The Best 12-to-20-Inch Bikes for Kids - Backpacker

The Best 12-to-20-Inch Bikes for Kids

It’s like they say: You never forget how to ride a bike. Learning, however, is a different matter. Kids have different needs than adults when it comes to two-wheelers, and when we’re shopping for kids who are ready for their first training bikes, we want to prioritize things like stability (fewer scraped knees and bruises) and durability (try talking to a kid about the cost of bike repairs). These three picks will survive your child’s training period, and are durable enough to be hand-me-downs afterward.
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Best Overall

Diamondback Bicycles Cobra 20 Youth 20" Wheel Mountain Bike

Reliable Starter

Packed with nifty features, this youth mountain bike will help your new shredder get their tires beneath them.

What We Liked

The best way to buy a bike for kids: Buy one even an adult could be proud of. That’s the story with this Diamondback, which boasts many of the same bells and whistles that adult versions do. First up: A shock-equipped fork with 40 mm of travel makes even big bumps tolerable for little ones. A trigger shifter lets them easily and comfortably change gears while riding—a hard skill for younger bikers to master. Finally, adjustable pull brakes let them safely control their speed. Buy Now.

Runner-Up

Huffy Kids Hardtail Mountain Bike for Boys, Stone Mountain

Rugged Learner

Bumps and drops can’t stop this bike.

What We Liked

Getting comfortable with riding a bike can be a challenge, so we appreciated the slight rise on the handlebars of this model, which let kids adopt a more comfortable, upright riding position versus flat bars. The Shimano TZ-31 derailleur provides six different speeds for uphill and downhill performance, all available through a comfortable twist shifter, so your kid never needs to feel like they’re loosening their grip on the handlebars. Nice touch: the nearly 2-inch-wide tires, which are built for gravel and dirt. Buy Now.

Best for Young Kids

RoyalBaby Kids Bike

First Bike

Get them started right with a stable, no-fear bike.

What We Liked

If you hate following instructions, you’re going to love this: This tiny bike comes 95% assembled, so you don’t need to mess with tools or hardware to put it together. And once it’s together, you’re ready to go, with training wheels for their first rides and even a water-bottle cage behind the seat that works just like mom’s and dad’s. Kid transitioning from a coaster brake to a hand brake? This bike includes both, so even if they panic they can quickly and efficiently stop and don’t risk being bucked or running out of control. Plus: A chain guard keeps skin and clothing from getting caught in the gears. Buy Now.