By the time kids are ready for a 20 inch bike (around 6 years old), they have a heightened sense of interest and ability when it comes to cycling. Suddenly, they can bike longer distances–faster! And if they’ve been biking for a while, they might be ready for their first bicycle with gears.
Cycling becomes even more fun than it was before, but having the right bike for your child (or grandchild) is key to their continued enjoyment and success.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of crappy kids bikes out there. They are heavy, have poor geometry, and will fall apart quickly.
We’ve tested and reviewed dozens of 20 inch kids bikes to help you weed through the noise, and find the best bike for your child. Below is a list of the best 20 inch bicycles on the market, as well as a comparison chart and tips on how to pick a bike.
The bikes on this list will perform well on the daily school commute as well as your family’s weekend outings on the local dirt rail trail. They are do-it-all bikes can serve both on- and off-road duty–cruise to the park on a Saturday and visit some mellow single track on Sunday!
(You’ll notice that none of these bikes have suspension. If your child is more interested in mountain biking than recreational around-town riding, check out our list of the Best 20″ Mountain Bikes instead).
Best Under $250
Table of Contents
|How To Choose The Best Bike||Honorable Mentions|
|Top 5 Picks Overall||Comparison Chart|
|5 Best “Budget” Bikes|
How to Choose a Kids 20 Inch Bicycle
If you’re not sure what you should be looking for when shopping for a 20 inch kids bike, here is a quick primer. You can also download our printable cheat sheet.
When shopping for a kids bike, I always urge parents to spend as much as they can afford. Like all things in life (sadly!), the more you spend the nicer bike that you’ll get.
That said, there are still some good budget options on this list. When buying new, expect to pay at least $200-250. If you spend less, you can expect the bike will be heavy and have cheap, low-quality components that won’t last long.
If you can’t afford to spend that much, don’t despair. Buying a kids bike used is a great option. Check out our tips on how to find a quality used kids bike.
The age range for 20-inch bikes is generally 6 to 8 years old. Even then, each bike is designed a little bit differently.
My 5-year-old, for instance, fits nicely on the Prevelo Alpha Three as well as the Pello Reddi. For this reason, I urge parents to make sure you measure your child’s inseam before shopping for a bike and compare it to the minimum seat height and/or minimum standover height for the specific bike you are considering.
It might be tempting to buy up a size, but the extra size and weight can easily frustrate your child and even be downright dangerous.
Although weight isn’t quite as important for a 7-year-old as it is for a 3-year-old, for instance, it’s still pretty important. Many big box store bikes can weigh up to 50% of your child’s body weight. Yikes!
The lighter a bike is, the easier it will be for your child to maneuver, the easier to pedal up hills, and the more enjoyable for your child to ride long distances. Unfortunately, the lighter the bike is generally the more expensive it is, so this is usually a trade-off between weight and budget. Choose the lightest bike you can possibly afford.
When it comes to 20-inch children’s bicycles, most bikes have v-brakes (rim brakes) rather than a coaster brake. We think this is a good thing since coaster brakes tend to be dangerous and don’t have the same kind of modulation and control that a handbrake has.
Still, you might find a few bikes (such as the Specialized Riprock) that include a coaster. Unless you have a good reason for doing so, or fondly remember your coaster brake days, we recommend avoiding the coaster brake.
For bikes that have hand brakes, you’ll find that most of them are v-brakes. Some more expensive bicycles will have disc brakes which provide increased stopping power. We recommend going with disc brakes if you live in a particularly wet, rainy climate or if you live in a city with lots of steep hills.
Consider the type of riding your child is going to be doing. If they will be riding 100% of the time on pavement, you want to look for a bike with slick, fast-rolling tires. If they’re going to be spending time riding dirt, gravel, grass, mud, etc, you want to make sure the tire is a little wider and has some extra tread.
Even if the bike you are considering doesn’t have the best tires for your child’s preferred type of riding, you can always swap out tires later.
The knobby tires on the Woom (left) are better suited for all-terrain riding (gravel, dirt, etc), while the slick tires on the Guardian (right) are faster-rolling on pavement.
Drivetrain and Gearing
Whether or not your child is ready for a bike with gears is largely a matter of how confident they already are on a bicycle. If your kiddo has been on a pedal bike (without training wheels) since 3 or 4, they’re probably ready for gears. On the other hand, if your child is still using training wheels or is simply a timid rider, wait to introduce a new element to the mix.
There are several bikes on this list that do not have any gears. For those that do, there are two kinds: bikes with traditional drivetrains and those with an internally-geared hub.
The Pello Rover (left) has a traditional drivetrain with a rear derailleur. The Priority Start 20 (right) has an internally geared hub which may be a better option for parents who don’t want to do much bike maintenance.
