Best Bikes for 4- to 6-Year-Olds of 2021

Updated
Watch your child master riding with the best 16 and 18 inch kids bikes.

When children get their first “big-kid” bike, they take yet another step toward independence. Since they’ll soon begin to ride alone, we want them to be safe, and the best way to do that is by finding the right bike for them.

The best bikes for 4- to 6-year-olds are usually the 16- to 18-inch sizes. However, a few other things need to be considered, such as brakes, weight, and your child’s inseam.

There’s a good option out there for every little biker, and we’ll help you choose one for yours today.

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Features
Product Image of the Guardian Bike Company Ethos Safer Patented SureStop Brake System 16' Kids Bike,...
Best Braking System
Guardian Bikes Ethos
  • Surestop braking system
  • Adjustable seat
  • Fun decals
Product Image of the JOYSTAR 16' Kids Cruiser Bike with Training Wheels for Ages 2-6 Years Old Girls...
Best with Training Wheels
Joystar 16-Inch Bike
  • Training wheels included
  • Elegant bike
  • Impact resistant
Product Image of the JOYSTAR 18 Inch Kids Bike for 5 6 7 8 9 Years Old Girls Boys Gifts Bikes Unisex...
Best 18-inch Kids’ Bike
Joystar 18-Inch Bike
  • Easy adjustments
  • Kickstand and saddle holder
  • Durable frame
Product Image of the COEWSKE Kid's Bike Steel Frame Children Bicycle 14-16 Inch with Training Wheel
Best 16-inch for Girls
Coewske 16-Inch Bike
  • Well-thought out design
  • Dual brakes
  • Wide air-filled wheels
Product Image of the NiceC BMX Kids Bike with Dual Disc Brake for Boy and Girl 12-14-16-18 inch...
Best 18-inch BMX
Nice C BMX Kids’ Bike
  • Outstanding durability
  • Extra-thick tires
  • Adjustable seat and handlebar
Product Image of the Huffy Panama Jack Beach Cruiser Bike , Pool Blue, 20 inch
Best 20-inch for Girls
Huffy Panama Jack Beach Cruiser
  • Perfect fit frame
  • Lightweight frame
  • Comfy seat
Product Image of the Huffy 12' Marvel Spider-Man Boys Bike by Huffy, Handlebar Plaque, Red
Best 12-inch for Boys
Huffy Marvel Spider-Man Bike
  • Super fun
  • Durable construction
  • Comfy saddle
Product Image of the RoyalBaby Kids Bike Boys Girls Freestyle BMX Bicycle With Kickstand Gifts for...
Most Durable Tires
RoyalBaby Freestyle Bike
  • All-around bike
  • Durable tires
  • Comfy grips and saddle

Bike Sizes Made Easy

When talking about kids’ bike sizes, it’s important to know it’s the diameter of the wheel which determines the size. Yes, it’s confusing, especially once manufacturers begin labeling them with things like “fit for 4-year-olds.”

When you’re looking for a bike, you’ll stumble across terms like “16-inch” or “18-inch.” This is how big the wheels are and also what’s considered the size of the bike. However, due to differing frame sizes, two bikes with the same size wheels can vary in height by as much as 5 inches.

Because of this, you must measure your child’s height as well as inseam. If the bike allows for seat adjustments, always focus on the lowest setting, leaving room for growth.

How to Choose a Bike for 4 to 6-Year-Olds

Find the Right Size

For this age range, the best sizes are generally 16- and 18-inch. If your child is tall, or already 6 years old, then a better choice will be a 20-inch bike. This size will allow more room for growth.

Once you’ve decided on a size, get their height and inseam measurements. Then consider how accustomed your child is to biking. If it’s their first bicycle, choose one where the seat will be at or below their inseam measurement.

If you get this right, your child will be able to place their feet firmly on the ground at any time to stop or balance. The stability this gives them will boost their confidence and make the experience less intimidating.

If your child has already mastered the pedals, look for a seat height that’s 1 to 2 inches higher than their inseam. Your child will then be able to extend their legs fully while pedaling, getting the best performance from their ride.

