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4 Best First Pedal Bikes of 2024

by xyonent
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One of the most exciting milestones for a child is learning to ride a bike. Bicycling is a lifelong skill, so giving your child a first bike that’s comfortable and easy to ride sets them up for success.

While everyone learns at their own pace, most kids are ready to start pedaling on their own between the ages of 4 and 6. That’s why we’ve focused on bikes with 16-inch wheels. Whether your child is racing around the local pump track or hitting the city sidewalks, a great first “big kid” bike will keep them safe, build their confidence, and bring a lot of fun to the learning process.

We spent over 24 hours evaluating 11 pedal bikes on pavement, grass, and indoor BMX tracks in late 2023 and early 2024, and we’re confident that the Guardian Ethos 16-inch Bike is the perfect first bike for most kids.

If you’re looking for something a little bigger, we also tested a 20-inch bike. Here are some recommendations.

Our Recommendations

This beautifully crafted bike was a big hit among test participants thanks to its comfortable, kid-friendly shape and flashy, colorful design, and parents loved the innovative braking system.

The 18-pound Guardian Ethos 16″ Bike features a lightweight steel frame, size adjustability for the seatpost and handlebar, and an innovative braking system that allows the rider to activate both the front and rear brakes with just one hand on the lever, distributing braking force evenly so the front brake won’t lock up and flip the handlebars over. This feature encourages kids to ride faster and more adventurously, knowing they can easily stop if necessary. Plus, the bike’s kid-friendly geometry puts the rider in a slightly forward, upright position that helps them stay comfortable while providing plenty of power when powering up hills.

  • Bicycle weight: 18 pounds
  • Standover Height: 16.75 inches
  • Brake Type: One-handed brake

runner-up

This solidly built, aluminum-framed bike is suitable for riders of all sizes and skill levels on pavement, dirt, and pump tracks, but it’s a little less maneuverable than our top pick.

The REI Co-op Cycles REV 16 Kids’ Bike weighs 18 pounds, like our top pick, and has geometry that was easy for our testers to use, but it’s not as compact or maneuverable as our other picks. The coaster brakes are easy to use and hassle-free, but we prefer hand brakes for control and better stopping power. This bike comes with easily removable training wheels (though they’ve been the subject of recent complaints from buyers), and the seatpost and handlebars are highly adjustable, so like our top pick, it will continue to fit as your child grows.

  • Bicycle weight: 18 pounds
  • Standover Height: 17.5 inches
  • Brake Type: Coaster brake

Choose your upgrade

This premium bike is super light, super agile and packed with kid-friendly features – except that it doesn’t come with training wheels (by design).

The Woom 3 16″ Pedal Bike is a beautiful bike that kids and parents alike will love. The aluminum frame is shaped perfectly for kids, has a lower standover height than any other bike, and has standard BMX-style handlebars. At 13 pounds, it’s the lightest bike we’ve ever made and is incredibly maneuverable. Testers felt at home cruising around on this bike, picking up speed with ease and feeling confident with the dual hand brakes, which have color-coded levers to teach riders to use both hands to brake and prioritize the rear brake.

  • Bicycle weight: 13 pounds
  • Standover Height: 16.5 inches
  • Brake Type: Two handbrakes

Recommended for those on a budget

Compared to other cheaper bikes, this model is easy to assemble, sturdy and simple, but due to its steel frame it is much heavier than other bikes.

The Joystar Totem Kids Bike is the best bike under $200 we tested. Its coaster brakes make it easy to maintain, and the sturdy steel frame will last through multiple kids. Its geometry was comfortable enough for our younger testers, but also allowed our more experienced 7-year-old to accelerate quickly and hurtle up hills. But at 20.5 pounds (the heaviest of our picks), this model can be difficult for smaller kids to maneuver.

  • Bicycle weight: 20.5 pounds
  • Standover Height: 17.5 inches
  • Brake Type: Coaster brake

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