The internally geared hub usually has just a few gears to keep things simple, and there is no derraileur. This is also nice for parents who don’t want to do much bike maintenance. The more traditional drivetrain includes a rear derailleur and cassette that might have 5 or 7 or 9 gears. At this age, a few gears are usually plenty.
For recreational around-town (and even mellow trail riding) pick a bike with a rigid (not a suspension fork). Yes, a suspension fork LOOKS cool and we know lots of parents that pick a suspension fork because that’s what their kids want.
The bad news is that most suspension forks are HEAVY and don’t work very well. In other words, you’re adding a bunch of weight for no performance benefit.
If your kiddo really is doing mountain biking and riding mountain bike trails (or playing around at the bike skills park), then you’ll want to invest in a REAL mountain bike with a higher quality (but more expensive) air-sprung suspension fork.
If that’s what you are looking for, check out this list instead:
Girls 20 Inch Bikes vs Boys 20 Inch Bikes
Don’t buy into the hype! There is no difference between a “girls 20 inch bike” or a “boys 20 inch bike.” Unlike adult bikes, girls bikes don’t have any unique components making them different.
That said, some girls may want a “girly” bike with feminine colors and accessories like a basket. We totally get that!
Most of the bikes on this list are offered in both feminine and masculine colors, so both girls and boys should be happy with these bikes.
If you are still looking for specific recommendations, check out our post below on the best 20-inch girls bicycles. You’ll also find suggestions on how to accessorize the bikes to make them more girly.
5 Best Kids 20 Inch Bikes
|Bike||What We Love About It||Price (MSRP)|
|1||Woom 4||Lightweight, child-appropriate geometry||$499|
|2||Prevelo Alpha Three||Low standover height, great customer service||$499|
|3||Frog 55||Beautiful colors, comes with fenders||$520|
|4||Pello Reddi OR Pello Rover||Brand-name components, singlespeed or geared option||$399 / $499|
|5||Cleary Owl||Steel frame, internally-geared hub||$485|
Woom makes great bikes that are lightweight, have components that match the size of little bodies and boast a sleek aesthetic that appeals even to parents. The Woom 4 is no exception.
The Woom 4 is the lightest bike on this list, making it fun to ride and easy to maneuver. Handling is also helped by the upright geometry and unique adjusting handlebars. The dual handbrakes are some of the easiest around to pull and operate.
We also appreciate that Woom 4 has nearly endless customization options. Want fenders? A rack? Matching helmet? Those are all options.
And while it’s not cheap, the Woom 4 is NOT the most expensive bike on this list despite it being our favorite. Think it’s still too expensive? Consider that Woom offers an trade-in program, and that these are probably the most in-demand bikes on the used market.
Read Review: Woom 4
Price (MSRP) :$499
Prevelo Alpha 3
Prevelo makes gorgeous bikes with top-notch components and kid-specific geometry that makes the ride comfortable and fun. The Prevelo Alpha Three offers a low standover height, narrow q-factor, and lightweight build.
Components include brand-name parts such as the durable Shimano drivetrain and Tektro v-brakes. When comparing the Alpha Three to bikes from the big bike companies, it is clear that buying from a kid-specific brand makes sense.
Like Woom, Prevelo also offers a trade-in program, which helps take the bite out of the high price.
Read Review: Prevelo Alpha 3
Price (MSRP): $499
Frog makes nice some of the nicest kids bikes across sizes and disciplines. The Frog 55 is their 20″ do-it-all offering.
The bikes come in absolutely gorgeous colors and designs, so no matter your child’s favorite color, they are sure to find a Frog that they like. Accent colors are repeated in incredibly thoughtful ways such as on the spokes nearest the tire valve and on the saddle.
Fortunately, the Frog 55 doesn’t just look pretty. It also has child-appropriate geometry, short cranks, and high-quality components. And it comes with fenders, which is a plus if you live in a rainy climate.
Pello Rover or Reddi
“Life’s an adventure,” reads one of the decals on the Pello Rover–which is appropriate since it is certainly a bike built for adventurous kids. The Kenda K-Rad tires can handle hopping curbs and cutting across fields, while quality components like the Cane Creek headset can handle plenty of abuse. It also comes in at a respectable 18.5 pounds.
If your child isn’t yet ready for gears, or is still too small for the Pello Rover, you might also want to consider the Pello Reddi which is a slightly smaller singlespeed version of the bike.
Read Review: Pello Reddi
Read Review: Pello Rover
Price (MSRP): $399 / $499
Cleary Owl 20
Cleary makes beautiful bikes. The Cleary Owl, their 20-inch offering, has an internally geared 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub and a robust steel frame that is built to last. (It also comes in a singlespeed version if you prefer that).
This bike is well suited to lots of abuse and will stand up with time. Cleary is also another brand that is well known and in-demand in the used market, making it a smart buy.
