Kids Bikes

What is the Best Bike for a Child to Learn On?

Bikes for kids

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We all want the best for the children in our lives. For those of us interested in cycling, that will likely involve introducing your kids, or children in your life, to the rip-roaring fun that is bike riding.

Dare we say it, riding a bike is a fantastic life skill to have. Sure, it’s not as vital as writing, cooking or even swimming but in our minds, it’s certainly up there! There’s a reason why the phrase “like learning to ride a bike” exists.

Today, it’s arguably easier than ever for children to learn to ride a bike. There are various learning aids available and a greater breadth and quality of kids’ bikes than ever before.

As a parent myself, I have first-hand experience teaching children to ride so I hope you find a few hints and tips in this article that help you along the way.



At this stage, it’s important to re-iterate that kids all learn at different rates. Throw in the fact that children will come to bike riding at a variety of ages, and it’s easy to see how one piece of advice or a sole product recommendation won’t work across the board. Therefore this guide aims to give advice to riders of different ages and different abilities.

A Pink bicycle and a colourful push bike for kids learning to ride

Balance Bike vs Training Wheels

The nub of the learning to ride debate. A balance bike doesn’t teach children to pedal but it does enable them to understand the basics of steering, starting, stopping and on some models – braking. Once they’ve mastered these crucial techniques, it’s often relatively easy for them to grapple with pedalling too.

Training wheels (for UK readers: these are stabilisers) are an all-in-one training aid for kids. It teaches the technique of steering a bike but it also requires kids to pedal – to provide forward momentum – and brake, to come to a stop. The immediate coordination required when training wheels are removed is a huge jump for most children to make, irrespective of their proficiency.

Ultimately, balance bikes are the easiest bike for kids to learn the basics of bike riding. They also have the benefit of having fewer moving parts – that means less maintenance and less chance that something will go wrong.

It’s easy to be evangelical about what’s best but put bluntly, the best bike for learning is probably the one you already have. Whether it’s a family hand-me-down with training wheels or a balance bike donated by a friend, quit wondering what’s best and get teaching.


colourful push bicycle for toddlers

Why Balance Bikes Are Best for Kids Learning to Ride

Balance bikes strip out all of the extra bike riding techniques (pedalling, braking and changing gear) leaving kids to the fundamental skill of riding a bike: learning to balance on two wheels.

These days there is a huge variety of balance bikes available. For the youngest thrill seekers, there are balance bikes with four wheels that stand up on their own like the Retrospec Cricket. Perhaps they shouldn’t be classified as balance bikes but that’s an argument for another day.

For older children learning to ride, there are balance bikes with 18″ wheels that suit riders between 5 and 8 years old. Some of these larger balance bikes can be turned into proper pedal bikes too – a godsend as it’s easy for kids’ bike purchases to stack up, whether they’re cheap or not!


bicycle for toddlers

What Age Should a Kid Get Their First Bike?

It varies. But in order to speed up their learning, a sensible age for a first kids bike is between the ages of 1 and 3.

Once a child is comfortable on two feet and walking confidently, it’s safe to introduce them to their first bike – most likely this will be a balance bike that can stand upright on its own or even a trike with three wheels.

For young minds, riding a bike (of any kind) for the first time is a complex process. Straddling, sitting in the saddle, steering, pushing, stopping – these are all skills that don’t come at the drop of a hat.

In our experience, the younger a child can get in the saddle the better! Using a four-wheeled balance bike since her first birthday enabled my youngest child to graduate to a proper balance bike quickly – albeit with plenty of false starts and inevitable tantrums in between.


Selecting the Right Bike

Finding the best kids bike is tricky. With different types, different sizing terminologies and various brands vying for your attention it’s all too easy to become confused and flustered. In this next section, we take some time to help you select the right bike.

How do I Choose My Child’s First Bike?

Ask yourself three questions.

  1. How tall is your child? This is the most important part to get right. An ill-fitting bike is the one thing that will immediately put any child or toddler off riding. Shop for bikes and you’ll find most brands list a suggested age against them. Whilst it’s good to take this into account, a better yardstick of fit is a child’s height and inside leg measurement. The best bike for kids to learn on will be the one that’s the right size for them.
  2. How would you like to teach them to ride? Being a first bike, it’s likely that you’ll be deciding between a balance bike and one with training wheels. If you have a preference this will help narrow down your options.
  3. Which bike will they graduate to? It might seem silly to think about another bike when you haven’t even chosen their first one but like all kids’ items, bikes are quickly grown out of. Thinking about how a child’s biking journey could look in the long run could help you avoid unnecessary, expensive purchases. \

Child riding a bicycle for beginners

What is the Easiest Bike to Learn to Ride for Kids?

A balance bike of some kind is the easiest bike for kids to ride. Whether that’s a plush number with rubber tires and a brake for a 4-year-old or a simple plastic or wooden affair for an energetic 1-year-old.

Whilst you might think they’ll never take their feet off the ground and they’ll be propelling their balance bike with their feet for years to come, one day – when you never expect it – they’ll push and glide with both feet off the ground (steering correctly too!). That moment is fantastic to watch! Cor! Bikes are great, aren’t they?


