Choosing the best kids bike for your child
Finding the best kids bike you can for your child is a big part of instilling the thrill of being on two wheels and then helping them get the health benefits it brings.
Kids love bikes and because of the freedom it brings, allowing them to roam, discover, and appreciate the environment around them.
But bikes are also an important social tool for kids. No childhood memory is complete without recalling how you rode around with friends and experienced the local landscape on your bike.
This guide will help you choose the best kids bike for your child. We'll explain how kids bikes are sized and explain how modern children's bikes are designed to offer the safest platform possible for learning.
What size bike do you need for your child?
Unlike adult bikes, where frame size is determined by seat tube length, kids' bikes are instead sized on wheel diameter.
The below guide, which features on our kids bikes pages, should let you know what size wheels you are looking for.
Suitable for 2-4 years of age: Balance bikes (12 inch wheels)
Learn more about balance bikes and 12 inch kids' bikes
Wiggle has a range of 12 inch wheel kids' bikes. These include balance bikes (bikes without pedals), which provide a great platform for your child to learn on.
A balance bike is propelled and stopped by your child's feet, rather than a drivetrain (with pedals and chain). Riding a balance bike will teach your child the core fundamentals of balance, coordination and steering control.
Balance bikes can also help your child skip the stabiliser stage of learning to ride a bike by instilling fundamentals of balance.
The Vitus Smoothy Balance Bike is an ideal option if you're looking to teach your child how to ride on a balance bike.
Suitable for 3-5 years of age: 14 inch wheel bikes
Learn more about 14 inch wheel kids' bikes
This age category sees your child transitioning from a balance 'play' bike to a bike with 14-inch wheels, pedals, brakes and a single-speed drivetrain.
One of the key design factors for this age range is ensuring that the bike is both durable and lightweight as it needs to withstand the exuberance of 3-5-year-olds.
To cater to the smaller grip of younger riders, Wiggle includes custom-designed handlebars with many of its kids bikes, allowing it to fit smaller 19mm grips. There are also options with shorter reach brake levers too, which results in more control and confidence.
These bikes all come with flat pedals to ensure your child is well supported.
Take the step to pedals with the Vitus 14 Kids Bike (2020).
Suitable for 4-6 years of age: 16 inch wheel bikes
Learn more about 16 inch wheel kids' bikes
As the child grows, so does the bike. The next size up are kids' bikes with 16 inch wheels.
Much like 14 inch wheeled bikes, one of the key design factors for these bikes is that they are both durable and lightweight - 4 to 6-year-olds can push out some power.
16-inch wheel bikes usually have aluminium or steel frames, v-brakes, and a single speed drivetrain. Some higher-end models may feature disc brakes to provide additional stopping power.
These bikes are designed with a low standover height. This means that in the event of a crash or a dismount, there is less chance of your child being tangled up in the bike.
Chain retention devices are often fitted to 16 inch wheeled kids' mountain bikes, minimising the chance of dropping the chain off the chainring when your child inevitably explores off-road.
The Vitus 16 Kids Bike (2020) is a great option for a 4 to 6-year-old.
Suitable for 5-8 years of age: 20 inch wheel bikes
Learn more about 20 inch wheel kids' bikes
20 inch wheel kids' bikes signify a coming of age for your child; they are now taking their first tentative steps into the world of serious bikes.
In effect, most of the bikes in this category are 'junior mountain bikes' - 20-inch wheel mountain bikes are ideal for all-terrain adventures. They are robust, lightweight, and have a wide range of gears to ensure your child is riding comfortably and safely at all times.
Braking on these bikes comes from v-brakes or disc brakes, with the latter providing more stopping power but being more costly. Flat pedals are fitted to all these kids' bikes and the ones on 20-inch child bikes have a larger profile to accommodate larger feet.
Get more adventure out of your rides with the Vitus 20 Kids Bike (2020).
Suitable for 7-11 years of age: 24 inch wheel bikes
Learn more about 24 inch wheel kids' bikes
24 inch wheel kids' bikes offer all the benefits of full-sized bikes in terms of frame design, transmission and braking. The only difference between them and adult sized bikes is that the frame geometry has been optimized around a 24 inch wheel.
Within the 24 inch wheel category, we also see the addition of kids' road bikes. These bikes have drop handlebars like an adult road bike but their shorter cranks and a lower reach on the brake hoods make them more comfortable and controllable for shorter limbs.
24 inch wheel mountain bikes will often feature front suspension to facilitate greater exploration. They will have more gears too so your child can handle steeper inclines and descents.
Get more performance out of your rides with the Vitus 24 Kids Bike (2020).
Mountain bikes for kids
For parents who love to ride the rough stuff, share your passion for mountain biking and equip your mini-me with a quality bike that will inspire confidence on the bumps and berms.
In recent years, we've seen the emergence of a new class of kids mountain bikes that rival the adult versions for spec and finishing kit. The most exciting kid's mountain bike for 2021 has to be the Nukeproof Cub Scout. Based on the award-winning Nukeproof Scout, it's available in a range of sizes to suit ages 5 and up.
To suit smaller paws, the Cub Scout is finished with the exclusive Nukeproof Urchin finishing kit. This range of bike bits, from seat posts to handlebars, has been engineered from the ground up to meet the demands of the smallest riders.