Kids’ Bikes Buyer’s Guide

With so many brands, models and varieties out there, choosing a kid’s bike that meets your child’s needs and has the wow factor can be tough. This buyer’s guide is designed to help you make that decision, covering all the key considerations from design and size to price and features.

Why should I buy my child a bike?

Bikes are one of the best gifts that money can buy. Giving kids a whole new level of independence, bikes are a great way to get them away from the TV or games console and out exploring the world. They’ll even stay fit and healthy while they're at it! Cycling is also a great way for families to bond, whether it's on a Sunday afternoon bike ride or a car-free commute to school.

What size kids' bike do I need?

Getting the right size bike is important for both the comfort and safety of your child. Some kids grow faster than others and some just want to be comfortable as they ride, with recommended high saddles or low handlebars the opposite of what they prefer.

The best way to get the right size bike for your child is to get them to ride it. Just pop into your local Halfords store and ask for some help from one of our bike experts – we'll happily set your kid up with a short test ride to make sure they're happy.

If the bike’s going to be a present that you want to keep secret, then you'll need to measure your child’s height and match it up to the correct wheel size (unlike with adult bikes, where the frame dictates the size, the sizing for kids’ bikes is done by wheel diameter).

The easiest way to get the right wheel size if you're buying online is to check out our guide to finding the right size bike for your kids. It has all the information you'll need, plus you can simply match up your child's height to the right bike wheel size. (Just bear in mind that every child is different and so this is only intended as a guide.)

We’ve included our size chart below for your convenience.

Kids' Bike Size Chart & Frame Size

Wheel Size Age (Years) Height (Inch) Height (cm)  
Balance First Bike 2' 11" - 3' 5" 88 - 105 Shop now
12 inch 3 - 5 3' 3" - 3' 8" 98 - 112 Shop now
14 inch 4 - 6 3' 5" - 3' 10" 105 - 117 Shop now
16 inch / 18 inch 5 - 7 3' 8" - 4' 2" 112 - 127 Shop now
20 inch 6 - 9 3' 10" - 4' 6" 117 - 136 Shop now
24 inch 8 - 11 4' 2" - 4' 9" 127 - 145 Shop now
26 inch 9 - 12 4' 6" - 5' 0" 138 - 154 Shop now
For children who are 11+, please consider our range of adult bikes. Below gives an indication of the sizes you should look for (for accurate sizing, please view the size guid on individual bikes)
Shop now
Frame Size Age (Years) Height (Inch) Height (cm)
14" 11 - 14 4' 10" - 5' 6" 148 - 168
14"/17" 12 - 15 5' 0" - 5' 8" 154 - 174
17" 13 - 16 5' 3" - 5' 10" 160 - 178
Check out our Finding the Right Size Bike for your Kids Guide

] Kids’ bike types: which one should I choose?

Balance bike (First bike)

First-time riders may struggle to ride a 'traditional' bike with pedals and gears, so a balance bike may be a better option. With nothing getting in the way, kids can push themselves along using their feet and practice taking their feet off the ground when they're going fast enough, teaching them all about balance and maintaining speed.

Our pick:
Indi Balance Bike – 10” Wheel

We love the Indi Balance Bike – 10” Wheel and we’re sure your little one will too! A strong and durable steel frame coupled with 10” plastic puncture proof wheels make this the perfect bike to help first-time riders find their balance and build their confidence.

Shop balance bikes

12” wheels (Age 3-5)

Bikes with 12” wheels are an alternative first bike for children who are starting to ride. Here your child will experience pedals for the first time and get used to the motion that they’ll need to sustain to keep their bike moving.

Many 12” wheels bikes also come with stabilisers. These are a great way of giving kids the confidence to keep riding without having to worry about falling on their side when they lose momentum! These small wheels are fitted each side of the back wheel and do the hard work while little ones focus on steering and pedalling. The big benefit to stabilisers is that they can be removed once the art of balancing has been mastered.

Our pick:
Apollo Cupcake Kids’ Bike – 12” Wheel

The Apollo Cupcake Kids’ Bike – 12” Wheel is a great option if your child’s in the 3-5 years age bracket. 

As well as a fun design, front and rear calliper brakes, mudguards, and a full chainguard to protect little fingers, the Apollo Cupcake comes with a plastic rear dolly carrier and purple handlebar bag so that you little one can bring their favourite toys along on their adventures!

The removable stabilisers mean that your child can build their confidence at their own pace. There’s also a matching Apollo Cupcake Kids’ Bike Helmet available for purchase from Halfords to really complete the set.