Best Budget 20 Inch Bikes
Don’t fool yourself into believing these bikes are as good as the bikes on our Top 5 list. That said, we’ve picked some budget options that are durable and well-designed.
|Bike||What We Love About It||Price|
|1||Vitus 20||Killer value, top-shelf components||$247|
|2||Guardian Bike Ethos 20||SureStop braking system||$309/$359|
|3||Batch Kids Bicycle 20||Available at your local bike shop||$210|
|4||Raleigh Rowdy||Affordable, lightweight for price||$250|
|5||Co-Op Cycles REV 20||Under $200, can use REI dividend||$199|
Looking for some major bang for your buck? The Vitus 20 is the bike you want.
It comes with child-appropriate geometry and a full list of top-shelf components–Kenda tires, Tektro brakes, Shimano drivetrain–at several hundred dollars less than the bikes on our Top 5 list.
The one drawback is the weight–at 20 pounds it’s heftier than our Top 5 bikes–but for the price, this bike can’t be beat.
Guardian Bikes Ethos 20
Like the more expensive Guardian AIROS (listed later in this article), the Guardian Ethos comes with the proprietary SureStop braking system. This unique brake setup helps prevent over-the-bars accidents.
We also like that Guardian offers the 20″ Ethos in both a small and large frame size, and provide the RideSizer tool to help make sure you get the perfect sized bike for your child.
Read Our Review: Guardian 20
Price: $309 (small), $359 (large)
Batch Kids Bicycle 20 Inch
The 20″ Batch Kids Bicycle is the ideal ride for parents who are looking for an affordable option and one that’s available at their local bike shop.
We like the bike for it’s simplicity (single speed only) and durability. Unlike many bikes in this price range, it won’t fall apart anytime soon.
The only thing that’s a real drawback for us is the coaster brake and lack of a hand brake.
Read Our Review: Batch Kids Bicycle
Raleigh Rowdy 20
The Raleigh Rowdy (or the girl’s version, the Raleigh Lily) is a great bike for parent’s on a budget. No, it doesn’t have some of the features of more expensive bikes on this list, but it’s lightweight compared to other bikes in this price range, and kids will enjoy their time on the bike. It’s also more durable than most “budget” bikes and won’t end up in the landfill any time soon.
The dual hand brakes are easy-to-pull and provide good stopping power. The standover height is lower than many 20 inch bikes so it’s a good choice for smaller kids as well.
Co-Op Cycles 20
The Co-Op Cycles REV 20 is the only sub-$200 bike on our list. In fact, you might get it even cheaper if you have a REI divident to use.
It’s not fancy, but it’s relatively lightweight and durably made. Simplicity is the name of the game here. The bike is a singlespeed (it only has one gear), and the components are primarily in-house.
It has a coaster brake, which we don’t love, but at this price, you can’t be too choosy. It does have Tektro handbrakes as well, so your kids can at least begin to learn to use them.
Honorable Mentions: Other 20 Inch Bicycles To Consider
Ok, so these bicycles didn’t make it onto our top-five list but they are still worthy-contenders.
|Bike||Why We Love It|
|Early Rider Belter 20″ Urban 3||Belt drive, brushed aluminum frame||$599|
|Islabikes Beinn 20||Cult classic, look for one used||N/A|
|Priority Start 20||Belt drive, internally-geared hub||$369|
|Guardian AIROS 20||SureStop braking technology||$409 / $459|
|Norco Roller 20||Low standover, can find locally||$349|
|Cannondale Quick 20||Durable, can find locally||$400|
Early Rider Belter 20″ Urban 3
This is a seriously snazzy bike. The Early Rider Belter 20″ Urban 3 has a brushed-aluminum frame, belt drive, sealed bearings, and an internally-geared 3-speed hub. All this makes it an ideal bike for sitting in the rain at school, being thrown on the ground, and otherwise being abused as only a 7-year-old can manage.
Islabikes Beinn 20
Note: As of fall 2018, Islabikes is no longer selling their bikes in the U.S. market. We’re leaving it on this list in case you are lucky enough to find one used.
The Islabikes Beinn 20 is another top contender thanks to their lightweight build, quality components, and durability. The Beinn checks all the boxes for an all-terrain cruiser. It’s capable not only of keeping up with the neighbor kids, it will probably leave them in the dust. A SRAM drivetrain, Tektro v-brakes and lightweight frame paired with in-house rims and tires provide a stunning build.
Read Review: Islabikes Beinn 20
Priority Start 20
Are you looking for a bike for your child to bike to school or commute around town? If so, you probably can’t find a better-suited bike than the Priority Start 20.
Like the Early Rider Belter 20, the Priority Start 20 has a low-maintenance belt-drive (rather than a chain) and an internally geared 3-speed hub. Unlike the Early Rider, however, it’s actually totally affordable.
