Kids' Bike Buying Guide | Mike's Bikes

As you graduate from childhood to adulthood, your toys go into storage and your interests change. But one thing that never leaves is the joy of riding a bike.

Buying your kid the right bike is truly investing in a lifetime of outdoor activity, self-actualization, and exploration. But with so many brands and designs out there, how do you know which one to choose?

At Mike’s Bikes, making sure your kid is riding the right bike for their size and ability is more than our ethical mission; it’s just good business. We aim to create forever-riders. The following tips will help you select that bike that will do more than put a big grin on your kid’s face. It will continue to be their most prized possession until they outgrow it. (If your hand is creeping toward your wallet and sweat is beading on your temples, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered there too. Read on.)

What Age for what bike?

It’s becoming clearer that, once a kid starts walking, there’s no such thing as “too early” to teach them how to ride a bike.

The obvious place to start for kids between 18 months and 2-½ years old, though, is with a balance bike. This intro bike lets them sit and power themselves forward by pushing off the ground with their feet. Before they know it, they’ll be pushing off once and gliding with both feet off the ground.

If your kid is a bit older and is burning to get their feet on the pedals, it’s time to choose the right pedal bike.

sizing for kids' bikes?

Before we even get to coaster bikes vs. hand brakes and so on, let’s talk size. This one’s absolutely essential to nail, but luckily it’s pretty simple:

What Type of kids' Bike?

When it comes to the actual type of bike you choose for your kid, the most important factor is how to stop. Braking is the most crucial part of biking safety and is the first thing they should learn. Here are your options:

Coaster Bikes

Coaster bikes are simple: pedal forward and you go, pedal backward and you stop. Our selection of PUBLIC kids’ bikes has some great examples of this style of bike. Liv and Giant also offers some great coaster bikes.

Perfect for beginners, these bikes also have plenty of other benefits:

  • They’re easier to learn than hand brakes.

  • They need less maintenance since they have fewer parts, though when the brake gives out, it’s generally time for a new bike.

  • They’re cheaper than hand brake bikes.

  • They are great in dry and wet conditions alike.

Hand Brake Bikes

Hand brakes let kids get to know the most common form of braking: using handlebar levers. Liv and Giant offers some stunning kids’ hand-brake bikes.

Here are some great reasons to buy a hand brake bike for your kid.

  • They allow better control of the bike when braking.

  • They are easily maintained, and parts can be replaced.

  • They allow kids to learn the proper braking technique from the get-go.

  • Hand brake bikes promote a more natural riding position.

  • You’re not relying on the chain staying put to stop your child’s bike — with a brake on each handlebar, there’s a plan B.

Why We Specialize in Kids’ Bikes

There are plenty of reasons Mike’s Bikes is the place to go for your kid’s next bike:

Growth Spurt Guarantee trade-in

Sure, your kid deserves a high-quality bike. But what about the cost of replacing their bike every few years as they continue to outgrow them?

You’re covered with our Growth Spurt Guarantee. We will buy the bike back within two years and give a 50% credit toward the next size up — and that alone covers the price difference. Also, by trading in, you can make sure your kid is riding the correct size bike without needing to break the bank every two years. In many cases, we’ve found that families will even skip a size (go straight from 12” to 20” or 16” to 24”) because their kids grow so fast.

So to summarize: We get it, and we’ve got you.

Highest Quality Kids' Bikes

Kids’ bikes may be tiny, but they’re responsible for keeping our kids safe and engaged. That’s why we only sell the best-built bikes on the market. That means high stability, superior components, and brakes and wheels that won’t fail in critical moments.

After all — would we really buy back our own bikes if they weren’t awesome?

Professional Assembly

All of our bikes get professionally assembled and tested to keep kids safe on the trail or around the neighborhood. We take this responsibility seriously and would never put a kid on a bike that wasn’t up to snuff.

widest kids' bike Selection

The kids’ bike industry is plagued by a “one-size-fits-most” attitude — an attitude we staunchly reject. We offer a wide selection of sizes and designs that capture every kid’s heart with a perfect fit.

Uncompromised Expertise

You may not be a bike person, but you know one when you see one. And everyone at Mike’s is a bike person, to put it lightly. This is not a big box store where one knowledgeable person works part-time — we are all here to answer any questions you have about kids’ bikes.

So get ready to make memories and create a lifetime passion for your child with our selection of kids’ bikes.

Want to teach your little one how to ride a kids' bike? Check out tips from Mike's Bikes cycling experts on how to get your kids comfortable on two wheels HERE!

Looking for accessories and apparel to elevate your child's riding experience? Read up on the best kids' cycling accessories and kids' cycling apparel HERE!

About Mike’s Bikes: Mike’s Bikes is a growing family of local bike shops, all with a singular purpose - to get as many people on bikes as possible. We locally own and operate fourteen wildly successful stores in Northern California. In addition to our brick-and-mortar shops, is one of the top online bicycle retail sites in the country.