Ample Standover Height

Before we move entirely away from the sizes, another point worth considering is the standover height. The standover height indicates the gap between the rider’s crotch and the top tube. For any biker to be comfortable, there must be some room — otherwise, painful injuries are bound to happen.

Not all manufacturers state the standover height, but you can usually estimate by looking at the frame. On kids’ bikes, the top tube is often slanted slightly downward toward the saddle to accommodate various heights.

Ideally, when the rider is standing, there should be a minimum of 1-inch between the tube and the crotch (1). If your child shows an interest in mountain biking or BMX riding, look for a lower top tube. This allows for leaning while turning.

Frame Design

Moving away from sizes, a point worth considering is the design of the frame and how it places your child on the bike. This is a major factor when it comes to the overall performance of the bike.

Some bicycles place the rider in an upright stance, which is natural and comfortable. These are ideal for children who are still learning or enjoy a cruise around the neighborhood.

At the other end of the spectrum are bicycles that place your child in an “aggressive” position. On these bikes, the gap between the handlebars and seat is longer, forcing the rider to lean forward when grabbing the handles. This position requires a bit more experience and is good for kids who love to go fast.

Bike’s Weight

A kids’ bike should never be too heavy, especially if your child is small. Ideally, you should aim for a weight that’s 30 percent less than your child’s body weight.

Light bikes are best for many reasons. They’re a lot easier to pedal, helping the rider build ample speed for balance, and they’re less tiring. Should the bike fall on your child during an accident, a lighter one won’t hurt as much.

Heavy bicycles can also be more challenging to manage, especially if it’s your child’s first bike.

Having said all that, every kid is different, and some children do fine with a heavy bike.

Frame Material

A significant influence on the weight of the bike is the material used, but, more importantly, it also determines the durability. Manufacturers generally use either aluminum, steel, or magnesium.

Of these three, the heaviest is steel, but it’s also quite durable. You’ll see many BMX-style bikes made of steel — they’re capable of taking tumbles and tackling jumps. Road or mountain bikes are mostly constructed from aluminum, which is significantly lighter.

If you want an ultra-light bike, magnesium is the material to look for. Unfortunately, it’s not a common material used for 16- and 18-inch bikes.

Brakes

For 4- to 6-year-olds, learning to use the brakes is crucial. They’re beginning to go faster and perhaps may even venture out on the road.

Usually, 16- and 18-inch bikes include a coaster brake (pedal controlled) since it’s a consumer safety requirement (2). Some may also have a handbrake.

At this age, it’s a good idea to look for a bike that features both. This will prepare your child for the bigger sizes where handbrakes are a norm.

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The Best Bikes for 4 to 6-Year-Olds of 2021

Here are the best 16 to 18-inch bikes on the market.

1. Guardian Bikes Ethos 16-Inch Bike

Best Braking System

Guardian Bikes makes stopping fun and easy for children who are still mastering two wheels. Its Ethos bike features the SureStop system, which is a patented braking system that helps the rider stop quickly and correctly, preventing accidents.

The Ethos is specifically designed for kids, using optimal geometry for small legs and arms. The 16-inch is best for children aged 4 to 6 — its seat is fully adjustable, allowing for plenty of growth.

What’s more, your child will have full control of the bike. It’s relatively lightweight, making it easy to maneuver, stop, and steer. It’s not compatible with training wheels, but it does include a kickstand.

Why We Love It

SureStop Braking System

For kids who are still learning, having a sound braking system is imperative. Guardian Bikes’ SureStop technology is one of the best on the market. It receives stellar reviews on expert blogs and among parents.

SureStop works by pulling a single lever sitting on the handle, like a regular bike. However, instead of only controlling one wheel, it activates the rear brake first, before slowly engaging the front. This method prevents head-over-handlebar accidents, helping your child feel and stay safe.

Adjustable Seat

Having an adjustable seat is ideal for this age range — kids grow like crazy. The Ethos allows for alterations — you can place the seat between 18.5 to 23.5 inches. It can comfortably support riders from 40 inches up to 46 inches tall.

