If you cycle, you’ll know that riding a bike is one of the purest joys there is, so it’s natural that you’ll want your kids to experience that freewheeling feeling of freedom. But buying a bike for a child is no easy feat. Picking the right size and shape of bike can be confusing, and it’s not helped if your kid starts to get a bit unruly in a bike shop (even when there’s a snazzy new set of wheels in the offing). It’s worth the trouble and expense, however, because helping your child learn to ride it is one of the most rewarding experiences that parenthood has to offer.
To help you skip straight to the good bit, we’ve put together a selection of the very best children’s bikes you can currently buy. We’ve ordered our list by age, beginning at bikes for three-year-olds and finishing with rides for the eight to 11 age range.
Best Starter Bike: Frog 43
At just 6.3 kg, the aluminium-framed Frog 43 is a great lightweight first bike for the youngest of riders. It has soft handlebar grips, a locking headset and easy-to-reach brakes, and the lack of gears makes it easier to master. It also comes with a bell, reflectors and mudguards as standard. There are several colourful designs to choose from, too. As for the target age, the 14in wheel size makes this one ideal for three- to four-year-olds.
Buy from Merlin Cycles | £240
Best Transition Bike: Black Mountain Epok Pinto
Arguably the most adaptable children’s bike on the market, the Black Mountain Epok Series Pinto will see most children through from the age of three to five. It’s built around a “growing triangle” frame and a “growing gear” system, so the bike can adapt as your child grows in size and skill. In its simplest form, the Pinto has a low saddle and no pedals, essentially making it a balance bike, but at its most complex it is a sturdy steed with multiple gears.
Buy from Black Mountain | £329
Best Budget Bike: Ridgeback MX14
If you’re looking to spend a little less, the Ridgeback MX14 is a more affordable option for the three-to-four age range. It may be a cheaper choice, but it still has a lot going for it: the seat, handlebars and the brake levers are all adaptable to your kid’s stature, and there is a guard over the chain to keep it away from little fingers. The design is sleek and simple, and stabilisers are included as well.
Buy from Evans Cycles | £159 (currently reduced to £125)
Best Intermediate Bike: Hoy Bonaly
Fresh from the mind of Olympic legend Chris Hoy comes the Hoy Bonaly, an excellent bike that’s suitable for kids between the ages of five and eight. With 20in wheels, six gears and semi-treaded tyres, it’s a step up from starter bikes in every regard. The short cranks and rigid forks make it appropriate for smaller riders, but the overall feel is of a bike for bigger kids who are ready for more of a challenge.
Buy from Evans Cycles | £310
Best All-Terrain Bike: Specialized Riprock
The Specialized Riprock is a terrific option for taking your five- to eight-year-old child off-road. If you’re planning a trip to the Lake District or somewhere similar, this bike’s thick 20in tyres will make short work of the terrain’s bumps and bobbles, and the seven gears will also come in handy when inclines and fatigue hit.
Buy from Evans Cycles | £350
Best Big Bike: Pinnacle Aspen
When the time comes for your child to progress from an intermediate size to something a bit bigger, the Pinnacle Aspen is a brilliant choice. It’s light (10.1kg), easy to control and the design mimics that of an adult bike. With 24in tyres and six rear-only gears, the Pinnacle Aspen has enough size and adaptability to keep your child cycling from the age of eight to 11.
Buy from Amazon | £260
Best Advanced Bike: Saracen Mantra
If your child is a confident cyclist who dreams of competitive success, you can encourage that passion with a Saracen Mantra. With its 24in wheels paired with 1.95in tyres, it’s a slimline bike that’s built for speed. It also has nine gears and hydraulic brakes, allowing advanced young cyclists more control. Size-wise, it’s a good fit for the eight-to-11 age range.
Buy from Tredz | £580