Filtered by:
Inside The Outdoors
A Guide To Buying A Child’s First Bike

A Guide To Buying A Child’s First Bike

03.11.2022 | Marketplace

We can all remember our first years on a bicycle. Learning to ride a bike and exploring life on two wheels has always been a huge part of growing up, and that’s why having the right companion through each step of the journey is essential.


A broad category, the term ‘Kid’s Bike’ is an umbrella term for various styles of bicycles; designed to suit different age groups, purposes, and naturally, their favourite fictional character preference.

From the moment they’ve outgrown that Ride-On toy & move over to a Training Balance Bike, right the way through to their early teens, kid’s bikes will be part of the family… this guide is here to make each chapter of that journey, as simple as possible.


Balance Bikes

Wheel Size: 10 – 12”

Designed for: Riders from 2 – 3.5 years old.


A balance bike has no drivetrain or pedals to confuse things; little ones can simply sit and push. Balance bikes are a great way of introducing skills like fluid steering and balance that is needed to ride a bicycle, without the pedalling motion and various bells and whistles getting in the way.

Designed to be fuss free, balance bikes are usually very lightweight, with little to no maintenance required thanks to features like EVA puncture-proof tyres. They can be easily carried when kids have had enough, pop it in the boot, store under the stairs… some balance bikes even fold for further convenience.

Prices can vary depending on brand preference and specification (for example the frame material, whether the bike has bearings, or spoked wheels etc), but a balance bike can be a cost-effective way of getting their balance and co-ordination perfected before leaping over to their first bicycle.


12–16-inch Wheel Size Bikes

 It’s time to introduce the pedals! The balance bike has served its purpose and now they’re ready to take that next step…it’s time for their first bike.

The below sizing information is given as a generic guide only, and each bicycle is likely to its own specific sizing guide.*


 Wheel Size: 12”

Designed for: Riders from 2 – 3 years old


Wheel Size: 14”

Designed for: Riders from 2.5 – 4 years old


Wheel Size: 16”

Designed for: Riders from 4 – 6 years old


12” models commonly suit riders from 2ft 10 – 3ft 4, so if the balance bike was on the small side it might be worth hopping straight to a 14” bike. However, for those who might’ve skipped the balance bike phase and want to get learning on a bicycle, 12” is probably a sensible place to start your search.

Most 12” models are equipped with fully enclosed chain guards to prevent any tangle, with most also operating simplistic calliper brakes. Note; a selection of 12” models use a single front calliper brake and operate a coaster brake within the rear wheel that slows the bicycle as you backward pedal.


Character and Theme Bikes

As you’d expect, a large chunk of your options within the 12-16” category will be character or film themed. You’ll find that brands will produce themed bicycles in a series, so if you can find a 12” model, it’s most likely you can find it in a 14 / 16” version also.

These character bikes have features such as a robust steel frame and come equipped with training stabilisers amongst various character themed additions such as a doll carrier, front basket or plaque.



If you’re looking for something slightly less juvenile but still slot in to the 12-16” category, there are plenty of other options out there.

A great range to begin your search with is the XN Tribe Neo Chrome series. While adopting similar fundamental features as the character bikes mentioned above, the Tribe range in finished in a stylish anodised Neo Chrome finish that’s sure to appeal to those who’ve outgrown character merchandise. It’s worth noting; while both the 12” & 14” models include stabiliser training wheels, the 16” does not.

While adopting similar fundamental features as the character bikes mentioned above, the Dallingridge (DRB) Young Rebel series is sure to appeal to those who’ve outgrown character merchandise.



Kids BMX Bikes

BMX Bikes are incredibly popular with young riders, and as a result the market is generously populated.

Although less demand for such sizes, it’s not uncommon to come across models as small as 12” or 14” to cater for the more advanced, BMX crazed riders out there. You will however find the bulk of the market lies with 16” and upwards.

BMX bikes by nature are designed to be small, agile & manoeuvrable. Even adult specific models traditionally have 20” wheels which may seem odd when you consider that childrens bicycles with 20” wheels are generally suited to riders aged 6-9!

It’s this rule of thumb that puts BMX in its own sizing bracket, so if you’re searching for a BMX, ensure you use a BMX specific guide;

The below sizing information is given as a generic guide only, and each bicycle is likely to its own specific sizing guide.*


Wheel Size: 12”

Designed for: Riders from 3 – 4 years old


Wheel Size: 14”

Designed for: Riders from 4 – 6 years old

Wheel Size: 16”

Designed for: Riders from 5 – 7 years old

Wheel Size: 18”

Designed for: Riders from 7 – 11 years old

Wheel Size: 20”

Designed for: Riders 10+ years old


*It’s important that you measure correctly & reference the product manufacturer’s specific guide. As a general rule, you will need a minimum inside leg of 23” to stand over a 20” model.

So, you’re around the age of five and the character themed kid’s bike has served you well, allowing you to gain the experience and skills to want to advance to the next level. A 16” BMX is a robust means of further developing those skills, boosting confidence on two wheels and perhaps even introducing them to the sport itself.

If this sounds fitting, the popular Dallingridge Flyboy 16″ is a great place to start your search. Boasting authentic BMX componentry and a steel frame and fork to withstand the inevitable knock & scrape.

Shop Now


Love the design, but need something slightly bigger? XN produce an 18” model that features an uprated braking system and includes a set of stunt pegs.

Shop Now


As you’d expect, the most densely populated market lies with the 20” models.

The older the rider, the more complex their criteria become and as a result you’ll likely find the most variety within this category. It’s down to rider preference, but also the bike’s intended use…

For example; previously mentioned XN brand produces various 20” models. Some models such as the XN-4-20, and XN-16-20 feature MAG wheels, a 360 Gyro and a 40T sprocket.



20”-24” Kids/Junior Bikes

The below sizing information is given as a generic guide only, and each bicycle is likely to its own specific sizing guide.


Wheel Size: 20”

Designed for: 6 – 9 years old

Wheel Size: 24”

Designed for: 8 – 12 years old


Once you reach 20”+ Kids models, specification becomes more complex with the addition of factors like gearing, suspension and brake variations.

You’ll spot a lot more styles of bicycle, whether that be Mountain Bikes, Hybrid Bikes or charming Heritage style bicycles.

For those seeking something to take on camping trips or rural family bike rides, a Mountain Bike (MTB as it’s often referred to) is probably the option for you. There are some great options out there, with brands like Basis producing dual-suspension models that boast Shimano gearing system and even disc brakes in some cases, although rarer. (Disc brakes are seen as a superior option when it comes to off-road cycling).

Shop Now

For those wanting something slightly more quaint and charming, a Junior Heritage style bicycle might be of interest.

Heritage bicycles feature a low-step frame, typically backswept handlebars and often a front mounted basket. Designed for less strenuous and demanding journeys, this style of bicycle is likely to appeal to those who use the bicycle on flat terrain and want to look stylish doing so.

A great example of a 20” Kids bicycle is the Dallingridge Harriet which boasts a Candy Pink colour scheme, retro styled sprung saddle, white-wall tyres & a wicker style front basket. Although not so common on 20” models, the Harriet features a Shimano gearing system and rear pannier rack.

Shop Now