Fun Decals

With a plain base color, Guardian Bikes include fun water-transfer decals. They add an eye-catching pop of color, making the bike look extra special. You can choose to follow the instructions, or go with your imagination and create something unique.

Child-Friendly Geometry

Besides the innovative braking system, a lot of parents praise the geometry of the bike. It places the rider closer to the ground, promoting a lower center of gravity. This, in turn, helps the rider balance better, which is excellent for children who are learning.

Keep In Mind

Quite Heavy

The Ethos isn’t the lightest bike on the market. It weighs approximately 20 pounds, which might be too heavy for some kids.

Additional Specs

Color Black and blue; pink and aqua
Recommended age 4 to 6 years
Seat height 18.5 to 23.5 inches
Bike weight 20 pounds

2. Joystar 16-Inch Cruiser Bike With Training Wheels

Best 16-Inch Kids’ Bike with Training Wheels

This bike from Joystar, with included training wheels and a sturdy frame, works well for newbie riders. It has received outstanding reviews from parents of 5-year-olds, suggesting it’s ideal for this age range.

Based on a high-tensile steel frame, this cruiser-inspired bike is useful on various surfaces. The front fork provides some suspension as it’s impact resistant. It also features two large, air-filled tires with a white-wall design, adding some retro-vibes to the look.

For the rider, Joystar has fitted coaster brakes for smooth stopping. The off-road tires provide excellent grip, aiding the brakes on flat or dirt surfaces.

Why We Love It

Training Wheels Included

Does your 4-year-old still require some assistance while riding? Joystar includes a set of sturdy training wheels to support your little one. They’re easy to attach, and once they’re not needed, you can remove them.

Elegant Bike

This bike gives us strong beach-time vibes, which is what Joystar intended. It’s a cruiser-inspired bike with an elegant frame, suitable for both girls and boys. It comes in a cruiser-beige color, but is also available in black or blue.

The large and wide black tires with a white-wall design are sleek and add a fun, edgy element to the bike. It even has a sassy bell, so your little one can make their presence known on the road.

Impact Resistant

Although it’s not an off-road bike, it offers a smooth ride even on bumpy sidewalks. The fork provides some impact resistance, while the large tires add cushioning.

Works in Any Weather

Joystar decided to go with a coaster brake. It prevents accidents where the rider is bucked off by a locking front wheel. Instead, they can come to a soft stop while still being in full control.

The coaster brake is aided by the tires, which feature off-road rubber wrapping. This added material improves grip and stability, even on a wet surface.

Keep In Mind

Assembly Issues

Although assembling the bike is relatively easy, a few parents said they had issues with the seat. It wouldn’t go smoothly into the post and required some sanding to adjust.

Additional Specs

Color Beige, green, pink, black, blue, or orange
Recommended age 4 to 7 years
Recommended height 41 to 53 inches
Wheel size 16 inches
Bike weight 20 pounds

3. Joystar 18-Inch Kids’ Bike

Best 18-Inch Kids’ Bike

This 18-inch bike from Joystar is ideal for children aged 5 to 9. The seat allows for height adjustments, and with a premium frame, it’s worth a mention on this list.

It offers some excellent features for the child who’s still learning. What’s more, decals are included that your child can use to decorate the frame. They can help make the bike more fun.

Why We Love It

Easy Adjustments

Adjusting the seat height couldn’t be easier. It features a quick-release system, which simplifies the process to a mere clamp. All you do is release the clamp, lift the seat as needed, and tighten it again.

The bike is suitable for children ranging between 43 and 59 inches tall, or with an inseam of 20 to 24 inches. It’s a bike your little one will be able to use for a while.

Fun Decals

To make the bike even more child-friendly, Joystar includes fun decals for the frame and chainguard. Your child can spell out what they want, whether it’s their name or a fun phrase they like. It makes the bike more personal.

Kickstand and Saddle Holder

Unfortunately, the 18-inch bike doesn’t come with training wheels. Instead, it features a saddle holder for mom or dad to assist with the balance until the rider gets going. It does come with a cool kickstand for parking that your child should adore.

