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18 Different Types of Bikes for Kids

A group of friends riding bike in a field.

If you’re also a parent, you’ll agree that we want the best for our kids! Buying their very first bicycle is an integral part of their childhood, so we want to make sure we get a bike that is sturdy, safe, reliable, and won’t cost a fortune. So, what are some types of bikes for kids?

BMX, Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, Cruiser Bikes, Balance Bikes, Trailer Cycles, Bicycle Trailers, Bikes with child seats, Single-speed Bikes, Bikes with gears, Hybrid-style bikes, 12-14-inch bikes, 16-inch bikes, 20-inch bikes, 26-inch bikes, and Cross bikes are all excellent choices for kids.

Although you may be leaning towards a particular bike, understanding why each one is preferable can set you up for the perfect purchase. A few bikes are only designed for use on the road, while others are off-road, and some are even hybrid styles that can be used for both.

BMX Bikes

Mongoose Legion Mag Freestyle Sidewalk BMX Bike for-Kids,-Children and Beginner-Level to Advanced Riders, 20-inch Wheels, Hi-Ten Steel Frame, Micro Drive 25x9T BMX Gearing, Orange

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A BMX bike is an excellent choice for kids who value thrill and the “cool” factor. These bikes have their origins in motocross, where jumps, stunts, and banked corners necessitate a distinct type of frame. Dads, don’t be surprised when you’re asked to build a ramp! They come as single-speed bikes, equipped with 20-inch wheels.

Its features also guarantee that its much more low maintenance when compared to the average bike. Kids aren’t likely to be soaring up and down half-pipes right out of the gate, so choosing a powerful ultra-light bike isn’t a requirement. On the other hand, it aids in learning how to maneuver, especially on rough terrain.

Doing grinds and stalls is more of an intermediate skill. Therefore, pegs for the wheel axles on your child’s first BMX aren’t necessary. Stunts will indeed be added as a norm for the riding routine! A “BMX” is an acronym that stands for “bicycle motor cross.”

Mountain Bikes

Huffy Kids Hardtail Mountain Bike for Boys, Stone Mountain 20 inch 6-Speed, Metallic Cyan (73808)

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Because of their flexibility, kid mountain bikes have become quite popular. These are tough and have larger, knobby-tread tires for rugged trail riding, but they can also be utilized to zoom around on flat areas, especially if you have many gears to play to use.

Remember that Mountain bikes are often the first specialized ride for many children.

They have superb braking and shock-absorbent features that can readily withstand significant bumps, rocks, dirt tracks, roots, and ruts. Mountain bikes are specifically designed to handle steeper terrain, so they often have fewer gears than most other road cycles. It might take some time to transition from sidewalk to singletrack.

It could be time for a kids’ mountain bike if your child has the advanced handling, gear changing, and braking abilities required to safely operate a complex bike and shows an interest in hitting the trail. As your kid learns to react to bumps and inclines, bikes with broader tire options tend to increase traction and stability.

Road Bikes

Road Bikes are a great choice if your child spends most of their time on a road surface because the frames and other features are designed for road use. It is probably not the model you’re looking for if your child spends most of their time in the backyard riding over pebbles; unless they’ve set their sights on the peloton.

Flat handlebars for upright riding positions or drop-bar handlebars for a forward-leaning, aerodynamic posture ideal for quicker riding is available on road bikes. This style of bicycle’s lightweight frame makes it ideal for various pavement activities, including racing, fitness riding, long-distance rides, and everyday commuting.

Your little speedy may start experimenting with numerous settings to manage the pace thanks to the several cycling gears but don’t concern yourself too much!  They won’t care if it’s a 6-speed or 12-speed right now; instead, focus on teaching them the shifting fundamentals.

Cruiser Bikes

Revere Kids 24" Girls 7-Speed Entry-Level Cruiser Children's Bicycle for Ages 7-11 Years Old. Lightweight Aluminum Frame and Fork, Easy to Ride! (Pink/Cyan)

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Cruisers are going to be kids’ last stop before moving onto the adult-riding game!  In terms of sophistication and aesthetics, bicycle models are beginning to diversify. Kid cruiser bikes are designed for casual riding about the neighborhood and are fun, comfortable, and even showy at times.

