A family guide to UK kids’ bikes

family guide to kids bikes UK

Looking at kids’ bikes and don’t know where to start?

We’ve put together a helpful guide to bike sizes, along with some top tips that won’t blow the budget.

Cycling is a great way to spend quality time with your kids, but first you need to get them the right bike! There’s such a big selection it can be daunting trying to find the right model.

We’ve put together a helpful guide to bike sizes, along with top tips for getting the best value, so you don’t make expensive mistakes.


General bike buying tips

Kids’ BMX bikes vs  kids’ mountain bikes

12 inch bike for 2-5 year olds

14 inch bike for 3-5 year olds

16 inch bike for 5-7 year olds

20 inch bike for 7-9 year olds

26 inch bike for age 11 +


General bike buying tips

  • Bike weight: Many people choose bikes that are too heavy for their kids when buying models with 20” wheels or more. They’ll get more miles and more fun from a lighter bike. It’s best to opt for 13kg or less for 20” wheel bikes.
  • Bike size: Buying your child a slightly oversized sweatshirt isn’t a big deal as they’ll grow into it, but buying a bike that’s too big for them to ‘grow into’ will be awkward for them and could be dangerous to ride. Remember you can always sell or pass on bikes.
  • Bike helmets: Make sure you get an EN 1078 European Standard approved cycling helmet that’s the correct size. Look for the ‘CE’ logo.
  • When to get their first bike: There’s no perfect age for getting on the saddle. Kids vary in their abilities and desire to get cycling. Some might start as early as three, perhaps beginning with a balance bike, while others may not be ready until they’re eight. Generally speaking, five is a good age to get on your bike.
  • Bike height: Your child should be able to touch their toes on the ground comfortably when they’re sitting and their elbows shouldn’t be straight or stretched to reach the handlebars.
  • Number of gears: One gear is fine for a starter bike, a three-speed gear system for second bikes and 7+ gear systems should suit pre-teens.


Kids’ BMXs vs kids’ mountain bikes

There’s no actual ‘right’ choice, it just depends on what type of bike your child wants.

BMXs are light, solid and good ‘street’ bikes They’re  great for doing tricks and riding short distances on roads and in housing estates, but they’re not suitable for country tracks or cycling long distances.

Mountain bikes are more versatile. You can ride them anywhere – on roads, dirt tracks or country lanes. They’re stronger than BMX bikes but usually heavier.


12” wheel bike

Suitable for 2 to 5 year-olds or kids 85cm to 110cm tall

These bikes will have at least one brake, should have metal wheels with full ball bearings, adjustable spokes and pneumatic tyres.

They usually come in two main styles – BMX or mountain bike.

Tip: Avoid kids’ bikes that have plastic wheels with solid tyres. They’re classed as toys and may well fall apart soon after you get them!


Our best buy kids’ bike UK:

cupcake bike

Apollo Cupcake Girls Bike £59.99

This cute pink beauty is a brilliant kids’ bike for little girls. It comes with stabilisers, weighs 8.9kg and has a bright cupcake design and caliper brakes.

For more 12” bikes at great prices, check out the selection at Toys R Us. Save on kids bikes UK here.




14” wheel bike

Suitable for 3 to 5 year-olds or kids 95cm to 110cm tall

Like 12” wheel bikes, these will have at least one brake, metal wheels and good pneumatic tyres.

Stabilisers usually come as standard, but you can easily remove them if your child has already learned to ride.

Our best buy kids’ bike UK:

dawes-thunder-14-wheel-2013-kids-bike UK

Dawes Thunder 14” wheel red £79.99

The Dawes Thunder 14” wheel kids bike UK comes in bright racing red (with stabilisers) and includes a steel Y-frame, alloy rims, mini mudguards and a water bottle. This model is discontinued on this site but you can buy from Bikes 2 U Direct at £79.99.

For more 14” bikes from top brands kids will love, have a look at this selection from online retailer Tredz. Get great brands on sale here.


16” wheel bike

Suitable for 5 to 7 year-olds or kids 110cm to 120cm

You could get two to three years out of this type of bike. Again choose from a BMX style or mountain bike (standard with traditional frames, standard with Y-frames, or duel suspension).

They normally have one of the following braking systems:

  • V-type brakes (found on the latest mountain bikes)
  • Disc brakes (powerful but most difficult to maintain)
  • Caliper brakes (often found on BMX bikes)


Our best buy kids’ bikes UK:

uk kids' bikes 16 inch raptor bike16″ Raptor boys bike £89.99

The 16” Raptor boys bike is a great-value kids’ bike that’s equipped with black rims and a padded saddle and chain guard. Includes a cool white and green design and is a BMX style. It’s achieved a 5 star customer rating, so you know it’s highly recommended.

Take a look at this reasonably-priced selection of kids bikes UK to help you find the best model for your child.



20” wheel bike

Suitable for 7 to 9 year-olds or kids 120cm to 135cm tall

These bikes can provide about two years of quality cycling before kids grow out of this size.

There are five main types of bike in this wheel size:

  • Mountain bikes with no gears
  • Mountain bikes with 5-18 gears
  • Mountain bikes with gears and dual suspension
  • Mountain bikes with gears and front suspension
  • BMX bikes

If you’re looking for gears, keep your eyes peeled for Shimano branded gears. They’re tipped as being the best value for money.


Our best buy kids’ bikes UK:

Terrain Sierra 20” Rigid Kids’ Mountain Bike £65

20 inch kids bikes ukTerrain Sierra 20” Rigid Kids’ Mountain bike is an affordable bike with a decent sturdy feel. It suits those looking to get active with a 6-speed shift gear system. It comes with front and rear v-type brakes and weighs 11.9kg

Tesco has a great selection of low-cost, well-made bikes for kids in a variety of styles and colours, plus you can use your Clubcard vouchers! Check them out here.



26” wheel bike

Suitable for age 11 + from 145cm upwards

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When your kids reach the 26” wheel size remember these rules:

  • For racer models, when they sit on the bike with one foot on the pedal at the bottom, they should have a slight bend in their knee. If their leg’s straight, the bike’s too big.
  • For mountain bikes, when they stand with their feet on the ground they should have at least 5-10cm between them and the top tube of the frame. Again, when sitting with one foot on the pedal at the bottom, they should have a slight bend in their knee. It shouldn’t be straight.
  • As bikes get taller, they also get longer. Make sure that your child can sit comfortably and reach the handlebars and gears. They should be able to reach the handlebars while still having a slight bend at the elbow. Saddles are adjustable so bikes can be tailored to fit perfectly.
  • Always remember a bike which is too big can be dangerous!

Our best buy for kids’ bikes UK:

26 inch kids bikes UK

Muddyfox Landslide 26”Dual Suspension Bike £99.99

With the Muddyfox Landslide 26” Dual Suspension Bike you get free delivery and it comes in a sleek white steel frame with 18 Shimano gears, plus front v-type and rear v-type brakes. Best for teenagers, it weighs 16.5kg.



We hope you enjoyed this family guide to kids’ bikes UK. What bike bargains have you found? Leave a comment below.