Pink bike for children learning to cycle

Age-Specific Recommendations:

Age is a sensible way to categorise all the different kids bikes that are available for sale. So in this section, we’ve put together a list of 9 bikes. 3 first bikes for a 4-year-old – the best bikes for kid beginners. Next, 3 of the best bikes for a 7-year-old and finally, 3 of the best for 12-year-olds.

As you’ve already learned in this article, a child’s height or inside leg measurement is a better yardstick for determining bike suitability so do bear that in mind when reviewing our recommendations.


What is a Good First Bike For a 4-Year-Old?

1. Hornit Airo

hornit airo kids bike
hornit airo kids bike wheels
hornit airo kids bike colours
  • UK Flag £129
  • US Flag $185
  • EU Flag €229

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: 18 months to 5 years
  • Suggested Inside Leg: 11,8 to 18,1″ (30 to 46cm)
  • Weight: 6,5lbs (2.95kg)
  • Gears: ❌
  • Brakes: ❌

Great-looking balance bike

Fairly adjustable

Quality components

With its swooping frame shape, the Airo from Hornit (a company that got started in the cycling industry with a range of neat accessories) is our favourite balance bike and a great introduction to cycling for 4-year-olds.

Thanks to the adjustability of the seatpost, the bike may fit those from just 18 months old.

It’s available in a range of bright colours that will surely appeal to any aspiring young rider and the sub 3kg weight makes it easy for little hands to lift and manoeuvre.

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Works very well
  • Light

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Long seatpost can ground out on ‘adventurous’ rides

2. Woom Original 1 Plus

woom original 1 plus
woom original 1 plus fork
woom original 1 plus handlebar
woom original 1 plus colours
  • UK Flag £279
  • US Flag $299
  • EU Flag €279

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: 3 to 4,5 years
  • Suggested Inside Leg: Not stated
  • Weight: 9,8lbs (4,45kg)
  • Gears: ❌
  • Brakes: ✅

14″ first bike

Comes with brakes

Includes safety features

Woom’s entire range of kids bikes is well-regarded by parents and kids alike. For children around the age of 4, the Woom Original 1 Plus is an ideal first bike. It has 14″ wheels and brakes front and rear.

Woom differs from other kids bikes brands by including things like a steering limit which prevents children from oversteering and toppling over. The Original’s handlebar design isn’t just for show either, it helps prevent little ones knocking their knees when riding.

Pros

  • Different colours
  • Handlebars and steering limiter prevent accidents

Cons

  • Might not last long

3. Frog Tadpole Plus

frog tadpole plus balance bike
frog tadpole plus outdoor
frog tadpole plus colours
  • UK Flag £240
  • US Flag $340
  • EU Flag €280

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: 3 to 4 years
  • Suggested Inside Leg: 14,1 to 18,1″ (36 to 46cm)
  • Weight: 9,2 lbs (4,18kg)
  • Gears: ❌
  • Brakes: ✅

Another great option for a first bike

Well-regarded brand

Rear brake

Aiming to make learning to ride fun and fuss-free, the Frog Tadpole Plus is another great option for a first bike for 4-year-olds. Again it’s another balance bike.

The Frog’s special features include ‘short reach’ brake levers which help little hands apply the force needed to come to a stop as well as an oversteering lock that prevents oversteering and falls.

Pros

  • Loads of colours
  • 10 year warranty

Cons

  • Only suitable for 3-4 year olds
  • Heavier than some

What Bike is Best For a 7-Year-Old?

1. Woom Now 4

woom now 4 kids bike
woom now 4 kids bike outdoors
woom now 4 kids bike features
woom now 4 kids bike colours
  • UK Flag £829
  • US Flag $749
  • EU Flag €749

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: 6 to 8 years
  • Suggested Inside Leg: Not Stated
  • Weight: 22,9lbs (10,4kg)
  • Gears: ✅
  • Brakes: ✅

Innovative frame design

Premium features

Chunky tires for comfort

Many children’s experience of riding a bike will involve pedalling to and from school and why shouldn’t it? It’s a great way to get to class. Woom aim to make the school trip even easier with their range of Now bikes.

The funny-looking design includes a smaller front wheel and larger back one, a setup which has allowed Woom to fit a front pannier rack – the perfect space to sling a school bag for the ride to work. To find mudguards, lights and a hidden bell on a kids bike is real treat. Go buy one!

Pros

  • Utility bike for kids – cool, right?
  • Mudguards, lights and a space for a bag

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Just two colours

2. Frog 53

frog 53 kids bike
frog 53 kids bike outdoors
frog 53 kids bike colours
  • UK Flag £425
  • US Flag $600
  • EU Flag €535

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: 5 to 7 years
  • Suggested Inside Leg: 19 to 25.5″ (50 to 65cm)
  • Weight: 17,9 lbs (8,15kg)
  • Gears: ✅
  • Brakes: ✅

20-inch wheeled bike

With sensible gears

Reflectors, mudguards and bell

A versatile bike that’s ideal for riding in all sorts of scenarios. Rides to school, exploring at the weekend, taking on some riverside routes or even heading off the beaten track for some light-off road trails.