The bicycle has a hand and a coaster brake. It’s a way to get your little one accustomed to the different types, and both are easy to use.

Durable Frame

To ensure the bike will grow with your child, Joystar made it of premium steel. It’s high-quality and heavy-duty, capable of withstanding accidents or bumps during the learning period. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Keep In Mind

Assembly Confusing

A few reviewers noted their disappointment with the assembly. Some directions are unclear, and unless you have assembly experience, it’s best to ask for help at a local bike shop.

Additional Specs

Color Blue, ivory, orange, or red
Recommended age 5 to 9 years
Recommended height 43 to 59 inches
Wheel size 18 inches
Bike weight 22.8 pounds

4. Coewske 16-Inch Kids’ Bike

Best 16-Inch Bike for Girls

Sporting an attractive design, this kids’ bike from Coewske is worth a look. Suitable for children aged 4 to 8, it offers good features for a growing kid.

The Coewske bike offers two brakes to ensure a smooth stop. While riding, the driver can place their feet on the low frame, which was also intended as a footrest.

It comes with a fully enclosed chain guard, and the handles feature flanged grips. Parents will appreciate it’s easy to assemble.

Why We Love It

Well-Thought Out Design

The low frame gives the bike a nostalgic appearance — it’s quite feminine, excellent for little girls. A low frame also earns a point in terms of standover height. It’s easy for the rider to get on and off, without having a bulky tube between their legs.

The bike is available in six colors. We adore the blue, but there’s also a bright yellow or girly pink.

Dual Brakes

Your little one will be in full control of the speed and stopping. Coewske included two brakes, managing both the front and rear wheel. It’s an excellent way to teach your child how to use both brakes efficiently and to prevent accidents.

Wide Air-Filled Wheels

It’s suited with air-filled tires, providing incredible grip on various surfaces and a smooth ride. The tires are broad, measuring approximately 2.125 inches wide, and they’re deep treaded to enhance grip on all surfaces.

Under the surface are also additional layers, making the tires extra thick for sustained wear and tear.

Easy Assembly

The bike arrives 95 percent assembled, so there’s not much left for you to do. The only things to attach are the pedals, seat, and handlebar. All the tools needed are in the box, ready for use.

Keep In Mind

Hard to Adjust the Chain

Some parents complained the chain is tight upon arrival and requires adjustments. The large chain guard makes it difficult to do so as it needs to be removed to gain access.

Additional Specs

Color Blue, pink, purple, white, and yellow
Recommended age 4 to 8 years old
Recommended height 40 to 54 inches
Wheel size 16 inches
Bike weight 27.6 pounds

5. Nice C BMX Kids’ Bike

Best 18-Inch BMX Kids’ Bike

For BMX-loving kids, we present the 18-inch offering from Nice C. It’s a high-quality bicycle, designed to withstand the rugged nature of a BMX track. The outstanding reviews of the bike suggest it lives up to Nice C’s promises — parents praise the sturdiness.

It’s designed for optimal durability while providing stellar suspension and longevity. A BMX bike requires some of the best brakes, so this one includes a dual system.

Why We Love It

Outstanding Durability

The frame is made with a high-quality magnesium alloy, ensuring this bicycle is incredibly durable. It’s for heavy-duty work, great if your youngster is competing or aspiring to go that route. The material also makes it lightweight, weighing roughly 19.4 pounds — one of the lightest on our list today.

Additionally, the zero-welding frame ensures no parts break loose during a crash, which helps keep your little one safe.

Extra-Thick Tires

This bike is armed with thick tires, ready for the track. The added thickness provides some slight suspension and shock absorption as your child tackles the jumps and bumps. It even comes with matching training wheels, offering the same durability.

Fantastic Brakes

With a dual-braking system, Nice C offers a bit more than other manufacturers. The traditional V-pull brake that connects with a disc for the rear wheel provides outstanding efficiency while braking. Your youngster can enjoy precise speed control without worrying about accidents.

