There are several rites of passage we transition through in life to reach adulthood. No, I’m not speaking of baptism, puberty, sweet sixteens, graduations, or weddings.
I’m talking about the freedom of getting your first car or in this case, your first bike. Such joyous experiences can be difficult to replicate and we truly cherish those memories and keep them close to our hearts.
So, as a guardian, would you want to deny your kids such a phenomenal experience?
Now that you’ve set your mind on purchasing a bike for your kids, let’s talk about some specifics you need to consider.
I can’t stress enough the importance of ensuring the bike is proper for your child. To confirm the bike’s suitability, you need to measure your child’s height and make sure the bike is light enough to be lifted.
Of course, there are other things you need to consider as well and we’ll get to them soon enough.
For now, let’s cut to the chase and look at 10 of the best bikes for your kids 3 to 5 years old. I am certain that one of these 12 and 14-inch bikes will be your child’s favorite possession for a good while.
- At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Kids Bikes for Your 3-5 Year Old
- Top 10 Best Kids Bikes for Your 3-5 Year Old 2020 – Our Reviews:
- 8 Things to Remember When Buying a 12-Inch or 14-Inch Bikes
- Additional Tips for an Educated Purchase
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Kids Bikes for Your 3-5 Year Old
If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the 12-inch and 14-inch bikes that most people buy).
- Woom 2 Top Pick
- Guardian Ethos 14 Runner-up
- Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12 Runner-up
Top 10 Best Kids Bikes for Your 3-5 Year Old 2020 – Our Reviews:
1. Woom 2
If your child has outgrown his balance bike, it is time to get him an actual bike with pedals. I would recommend you to introduce him to the perfect first pedal bike, Woom 2.
This 14-inch bike charms with its unique upright geometry. The frame design mimics the position of a child on a balance bike, shifting the weight over the hips, thus ensuring the transitional phase is a smooth one.
The Woom 2 consists of many premium-quality components crafted to make sure your kids move naturally on the cycle. A lot of effort has also been put into ensuring the brake design is intuitive and easy to use.
I also like the fact that the weight of the bike is only around 11.2 lbs. Your child should be able to lift it and carry it over difficult terrain with relative ease.
All in all, the Woom 2 creates a joyful, fun, and enjoyable cycling experience for your child.
I can barely find any faults in the Woom 2. However, just to play devil’s advocate, I must admit that its hefty price tag can be a bit discouraging.
- Unique upright geometry makes the Woom 2 easy to balance
- One of the lightest and best 14-inch bikes for kids
- Constructed of premium-quality components
- Available for purchase in a wide range of colors
- The incorporation of a right-hand lever makes braking safer on the Woom 2
- Perfectly positioned brake levers
- Not the best cycle for aggressive riders
- Steeply priced
- Comes without training wheels
2. Guardian Ethos 14
The Guardian Ethos 14 is one of the best-selling bikes for kids learning to pedal for the first time, mostly because of its exclusion of a coaster back pedal brake.
While we are talking about brakes, allow me to bring attention to the Guardian Ethos 14’s trademarked SureStop braking system. It is this patent that catapults the Ethos 14 to the very top of kids’ bikes.
On the Ethos 14-inch bike, you will only find a single brake lever on the right side. However, that’s more than enough as it single-handedly activates both the front and rear brakes.
The SureStop braking system not only makes the brakes more responsive but also a lot safer. Since the brake lever has been positioned on the right hand, it teaches young kids to be reliant on their right hands for braking purposes.
The geometry of the bike is also worth gushing over. The frame of the 14-inch bike has been specifically designed to facilitate comfortable, natural riding by positioning the child in a convenient, natural upright stance.
If the safety of your child is your topmost priority, the Guardian Ethos 14 should be your top pick.
- Safe and responsive braking system
- A single brake lever activates both the front and rear brakes
- Excellent bike geometry promotes natural and comfortable riding
- A wide range of exciting color combinations
- No back pedal brakes
- Wonderful first pedal bike
- One of the best 14-inch kids’ bikes for safe riding
- Would’ve helped if it were lighter
3. Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12
Raleigh is a household name in the realm of cycling; therefore, you can be assured of the quality of its products. Also, Raleigh’s offering of the Jazzi/MXR 12 bikes further adds to the glowing reputation of the company.
Before you get your head-scratching because of the confusing name of the bike, let me clear the air right away. The Jazzi bikes have been designed for girls and the MXR bikes for boys.
Despite its low pricing, the Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12-inch bike is truly sturdy and durable. I can say with certainty that the frame of the bike can handle your child’s excitement and more.
I also like the fact that the bike has an upright geometry design that facilitates smooth, comfortable rides. A few rides on this bike and your child will have the confidence to scale the highest mountains.
The Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12-inch bike also comes with removable training wheels, allowing kids 3 to 5 years old to balance well on the bike.