The majority of cruisers are single-speed bikes with larger tires for added stability. In comparison to other pavement bikes, the majority of these bikes have 26-inch tires. They have comfortable seats that allow for relaxed riding postures and internally geared rear hubs that make maintenance simple and convenient.

Since we’re not talking about trails or stunts, your primary objective should be to select a bike in the color, shape, and style that your child enjoys. Some are broader and have more cushion, while others are longer and can accommodate two persons (“banana seat”). Inquire about your children’s preferences before making a purchase!

Balance Bikes: Without Pedals

GOMO Balance Bike - Toddler Training Bike for 18 Months, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Year Old Kids - Ultra Cool Colors Push Bikes for Toddlers/No Pedal Scooter Bicycle with Footrest (Red/Grey)

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Children learn the coordination required for self-cycling at different paces. Some of them should stick to safer alternatives like tricycles and three-wheelers until their early motor skills catch up. Around the age of two or three, others begin exploring with their first genuine bike. However, balance bikes have made significant strides in this regard.

Balance bikes without pedals have gained rapid popularity among kids as early as two years old because they teach the one skill that training wheels bikes cannot: balance. Because kids’ feet are on the ground so much of the time and the bikes are tiny, light, and easy to control, they are highly intuitive and inspire confidence.

These inventive bikes include a strong frame, beautiful wheels, and tires, as well as a seat and handlebars, but no pedals, cranks, powertrain, or brakes. They are propelled by the kid pushing with their feet, which is a natural motion that they have learned. It teaches them to maneuver a bicycle and the skill of balancing a two-wheeler.

Balance Bikes: With Pedals

Little Tikes My First Balance-to-Pedal Training Bike for Kids in Green, Ages 2-5 Years, 12-Inch, 649615C

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The shift from a bike without pedals to one with pedals is crucial and relies heavily on how well the bike fits the child. Remember that your child’s feet need to be able to fit comfortably on the ground and reach the handlebars and brake levers while seated flat in the saddle.

It will dramatically improve the kid’s confidence as they have more control over their pedaling experience. Once they have mastered pedaling, they are at the right stage to move onto even bigger bikes! At the age of about seven years, they should start riding their second bigger pedal bike.

The second pedal bike will come equipped with more features such as wider tires and a wider frame accompanied by wider handlebars to offset the heavier frame. The additional gears will teach your child valuable knowledge on how to climb inclines and how to navigate a descent safely.

Do Children Need Bikes with Suspension?

Close-up of a boy riding a bike on a rough road.

Contrary to what you may think, it’s better that you don’t buy a bike with suspension. For very young children, tires that are inflated to the correct pressures provide more than enough suspension for their cycling activities. Furthermore, suspension features make the bike heavier, and that contributes to increased difficulty with steering.

Bikes with suspension also tend to be a lot more expensive; you would be better off spending the money on safety equipment like gloves, elbow pads, and helmets. Consider bikes with good brakes and wider tires for more stability and fewer accidents!

What Protection Do Kids Need for Riding Bikes?

Father putting safety helmet on her daughter.

First and foremost, ensure that you purchase a helmet! It needs to fit comfortably, not too loose or too tight, and it shouldn’t move at all when it’s on your child’s head. Furthermore, knee pads and elbow pads are also a good idea, especially for kids just starting to ride.

Lastly, ensure that your kid’s bike comes with a chainguard. This plastic covering goes around the bike’s chain to keep kids’ hands safe and clean.

Trailer Cycle

It is the option for your kid if you’d like to experience riding a bike but without the risks associated with a two-wheeled bike. The cycle’s handlebars, seat, and wheel are attached to the parent’s frame from behind, allowing it to rotate while turning rather than functioning independently.

It allows your kid to pedal and move a little more freely in front of you while maintaining balance for both of you. Trailer cycles are usually attached to the adult bike’s seat post. Ensure there’s enough area for the hitch (at least 2″ in most situations) and that the post is thick enough.

Your child will have a more secure fit and less wobbling as a result of this. Some versions include movable handlebars that can travel up and down the attachment bar and swivel forward and backward to suit children of various heights and reaches. Most have an upright position, but some have straps for additional security.

Bicycle Trailer

Father and son on a bicycle trailer riding  down the street.

It sounds deceptively similar to the previous bike, but they are pretty different. Rather than riding beside you on your bike, your child rests peacefully in a two-wheeled cart linked to your frame and towed by you. The increased weight of the trailer will influence speed and maneuverability.

