5 Best 26 Inch Bikes For Girls & Boys (Ages 10+)

Has your child outgrown “kids bicycles” but they’re not quite ready for an adult sized bicycle either? It used to be that there was an awkward gap between smaller-wheeled “kids bikes” and 26 inch “adult bikes.” Today, however, more and more 26 inch bikes are being designed specifically for kids and teenagers (or petite women).

These bikes may have 26-inch wheels but are sized smaller for smaller riders (ages 10+). Older or taller teens have more options and can look at regular adult bikes.

best 26 inch bikes

But Wait, Are you Looking At The Right List?!

Note that the bikes on this list are intended for recreational riding or biking around town. If you are looking for a true mountain bike or road bike, check out these lists instead:

Our Favorite 26 Inch Bikes

BikeWhat We LikePrice
1Woom 6Lightweight, plenty of accessory options$699
2Frog 69/Frog 78Brand name components$670/$690
3Cleary MeerkatSteel frame, disc brakes$750
4Guardian 26SureStop braking system$549
5Trek WahooAvailable at local bike shops$559
Bonus!Ridgeback DimensionsFast design, high quality components$529

Woom 6

Woom 6

Woom makes our favorite little kid bikes, but they make great big-kid bikes too. The Woom 6 comes with top-shelf components, and at 22 lbs it is significantly lighter than most 26″ bikes.

Woom also offers add-on options like a rear rack, bags, and fenders, so if your child is planning on commuting our even touring with their bike, this is a best option.

Price: $699

Frog 69 / Frog 78

Frog 78

Frog actually offers TWO 26″ bikes. The Frog 69 is smaller-sized for younger kids (ages 10+) and the Frog 78 is sized for older kids (13+).

These bikes are built with brand-name components including Kenda tires, a Shimano drivetrain, and Tektro brakes. Both bikes come standard with fenders which is nice for families that live in wet climates.

Price: $670/$690

Cleary Meerkat 26

cleary meerkat 26

The Cleary Meerkat 26 is the new big brother to the 24 inch Meerkat. This is a fantastic bike that can do a little bit of everything.

Thanks to the steel frame, hydraulic disc brakes, and high volume knobby tires, the Meerkat is a good choice for a little gravel or off road riding in addition to hitting the pavement. There are also plenty of bosses in case you wanted to add racks, fenders, or bags.

The most unusual thing about the Meerkat is the internally geared Sturmey Archer hub. It’s low maintenance and means there isn’t a derailleur to bent on the bike rack at school.

Read Our Review: Cleary Meerkat

Price: $750

Guardian 26

guardian 26

The Guardian 26 has an ideal bike for zipping around town thanks to the super-safe proprietary SureStop braking system, fast rolling tires, and 7-speed Microshift drivetrain. The grip shifter display has fun graphics to help kids understand which direction to shift, and was our tester’s favorite feature.

We also really appreciated the high quality saddle and pedals–far better than the stock one’s you usually get on kids bikes.

Read Our Review: Guardian 26

Price: $549

Trek Wahoo 26

Wahoo 26

The Trek kids’ Wahoo line extends all the way up to 26 inch wheels. The Trek Wahoo 26 comes with knobby tires and is well suited for being ridden on or off road.

The one huge pro to buying a Trek is that it will be easy to find from a local bike shop. If you don’t want to have to assemble a bike, or want to be able to try it in person before purchasing, the Trek Wahoo 26 is a great option.

Price (MSRP): $559

Ridgeback Dimensions 26

Ridgeback Dimension 26

The Ridgeback Dimensions 26 is another quality kids bike from the UK. It offers top-shelf components including Vee Tire co tires, a Shimano Rapid Fire 7-Speed shifter and drivetrain, plus easy-to-reach, easy-to-pull Tektro brake levers.

It has a relatively aggressive position, so is best for kids who like riding fast.