The weight of this bike is around 17 lbs., so this 12-inch bike isn’t exactly the lightest around and smaller kids will have a tough time carrying it.
With everything said, you won’t find a cycle as good as the Raleigh Jazzi/MXR 12 in the “budget bike” category.
- Upright geometry encourages natural and comfortable riding
- Strong and durable build
- Best value for money
- Visually appealing because of colorful graphics
- Removable training wheels
- Ideal frame size
- One of the best kids’ bikes for easy riding
- Coaster brake doesn’t have a handbrake
- Weighing 17 lbs., this cycle is too heavy for small kids
4. Joey 2.5
With the acquisition of the Joey 2.5, you can expect bang for the buck. It has the advantage of having a lightweight build, long wheelbase, and upright geometry.
The manufacturers have done well to shave off weight where not necessary, making the frame of the bike light enough to be carried around by kids 3 to 5 years old.
The long-wheelbase ensures the bike remains stable during rides. Plus, since the bike has an upright geometry, balancing on the bike is as easy as a walk in the park.
I also like the fact that the Joey 2.5 comes equipped with a push bar and a pair of removable training wheels, making it easy for your kid to get started on a pedal bike.
On the downside, the Joey 2.5 only has a seat height adjustment of 2 inches, so your child can outgrow this cycle in a short period.
- Upright geometry makes balancing on the cycle easy
- Long wheelbase increases the stability of the cycle
- The inclusion of a set of training wheels and push bar is a welcome addition
- Benefits from the exclusion of a coaster brake
- Removable training wheels
- Great first pedal bike
- One of the best kids’ bikes for comfortable riding
- Has a seat height adjustment of only 2 inches
5. Prevelo Alpha One
The purchase of the Prevelo Alpha One 14-inch cycle should send you back upwards of 300 bucks. However, one thing is for sure, regardless of the pricing, it’s still a small price to pay for your child’s happiness, health, and well-being.
The Prevelo Alpha One 14-inch cycle does offer excellent value for money though.
It’s constructed of durable materials, features a lightweight aluminum frame, comes with top-notch components such as Tektro v-brakes and Kenda tires, and has child-appropriate geometry. This bike may even tempt you to give it a try.
The Prevelo Alpha One 14-inch cycle suits the style of aggressive riders as the handlebars on it are set much lower than on other kids’ bikes. The low positioning enables the riders to shift their weight around, helping them maneuver the cycle with relative ease.
- Low positioning of handlebars suit aggressive riders
- Dual-hand brakes are responsive and easy-to-operate
- Constructed of sturdy materials and features premium-quality components
- Light enough to be carried around by 4-year-olds
- One of the best bikes for regular riding
- Coaster brake included
6. Pello Romper 14
Let me tell you why the Pello Romper 14-inch bike would make a good choice for your kids.
First of all, it is arguably one of the most versatile kids’ bikes around. The bike can operate smoothly on all kinds of surfaces including dirt, grass, gravel, and pavement.
Boasting a lightweight aluminum frame, this bike is extremely easy to carry around. The Pello Romper 14’s Tektro brakes, Kendra tires, and Cane Creek headsets work well to elevate the performance of the bike.
Did I mention that the bike has handbrakes both on the front and rear as well?
I’d also like to shed light on the low placement of handlebars on the Pello Romper 14 that enables the riders to move their weight around with minimum effort. This allows young riders to steer the bike easily.
What makes the Pello Romper 14-inch bike truly worth the investment is its incorporation of high-quality components—features we’d only find on an adult bike.
- Excellent Kenda air tires facilitate smooth riding in all types of terrain
- Low placement of handlebars enables a more hands-on control
- High gearing system allows the riders to go faster
- Thankfully, the coaster brake is removable
- One of the best bikes for regular riding
- Some kids may have trouble moving the large mountain bike-style tires around
7. Cleary Gecko
You’ll be able to notice the small frame of the Cleary Gecko at first glance. Since it’s smaller than the other bikes on the list, it’s an excellent choice for young “balance-bike” graduates making the transition to a pedal bike.
Despite being small, the Cleary Gecko has a rather aggressive geometry.
Plus, coupled with its large Kenda tires, the bike can be a great choice for adrenaline-seeking, young athletic riders. The Cleary Gecko clearly punches above its weight.
This is not to say that the cycle isn’t safe. With its easy-to-use Tektro brake levers, young riders can pull the brakes on their bike with relative ease.
If you don’t want your young one to get into the hot seat of an aggressive bike, you can easily opt to choose the safer, high-rise handlebar instead of the flat handlebars. You also get to choose if you want to include or exclude a coaster brake on the bike.
Before we move on, let me briefly mention another feature of the Cleary Gecko that is worth talking about. With the Cleary Gecko, you can flip the rear tire and change the gearing settings too.
