Best Kids Bikes: 10 Best Brands and Where to Buy Them
The best kids bikes on the market are often not the bikes and brands you might assume. Over the past 13 years, we’ve tested and reviewed over 300 kids bikes.
During that time we’ve witnessed the evolution of the kids bike market and the explosion of new kid-specific bike brands. These lightweight kids bike brands bypass the local bike shops and sporting goods stores and ship bicycles for kids directly to the consumer.
But what makes our favorite kids bikes so great? And why are they so drastically better than bikes by well-known brands like Huffy, Royal baby, or Kent? Did these brands really “re-invent” the wheel, or are they all just a marketing ploy?
In this article we walk you through the top-performing kids bikes brands as well as dive into the specifics about what makes their kids bikes so great.
The Best Kids Bikes and Brands
There are several kids bike brands that consistently show up in the top kids bikes lists. Built with impressive attention to the fine details, these brands are all micro focused on building bikes to improve a child’s riding experience. In fact, the origin stories of most of these brands begin with frustrated parents looking for a better bike for their own kids.
From timid beginning riders to aggressive daredevils, each brand has done an amazing job at building and creating the “best bike” for a specific type of child rider. Having personally tested all of these bike brands, our experiences have proven that these brands have truly earned their “best bike” rankings.
For additional details on each of these brands, jump down to our Best Kids Bike Brands below.
What about Trek and Specialized kids bikes?
Brands in local bike shops – such as Trek, Specialized and Giant – have made great strides over the last couple years to catch up with the best kid-specific brands. But as a whole, they aren’t quite there yet. Specialized’s new Jett line for neighborhood riders, as well as their 20″ and 24″ Riprock for true MTB riders, however, are both phenomenal bikes that are the exception.
All in all, however, adult-centric brands FOCUS on delivering killer adult bikes for a wide range of cycling styles, but their main FOCUS has never been kids bikes. As a result, their bikes tend to be heavier and don’t offer the same quality and performance for the price as the kid-specific brands.
Don’t get us wrong, we 100% support local bike shops and believe they are essential to communities. In order to be competitive in the kids bike world, however, the big bike shop brands need to step up their game and build lightweight kids bikes with better components.
Price vs. Quality in Kids Bikes
A quick note about quality bikes and price. Quality, well-built, and easy-to-ride bikes do not come cheap. Mass-marketed kids bike brands, such as Huffy, RoyalBaby and Dynacraft (found in big-box stores or online), are built with a cheap price tag as the end goal, NOT with the child’s experience on the bike.
Even adding something like an improved brake caliper for safer braking isn’t considered because it will raise the cost of the bike. With big-box store bikes, price trumps performance.
Our favorite kids bike brands are designed to be the best. From the ground up, every component is carefully selected to maximize the performance of the bike.
For those looking for an amazing bike on a budget, we highly recommend first searching for a quality used bike locally. Unlike big-box store bikes, quality bikes are can be repaired with new components to make them almost as good as new! Their lightweight frames also make for a great starting point for creating your own customized bike.
Best overall bike mount
Storage type: Wall mount (front wheel) | Bike accommodation: Single bike | Scratch protection: Vinyl coating
While floor stands are easier to install (we’ve got plenty of them further down on this list), a majority of our experts — five to be precise — told us that Park Tool’s inexpensive, minimalist seven-millimeter steel hooks are the best way to store a bike. “Sometimes the best choice is the simplest solution,” explains cyclist and outdoors writer Morgan Tilton, who uses the one of these hooks to vertically hang her 29-pound Specialized bike by the front wheel in the corner of her bathroom (because the hooks are coated in vinyl, she doesn’t worry about the rims getting scratched). Using two hooks, she says, you could hang a bike by both wheels from the ceiling. The brand says the hooks can be installed into ceiling joists, wall studs, or any piece of wood that can support the weight of a bicycle. Vincent Cabrera, the service manager at Tuned in Brooklyn, prefers the wall. “It’s the best option, especially if you put the hooks into a two-by-four and then mount that piece of wood onto your wall,” Cabrera says.
