If your child loves biking (or perhaps YOU love biking), then you want to make sure you are getting them a bike that they can grow their skills on. With all the bikes on the market, however, it can be confusing to know which bike to buy and how they stack up against each other.
To help you out, we’ve tested dozens of 16 inch (and a few 18 inch kids bikes) to help find the very best ones. We’ve rounded up a list of bikes that are truly THE BEST–lightweight, well-designed, and built to withstand abuse.
We’ve also offered some tips on how to choose the very best bike for your 4, 5, or 6 year old, and a comparison chart so you can see how they all stack up.
Best Under $200
Top 5 16 Inch Kids Bikes
|Bike||What Makes It Special||Price (MSRP)|
|1||Woom 3||Lightweight build, color-coded brakes||$369|
|2||Prevelo Alpha Two||Child appropriate geometry, customer service||$379|
|3||Cleary Hedgehog||Durable steel frame, flip-flop hub||$375|
|4||Frog 48||Bright colors, comes with fenders||$395|
|5||Pello Revo||Brand-name components, wide tires||$359|
Woom Bikes are hands down my favorite bike brand for young kids. The Woom 3 boasts color-coded dual handbrakes with no coaster brake (more on that topic here), a super lightweight build, and child-specific geometry that makes learning to ride easy.
All the components on the Woom 3 are top-notch. They include sealed bearings, Jagwire cable, a quick-release seatpost collar, and stainless steel spokes. The bike will last through multiple children and catch a good resale value, or alternatively, trade it in as part of the Woom Upcycle program.
It is the only bike on this list that is sub-12.5 pounds, which can make a huge difference in a child’s enjoyment and endurance.
Read Review: Woom 3
Price (MSRP): $369
Prevelo Alpha Two
The Prevelo Alpha Two is a bike for bike snobs. This little package looks good, comes with top-notch components, and is super light.
It has everything we look for in a kids bike–child-specific geometry, no coaster brake, and a lightweight build. All of the parts are adult-level-quality and include Tektro brakes, custom-made three-piece cranks, and Kenda Small Block Eight tires.
Like the Woom, Prevelo also offers a trade-up program to take a bit of a bite out of the price.
Read Review: Prevelo Alpha Two
The Cleary Hedgehog is a gorgeous 16 inch bike designed for parents who take looks AND quality seriously. The classic steel frame is durable and will last thru several children.
Cleary offers a freehub option, and the Hedgehog comes with easy-to-pull child-sized Tektro handbrakes.
One thing that makes the Hedgehog unique is the inclusion of a flip-flop hub with the option to install different sized cogs on each side. You have to actually uninstall and flip the wheel to make this gear change so it is still a singlespeed bike, but one that offers slightly more flexibility.
Read Review: Cleary Hedgehog
The Frog 48 comes in a variety of bright, fun colors sure to please any child. We love that the spokes on either side of the valve are colored as well.
But enough about the way the bike looks! The Frog 48, like all the offerings from this UK company, are designed for performance. It is lightweight, has a low center of gravity, and appropriate gearing for most riding conditions.
The bike comes standard with fenders (a plus for folks who live in wet climates) as well as a bell.
Read Review: Frog 48
If your child likes riding off-road, consider the Pello Revo. The Revo has a mountain bike feel with beefy tires and a rock-solid build. The “ride right geometry” makes both learning to ride and mastering technical skills easy.
Virtually all the components are brand-name so you know what you’re buying is high-quality. These parts include a Cane Creek heaset, Kenda tires, Tektro brakes, and Alex rims.
The bike comes standard with a coaster brake, so make sure to add the optional freehub wheel when you order.
Read Review: Pello Romper (same bike just a bit smaller)
There are too many great 16″ kids bikes nowadays to limit a list to just five. While these bikes didn’t make it onto our short-list, they are worth a look as well.
|Bike||What Makes It Special||Price|
|6||Early Rider Belter 16||Belt drive, brushed alloy frame||$439|
|7||Spawn Yoji 16||Mountain bike geometry||$395|
|8||Islabikes Cnoc 16 (look for a used one)||Cult classic, look for one used||N/A|
|9||Guardian Original / Ethos 16||SureStop braking technology||$400 / $280|
|10||Vitus 16||Best bang for your buck||$238|
|11||Priority Start 16||Belt drive, low maintenance||$319|
|12||Co-Op Cycles 16||Best bike under $200||$179|
|13||Commencal Ramones 16||Beefy Vee Crown Gem tires||$338|
|14||ByK E-350||18″ wheels, training wheels||$269|
|15||Ridgeback Dimensions 16||Road-oriented, bright colors||$350|
Early Rider Belter 16
The Early Rider Belter is a grown-up bike for little riders. The Belter boasts a titanium frame, belt drivetrain (instead of a chain), and high-quality components.