- One of the best bikes for little 3 to 5-year-olds
- The handbrakes are easy to operate and reach
- The rear tire can be flipped to facilitate two different gearing options
- Aggressive geometry for more adventurous riders
- Sturdy wheels and ideal frame size
- The flat handlebars don’t encourage growth
8. Spawn Yoji 14
The Spawn Yoji 14 bike might not be the most budget-friendly kid bike on the market, but you shouldn’t let its exorbitant pricing discourage you from purchasing it for your kids.
If your kid has the potential to be a shredder in the future, the Spawn Yoji 14 bike will be most suitable for his growing skillset. This mountain bike is built to last and has been fine-tuned all the way around.
Although it is quite lightweight with a total weight of around 13 pounds, the Spawn Yoji 14 excels in all different types of terrains, and as your child gets used to the bike, he or she will level up as a cyclist.
The handlebars on this bike are positioned neither too high nor too low. It’s right in the sweet spot, proving to be both convenient enough to train young cyclists and aggressive enough to handle rough terrain.
The semi-upright bike geometry enables the riders to power through longer rides in a comfortable riding position.
When you purchase the Spawn Yoji 14 bike, you can expect top-notch genuine off-road 14-inch tires and reliable Tektro brakes. If you want your kids to be ready for mountain bikes, get the Spawn Yoji 14.
- Semi-upright bike geometry helps guide young ones to the path of adventure cycling
- Durable, genuine off-road 14-inch tires ensure a fine biking experience
- Sturdy and ideal frame size
- Available in a wide range of colors
- No coaster brake to hinder progress
- One of the best 14-inch bikes for little thrill seekers
- You’d need to buy an additional seat post
- There are other bikes that are easier to assemble
9. Specialized Riprock
One thing that I love about the Specialized Riprock is the fact that it is always accessible. Unlike other kids’ bikes that always seem to be out of stock, the Specialized Riprock can be found easily in your nearby, local store.
This bike comes with a fitting of 12-inch tires and a set of high-quality training wheels.
I also like the fact that the pedals on the Specialized Riprock have been placed further up in a forward position, encouraging riders to pedal forward instead of backward. This substantially lowers the chances of accidents that can occur because of backward pedaling.
The Specialized Riprock is priced relatively cheaper than other kids’ bikes on the list and it shows.
Although it is durable beyond belief, it suffers because of its tacky design and lack of hand brakes. The fact that it is pretty heavy also doesn’t help its cause.
However, if you don’t intend to spend a fortune on a kids’ bike, the Specialized Riprock will suit your budget just fine.
- The pedals have been positioned forward to encourage riders to pedal forward
- Easily accessible
- The training wheels are of the highest quality
- The wide tires help make balancing a piece of cake
- Best for kids who need confidence
- Lack of hand brake is telling
- Inclusion of a coaster brake makes the cycle less attractive
- Has a seat height adjustment of less than 2 inches
10. Strider 14x
What makes the Strider 14x worth the investment is its ability to be converted from a balance bike to a pedal bike. So, you can purchase this bike even if your child hasn’t mastered the skill of riding on a balance bike yet.
You don’t have to worry about the difficulties you may face while transforming the bike. You are even provided a special accessory kit to help you set up the pedal bike.
Besides, if everything else fails, you can always look up the solutions online. As of now, there are a couple of instructional online videos that teach you how to convert the Strider 14x.
Some of the notable features of the bike include a removable footrest, rear and front brakes, padded seat, adjustable handlebars, and 44 cm rubber tires with all-terrain tread.
Since the pedals are half-width sized to accommodate your young one’s feet, pedaling on this bike will be as easy as pie for your child.
- Can be converted from a balance bike to a pedal bike
- Upright geometry encourages natural riding
- Ergonomic seat for comfortable riding
- Comes without training wheels
- Best for kids who prefer all-terrain bikes
- The handbrake doesn’t work in pedal mode
- The crank arms in pedal mode aren’t long enough for taller kids
8 Things to Remember When Buying a 12-Inch or 14-Inch Bikes
1. Identify the right size
It’s ill-advised for you to pick a bigger-size cycle for your child to grow into. The general rule of thumb implies that it is best for you to get a bike with a seat height that matches the size of your child’s inseam.
It’s also fine if the seat height is a few inches longer. As long as your child can touch the ground with both feet, even if it means that they are on their toes, you’re good to go.
2. Consider the weight of the bike
It’s also important to consider the weight of the bike. Higher-end bikes are always lighter than cheaper bikes.
Lightweight kids’ bikes are easy to store and carry around. This is crucial because the bike must be light enough for your child to lift and carry over rough terrain.
Also, consider that heavier bikes are more difficult for kids to ride uphill. To be on the safe side, the bike shouldn’t exceed 30% of your kid’s body size and weight.