These are especially useful for longer journeys since they protect the cargo from the weather and are typically more comfortable, allowing for the much-appreciated naptime. Some types are designed to accommodate two children, while others may be turned into strollers for the super-efficient mom and dad.

Add in the extra length and breadth of the whole setup with a trailer, and you need to make sure you’re comfortable with your handling. The difference between gliding through town and off-roading through the wilderness is as stark for them as it is for you. If your ride is taking you to the woods, be sure your trailer is multisport ready.

Ride-On Bikes

If you want to teach biking to extremely young children, start with a ride-on. They are appropriate for kids as young as nine months old up to 3 years old. It can be a superior tool for teaching balance, control and for the young child to have some great fun and get good exercise.

It’s a four-wheeled bike on which the youngster may sit and glide in any direction. Because kids don’t have to worry about steering with a handlebar, they learn to steer with their feet.

Bikes with Child Seats

Mother riding a bike with her kid on a child seat.

It is a fantastic choice for active parents with small children who aren’t yet ready to ride independently. The seat is securely fitted over the rear wheel of an adult bike and comes with a harness to keep your child safe and comfortable.

Check to see if your bike is compatible with the child’s seat, as not all bikes have the necessary components to attach it. While most seats are mounted in the back, others are designed to be mounted at the front of an adult bike beneath the handlebars. It’s your choice, so go with the one that makes you feel most at ease.

It’s usually a good idea to double-check that your kid fits comfortably in the seat before committing. Some backs, for example, are lower than others, affecting head support and shoulder-strap mobility.

Single-Speed vs. Geared Bikes

Little boy riding a bike on a park.

You may be wondering if a single-speed or a bike with gears is the best pick, so let’s explore them a little.  A single-speed bicycle is often less expensive, lighter, and easier to maintain than a multi-geared bicycle. There are fewer parts on the bicycle that require maintenance without derailleurs or other gearing systems, making this sort of bicycle ideal for city commuting in all conditions.

Kids may have trouble pedaling uphill on a single-speed bicycle is typically more difficult due to the lack of lower gearing possibilities. On the other hand, its specialized gear ratio limits peak speed and makes it slower than a multi-geared bicycle.

Having more gears means that kids can adjust the gears for an easier and more comfortable riding experience. Furthermore, long distances are easier to traverse because the pedaling is more accessible and less exhaustive.

Hybrid-Style Bikes

Hybrid bikes are a healthy blend of road, mountain, and touring bike designs, making them somewhat of an “a little bit of everything” type of bike that can be used for various activities. These bikes often have a combination of big road bike-sized wheels that allow them to excel on both paved and smooth dirt tracks.

They also include a flat bar and a heads-up ride to provide a better vision and ride comfort. They may include disc brakes for rapid and spectacular braking, especially when riding in inclement weather.

An essential thing to understand about a hybrid bike is that it is not particularly significant at anything but not insufficient at anything either. A road bike is quicker, but a mountain bike is far superior off-road. It can, however, be perfect for someone who switches between disciplines or wishes to ride diverse terrain in comfort.

12-14-Inch Wheel Bikes

Dynacraft Magna Kids Bike Girls 12 Inch Wheels with Training Wheels in Pink for Ages 2 Years and Up

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The size of your child’s bike should be determined by the distance between the top tube and the ground, as well as whether or not your child can reach the handlebars. The position and posture of the seat also play an essential role so pay attention to the wheel size for the most accurate estimation and result.

Bikes with 12-inch wheels often have low seats, which allow even the youngest riders to enjoy the freedom and enjoyment of riding on two wheels. It’s simple for kids to learn to balance and scoot if they can put their feet down.

Balance bikes, which do not have pedals, and pedal bikes, which may or may not have detachable training wheels, are available in this category. These wheels are best suited for kids aged two to four, depending on your child’s height.

16-Inch Wheel Bikes

Dynacraft Magna Kids Bike Boys 16 Inch Wheels with Training Wheels in Green for Ages 4 Years and Up

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A 16-inch bike is usually the next step after a child has outgrown their first bike. A child’s first pedal bike is frequently one of these. These bikes usually have rear coaster brakes (which require you to cycle back to stop) and just one gear. The majority of them come with detachable training wheels.