The only negative is that this head-turning little bike costs a pretty penny; in fact, it’s the most expensive bike on this list by quite a bit.
Spawn Yoji 16
If you’re the kind of family who likes hitting up the bike park on the weekends, the Spawn Yoji is the right bike for your child. The Yoji is a real mountain bike with a lightweight build, dual handbrakes, and quality components.
Islabikes Cnoc 16
Note: As of fall 2018, Islabikes is no longer selling bikes in the U.S. market. You might be lucky enough to live elsewhere or to find one used.
A “best of” kids bikes would not be complete without an Islabike on the list. Islabikes is well-known for their superb customer service and quality product. The Cnoc 16 is perfect for families who take biking seriously and want a bike for their child that will be able to make it long distances. We also love the lightweight, removable chainguard on this bike.
Guardian Original / Ethos 16
Looking for the safest bike around? Guardian uses proprietary SureStop technology to create a safer braking experience. No longer can kids grab too much brake and fly over the handlebar, as the bike’s braking system controls the force going to the front wheel.
The company offers the Guardian Original 16 as well as a less-expensive Ethos 16 version.
Read Review: Guardian Original 20 (same bike just bigger)
Price: $400 / $280
Bargain hunters sit up and pay attention. Vitus, a UK brand, is offering some of the best kids bikes around at a budget price.
The Vitus 16 has brand-name components–Tektro brakes, Kenda tires–and a respectable weight (15.9 lbs), for a couple of hundred dollars less than many of the bikes on this list.
Priority Start 16
Kids are not particularly well known for taking care of their bikes–they leave them outside at school, they leave them outside on the driveway at home. Lubing a chain? I’ve never seen my kiddo do that voluntarily.
That’s why we like the Priority Start 16. With its belt drive, rather than a chain, the bike has been designed to be low maintenance. It is the perfect bike for commuting around town.
Commencal Ramones 16
If your little one wants to head off-road, check out the Commencal Ramones 16. It has beefy Vee Crown Gem tries that can roll over just about anything.
This is also one of the few bigger adult bike brands making great kids bikes. If you want to buy from a local bike shop, this is one you can probably find locally.
Read Review: Commencal Ramones 14 (same bike, just a bit smaller)
Co-Op Cycles 16
If you have a big fat REI dividend, the Co-Op Cycles 16 is worth a look.
It’s one of our favorite “budget” bikes. It weighs under 17 lbs (great for a bike at this pricepoint), has intelligent geometry and a solid build.
Like the ByK E-350 below, it is also one of the only bikes we’ve chosen that has the option to use training wheels. If you don’t want the training wheels, it’s even lighter.
The ByK E-350 is unique in that it is sized like a 16 inch bike but actually has 18 inch wheels. This can be a plus as larger wheels make it easier to roll over obstacles and to go fast.
The E-350 has dual handbrakes AND a coaster brake. It’s also one of the only bikes on this list that will accept training wheels, so if you have a compelling reason to use them, this could be a top pick.
Price:$269 at ReadySetPedal.com
Ridgeback Dimensions 16
For “road cyclists in training,” the Ridgeback Dimensions is a perfect choice. It is fast, aggressive (but not overly so) geometry, and comes in bright, fun colors.
How to Choose the Very Best 16 Inch Bike for Your Child
So I gave you a list of all the good bikes on the market, but how do you know which one is best for your child? Consider these factors, and then use the comparison chart below to help you choose.
Each child is different. For instance, my son and his cousin who are only a few months apart are nearly six inches apart in height.
Therefore, it is really very important to measure your child before buying a bike. What may fit one child at 4 may not fit another until 5.
For maximum comfort and stability, I recommend that your child’s inseam be at least as long as the minimum seat height. While technically their inseam can be slightly shorter than the minimum seat height (it will fit on their tippy-toes), kids this young who are just learning to ride do best if they can put their feet flat on the ground.