Another great pick in the 12” wheel range is our Apollo Firechief Kids’ Bike – perfect for any budding firefighters out there!

Shop 12" wheel bikes

14” wheels (Age 4-6)

As your child gets a little older and a little taller, it’ll be time for a 14” wheel bike. Similar to the 12” wheel bikes, there are some great eye-catching designs available with equally great accessories. Many 14” wheel bikes also come with stabilisers to help your kids to find their balance.

Our pick:
Apollo Police Patrol Kids’ Bike – 14” Wheel

Fun and affordable, the Apollo Police Patrol Kids’ Bike is ideal for any aspiring crime-fighter! A sturdy steel frame, calliper brakes, removable stabilisers and mudguards combine to give your little one a bike that they can enjoy for years to come. 

Add in a police box containing play cones and a wide range of matching accessories, and your little policeman or policewoman will be set for endless police-themed adventures.

Or if mermaids are more their thing, then be sure to check out the Apollo Mermaid Kids’ Bike – 14” Wheel for a bright and colourful bike they’re sure to love.

Shop 14" wheel bikes

16–18” wheels (Age 5-7)

As your child's confidence grows, they can move to larger 16–18'' wheel bikes. These bikes begin to look and feel more like adult bikes, which is perfect if your kids are itching to get on a big boy or girl's bike, but still need something that’s manageable.

Our pick:
Carrera Cosmos Kids’ Bike – 16” Wheel – Blue

The Carrera Cosmos Kids’ Bike – 16” Wheel – Blue has a lightweight aluminium frame, genuine Kenda tyres and alloy V-brakes. It’s a great choice for kids who are confident enough to ride without stabilisers, but if your child needs a helping hand then it can also use quickfit lightweight stabilisers (sold separately). 

The Carrera Cosmos is available in purple too, so be sure to check it out

Shop 16-18" wheel bikes

20” wheels (Age 6-9)

As kids get older (and potentially more adventurous), you'll start to see the word 'junior' appear. Junior bikes are designed specifically for kids who are a bit too big for typical children's bikes, but not quite ready for adult bikes. Our 20'' wheel bikes are perfect for this group.

Our pick:
Apollo Switch Junior Hybride Bike – 20” Wheel

We were spoilt for choice when it came to our 20” wheel bikes, but we’re going to talk about the Apollo Switch Junior Hybrid Bike – 20” Wheel here. With a cool black frame and edgy blue graphics, this is a truly adult-style bike that any kid will feel great owning. It comes with a single speed that makes it effortless to ride, a strong steel frame, brake levers and V-brakes to ensure firm stopping power.

These are all traits you’ll also find in its cousin, the Apollo Envy Kids’ Hybrid Bike – 20” Wheel, which has an alternative eye-catching colour scheme.

Shop 20" wheel bikes

24” wheels (Age 8-11)

The next size up is the 24” wheel bikes. Again, these bikes are beginning to look and feel much more like adult models, which is ideal if your kids are wanting to move onto something a bit more ‘grown up’.

Our pick:
Carrera Vengeance Junior Mountain Bike – 24” Wheel

The Carrera Vengeance Junior Mountain Bike – 24” Wheel packs a huge amount into its lightweight aluminium frame and is great fit for kids who are moving up to their first proper mountain bike. 21-speed gears allow slick shifting, while powerful disc brakes give superior braking performance. 

Add in 24” lightweight allow wheels and you have the performance of an adult bike with the components of one specifically designed for smaller bodies.

Shop 24" wheel bikes

26” wheels (Age 9-12)

For older kids and young teens, our 26'' wheel bikes are definitely the answer. At this stage, you may want to start looking at a bike they can 'grow into', which may make financial sense, but take care not to start jumping to adult bikes too soon. A bike that’s too big can lead to uncomfortable riding positions and a greater risk of losing control or even falling off. Instead, buy a bike that matches their measurements or have them test ride different sizes to see what they're comfortable with.

Our pick:
Apollo Interzone Junior Mountain Bike – 26” Wheel

The final bike on our list is the Apollo Interzone Junior Mountain Bike – 26” Wheel. Designed for tackling muddy trails and rough ground with ease, your kids will be able to whizz safely up and down routes to their hearts’ content. 18-speed gearing means that they can get some serious speed going, while the front disc brake and rear v-brake provide safety even in wet and muddy conditions.

This, or it’s cousin the Apollo Independence Junior Mountain Bike – 26” Wheel, are the ideal final stop before your thoughts turn to adult bikes!

