Review: 7 High-Quality Bikes Built For Kids

I’m a father of four young kids, ages three to 11, with varying levels of interest (and willingness) around the activity of bicycling. My garage is a mess of wheels, seats, frames, and accouterments to appease a mini peloton.

best kids bikes reviewed

But it’s all starting to coalesce, with the baby bikes and a Burley trailer now pushed toward the back of the garage. This spring, a preferred fleet of bikes is emerging, including single-speed “neighborhood” rides, BMX-style bikes, geared road options, mountain bikes, and one fixie for my burgeoning tween.

best children bikes review

We have cheap bikes and good bikes. Some are rusty; some we keep clean, wiping off the paint after each ride. The bikes in this article, all mid- to high-end options, have come out as the kids’ current favorite two-wheel picks.


Balance Bike:  Yuba Flip Flop

Among multiple push-bike options, my littlest one loves this Yuba the most. Its swooping frame and straight handlebars offer performance and fit as he crushes out sidewalks miles.

yuba scoot bike best children

After about a year of hard use, and with zero maintenance and much abuse, the bike shows few signs of wear.

The foam-filled tires cannot pop. A bonus: The lightweight aluminum frame “flips” over to transition the bike to a taller ride as your grom grows. ($120; more info)

Kid’s Belt-Drive Bike:  Priority Start FW

A grease-free belt drive instead of a chain makes the Start bike stand out. With a stand-over height of 16 inches, it’s made for kids up to about 7 years old.

Single-speed gearing offers simplicity, while the hand brakes (not common pedal-activated coasters) teach “big kid bike” skill and control.

priority kid bike

The company touts a rust-proof aluminum frame, meaning your kid can stash it under a tree in the yard.

My boys use this bike as all-around neighborhood transportation and occasional BMX-like stunts. Caveat: The Start’s gearing is too low for serious bike rides with mom and dad. ($249; more info)

Child-Size Singlespeed Racer:  Pello REVO 16

New this spring, and with a tag line of “the ultimate kids bike,” Pello offers high quality with its higher price. There’s a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork and a two-year warranty on parts.

pello best kid bike

The company touts a better geometry and an overall superior build. The 17-inch bike is a singlespeed model for kids ages four to about eight. I like the name-brand components, from the headset to the brakes.

The 16-inch wheels are from Kenda, and they come with presta-valve tubes, a nod serious cyclists, kid or grownup, will appreciate. ($299; more info)

Do-All Kid Bike:  Cleary Owl 20”

Made for boys and girls with an inseam of 20 to 26 inches, the Owl is sold as suitable for riding “on the half-pipe, on trails, and on the way to school.”

The do-all design comes with 20-inch wheels, single-speed gearing at a 32×20 ratio, and front and rear hand brakes.

cleary kid bike

Stand-out features include a “race-style” vegan leather saddle and internal cable routing to keep the frame clean. While pricey, the design is clean. The bike functioned great for my kids, and Cleary gives a lifetime warranty. ($345; more info)

Kids With Gears = Faster Ride:  Islabikes Beinn 24

Long rides with hills are no problem with this 8-speed bike. My 4th-grader loved the upgrade from his old, non-geared bike: With the Beinn’s 24-inch wheels rolling fast he can go twice as far on rides with mom.

Islabike best kids bikes

The company built the bike to be versatile, from pavement to dirt trails. As a hybrid, the 19-pound Beinn has worked well serving as a transition from my son’s “little kid” bike to something he can pedal fast and far. ($550; more info)

Mini-Fixie:  State Bicycle Co. Bel Aire 2.0

Fixed-gear bikes have attained mainstream acceptance, including with teens (and younger) who seek a streamlined, urban-aesthetic ride. My 11-year-old daughter loves her State Bel Aire, a cream-color city bike that rolls as a fixie or freewheel singlespeed.

state bike kids fixe gear

The bike comes in frame sizes from 46 – 59cm, making this model rideable for kids about 4-foot-10 in height to full adult.

But the one-size-fits-all approach is not perfect. The gearing is high for kids, especially if there are any hills. Also, I replaced the stock bike seat with a smaller saddle that better fit my girl. ($449; more info)

MTB For Groms:  Specialized Riprock Expert 24

On rocky trails and rough terrain, my kids aren’t yet quite high-performance enough for this crusher of a mini mountain bike.

But the 10-speed Riprock, with its fatter, 2.8-inch-wide tires, has been as fun as it’s been aspirational for my burgeoning singletrack-seekers.

specialized rimrock kids bike

Essentially an adult mtb shrunken down, the Riprock has 24-inch wheels and a swooping geometry that gives a low stand-over height, allowing a child to grow into the frame over a few years.

The fork, with 70mm travel, the hydraulic disc brakes, and quality components from the headset on down, inspire confidence and give the kids a taste of how a bike should perform on singletrack and all-mountain terrain. ($1,000; more info)

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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