, we proceeded to arrange a series of field tests on each and every item on the list. A group of community-based volunteers helped us complete our tests.
We closely monitored the build quality, ease of seating position, braking, weight, ergonomics, speed and durability during our tests. Based on these criteria we narrowed down our list by championing 10 from the rest.
Next, we consulted with other industry experts and engineers and had their insights into our listed choices. Their suggestions had helped us rank the ultimate models based on their distinctive features before we proceeded to write elaborate reviews on them.
Our 10 Best Toddler Bicycle List
So, what’s the best bike for kids? Below we covered a wide range of the coolest toddler bikes for all toddler age categories. Please carefully go through the details to get the most out of them.
Why Get Your Toddler A Bike
Learning to ride a bike is a childhood rite of passage that most adults remember learning how to do. These days, most adults remember learning to ride from around aged five to aged eight. So, why should you bite the bullet early and get your toddler a bike?
The earlier a child starts to try to ride a bike, the easier it will be throughout their life. Children who learn as toddlers grasp the aspects of balancing, pedaling, cruising and braking with much more ease than those who wait until a later age.
When my second son came along, I had learned from the mistakes I made with my first and I got him a balance bike. He ended up being able to ride a proper bike without stabilizing training wheels at a much earlier age than his peers.
Even if it’s not really your family’s thing, there are lots of other reasons why bikes for toddlers are a great idea. They get kids outdoors, build their confidence and provide an opportunity for exercise, which is crucial in a society where there are increasing numbers of obese children. Balance bikes particularly help boost gross motor skills, which is something that all very young children need to develop.
Toddler Bikes – A Comprehensive Buying Guide
1. Indoor Use Vs Outdoor Use
Toddlers spend lots of time on ride-on toys inside as well as outside, but it really depends on your circumstances as to which they will benefit from more. You can get ride-ons with foamy or rubberized wheels for indoor use so they won’t mark your floors like plastic wheels could. Plastic wheels might be slippery too.
If outside is your preference, then you should opt for a real bike rather than a ride-on toy style which has tires that have air in them. Plastic wheels are not a great choice for outdoor bikes. Think about the terrain on which they will ride – grit, dirt, pavements, gravel – and then choose your bike and its wheels accordingly! You can install a basket in the front for carrying the necessary stuff too.
2. Toy vs Bike
Toy bikes such as ride-on toys are suitable for toddlers aged between 12 and 18 months. These children might not be fully walking and therefore having a ride-on toy can be a lot of fun. Usually, these toys have three or four wheels which gives toddlers a change to learn how to scoot around. They’re also great if your child is a little bit too small for a balance bike. Some push along toys come without pedals.
3. Size and Fit
2 to 3-year old preschoolers generally need a bike that measures 12 or 14 inches. This will mean that they can continue to ride the bike even when they are a little bit older. If you’re looking for a bike for a child that is already four years old, you need one that’s 16” so that there’s more growing room.
However, you should also consider the fact that 12” or 14” bikes should be considered only for children who can already manage with a balance bike. If your child hasn’t used one before, they will need training wheels. Having said that, using a balance bike is a much better choice.
Whilst we are outlining sizes, it is important to mention that not all 12 or 14” bikes will be suitable for all children. You should get your child to try out the bikes if at all possible so that you can choose one that will be a good fit for them.
4. Geometry & Readiness
If you’re wondering when your child is ready for a bike, well, the answer is pretty much as soon as they can walk! As we’ve mentioned, even the smallest of toddlers at around 1 year of age may show a willing interest in riding a bicycle or a ride-on.
Once they reach 18 months, a balance bike is ideal. But at such a young age, finding one that fits them can be a challenge. Your child’s inside leg measurements should be as tall as the seat post height set to its lowest setting at a minimum to make sure they can ride comfortably.
As with anything, some toddlers will be right in there and pick it up straight away. For others, it may take a while but just keep on offering until they show readiness.
When looking for the best toddler bike, check to see that your preferred model doesn’t weigh in excess of 40% of your toddler’s own body weight. If you are learning to balance and pedal a bike at the same time, if the bike is heavy it makes it so much more difficult. Also, if the child were to fall off, getting back up again from under a heavy bike is also a lot more discouraging.
The good thing about having a bike with 12” tires is that they’re suitable for young riders, even those who have only just turned two and a half. If a child has used a balance bike with stabilisers previously, they should be ready for a 12" pedal bike earlier than many other kids.
However, if your child is over 3 yr old or half a year more than a 14” wheel size would be better as the larger wheels make it easier to get over any pavement obstacles such as gravel, cracks or bumps.
a) Ride-On Toys
As mentioned, a ride-on toy is a first step toward independent bike riding, right from when a child is around one year in age. Getting a good ride-on toy (perhaps as a first birthday present) can really excite your child and make them excited about starting to ride a real bike in the future.
b) Balance Bikes
Balance bikes are great for toddlers from around 18 months old until they are confident enough to try riding a real pedal bike. Balance bikes don’t have pedals and rely on the child themselves to propel themselves along with their feet, learning to balance as they do so. They let kids pick up the skills they are going to need to ride a pedal bike later on. Usually, those that have learned to ride a balance bike then don’t need a training wheel on their first pedal bike, which is really encouraging for riders and parents alike.