You can also pick a cruiser bike, which you’d choose at this level mainly for the sake of aesthetics. The 16-inch kid bikes are suitable for ages five to eight years old.

20-Inch Wheel Bikes

Dynacraft Magna Kids Bike Boys 20 Inch Wheels in Black for Ages 6 Years and Up

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When you’re looking at bikes with 20-inch wheels, advanced bike features start to open up. Except for cruiser bikes (which feature coaster brakes), these bikes all have hand brakes and numerous gearing options. In addition, 20-inch bikes are a fantastic alternative for children aged six to ten.

20-inch bikes come equipped as single-speed or bikes with gears, so choose the option that you believe would be the most beneficial for your child.

24-26-Inch Wheel Bikes

Dynacraft Magna Front Shock Mountain Bike Girls 24 Inch Wheels with 18 Speed Grip Shifter and Dual Handbrakes in Puple

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When it comes to 24-inch bikes, you’ll discover options and features that are more akin to those seen on adult bikes. Take into account not just how the bike fits but also how the youngster intends to use it.

Do they want to go off-road or bike around town? You’ll be looking at bicycles with gears and hand brakes unless you’re buying a cruiser bike. Depending on the type of bike, several gear options are available, and better components are typically accessible.

Due to the adult bike features, it’s essential to test that your child’s hands can reach the brakes quickly. Afterward, make the necessary adjustments to make the bike comfortable, like lowering the seat height – low enough to ensure their feet touch the ground. Lastly, don’t forget the streamers and the horn!

Cross Bikes

Cyclocross bikes are primarily used for racing on a dirt trail with numerous obstacles and obstructions put at varying intervals. The goal of the barriers is to force the rider or cyclist to dismount in the middle of their journey and carry the bicycle for various brief periods.

These bikes are incredibly light, but they’re also robust and durable enough to withstand the rigors of cyclocross racing, which frequently involves bikers making loops around courses on sidewalks, grass, and dirt trails. Most cyclocross bikes have semi-knobby tires that are designed to handle any terrain obstacle.

Why is the Right Bike Size Important?

Girl with her friends riding bike on a park.

Riding a bike that is too big makes it exceptionally hard to maneuver, and it takes the fun out of the learning process. Your priority focus should be to make your kid’s first memories of cycling enjoyable and positive, and you want them to feel the satisfaction of a progressive accomplishment.

By paying careful attention to the wheels and the frame, you can ensure that you make the proper bike purchase. The other components on the bike, such as the brake levers, are also scaled bigger or smaller depending on the wheel size; this is meant to accommodate the growing stages of a child.

Height and inseam length are essential factors to consider because kids grow at varying rates. Ensure that your child can reach both feet comfortably on the ground while sitting flat on the bike’s seat. It creates an excellent pedaling position but more importantly, it allows the child to stop without any issues.

Has Your Child Outgrown their Bike?

Little girl learning to bike.

No two children are the same or grow at the same rates. Most bikes are intended to last them two years, but only when the child starts using them at the lower end of their age, instead of being almost too old for the recommended age. Thankfully, most kids’ bikes have excellent trade-in value.

However, it’s essential to consider a child’s skill level when considering a new bike. Bigger bikes are also heavier and thus harder to maneuver. If the child has mastered the basic skills of braking, balancing, and steering, then a heavier bike is okay. A less confident child may still prefer a smaller, lightweight, and easier-to-control bike.


Ensuring that your kid’s bike is the right size will help them have more fun, become more confident and develop a healthy habit that will keep them cycling and coming back for more! Remember that safety should always be the first priority, so don’t forget the helmet and protection pads!


REI: How to Choose Kids’ Bikes

Bicycling magazine: The 10 Best Kids Bikes You Can Buy Right Now

Trek Bikes: Kids’ bike buyer’s guide

Cycling Weekly: Best kids’ bikes: tips for choosing a children’s bike

Today: 13 best kids bikes of 2021, according to experts

BikeRadar: Best kids’ bikes 2021: a buyer’s guide to children’s bikes

New York Magazine: The 22 Best Bikes for Kids, According to Cycling Experts

Halfords: Kids’ Bikes Buyer’s Guide

Argos: Kids’ bike sizes guide

BikeRadar: Choosing the Best Bike for Your Child | Kids’ Bike Buying Guide

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