Simply put, it is much more fun to ride a bike that weighs less.
3. The bigger the wheels, the easier the ride
If I were to choose between 12-inch and 14-inch bikes, I would always prefer a 14-inch bike for my 3-5-year-old, i.e. if my child hasn’t experienced some sort of stunted growth.
Why am I leaning towards a 14-inch bike you ask? Well, bikes with bigger wheels roll over tough terrain, bumps, and obstacles much easier.
However, if your kid has yet to master the balance bike and isn’t comfortable enough to ride a larger bike, don’t force the large size 14-inch wheels on him yet.
4. You must pay for quality
In the capitalist world we live in, we have to pay good money for quality. Therefore, if you want a light, comfortable, durable, and easy-to-ride bike for your child, you must be willing to splash the cash.
Having a durable bike definitely helps as you can pass the cycle onto your other kids as well.
On the other hand, if you opt for a budget-friendly friendly bike, you can expect it to fall apart pretty easily. Cheaper kids’ bikes are also considerably heavier. To top it off, such bikes have little to no resale value.
Meanwhile, you’ll be able to recover most of your investments if you were to sell a high-quality, premium cycle.
5. Bypass coaster brakes
As I’ve mentioned several times already, it is far more beneficial for you to get your child accustomed to hand brakes than coaster brakes. Coaster brakes, despite being easier to use, delay the development of pedaling skills.
Additionally, when your child backpedals on a coaster brake fitted-bike, the bike will come to a sudden halt and may lead to an accident.
Coaster brakes are also much heavier than hand brakes and aren’t compatible with derailleur gearing systems. The frequent use of coaster brakes can wear off the tires and cause skidding too—another dangerous factor.
In conclusion, bikes with coaster brakes are simply not worth the trouble.
6. Consider bypassing the training wheels too
Balance bikes are much more efficient than training wheels at teaching kids how to cycle. In fact, there are scientific reports that prove that balance bikes expedite the bike learning process.
So, ditch the training wheels in favor of a balance bike. If your child hasn’t learned how to ride a balance bike properly yet, don’t rush him or her to ride a pedal bike.
The process of mastering a balance bike can take a long time. However, the transition from a balance bike to a pedal bike isn’t time-consuming.
7. Choose the frame of the bike
In most cases, you’d have to choose between two options: steel or aluminum frame. Bikes with an aluminum frame weigh much lighter than steel bikes. However, steel bikes tend to be more robust and durable. So, choosing the frame of the cycle is a matter of individual choice.
8. Choose the tire size
While bikes with slimmer tires work well on smooth trails, they lack performance in off-road terrain. Thicker tires are the way to go if your child prefers riding over rough trails.
If you want a tire that is versatile enough to perform everywhere, consider wider tires.
Additional Tips for an Educated Purchase
Tip 1: With kids’ bikes, just like all other products on the market, you get what you pay for. Costly premium models are much lighter, easier to ride and have better overall construction.
Additionally, they have great resale value too. So, if your kids outgrow the cycle, you can always sell it and get finely compensated.
Tip 2: Choosing between a bike with training wheels and a balance bike should not be confusing at all. Balance bikes have been scientifically proven to expedite the cycling learning process.
So, opt for a bike without training wheels and go for a balance bike instead. That’s the best way to go about things.
Tip 3: If you’re on a tight budget, it may be better for you to purchase a second-hand high-quality bike rather than a new low-quality bike.
Tip 4: If you want to find a bike best suited for your kid, you should measure your child’s inseam to the seat height of the bike. If they match, consider you’ve found the right match for your child.
The goal here is to ensure that your child can place both his feet on the ground comfortably while riding on the bike. This will give your child the confidence to ride well.
Lastly, if your child is already experienced enough, consider purchasing a bike with a higher seat height—2 inches more than your child’s inseam should do. This gives your child extra room to peddle better and encourages him or her to use the hand brake to stop.
By now, you should have a good idea of where I stand with cheaper, heavier, budget-friendly, and unsafe bikes for kids. Well, I don’t rock with them and neither should you.
Don´t hesitate to spend the extra bucks for the safety, convenience, and pleasure of your child. Wouldn’t you want your kids to ride a bike that is the envy of many?
Also, when your child has outgrown the bike, you can always sell it to a second-hand store. Mind you, high-quality kids’ bikes have fantastic resale value.
I’ve provided a list of 10 of the best kids’ bikes for your 3 to 5-year-olds. These kids’ bikes either come with 12-inch or 14-inch tires.
To select a suitable cycle for your kid, match his inseam to the seat height of the bike. Or, simply ensure that your child can place both his feet on the ground while on the bike.
If I were to direct you towards a particular cycle from the options available, I would recommend the Spawn Yoji 14 bike. Best believe that despite its high pricing, it offers excellent value for money and is the perfect choice for kids passionate about bikes.