Price: $529

Comparison Chart: 26″ Kids Bikes

BikePrice (MSRP)WeightBrakesFrame MaterialTiresShifterRear Derailleur
Woom 6$56922.1 lbsV-brakes (in-house)Alloy26 x 1.95" Schwalbe SRAM grip shiftersSRAM X4, 8-speed
Frog 69 / Frog 78$650/ $69022 lbs / 22 lbsTektro 836AL, aluminium, linear pull /
Tektro 836AL, aluminium, linear pull
Alloy / Alloy26" x 1.5" Kenda K1047 / 26" x 1.5" Kenda K1047Shimano Alivio, M360, 8-speed, rapid fire / Shimano Alivio, M360, 8-speed, rapid fireShimano Altus, M310, 8-speed / Shimano Altus, M310, 8-speed
Trek Wahoo 26$55922.09 lbsAlloy linear-pull, Dialed alloy leversAlloy26x1.95" Versatile TreadShimano Acera M360, 8-speedShimano Altus M310
Cleary Meerkat$68028 lbsTektro hydraulic discSteel26 x 1,9" Kenda KRADSturmey Archer DLC50 trigger shifterSturmey Archer 5-speed internally geared hub
Ridgeback Dimension 26$52922.5 lbsPromax V-BrakesAlloy26 x 2.00" Vee SpeedsterShimano SLM310 Rapid Fire 7 speed

What To Consider When Choosing A 26″ Bike For Your Child

Frame Size

A 26″ bike refers to WHEEL SIZE and provides no indication of FRAME SIZE. Most 26 inch bikes will be sized for an adult and are far too big for the average pre-teen.

When looking for a 26 inch bike, make sure to pay attention to the manufacturer’s size chart and frame specs. The frame standover height should be less than your child’s inseam .

If you can find the minimum seatpost height, that’s also a great size indicator. The minimum seatpost height should be no more than 1.5″-2″ longer than your kiddo’s inseam.

Read: Ultimate Guide To Kids Bike Sizes (And Bike Size Chart!)

guardian 26 sizing


Most of the bikes on this list have traditional v-brakes (rim brakes). The benefits of v-brakes are that they are affordable and low-maintenance.

You’ll notice some 26 inch bikes (like the Cleary Meerkat), however, offer disc brakes.

Hydraulic disc brakes provide the best stopping power and cause little hands less fatigue than other options. Unfortunately, they are also expensive and require more maintenance.

A nice medium are mechanical disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes are relatively affordable, offer better stopping power than v-brakes (especially in wet conditions), and don’t require much maintenance.

Finally, whatever type of brakes you choose, you want to look for a bike that has short-reach brake levers. All of the bikes on this list have brake levers well suited for smaller hands, but many adult-oriented 26 inch bikes will have brake levers a little too big for small-ish hands to easily operate.


There are several things to pay attention to when it comes to the drivetrain; specifically, gearing, shifting, and the component groupset.

With a 26 inch bike, most options will be geared (as opposed to being singlespeed). With kids, we think it’s best to keep things simple. Look for a bike with a single chainring upfront (rather than a front derraileur). 7 or 8 gears on the rear cassette is plenty as well.

If you want to get geeky, you might also consider the gear ratio and gain ratio of the bike. (For most families, don’t worry about this).

As far as shifters go, we prefer trigger shifters. Kids this age should have no problem learning to use them, and they provide cleaner shifts and less maintenance than grip shifters.

That said, you’re likely to see bikes with grip shifters. For some kids, they might be easier to use / more intuitive, and shouldn’t be a deal breaker when shopping for a bike.

Finally, you might want to consider the drivetrain groupset on the bike. In general, the more expensive the bike, the higher-quality the drivetrain.

Type of Riding

The bikes on this list are well-suited for around-town riding and maybe even a little off-road rail-trail cruising. If your child needs a bike for riding to school or biking with your family to the swimming pool on Saturday afternoon, the bikes on this list are for you.

That said, if you have a kiddo that is more interested in a specific type of riding (i.e. mountain biking, road cycling, BMX), get them a bike that matches their interests. A REAL mountain bike, for instance, will provide them with a lot more fun and capability on the trail then a hybrid bike from this list.


Weight isn’t as important on a 26-inch bike as it is on say, a 12 inch bike, but it’s still important. The lighter a bike is, the easier it is to pedal and handle, and the more enjoyable it will be to ride for your child. Even a couple pounds can make a big difference, especially for more petite kids.

More Reading To Help You Pick The Best Bike

1 thought on “5 Best 26 Inch Bikes For Girls & Boys (Ages 10+)”

  1. What are your thoughts on the Trek 820 WSD XS for a 4’7” 11-year-old who’s outgrown her 20-inch? We were looking at 24-inch bikes but she’ll outgrow that quickly. The bike shop recommended the 820 for a long-lasting next bike. Just worried it’s a little heavy.


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