Features all the things Frog bikes are well known for: lightweight frame, size-specific components and long term warranty protection.

Pros

  • Size-specific components
  • Plenty of frame colours to appeal

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Disc brakes would perform better

3. Early Rider Belter 20

early rider belter 20 kids bike
early rider belter 20 kids bike outdoors
early rider belter 20 kids bike ride
early rider belter 20 kids bike colours
  • UK Flag £549
  • US Flag $579
  • EU Flag €599

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: 6 to 8 years
  • Suggested Inside Leg: 20″ (52cm)
  • Weight: 17,6lbs (8kg)
  • Gears: ✅
  • Brakes: ✅

Super stylish kids bike

Gates belt drive

Hub gears

With their premium finish, Early Rider bikes certainly stick out from the crowd. For 7 year olds the 20″ Belter model is ideal for pedalling too and from school as well as all kinds of weekend escapades.

The belt drive and hub gears aren’t just for show either. It means kids don’t have to worry about a chain falling off or getting greasy hands from a dirty chain.

Pros

  • No derailleur to worry about
  • Gates belt is low maintenance and doesn’t attract grease

Cons

  • Pricey
  • No mudguards

Best Bike for a 12-Year-Old?

1. Trek Wahoo 26

trek wahoo 26 kids bike
trek wahoo 26 kids bike colours
  • UK Flag £500
  • US Flag $559
  • EU Flag €599

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: Not Stated
  • Suggested Inside Leg: Not Stated
  • Weight: 22,5lbs (10,2kg)
  • Gears: ✅
  • Brakes: ✅

Lightweight frame

8 gears

Rides well on a range of surfaces

The Wahoo is a lightweight, practical and versatile kids bike for those around 12 years of age. At this size, kids’ bikes are almost like full-sized adult bikes so it’s nice to see Trek fit the Wahoo 26 with ‘proper’ 8-speed gearing offering riders enough to power down hills and spin up the next one.

Pros

  • Available in 6 colours
  • From a well-known bike brand

Cons

  • No accessories

2. Prevelo Alpha Five

prevelo alpha five kids bike
prevelo alpha five kids bike outdoor
prevelo alpha five kids bike features
prevelo alpha five kids bike colours
  • UK Flag £435
  • US Flag $549
  • EU Flag €501

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: 9 to 13 years
  • Suggested Inside Leg: 25 to 30″ (63-76cm)
  • Weight: 20,9lbs (9,5kg)
  • Gears: ✅
  • Brakes: ✅

Hybrid style bike for older kids

Four colours

Tubeless ready tires and rims

Prevelo are a well-regarded bike brand, especially for those older kids. The Alpha Five is a hybrid style bike that’s primarily suited for use on the tarmac. Prevelo’s USP is the geometry (that’s the sum of the bikes angles and tube lengths) which aims to deliver a confident, reassuring ride. Good to know for parents, perhaps less so for children!

Pros

  • Easy for kids to get on and off
  • Allen key wheel skewers prevent tampering and keep things secure
  • Can be customised

Cons

  • Humdrum looks

3. Prevelo Alpha Zulu

prevelo alpha zulu kids bike
prevelo alpha zulu kids bike outdoor
prevelo alpha zulu kids bike features
prevelo alpha zulu kids bike colours
  • UK Flag £871
  • US Flag $1099
  • EU Flag €1003

Prices are approximate

  • Suggested Age: 9 to 13 years
  • Suggested Inside Leg: 25-30″ (63-76cm)
  • Weight: 26,5lbs (12kg)
  • Gears: ✅
  • Brakes: ✅

Trail ready MTB for kids

Can be upgraded/customised

Tubeless ready tires and rims

The second Prevelo bike on our list and the Zulu Five is set out to prove that kids can have proper mountain bikes. It’s a hardtail mountain bike with 120mm travel and 10-speed gearing. Whilst it’s clearly incredibly expensive if the youngster in your life is keen on attacking some trails then they won’t hesitate if they are aboard the Zulu Five.

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Up to date MTB spec including internal gearing

Cons

  • Just two colours

Best Bikes for Kids to Learn

Whilst it will depend on what age a child learns to ride, for most kids the best introduction to cycling will be through a balance bike. Balance bikes offer a stripped-back riding experience, focusing on the key riding fundamentals, liking balancing and steering. Once a child learns those, more complex tasks like pedalling and braking can come in time.

Before we go, here are two final pieces of advice. One: Kids will learn their own speed. Be prepared for this and you’ll enjoy the learning process as much as them. They’ll go weeks – months even – unable to be persuaded to give it a go, before hopping aboard, learning to ride in all of five minutes and never looking back.

Two: it might seem tempting to go for a cheap kids bike but steer clear. Features like pneumatic tires and proper bearings in wheels and headsets are features that raise the price of all the best kids bike. These days it’s easy to come buy a quality kids bike second hand and in some countries, there are even rental or loan schemes available.


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