Picking out the right bike for your kid can be a challenging task. With so many different styles, safety options, and sizes available, you might not know where to even begin. Don’t worry – we’re here to make things easier on you. Which bikes do we recommend for kids?
We recommend the Guardian Kids Bike Ethos as one of the best kids’ bikes available today. The Ethos comes in multiple sizes and features a lower center of gravity to keep your kids riding closer to the ground. It also comes with the SureStop brake system to give them more stopping power and increased safety.
In this article, we’ll share more details about the Ethos as well as another Guardian pick. We’ll also look at some other suitable bikes you might consider for your son or daughter.
- Guardian Kids Bike Ethos
- Guardian Kids Bike Original
- Mongoose Exlipse Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike
- Mongoose R3577 Girl’s Maxim Full-Suspension Bike
- Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike
Seven Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Kid’s Bike
Choosing the right bike for your kids isn’t always easy. You know what you would do for yourself when buying a bike. For instance, you’d think about whether you can comfortably reach the handlebars from the seat. You’d also make sure you have enough room for your legs to pedal without hitting the handlebars. Of course, when picking out a bike, you’d want it to be something that looks nice, too.
Shopping for a children’s bike isn’t all that different, with the exception that it may be their first bike. If they haven’t ridden before, they’re preparing for an entirely new experience. You need to know how to manage their anxiety, boost their confidence, and ease your own concerns. Let’s check out seven important factors to consider when buying a kid’s bike.
- The Age and Balancing Skills of Your Child
It’s easy to use your child’s height as your main measuring stick when choosing a bike. However, height can be somewhat misleading when it comes to the right size for their bike. Just because they can get on and off the bike with ease doesn’t mean they’ll have an easy time riding it.
Most kids develop their balancing skills at roughly the same pace. For this reason, factoring in their age and balancing ability is ther more accurate way to go. These are a much better indicator of your kid’s confidence and ability than simply looking at how tall they are.
- The Physical Fit of the Bike
The physical fit of your child’s bike is extremely important. How do you know when a bike is the right size for your kid? Look at the following factors:
- Your child can straddle the bike’s top bar with a comfortable amount of clearance when they have their feet flat on the ground.
- They can sit on the bike seat and rest the balls of their feet on the ground at the same time.
- Have them reach for the handlebars while sitting on the seat. They should be able to do so with a slight bend in their arms.
Most bikes allow you to adjust the seat post and the handlebar stem as your kid grows. When you first get the bike, set the seat to the lowest level they’re comfortable with and the handlebars back. This will reduce their reach and allow them additional room to grow.
Consider the bike’s weight as part of the fit. Ask yourself if you’d be comfortable riding a bike more than half your weight. If your answer is no, imagine posing the same question to your kids. It’s difficult to get a heavy bike moving from a standing position, maneuver around corners, and get up and down curbs.
- Your Kid’s Confidence When Riding
When kids are confident in their riding ability, they have more control over their bike. This gives them the chance to learn with a greater ease and have fun while doing so.
Too many times parents fall into the trap of buying a larger bike their kids will “grow into”. While this makes financial sense for the parents, it places their children at a disadvantage. The increased height and weight of the bike can be intimidating.
Kids who are the same age don’t always have the same physical ability. Some kids might be able to handle the pedaling, steering, and braking of a bike with ease. Others will have to master each of these skills one at a time. Subjectively judge your kid’s ability in each of these areas to help find the bike that’s right for them.
- The Bike’s Longevity
It’s important to consider how long your child will ride their bike before they outgrow it. They should love their bike, but you should be comfortable with its ability to last over time. Once there starts to be a significant lack of space between the seat and handlebars for their legs, it’s time to move them up a size.
Another thing to consider when it comes to longevity is hand-me-down or resale value. Many parents with multiple kids buy bikes with the intention of them being handed off to younger siblings at some point. Others will spend more money to get their kids a better bike knowing they can resell it in time and get a small return on their investment.
- Where to Buy the Bike
We live in a time where it’s very easy to do all sorts of advance research online. You can read every piece of information on every website you can find, but nothing will beat the specific advice the experts at your local bike shop can provide you and your kids.
Buying from a website or department store can often mean the bike arrives partially assembled. A local bike shop will assemble your kid’s bike ahead of time. They can ensure the bike is safe and set up with your child specifically in mind.
Buying locally also means you have someone you can go to for bike maintenance and safety checks periodically. They can fix minor damage, readjust the gears, and replace punctured tire tubes. Build a good relationship with your local bike experts and they’ll always take care of you.
- Color and Design
There isn’t much that needs to be said about the color of your kid’s bike. They can be very picky when it comes to their favorite color. While you want them to be happy, make sure you don’t allow color to be the deciding factor in your purchase. Your kid could end up on a bike which isn’t right for them.
Have you ever wondered if there’s a real difference between bikes designed for boys vs those made for girls? The short answer is no – there really isn’t. The design aesthetics of kids’ bikes have more to do with social norms than anything else. There’s an unspoken expectation from the buying public to have a design for boys and a design for girls.
Bikes for girls do sometimes feature a lower step-over bar, but this doesn’t have any impact on the functionality or strength. The lower step can actually be an advantage to most young riders by making it easier to mount and dismount.
- Optional Accessories and Add-Ons
You also have to consider accessories when looking at bikes for your kids. For example, many kids’ bikes with attached training wheels don’t come with a kickstand. The training wheel attachments can get in the way of the kickstand, making it difficult to drop. You can purchase aftermarket kickstands to install on the bike once your kid is no longer using training wheels.
There are a host of other accessories you and your kids can look into to customize their bike. You can put a wicker basket on the front or a bike rack off the back under the seat. Bells, horns, water bottles with holders, and pegs are just some of the other customization options you can try out.