Ben Sawyer, a mechanic at Maine’s CycleMania bike shop, agrees that they do the job for storing almost any type of bike. Thomas Dunn, the founder and owner of the Hilltop Bicycles stores in New York and New Jersey, calls them “the cheapest and simplest” way to store a bike.
Best adjustable bike mount
Storage type: Wall mount (front wheel) | Bike accommodation: Single bike | Scratch protection: Rubber coating
For a little more customization, here’s an only slightly more expensive wall-mounted bike-storage solution. The Delta brand came up numerous times in our reporting, with two of our experts recommending this hinged wall rack that allows you to swing your bike inward or outward on the wall once it’s hung. The vertical mount is secure, minimal, and safe, according to Thomas Dunn of Hilltop Bicycles, with NYC Velo’s Andrew Crooks adding that the ability to shift your bike a little makes it a really good option especially for people maneuvering around small apartments. For that reason, he says it’s the bike mount his shop recommends the most. Like the Park Tool hook, this has a rubber coating to protect your bike’s finish.
Best for two or more bikes
Storage type: Wall mount (front or rear wheel) | Bike accommodation: Two or more bikes | Scratch protection: Rubber coating
Rubbermaid’s FastTrack storage system is a solid option for cyclists who want to hang multiple bikes and want the ability to customize their storage. (Rubbermaid makes a 15-piece storage system that comes with four rails and 11 hooks.) Christopher Ick, a cyclist and CRCA athlete based in Brooklyn owns multiple bikes and says that this is the way to store the most bikes in the smallest amount of space, because the system allows you to alternate the way you hang each bike on the hooks by fitting the back wheels of one bike next to the handlebars of another. The FastTrack system requires drilling into wall studs — drywall anchors alone likely won’t hold the weight of multiple bikes. “It’s definitely a more involved installation,” Ick says, “but that stacking combo saves on tons of space.”
This Retro Stationary Bike Is So Adorable, I Want to Park It in My Living Room F-O-R-E-V-E-R
Exercise, IMO, is cool and all, but I’ve always preferred to do it at the gym lest I clutter my place with fitness props.
Even though I’ve been trying my darnedest to curate a chic, mid-century modern vibe in my new Brooklyn apartment, I totally changed my mind about the no-equipment rule when I stumbled upon Schwinn‘s new stationary bike, which is currently looking F-I-N-E center stage in my living room: It’s their Classic Cruiser, which looks like it pedaled right out of the movie Pleasantville to drop a newspaper at my doorstep, amiright?!
Unlike the gray, bulky equipment gathering dust in the basement of my childhood home, or the sleek but sporty spin bikes you see in every gym, this one comes in bright red with white detailing for that retro soda shop effect. While there’s no cupholder for said soda, and no basket like the genuine beach cruiser bicycles you see on boardwalks and in the movie Now and Then, the Schwinn Classic Cruiser features wide handlebars that make upright riding extra comfortable. There are also faux hand brakes, which serve as controllers when paired with the bike’s super fun app.
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Why It’s Extra Fun
The bike syncs to RideSocial, a free virtual-reality app where you can ride down IRL paths for all the views, but I prefer the Classic Cruiser app’s native feature, a video game featuring an avatar—a paper-delivery boy—who pedals around mid-century suburbs complete with flamingo lawn decor.
Clench the bike’s left brake to fling the paper from the avatar’s left hand, or use the right one to hurl it from the little guy’s other arm.
Hit a mailbox, and you score 100 points; nail the doorstep, and you’ll pedal away with 50—a risky target to aim for since any paper-to-window contact will cost you 25 points. Oh, and if you can keep up with the moving circle that shows up every so often—hello, sprint intervals!—you get even more points.