Adjustable Seat and Handlebar

Adjustability is a must-have to accommodate a growing child, and this bike offers it. Both the seat and handlebars allow for alterations, helping your little one grow up with the same bike.

Keep In Mind

Confusing Instructions

The instructions included for the assembly are pretty confusing. Some reviewers said it was easier just looking at the pictures.

Additional Specs

Color Champagne, pink, and yellow
Recommended age 4 to 8 years
Recommended height 41 to 55 inches
Wheel size 18 inches
Bike weight 19.4 pounds

6. Huffy Panama Jack Beach Cruiser Bike

Best 20-inch Kids’ Bike for Girls

For bigger girls in this age range who love to cruise around the neighborhood or to the local beach, we recommend this bike from Huffy.

The Panama Jack is a 20-inch bicycle, ideal for children aged 5 to 9. It features Huffy’s Perfect Fit Frame, making it comfortable to ride.

The bicycle is lightweight and easy to maneuver for kids. The pedals are smooth to turn, and accelerating is a breeze.

Why We Love It

Perfect Fit Frame

Huffy’s exclusive Perfect Fit Frame works to deliver the right posture for a comfy ride. The design places the seat further back, promoting a low center of gravity. Then the swept-back-style handlebars allow for an upright riding position while leaving ample room for full leg extensions.

It’s an optimal cruise bike, allowing the rider to go long distances without feeling the hurt — you can quickly adjust the seat as your girl grows. It’s suitable for heights between 44 to 56 inches. Also included are large fenders, a roomy basket, and comfy, cork-style grips.

Lightweight Frame

Aluminum is a popular material to use for bikes. It’s lightweight and highly durable, enabling fast acceleration. The lightness of the frame also allows for better control and stopping.

Comfy Seat

Cruiser bikes always have the most comfortable seats, and this one is no exception. It includes a wide seat with additional padding, keeping the bottom comfy for the full ride.

The grips are also comfortable, made of soft material in a cork-style. They’re great to hold onto.

Beachy Style

The style of this bike provides a punch of summer. It’s beachy with its blue, green, and white colors incorporated within decals of wood and flowers.

Keep In Mind

Holes in the Tubes

It seems to be a common occurrence that the bike arrived with damaged tubes which deflate quickly and require a replacement. When it’s reported, Huffy appears to rectify the issue promptly.

Additional Specs

Color Pool Blue
Recommended age 5 to 9 years
Recommended height 44 to 56 inches
Wheel size 20 inches
Bike weight 33.2 pounds

7. Huffy 12-Inch Marvel Spider-Man Bike

Best 12-Inch Bike for Boys

As a mom to a little Spiderman fan, this bike from Huffy had to make it onto the wishlist. The whole bike is decked out in the web-slinging character theme, featuring all the associated colors. This bike should be a big hit for spiderman fans.

It has more than just its appearance going for it, though. It’s built to last — including dual brakes as well as durable tires.

Why We Love It

Super Fun

Every inch of the bike has a fun element to it. The large plate on the handlebar, inspired by the chest of the famous red suit, will let everyone know Spidey is on his way.

The spider-infused chain guard, while there to protect little ankles, looks cool while it does its job.

Durable Construction

The bike is based on a durable steel frame that will withstand the tumbles and bumps of a kid who’s learning. Huffy even includes a limited lifetime warranty as assurance.

Comfy Saddle

As well as sporting a red and black Spider-Man theme, the seat is comfy too. It features additional padding, enabling your little one to ride for hours. It also sits them over a frame with a good standover height.

Keep In Mind

Slanted Training Wheels

The bike comes with training wheels, which you can attach and remove as needed. However, a few parents noted no matter how many alterations they made, the training wheels were slanted, decreasing the stability.

Heavy

The bike isn’t the lightest, weighing in at 28.6 pounds, so it’s not ideal for petite kids.