One popular choice for toddlers are tricycles. Big-wheels or tricycles are great fun for toddlers to use in your backyard but actually don’t really teach many skills that are required for later cycling. If you do opt for a trike, getting a balance bike alongside it is recommended. You can, however, get tricycles for toddlers that convert to balance bikes too!
d) Pedal Bikes
A pedal bike is a last step up to free cycling for children. Pedal bikes come with training wheels, but these often stop the development of natural balance skills at this age. These bikes are usually heavier than balance bikes which can make the transition to them a little difficult for young kids.
If you want to go for a pedal bike, I would recommend removing the pedals and cranks to start off with, so that your child can learn how to balance first as they would do on a balance bike.
Once they’ve mastered it, switch the pedals back on and see them go! You’ll soon know if they are ready or not.
e) Tandem Bikes
Tandem bikes allow more than one user to ride and pedal (in some cases just sitting) at the same time. It's quite popular in many areas where families prefer them for their twins and closely aged children.
8. Frame Design & Color
Most littler bikes are not very well designed. They tend to have short wheelbases, which means that children are often squished on without too much room between the seat and the handlebars. This can affect the child learning to ride in a negative way. Also, few learner bikes come with push handles attached to the frames, so moms or dads can use the push along feature.
A bike that is properly designed needs to have a longer wheelbase to give the rider more space which will allow them to maneuver the bike more easily and be more stable, making the whole learning-to-ride process a heck of a lot easier. The child also ends up in a more upright position, meaning that they are more comfortable when they start out riding a bike.
In terms of color, most toddler models are vibrant with popular thematic graphics. Dominant colors include red, pink, purple, green, white, black, blue, violet, orange and yellow.
CPSC standards mean that all 12” and 14” bikes need to have back pedal brakes, also known as coaster breaks. This can be tricky to master when you are learning to ride. Children automatically start to pedal backwards when they need to regain their balance which means that they can fall thus losing motivation.
A child who has the coordination to ride a bike usually has the coordination to use the brakes too. You should be looking for bikes that have both hand brakes and coaster brakes.
As mentioned, air-filled tires made from rubber are the best option generally. Mountain bike style tires are also better for little ones as they tend to cushion any bumps in the road a little better.
The majority of children’s bikes have a single speed. Some have different gear combos and are easier to ride uphill whereas others are better suited to flats. You should be able to compare the cog sizes of different bikes so you can work out what is the right option for you and your child.
You need to choose a model of bike that your toddler will get the most use from. Look out for bikes that have slidable seats on rails as well as adjustable height for the handlebars so that you can really customize the fit.
You could also look at the length of the crank to make sure that it will suit your child’s size. You need to have a bike that has a narrow stance as children generally have hips that are much narrower than those of an adult.
Usually, parents are a little reluctant to buy a first bike that costs more than around $50 to $100. Of course, you can easily get a bike for this price, it is wise to choose a good quality bike for your toddler following our recommendations rather than on price alone. This is what I did, and I regret it immensely.
Learning to ride a bike is always fraught with anxiety for parents as you expect your child to take a few knocks on the way. Preventing injury and encouraging safe riding has to be paramount for parents. Here are some safety tips to get you (and them!) on your way.
- Ensure that the bike is an appropriate size for the child. It might be tempting to buy a bigger bike for a child that will only grow but buying a bike that they are big enough to ride is the safest thing that you could do.
- Make sure it is built correctly and that the wheels are connected correctly.
- Dress your child appropriately in eye-catching clothing so that they can be seen if near to roads.
- Always have them wear a helmet! We shouldn’t have to stress the importance of this but it is always surprising how many parents let their children get away with not wearing one! Wearing one becomes a habit that is crucial.
- Maintain the bike as is needed, checking for any damage or punctures.
- Teach your child some basic signals when they’re riding as well as road safety and etiquette for parks and paths.
- Ride only in places that are safe to do so and keep watch on your child at all times.
A Word From Us
I hope that you’ve found the best toddler bike for your own wants and needs! We were spoilt for choice but hopefully one of our top 10 bikes for toddlers will fit the bill. If you’re still not sure, you can’t go wrong with our Editor’s Choice! It really was the most popular bike amongst all our little toddler testers as well as their parents.
Of course, the other options were great choices too, especially if you’re looking for something a bit different. Still, at the end of reading these reviews, what I hope that you’ve achieved is a knowledge that I didn’t have when I first bought my little boy his first bike.
It really was a challenging time and I made a lot of mistakes. With my help, I’m sure that your child will be riding the best bicycle for toddlers in next to no time. Happy riding little ones!
1. Can my 2-year-old ride a bike?
Ans. Yes, they can. This will be helpful in teaching them the skills needed to ride a full-sized bike when they're older.
2. How to find the right bike size for my toddler?
Ans. Instead of age, consider your kid' height. For instance, a 12 inch wheel will fit a 90-100 cm tall child perfectly while a child over 140 cm in height will need a 26 inch wheel.