Despite the game’s simplicity, it totally engaged and distracted me when I took the bike for a spin in my living room. Ten minutes, then 11, flew by before I knew it. And I was seriously sweating!
The Best Features
I’d been so into my paper route that I barely noted my speed or mileage, which is displayed in a too-cute-for-school manual speedometer that attaches to the bike’s handlebars. There’s also a timer that brrrriingggs just like the bike bell you wish you had when you were a kid.
And on the right, gears up the ante by increasing the bike’s resistance.
One of the bike’s best characteristics, though, is the seat, which is cushy in all the ways your average saddle is not.
How It Rides
If you’re used to spin class, this bike will feel clunkier and deliver a workout that’s less intense in some ways: Perhaps due to the wide handlebar’s positioning, I found it difficult to find a smooth cadence for standing sprints. That said, the bike has its fitness perks: When I dug out my hand weights for some upper-body conditioning, I found it extra easy to sit upright and pedal through several sets of overhead presses, triceps kickbacks, and biceps curls.
My biggest complaint about the machine is that it feels less sturdy than the bikes at my gym. But to be honest? It’s my own damn fault: While Schwinn offers in-home assembly (129), I let my pride (and excitement!) get the best of me and went all Ikea on the bike‘s many pieces and screws on the day it arrived.
After the seat tilted backward during my husband’s first ride—one time!—he still refuses to use it. Luckily, I haven’t encountered this problem. And I don’t mind having the bike all to myself!
Summary: Feature-rich flat-bar trekking bikeAvailability: WorldwideList Price: £800 / €730 / US760 / CA450,090
The entry-level touring bike from major German bike maker Cube is the affordable and simply-named Cube Touring. The basic model in this extensive range is currently one of the cheapest off-the-peg touring bikes on the market, and is widely distributed across Europe and North America.
If you’re used to the appearance of British or American designed tourers, you’ll notice some big differences, such as the flat handlebars and adjustable stem, the resulting upright riding posture, and the front suspension fork, as well as other details like a kickstand, a hub dynamo, and LED lights as standard. These are all fairly typical features of touring bikes from German and Dutch makers, where utility and comfort takes precedence.
In an effort to cater for a diverse customer base, the Cube Touring range comes in several frame variations and sizes, including the classic diamond frame (5 sizes), women’s specific with a sloping top-tube (3 sizes) and a step-through frame for riders with impaired mobility (3 sizes), all in a choice of two colour schemes.
The ‘semi-integrated’ rear rack, which is held in position by the mudguard/fender, is unorthodox, and the seat stays and front fork don’t have standard mounting points, complicating any modifications to the bike’s luggage-carrying capabilities. Riders looking for an entry-level touring bike that can be upgraded in the future may also decide to pass on the Cube Touring for these reasons.
The rest of the specification is impressive at this price point. The entry-level Shimano V‑brakes and drivetrain components are sensible. As with any bike, you’ll want to fit your own preferred saddle, but the inclusion of ergonomic grips, lights, fenders and a kick-stand makes the Touring more or less ready to hit the road right out of the box.
All that said, perhaps the bike’s strongest selling point is the price. The recent disappearance of several popular entry-level touring bikes has left a gap at this end of the market – one that the Cube Touring happily fills.
- Check out the full Cube Touring range on the Cube website.
- Find your local dealer in Cube’s online directories of stockists in the UK and Europe, the USA, and Canada.
- Don’t buy this bike online. Support your local bike shop (UK list)!
Decathlon Riverside Touring 520
Summary: Good value forward-thinking light tourer Availability: UK EuropeList Price: £800 / €800
There’s no denying the success of Decathlon’s no-frills approach to designing, manufacturing and selling sports and outdoor gear. The Riverside Touring is the entry-level model in Decathlon’s new foray into touring bikes, and for many riders will be a welcome addition to the sparse options at this lower-budget end of the market.