The bike is perfect for withstanding bad weather as it sits on the school bike rack, and it will look good doing it. The bike’s paint job is beautiful, and the bike even comes with a small bottle of touch-up paint.
Guardian AIROS 20″
The Guardian Kids Bikes stand out thanks to their proprietary SureStop brake system. Kids needs pull only one brake lever to activate both brakes, and the force is distributed in such a way that it prevents over-the-bar incidents and other brake-related accidents.
If your child is brand new to hand brakes, has struggled with hand brakes in the past, or if you just like having a little extra safety, we highly recommend the Guardian AIROS 20. We also like that the bike comes in multiple versions including both a small and large size to help fit a wider range of kids, and a geared and singlespeed version.
Read Review: Guardian AIROS 20
Price: $409 (small), $459 (large)
Norco Roller 20
The Norco Roller 20 is a big step up from previous Norco youth offerings. It offers Tektro v-brakes (front and rear) and easy-to-reach levers.
One thing that sets the Norco apart from other 20 inch offerings is the sloped top-tube that provides plenty of standover room. This makes it great for kids as young as 5 years old to roll on bigger wheels.
It only comes in a singlespeed option so is best for kids who still need simplicity.
Cannondale Quick 20
It is hard to find a kids bike that is not either very heavy or very expensive. The Cannondale Quick 20 weighs a respectable 19 pounds and comes in about $100 less than the most expensive bikes on this list.
It comes with brand-name components–Kenda tires, and a Shimano drivetrain–although the Revo grip shifters are a bit challenging for small hands.
Comparison Chart: 20 Inch Kids Bikes
|Bike||Weight (lbs)||Frame Material/Design||Drivetrain/Shifters||Brake System||Rims||Tires|
|Co-Op Cycles REV 20||20.2||Alu Alloy||Singlespeed||Coaster / rear v-brake (Tektro)||In House||Kenda Kontact, 20" x 1.75"|
|Vitus 20||20.9||Alu Alloy||Shimano, 7-speed, trigger shifter||V-brakes (Tektro)||In House||Kenda Small Block Eight Pro 20 ×1.5|
|Raleigh Rowdy||20.4||Alu Alloy||Shimano, 6-speed, grip shifter||V-brakes||In House||20 x 2.125"|
|Norco Roller 20||NA||Alu Alloy||Single Speed||V-brakes (Tektro)||In House||Norco 20” x 2.1”|
|Priority Start 20||19.5||Alu Alloy||Gates Belt Drive, Shimano Next 3-speed hub||V-brakes||In House||Kenda 20 x 1.9|
|Guardian AIROS 20 1-speed||19.5||Alu Alloy||Single Speed||V-brakes (SureStop)||In House||Kenda Kontact, 20" x 1.75"|
|Cannondale Quick 20||20.2||Alu Alloy||Shimano, 7-speed, grip shifter||V-brakes (Promax)||In House||Kenda Small Block 8, 20 x 1.5|
|Pello Reddi 20||17||Alu Alloy||Singlespeed||V-brakes (Tektro)||Alex||Kenda K-Rad 20x1.95|
|Guardian AIROS 20 6-Speed||21.2||Alu Alloy||Shimano, 6-speed, grip shifter||V-brakes (SureStop)||In House||Kenda Kontact|
|Woom 4||17.9||Alu Alloy||SRAM, 8-speed, grip shifter||V-brakes (In-House)||Supa Dupa Hoops (In-House)||Schwalbe Little Joe 20 x 1.4|
|Cleary Owl 20||21.0||Steel||Sturmey Archer Internal 3-speed Hub, trigger shifter||V-brakes (Tektro)||Alex||Kenda 20 x 1.9|
|Prevelo Alpha 3||18.9||Alu Alloy||Shimano, 8-speed trigger shifter||V-brakes (Tektro)||In House||Kenda Small Block Eight Pro 20 ×1.5|
|Pello Rover 20||18.5||Alu Alloy||SRAM, 7-speed, grip shifter||V-brakes (Tektro)||Alex||Kenda K-Rad 20x1.95|
|Frog 55||19.4||Alu Alloy||Shimano, 8-speed, trigger shifter||V-brakes (Tektro)||In House||Kenda K1153 20"x1.75|
|Early Rider Belter Urban 20||16.3||Alu Alloy||Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub, grip shifter||V-brakes (Tektro)||In House||Maxxis DTH 20 x 1.5|
|Guardian Ethos 20||20.7 (small)||Steel||Singlespeed||V-brakes (SureStop)||In House|
|Batch Kids Bicycle 20||19.2||Alu Alloy||Singlespeed||Coaster||In House|
More Reading To Help You Make The Best Choice
- 7 Best Kids Bike Brands
- 7 Tips To Help You Choose The Best Kids Bike For Your Child
- Kids Bike Size Guide
The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.
Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.
If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!