Additional Specs

Color Spider-Man themed
Recommended age 4 to 6 years
Recommended height 37 to 42 inches
Wheel size 12 inches
Bike weight 24.4 pounds

8. RoyalBaby Freestyle Kids’ Bike

Most Durable Tires’ Bike

If your child enjoys doing the occasional off-roading, a good, all-around bike like this one from RoyalBaby is best. It’s a steel bike with a thin frame and welded steel fork, providing ample shock absorption. The bike is capable of going over various terrains.

On the frame sits an extended chain guard. The pedals will keep the rider’s feet securely in place with their non-slip resin.

Royalbaby also included dual brakes consisting of a caliper brake and rear coaster, which are optimized to suit children. The handles are comfy, suited with soft rubber. On the back of the bike, there’s room for a water bottle.

Why We Love It

All-Around Bike

All-around bikes are great for the active family who enjoys their occasional weekend bike trip. It allows your child to use the bicycle for everyday things like riding to school or around the neighborhood with friends. Then they can also tackle the rugged surfaces on your weekend trip.

The chain guard protects the chain and drivetrain, keeping stones and dirt at bay.

Durable Tires

The bike is suited with large, 2.4-inch wide knobby tires. Featuring RoyalBaby’s custom tread, they provide ample stability for the rider.

The tires sit on steel rims for added durability.

Comfy Grips and Saddle

RoyalBaby included soft rubber grips for the handles, making them comfy to hold. They ensure your child gets a firm grasp, which is essential if they’re going off-road. The seat features extra padding to protect small behinds.

Keep In Mind

Water Bottle Is Difficult to Access

Behind the seat, you can attach the included water bottle holder for the water bottle. A few parents pointed out it’s difficult to reach when the seat is in the lowest setting.

Some said they bent the holder a bit, but we don’t recommend doing this as it could break.

Stickers Peeling

The bike includes a few stickers. It seems they tend to peel off after a short time.

Additional Specs

Color Blue, fuschia, green, orange, pink, red, or white
Recommended age N/A
Recommended height 43 to 59 inches
Wheel size 18 inches
Bike weight 29.8 pounds

4 To 6 Year Old Bike Comparison Chart

Product Best Color Recommended age Recommended height Seat height Bike weight
Guardian Bikes Ethos Braking System Black & blue; pink & aqua 4 – 6 yrs N/A 18.5 – 23.5″ 20 lbs
Joystar 16-Inch Bike Training Wheels 6 colors 4 – 7 yrs 41 – 53″ 16″ 20 lbs
Joystar 18-Inch Bike 18″ Kids’ Bike 4 colors 5 – 9 yrs 43 – 59″ 18″ 22.8 lbs
Coewske 16-Inch Bike 16″ Bike For Girls 5 colors 4 – 8 yrs 40 – 54″ 16″ 27.6 lbs
Nice C BMX Kids’ Bike 18″ BMX for Kids 3 colors 4 – 8 yrs 41 – 55″ 18″ 19.4 lbs
Huffy Panama Jack Beach Cruiser 20″ Bike For Girls Pool Blue 5 – 9 yrs 44 – 56″ 20″ 33.2 lbs
Huffy Marvel Spider-Man Bike 12″ Bike For Boys Spider-Man themed 4 – 6 yrs 37 – 42″ 12″ 24.4 lbs
RoyalBaby Freestyle Bike Durable Tires 7 colors N/A 43 – 59″ 18″ 29.8 lbs

In the End

The best bikes for 4- to 6-year-olds are sizes 16- and 18-inch — for tall kids, a 20-inch will also do. Besides the wheel size, it’s important to verify the seat height is suitable. The best way to do this is to measure your child’s height and inseam, then use the result as a guideline.

Ensure the bike has an adequate standover height, a frame promoting the right position, and is made from a lightweight material. Make sure to invest in a good helmet, too, to keep your child safe on the roads or trails.

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Edited by

Shannon Serpette

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and editor, who regularly contributes to various newspapers, magazines, and websites. Shannon has been featured on Insider, Fatherly, SheKnows, and other high profile publications. As a mother of two, she loves to write about parenting issues and is dedicated to educating other parents at every stage of their child's development.
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