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Kids Pedal Bike Comparison

You are ready to purchase your child's first pedal bike. How do you know which bike is right for your child? How do you know if it will be the right size? 

Here are a couple of factors to consider:
  • Bike Fit
  • Bike Weight
  • Type of Brakes
  • Bike Geometry

Bike Fit

Getting the right size bike is critical in ensuring an easy, successful transition to pedaling. When your child is first learning to pedal, it's important that they can at least reach their tippy toes on the ground while their bum is on the seat. It's too difficult for a first time pedaler to try to start pedaling, keep their balance and maneuver their body onto the seat all at the same time.  The measurement to look at here is Minimum Seat Height. Compare the minimum seat height to your child's inseam.  We recommend ensuring the bike's minimum seat height be no more than 2" greater than your child's inseam. We allow the extra 2" to account for shoes and tippy toes.

How to measure your child's inseam: Have them stand against a wall flat footed with no shoes on. Put a book in between their legs up as high as it'll go comfortably. Measure the height of the top of the book.  That is your child inseam. Now add 2". That is the maximum height seat they can sit on while learning to pedal.  

If you are a more savvy bike owner, often, a seat post can often be cut down to lower the seat another inch or two.  

Once your child is a seasoned pedaler, then looking at the standover height (the height of the top tube of the frame) is more important than the seat height.

Bike Weight

Purchase the absolute lightest bike you can afford. Try to keep the bike less than 1/3 of your child's weight. The lighter the bike, the easier it will be for your child to maneuver, and the more your child will enjoy riding it!  


There are 2 types of brakes on kids bikes - hand brakes and coaster (or foot) brakes.  When a bike has only hand brakes, it means the rear wheel is a Freewheel (meaning you can pedal backwards with no brake).

We recommend the freewheel.  When children are learning to pedal, they often pedal backwards by mistake. When they do this with a coaster brake, they slam on the brakes, which can surprise and scare them. With the freewheel, there are no negative consequences to the reverse pedaling and it seems like a faster, easier learning curve to master pedaling. That being said, particularly with a freewheel, we recommend only riding on flat ground until the child has mastered using their hand brakes.

Why do we sell bikes with coaster brakes? US laws requires many of the smaller children's bikes to come standard with the Coaster brakes, so when the child pedals backwards, it engages a brake. Most higher quality kids bikes are now offered with hand brakes, making the coaster brake unnecessary. Some companies are offering a "Freewheel Option" that you can purchase. Some companies offer a higher seat post than necessary so they can send their bikes with the freewheel. Then you can swap out (or cut) the seat post for a shorter one.


Bike Geometry

All of the bicycles we carry have been engineered specifically for children.  That being said, there are certainly differences in the geometry. A longer, lower wheel base will ensure a more stable ride that is easier to learn on. A more upright sitting position will appeal to a first time pedaler or a more timid rider. A more forward leaning position will appeal to a more aggressive or confident rider.

Testing has shown most first time pedalers prefer a more upright, comfortable sitting position. Many of the bikes available offer riser handle bars now to accommodate this position.

Training Wheels

Many people grew up learning to ride with training wheels.  Times have changed. Now that kids are typically learning to ride balance bikes first, it is usually a very easy transition to pedaling if they are on a well-designed bike.  Training wheels can actually be quite dangerous. If a child takes a turn too quickly, the whole bike can tip over.  If a training wheel hits a pothole or other divet in the street, this can cause a crash. If a child has already been balancing on their balance bike, we believe it's safer to skip the training wheels. 

Here are our favorites first bikes we offer for to ensure pedaling success. They range from 12" - 16" in wheel size.

Bike Wheel Size Bike Weight Recommended Child Age Recommended Child Size Minimum Seat Height Brakes
Frog 40 14” 14.2 3-5 yrs Minimum inseam of 15” 14.5” Hand Brakes Only or Hand Brakes with Coaster Brake.
Frog 44 16" 14.8 lbs 4-6 yrs Min Inseam 19" 19" Hand Brakes Only or Hand Brakes with Coaster Brake.
ByK E-250 14” 14” 15 lbs 3-5 yrs 33”-41” 15.75” Coaster Brake and Hand Brakes.
Mondraker Leader 16 16" 17.6 lbs 4-6 yrs 37- 43" Tall Hand Brakes.
Commencal Ramones 14” 14” 15.6 lbs 3-5 yrs 37”- 43” tall 17.5” Hand Brakes Only.
Cleary 16" Hedgehog 16" 16 lbs 4-6 yrs Inseam 17-22" 18.9" Hand Brakes Only.
ByK E-350 18" Bike 18” 17.5 lbs 4-6 yrs 37”-46” tall 18” Hand Brakes and Coaster Brake.


Have questions as you consider which bicycle is right for your child? Give us a call at (970-718-BIKE) or shoot us an email ( We are always happy to help!