Planning to get a 16″ bike for your child?
For a lot of children, a 16″ bike is probably their first-ever bike. So naturally, parents will have a lot of questions such as,
- Is my child tall enough for a 16″?
- How old is a 16″ bike suited for?
- Do they still need training wheels?
- Which ones are the reputable brands and good bikes to get?
Generally, 16″ bikes are suitable for kids aged between 3 to 7 years olds. However, that’s only a starting point and there are many other factors to consider such as :
- Kids height. 16″ bikes are suited for kids with 18″ to 22″ inseam.
- Bike frames are generally made from either steel (cheaper) or aluminum (more expensive).
- Training wheels are still provided in some models.
On this page, I’ll cover these in detail and also some of my recommendations.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite 16″ Kids Bikes
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16" Kids Bikes Buying Guide
There are several things to consider before you jump headfirst into buying a bike for your child.
From my experience, the most important factor to consider is the bike size. You’ll notice that kids’ bikes come in many sizes, ranging from 12″ to 24″.
Let’s take a deeper look into whether a 16″ bike is suitable for your child.
1. Ideal for 4 to 6 Year Olds
Your child’s age is a good starting point.
When it comes to 16″ bikes, it’s generally suited for kids aged between 4 to 6. However, you shouldn’t only rely on age since most kids don’t grow the same in size over the years.
The next step is to determine their inseam measurement.
But what is an inseam?
The inseam is a length measured from the crotch to the floor.
Make sure that both feet are on the ground and that the kid is standing straight and still.
Inseam length for those who are looking to ride 16″ bike should be between 18″ to 22″.
Read More : Parents Guide to the Ideal Kids’ Bike Sizing
2. Bike Frame Made from Steel, or Aluminum
The common material used to manufacture a 16″ bike frame is steel and aluminum.
- Steel is a really durable material, which is an advantage for bikes used by kids. However, steel frames can be quite heavy, especially with the other components installed on the bike.
- The lighter option is an aluminum bike frame, which proves to be as durable, yet a lot lighter. Aluminum bikes such as the Prevelo Alpha Two and Early Rider Belter are more expensive than their steel counterpart.
3. Single Gear Option
In most cases, 16″ kid bikes all come with a single gearing.
Without the ability to change gears, this gives kids plenty of time to focus on the other aspects of learning to ride and worry about gears later on when they move to a larger bike.
Read More : Bicycle Gear Ratio Explained
4. A Mix of Caliper and Coaster Brakes
Unlike 14″ bikes that come with a combination of a coaster and front brakes, 16″ kids bikes are more of a mixed bag.
Bikes with front and rear caliper brakes are usually more expensive.
5. Air Filled Tires with Inner Tubes
Most 16″ bikes come with air-filled tires that consist of inner tubes and the tire itself.
Air-filled tires are more comfortable to ride as you can control the air pressure. Lower air pressure provides a more cushy ride, especially for riding off-road.
If you’re riding on the road, you might want to go for a slightly higher air pressure to decrease the higher rolling resistance.
6. Training Wheels
You’ll notice that some 16″ bikes come with training wheels while others don’t.
This is because 16″ bikes are right on the edge where some kids already know how to ride a bike, but some are just starting out.
If your kid is starting out especially without ridden balance bikes prior, it’s recommended to get one with training wheels so that you don’t need to buy them separately. Make sure that they’re easily removable once your child perfects their balancing skills.
It’s very common to see a kickstand being introduced to 16″ bikes, especially if they don’t come with training wheels.
The kickstand would allow the child to park their bikes upright rather than leave them lying on the ground.
Favorite 16" Bike Picks
Guardian Ethos 16
Guardian sticks with the same game plan with each level of its Ethos series; make the design as easy for a child to ride as possible. Most of that plan involves using parts that fit smaller bodies.
That begins with the geometry, which features smaller grips, less distance between the pedals, shorter crank arms, and a low stepover height. Brakes are also designed for smaller hands. If your child struggles to wrap their fingers around the brake levers, it’s not just inconvenient, it’s dangerous. Guardian solves this problem with its SureStop easy reach brakes.
Much of a child’s ability to handle a bike has to do with weight. With that in mind, Guardian uses a lightweight steel frame that keeps the overall weight down.
- Pros : Easy to reach brake levers is a welcomed safety feature.
- Cons : Only available in 2 colors – blue and pink.
Co-op Cycles Rev 16
Co-op, outdoor retailer REI’s in-house bike brand, offers another excellent choice in 16” bikes with its REV 16. Most notable here is the REV 16’s aluminum frame, which makes it considerably lighter than its steel counterparts.
The bike comes as a light blue or red blank palette complete with a chain guard that matches the frame. Except for the company logo, it’s devoid of graphics. Sound dull?
Co-op isn’t opposed to graphics. They’d just like your child to personalize their Rev 16. That’s why the Co-op Rev 16 includes plenty of stickers, allowing your child to customize the look. Also adding to the bike’s design features are BMX-style riser handlebars, complete with a padded crossbar.
- Pros : Good value for money.
- Cons : Base design and colors can be a little dull.