Five Popular Kids Bikes in Review
1. Guardian Kids Bike Ethos
Our first pick also comes the highest recommended, and that’s the Guardian Kids Bike Ethos. This children’s bike is equipped with Guardian’s SureStop brake system. This keeps your kids from flipping over their handlebars in a bike accident through smart brake distribution. Also, your children can stop more quickly (up to 44 percent) because they can brake both wheels with a single lever.
The Ethos comes in three sizes: 16 inches, 20 inches, and 24 inches. The smallest bike is intended for kids up to 46 inches tall while the biggest bike works for taller kids up to 61 inches. Each Ethos bike includes a lower center of gravity made just for kids. The bike has a lengthier wheelbase and sits closer to the ground for a more stable riding experience.
Guardian ensures all their bikes pass a safety check, where they inspect the bike on 34 points. This puts your mind at ease since you know your kids are riding a safe, durable bicycle.
- The Ethos has bright, cheery decals that children themselves picked; your kids are sure to like them
- Guardian says it only takes about 10 minutes to put the bike together
- Guardian bikes were even showcased on popular TV show Shark Tank
- Some users reported difficulty in changing gears with the standard twist shifter
- Others said the handles can move forward and backward even if they’re tightened up
2. Guardian Kids Bike Original
Our next pick is the Guardian Kids Bike Original, which also comes very highly recommended. That said, it does have a higher price tag than the Ethos. The Original comes equipped with the same SureStop braking system featured on the Ethos. It also comes in the same 16, 20, and 24-inch configurations with one, six, and seven-speed shift options as well.
One thing which sets Guardian Bikes apart from other brands is their approach to balance training. Guardian Bikes are not designed to work with typical training wheels. Instead they use the “balance bike” approach, in which the pedals are left off the bike. Kids push forward with their feet and learn balance in the process. Once they get a handle on keeping themselves upright, parents can install the pedals and let their kids start to really ride.
- Guardian Bikes are lightweight, giving kids more control and better handling
- Guardian says the Original takes about 15 minutes to put together, and comes with all the required tools
- This bike has a preinstalled kickstand instead of it being an optional accessory
- Some users report the seat post is generic, and that the seat isn’t particularly comfortable for girls
- Others said the bike arrived with excess cardboard stuck in some of the preassembled areas
3. Mongoose Exlipse Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike for Girls
The Mongoose Exlipse Dual Suspension Mountain Bike for Girls is a great option if your young daughters are interested in off-road biking. Despite being more of a budget model, the Exlipse features full front and rear suspension even at its low price point. This is a great mountain bike for eight to 11-year-olds who want to get their first taste of light trails or general cruising.
The Exlipse is designed to have a low standover height, making it easy for kids to hop on and off. It has a durable steel frame that’s designed to take the increased wear and tear of mountain biking. It also features a 21-speed gear shift, providing kids with a gear for just about any riding situation.
- The Exlipse features both front and rear linear pull-brakes to give kids good braking in any conditions
- It comes equipped with a Shimano derailleur to give the bike precise and smooth shifting
- The front and rear suspension helps to make off-road riding smoother and easier
- This bike’s steel frame makes it heavier than others
- Some users have advised the derailleur can rub against the chain while riding
4. Mongoose R3577 Girl’s Maxim Full-Suspension Bike
While the Mongoose Exlipse is a good starter mountain bike for young girls, the Mongoose R3577 Girl’s Maxim Full-Suspension Bike is a great bike for older girls with more a little more experience in mountain biking. The R3577 boasts a 24-inch frame featuring both front and rear suspension. Like the Exlipse, the R3577 has a 21-speed gear shift and Shimano derailleur.
The major difference between the Exlipse and the R3577 (besides the size) is in the frame. The R3577 has an aluminum suspension frame that decreases the bike’s weight while increasing performance and comfort. This bike can easily handle on a variety of terrain, from everyday street biking to more intermediate trails.
- Front suspension fork increases control while smoothing out bumps
- Features a three-piece mountain crank for wider gear ranges
- Adjustable seat height for almost any comfort level
- Some have reported the rear gear assembly can fall apart fairly easily
- Others have said the shifter has a tendency to get stuck between gears
5. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike
Schwinn’s High Timber Mountain Bike is designed for kids who want to ride on different kinds of terrain. It’s made with a durable steel frame for support in tough riding areas. To offset the weight of the frame, the High Timber has lightweight alloy wheels. This bike also features a “quick release” seat post which can be adjusted on the go with no tools.
The High Timber comes in several configurations. The frame comes in either 12 or 18-inch sizes, and the bike can be customized with 24, 27.5, or 29-inch wheels. It’s also made in an array of colors for both boys and girls. It should be noted while this bike has a front suspension fork, it does not have any rear suspension.
The Schwinn High Timber is a decent basic bike for general riding, and the adjustable seat makes it easy for kids to find their perfect ride height.
- The High Timber features a Shimano derailleur to give the bike precise and smooth shifting
- Alloy linear pull-brakes for the front and rear give the bike secure stopping ability
- Many users have stated the bike is very easy to assemble
- Some users have reported the gear and chain assembly has tendency to fail
- Others have stated the tire tubes which come with the bike have trouble holding any air
As you can see, the Guardian Kids Bikes Ethos is the best value for the money when it comes to safety and performance. With its multiple sizes, colors, and safety features, the Ethos is an amazing bike your kids will love.
Nicole Malczan is a content marketing writer and freelancer. She’s applied her knowledge of marketing and SEO to many clients over the years, ranging from food service to facilities management and currency exchange. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and music.