The Riverside Touring 520 is based on an aluminium frame, whose geometry sits somewhere between the old-school rigid mountain bike and today’s trendy gravel/hybrid rides. The frameset sports a big range of mounting points for more or less any luggage configuration you might imagine, including a front lowrider or fork cages, a traditional rear carrier rack should the semi-integrated stock rack not be to your tastes, and no less than five bottle cages.
The riding position of the Riverside Touring leans towards relaxed and upright, with the sloping top-tube helping with mounting and dismounting, and flat bars with so-called ergonomic grips and bar-ends atop a stack of head-tube spacers, all pointing to a bike designed with the casual or newcomer rider in mind. Comfortably wide 1.75″ tyres will be equally content on asphalt and gravel at the 700C (28″) wheel diameter.
Looking at component choice, Decathlon have specified a 1×11 drivetrain (ie: a single front chainring driving an 11-sprocket rear cassette); unusual on a tourer where riders tend to benefit from a wide and fine-grained range of gear ratios. The hydraulic disc brakes are also an unorthodox choice for a touring bike. Both will have traditionalists up in arms, citing increased chain wear rates, a reduced choice of gear ratios, and the near-impossibility of repairing hydraulics on the roadside.
There is a certain amount of validity to such criticisms, but a quick scan of the many customer reviews of this bike suggest that these concerns may be more theoretic. In the regions of the world this bike is likely to be used, spares and repairs for this bike will be abundant. And if you want to take it further afield, you can always fit cable disc brakes and/or a regular drivetrain.
Certainly one of this bike’s great strengths is how widely available it is for test-riding, Decathlon having hundreds of locations across Europe and increasingly further afield. Indeed, I can easily imagine a first-time tourer with a reasonable gear budget walking out of the store with not just the bike but a full set of luggage and maybe some camping gear too.
There are only four frame size options, however. Taken together with the wheel size, this may prevent those with short body lengths from finding a good match with the Riverside Touring 520.
In summary, while Decathlon have leaned pretty far into the crossover between classic touring and the gravel bike trend, there’s little to find fault with at this price – and there’s considerably more scope for upgrades here than other entry-level touring bikes in this list.
- Buy the Riverside Touring 520 in the UK from Decathlon.
- The bike is also available from Decathlon branches across Europe and beyond.
Fuji Touring Disc/Disc LTD
Availability: Sporty steel-framed light road tourerList Price: £1,250 / €1,450 / US450,500
Japanese manufacturer Fuji’s entry-level touring bike is the Fuji Touring Disc (mainly for the US) or Disc LTD (for Europe). It features a Reynolds 520 cromoly frameset with classic British/American-style drop-bar touring geometry and a full set of mounting points for racks/lowriders, fenders, and bottle cages.
Both versions feature the well-regarded TRP Spyre cable disc brakes, 36-spoke 700C wheels on Shimano hubs, and a reasonably solid rear rack as standard.
The plain Disc has a Shimano Deore 3×10-speed chainset from the mid-level ranges of the mountain-bike series of components, and is a little more bare-bones than some of the bikes in this list: you’ll need to fit your own front lowrider, fenders, lights, etc. The Disc LTD has many of these accessories fitted as standard, and has a 3×9‑speed Shimano Sora chainset with slightly higher gear ratios, making it a more road-oriented package.
Both variants represent high ambitions in a good-value package aimed at a rider who wants a classic road-oriented touring bike, with the plain Disc in particular still happy on a bit of gravel and dirt.
The Fuji Touring Disc and Disc LTD come in no fewer than seven frame sizes, allowing precise fitting and fewer compromises for short or tall riders. A final note is that the distribution of the Disc and Disc LTD model variants seems to vary depending on whether you’re looking in Europe or North America, so do check what’s available in your local area.
- Find a list of global dealers on the official Fuji website.
- Don’t buy this bike online. Support your local bike shop (UK list)!
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