Shop 26" wheel bikes

Different bike types

As well as coming in different wheel sizes, kids’ bikes also come in different types, some of which we’ve already mentioned:

  • Balance bikes: Great first bikes to help kids find their balance, with no pedals and drive chain (and sometimes no brakes).
  • Stabiliser bikes: Come with detachable stabiliser wheels that allow the bike to grow with your child. Available for 12, 14 and 16” wheel bikes.
  • Hybrid bikes: All-rounder bikes, with powerful V-brakes that provide smooth and reliable braking.
  • Mountain bikes: Made of high quality, lightweight materials, with chunky tires that help to absorb the bumps of off-road riding and rough terrain. Available with 6-21 gears and front suspension for a comfier ride.
  • BMX: Designed with smaller frames, sturdy wheels and low-slung saddles. Ideal for older, adventurous kids who want to spend the day doing tricks at the skate park.

Safe cycling for kids

Cycling is generally a safe activity, but there are a few hazards to be aware of. Investing in a few safety accessories as soon as you decide which bike to buy will mean your kids are protected from day one.

Helmet

Without a doubt, a helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment that you can buy. Helmets can prevent serious head injuries, and they'll go a long way to preventing nasty cuts and bruises too. Make sure your helmet fits your child's head correctly and isn't too large or small – and consider buying an adjustable helmet so it can be adjusted as they grow.

Check out our Kids’ Bike Helmet Buyer’s Guide for more information about how to find and fit the perfect helmet.

Shop kids' helmets

Protective pads and gloves

Knee and elbow pads are particularly helpful when your little one is learning to ride, as they’ll protect against any bumps and scrapes.

Gloves provide cushioning against the handlebars, help to reduce vibrations for a more comfortable ride and also provide added protection for little fingers.

Shop knee and elbow pads

Lights and reflectors

Bike lights are a legal requirement if your child will be riding after dark, but they're also great for making sure everyone on the road or pavement can see exactly where they are. Reflectors are installed on all Halfords bikes as standard, but there's no harm at all in attaching as many as possible to give other road users the best chance of seeing your child.

Shop bike lights and reflectors

Hi vis clothing and accessories

Help your kids to stay safe and seen in all light conditions by investing in some hi vis clothing and accessories. A reflective wrist band or hi vis kid’s vest will provide plenty of reflective surfaces and fluorescent material to make them visible on even the darkest of nights.

Shop hi vis clothing and accessories

Bell

As well as teaching kids how to be polite with a gentle ring of their bell, bells can also be a way to avoid any embarrassing collisions if a learner is stru ggling to keep their bike under control! They could even end up being the thing that allows drivers or other cyclists to stop in time.

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Kids' bike maintenance

weService | weRepair

Kids’ bikes are designed to withstand rough handling and frequent riding, but they may eventually start to show signs of wear and tear.

At Halfords, we offer a free bike health check for all our bikes and Kids’ Bike CycleCare for 1 Year for just £10.00. This annual plan includes unlimited inner tube replacement on all punctures, brake and gear adjustments, fitting on all parts, plus an initial safety check and a more thorough service each year.

Kids’ Bike CycleCare is available on any new Halfords kids’ or junior bike up to and including our 24” wheel bikes. Just ask a Halfords bike expert in-store or book the service online.

Shop cycle services
weFit

If you don't fancy having to spend a day in the shed putting your new bike together (or more importantly, you're worried about not putting it together properly!) then let Halfords build it for you. Just select the ‘bike build’ option at the online checkout or ask a Halfords team member at the till.


Choosing the best kids’ bike

So, how do you know whether you’ve found the best kids’ bike for your little one? Well, start with how the bike feels. If they’re comfortable and moving around on it easily, you’re onto a winner. If, however, they feel that the bike doesn’t fit at all, you might want to look to it swapped out for a better fitting bike.

There’s a huge middle ground between those two extremes that can be covered by simple adjustments to the bike. Check out our guide on finding the right size for more information.

Ultimately, you’ll know you’ve chosen the right bike if your kid falls in love with it. For most kids, a bike is symbol of independence; it’s the first large item they own, and it can give them a sense of freedom and joy. Not to mention that cycling is a fun skill to learn and master!

You should now be up to speed on the best bikes for kids! Just remember, if you're still struggling to pick the right kids’ bike or you have questions about sizing or bike features, then just ask – we've got bike experts in every Halfords store who'll be happy to help.