If your child is already a master pedaler, then you can pick a slightly larger bike. In this case, you can choose a bike with a minimum seatpost that is about 2 inches taller than their inseam. Don’t go any bigger than that, or your child will really struggle.
The other thing to consider is the bike’s standover height. If your child is still a bit on the small side for a 16″ inch, look for a bike with a sloped top-tube that allows your child to stand over the frame comfortably.
Finally, check your child’s inseam and height measurements against those recommended by the manufacturer of the bike you are considering. Most of the company’s on this list do a great job of this. Woom, for example, has a tape measure you can get to ensure the right fit. Guardian has gone more high-tech with a virtual fit tool on their website.
After ensuring a bike is the right size, the next most important thing to consider is the weight. Most kids bikes, especially those from the big box stores, weight WAY too much for young kids.
When comparing two bikes, I will always pick the lightest one. It makes a huge difference in a child’s enjoyment level and in how long they can ride.
Look for a bike that is no more than 30% of your child’s body weight (tough isn’t it)? Of all the bikes on my list, the Woom 3 is the lightest, followed closely by the Early Rider Belter.
Unfortunately, just like most things in life, the more you spend on a bike the better quality it is going to be.
The good news is that when you buy a high-quality bike, like any of those on our Top 5 list, it will last thru several children. This makes it a good investment if you have younger kids it can be passed on to or to sell on Craiglist.
Of course, we realize that not everybody wants to spend over $300 on a kids bike. If that’s you, look at the Co-Op Cyles 16 or the Vitus 16. These are both great bikes for the price.
Another option, is to familiarize yourself with the bikes on this list and then search for one used.
I’m a huge proponent of teaching children to use hand brakes and bypassing coaster brakes. I’m at a point now where I won’t even put my son on a bike with a coaster brake, or teach another child to ride using one.
To decide whether a freewheel or coaster brake set-up is best for you, and more about both options, read this detailed article I’ve written.
Training wheels? Just don’t do it! If your child hasn’t mastered a balance bike yet, start there and then transition to a pedal bike later.
Alternatively, you can buy a pedal bike and temporarily remove the pedals. Have your child learn to scoot and glide on the bike before putting the pedals back on.
If you go this route, make sure the bike you choose has a minimum seatpost height no larger than your child’s inseam. They need to be able to put their feet flat on the ground!
If you MUST have training wheels, the Byk E-350 and the Co-Op Cycles 16 are the two bikes on this list that offer them.
This is a highly personal choice—some people have a clear preference for aluminum or steel. I don’t personally.
Aluminum is the lighter material, and we all know how important saving weight is on kids bikes, but steel is super durable (and classic).
Comparison Chart: 16 Inch and 18 Inch Bikes
* All the bikes on this list have
|Bike||Price (MSRP)||Weight||Minimum Seatpost Height||Freewheel Option?||Dual Handbrakes?||Training Wheels?||Frame Material|
|Woom 3||$369||12.26 lbs||19”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Prevelo Alpha Two||$379||14.9 lbs||18″||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Cleary Hedgehog||$375||16 lbs||19”||Yes||Yes||No||Steel|
|Frog 48||$395||14.8 lbs||19″||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Pello Revo||$359||16.2 lbs||20”||No||No||No||Aluminum|
|Early Rider Belter 16||$439||12.5 lbs||19.5”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Spawn Yoji 16||$395||14.5 lbs||18.5”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Islabikes Cnoc 16 (look for a used one)||N/A||14.5 lbs||19”||No||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Guardian Original / Ethos 16||$400 / $280||16 lbs||18.5"||Yes||No||No||Aluminum|
|Vitus 16||$238||15.9 lbs||18"||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Priority Start 16||$319||15.9 lbs||18.5"||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Co-Op Cycles 16||$179||16 lbs||No||Yes||Yes||Aluminum|
|Commencal Ramones 16||$338||16.3 lbs||20.5"||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|ByK E-350||$269||17.6 lbs||18”||No||Yes||Yes||Aluminum|
|Ridgeback Dimensions 16||$350||16 lbs||20.5”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
Get More Help Choosing The Best Bike For Your Child
- 7 Best Kids Bike Brands
- 7 Tips To Help You Choose The Best Bike For Your Child
- 3 Tips To Help You Pick The Right Size Bike
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