Schwinn Scorch 16
Schwinn has completely redesigned its bike geometry to better match a child’s body based on many years of parents’ feedback. The Schwinn Scorch now features the Smart Start Geometry that creates a perfect fit for a child while offering more control, especially for those who just transitioned from a balance bike.
The narrow pedal position is specifically made for kids. This is made in order to fit the narrower body width of the child which allows for easier pedaling and handling.
If you’re on a budget, the Schwinn Scorch would be an ideal choice.
- Pros : Bike frame geometry is ideal for kids transitioning from balance bikes.
- Cons : Stock availability might be limited.
Retrospec Koda 16
The Retrospec Koda is another good choice for a budget 16″ kids bike.
It’s a hand-built steel frame. Even though the steel frame is heavier, this bike is optimized with a one-piece crank and a lot of added protection.
The wide and grippy tires are ideal for both on and off-road, and even uneven sidewalks. It’s also equipped with a full chainguard, water bottle, and a soft handlebar grip.
What’s also useful for parents is that Retrospec Koda comes 95% assembled so it doesn’t take a lot to get this bike ready for the road once you take it home.
- Pros : Comes with all the bells and whistles a child would love.
- Cons : Only 1 color option.
RoyalBaby Freestyle 16
The RoyalBaby Freestyle is a kid’s bike that features a steel frame, one-piece crank, and pneumatic knobby tires with a customized RoyalBaby tread.
The combination of a front caliper brake and rear coaster brake is sufficient enough to provide plenty of stopping force when needed.
What’s interesting about this bike is that it offers plenty even though it’s a budget option; such as heavy-duty training wheels, water bottles, bottle cage, bell, and even assembly tools for the parents.
- Pros : Available in 7 different colors.
- Cons : Pedals prone to breaking apart during a fall.
Designed for Girls
Trek Precaliber 16
The Trek Precaliber is ideal for girls making the step up from a small-sized bike or learning to ride without the training wheels.
While it comes with training wheels, you can easily remove it without needing any tools. To aid your girl riding on two wheels, there’s a built-in handle below the saddle for you to guide her when she rides.
Designed with girls in mind, the Trek Precaliber 16 comes in two colors; pink and ultraviolet.
- Pros : High-quality overall build and components.
- Cons : Expect to pay more for the Trek branding.
Electra Sprocket 16
The thing I liked the most about Electra Sprocket is the playful geometric design, which still is ideal for beginners who are just learning to ride.
It’s an ideal 16″ bike for girls due to the innovative Electra Flat Foot Technology which allows them to plant their feet on the ground without ever having to leave the saddle.
The biggest advantage of the Electra Sprocket is the lightweight aluminum frame construction which not only makes transportation much easier but also easier handling.
- Pros : Lightweight aluminum frame for easier maneuverability.
- Cons : Only available in 1 color – green.
Cannondale Trail 16
The Cannondale Trail 16 features a specific bike geometry that is suited for riding in the trails from a very reputable bike brand. It’s made out of Cannondale’s SmartForm C2 alloy, while the fork is made out of steel for added durability.
The Cannondale Trail 16 comes with only a coaster brake, unlike most of the other 16″ bikes, such as the Electra Sprocket. It also features a very comfortable seat and handlebars that fit small hands well.
Training wheels are effortless to attach and can be removed within minutes since it requires no tools and can be removed anywhere, just like the chain guard.
- Pros : Durable and designed to last.
- Cons : Expect to pay more for the Cannondale branding
Lightweight 16" Bikes
Priority Start 16
If you’re looking for a simple bike that your son or daughter can use to build their skills, then check out the Priority Start 16.
This kid’s bike set itself apart from other 16” bikes by its use of a freewheel drivetrain and handbrakes. Priority says it’s designed specifically for getting kids who started on a balance bike and may struggle with coaster brakes that prevent them from freely moving their legs backward and forwards.
The Start also makes a fashion statement with its unique paint schemes. It comes in all grey, meaning the bike is charcoal grey from tires to saddle.
- Pros : Gease-free drivetrain belt ensures your kids and their clothes stay clean.
- Cons : Colors can be a little dull.
When it comes to kids’ bikes, the most innovative manufacturers are constantly searching for ways to shorten the learning curve between training wheels and actually riding a bike. Woom’s belief is that handling and balance are key to teaching your child to learn how to ride a bike.
With that in mind, you’ll notice that the Woom 3 has a noticeably different look to it than many of its 16″ peers. That’s because it features a bent top tube and relaxed seat tube. This has the effect of creating a more upright position for your child, making it easier to balance and hence easier to ride.
It also allows your child to better observe the road around them, which is crucial for safe riding. Of course, the lighter the bike, the easier it will be for a child to handle. Woom keeps this frame light with an aluminum frame that comes in at under 12 lbs.
- Pros : Choose from 5 different color schemes.
- Cons : Costs more than the average 16″ bike.
Prevelo Alpha 2
The Prevelo Alpha 2 is based on a low and narrow geometry that helps kids keep their balance and master riding bikes a lot easier.
Being made with an aluminum frame that includes the fork, this is a very lightweight and easy to steer bike.
Kids will love the comfortable grips provided by Prevelo with the two brake levers’ reached optimized for kids to ensure an easy and efficient braking experience.
- Pros : Lightweight and very high-quality overall build.
- Cons : Be prepared to pay more.