Some of the common questions I hear a lot of parents ask when looking for a 20″ bike is,
- What’s the ideal child height to ride a 20″ bike?
- How old should they be?
- Which model or brand should I be looking at?
- If you also have similar questions, then you’re on the right page.
On this page, I’ll share with you the important things to look out for before making your decision such as :
- Kids age. 20″ bikes are generally for kids aged 5 to 8 with an inseam measurement between 22″ to 25″.
- Bike frame is made of either steel (heavier, cheaper) or aluminum (expensive, lighter).
- Gearing can be either 1, 6, 7, or 8-speed depending on the configuration.
I’ll discuss each of these and more in detail in the buying guide section below and also some of my favorite 20″ bike models for you to get started.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite 20″ Kids Bikes
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20" Kids Bikes Buying Guide
Getting a new bike is always an exciting time for any kid. But for the parents, the experience can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time.
You’ll soon realize that there isn’t one size fits all bike, and kids bikes come in all sizes.
But don’t worry. I’ll walk you through what to expect in 20″ kids bikes and the most important aspects you should look out for.
I’ve also written a separate kids’ bike guide, which will cover each of the topics below in detail.
1. Suitable for Kids Aged 5 to 8
A good starting point to determine is a 20″ bike is for your child is their age.
20″ bikes are for children between the ages of 5 to 8.
You’re probably wondering by now, what’s an inseam measurement?
Inseam is the length measured from crotch to floor of the child when he/she is standing with both feet flat on the ground.
For a child to ride a 20″ bike comfortably, the inseam measurement should fall between 22″ to 25″. If they fall outside of this range, consider either sizing up or down.
2. Bike Frame Made from Aluminum or Steel
As in every other bike, the lighter the bike, the higher the price tag is.
Aluminum is lightweight and provides great strength and durability, which makes it more expensive.
There’s also steel, which is heavier but still provides excellent strength and durability.
Therefore, steel is a cheaper material due to the weight difference. Depending on your budget, I’d highly recommend you go for a lighter bike if possible. Ideally, kids shouldn’t be riding bikes that are twice their weight.
With 20″ bikes, you can notice there is usually a lower standover height for girls, making it easier for them to put their legs over the bike. A good example is the Electra Sprocket.
3. Single or Multiple Gearings, Depending on Setup
20″ bikes are where gearing is almost always introduced. But don’t be surprised to see 20″ bikes that come with a single gear as well. One such example is the Electra Sprocket for girls.
There are various gearing configurations, depending on what the manufacturer specification is. You’ll see bikes with 6, 7, or 8 gears. The number of cogs determines the number of available gears at the rear.
With kid’s bikes, the gears are controlled by a shifter at the handlebar. This can either be a trigger shifter or a grip shifter. You can read more about kids’ bike gearing on another more detailed post.
Read More :
4. Comes with Front and Rear Brakes
Most, if not all 20″ bikes come with front and rear brakes. There are no longer rear coaster brakes as found in smaller sized bikes.
Children from 5 years old and above should be able to properly use brakes while riding. Don’t worry if they’re not fully accustomed to brakes. You’ll be surprised how fast they will pick this skill up.
More expensive options such as the Prevelo Zulu 3 Heir comes with hydraulic disc brakes. This provides a very good stopping power, but it also comes with an expensive price tag.
5. Tires are Air-Filled
All 20″ bikes come with air-filled tires with an inner tube.
The good thing with air-filled tires is that you can increase or decrease the air pressure depending on the terrain for a better ride experience.
Going for a rough off-road ride? Decrease the air pressure.
Riding on the road? Increase the air pressure to reduce the rolling resistance.
6. No Training Wheels Provided
It’s very rare to find training wheels on 20″ bikes today.
If your child still requires training wheels, you’ll have to purchase them separately. The good thing is while 20″ bikes don’t come with training wheels, they’re still compatible with them.
Guardian Original 20
Once kids graduate to a 20-inch bike, they’ve gained some skill. Maybe they’re jumping off curbs, popping wheelies, or even taking their bike offroad on that green circle trail at the nearby park.
Whatever the case, the bike has to keep up with them, and Guardian gets that with the 20-inch version of its Guardian Original line. While Guardian keeps with its kid-friendly design with short-reach brake levers and shorter crank arms, it also adds some performance features.
The most notable upgrades are Shimano grip shifters, which add an extra layer of function for your child to master.
- Pros : Lightweight aluminum frame makes it easier to handle.
- Cons : Only 2 colors to choose from.
Co-op Cycles Rev 20
Co-op Cycles is the in-house bike brand for leading outdoor retailer, REI which is based in the United States. If you’re after a value buy, take a look at the Co-op Cycles Rev 20.
The Rev 20 is made from aluminum, making it a lightweight bike as compared to others which are made of steel. A lightweight bike makes it easier for kids to comfortable transition from a smaller size 14″ or 16″ bike.
It comes with both coaster and handbrakes, another feature that makes the transition process easier for your kids. The single-speed drivetrain would be more than sufficient for riding around the neighborhood or parks.
- Pros : Good value for money vs quality of components.
- Cons : Only available in green.
Schwinn Koen 20
The Schwinn Koen is built on a steel frame design, utilizing Schwinn’s proprietary Smart Start design. The SmartStart is a complete rethinking and redesign of kids’ bike frame to provide more comfort and stability, especially for kids who are just starting to ride.
What’s very interesting to see is that this bike has both V-brakes activated with a brake lever, but also has a built-in rear coaster brake. This allows kids easier to transition from their last bike to a bigger bike with two brake levers.
The adjustable saddle and slack seat-tube on the Schwinn Koen 20 allow parents to adjust the bike for kids as they grow, ensuring a comfortable riding position until they eventually outgrow the bike.
- Pros : Comfortable frame geometry will suit most kids.
- Cons : Stock can be hard to come by for certain colors.
RoyalBaby Freestyle 20
The RoyalBaby Freestyle 20 is an ideal budget bike for a few reasons. It’s made out of lightweight aluminum, something which you don’t often see in a budget kids’ bike. Generally, aluminum bike frames are more expensive.
It’s only a single speed, so it’s more suited for cruising around the park and flat terrain, rather than hill climbs. The pedals platform comes with a non-slip feature so the kids are safer while riding in wet and slippery conditions. Besides, the drivetrain is fully enclosed so there is no risk of their legs, hands, and their clothes getting tangled or dirty.
If you’re on a budget and looking for a light bike for your kids, the Royalbaby Freestyle 20 could be ideal.
- Pros : Available in 7 different colors.
- Cons : Heavier than other similarly priced aluminum frames.
Electra Sprocket 20
The Electra Sprocket features a durable aluminum frame that is designed in the shape of a beach bicycle, making it attractive for girls.
It comes with all the bells and whistles a girl would love such as front and rear fenders, a colorful frame with a matching saddle, handlebar grip, and even wheels.
If your girl is still learning and takes longer to make a transition to two wheels, this could be the ideal bike to accelerate the learning process. The frame geometry of the Electra Sprocket 20 is designed in such a way that allows girls to get on and off the bike easily and be confident while moving on two wheels.
- Pros : 2.15″ wide tires provide plenty of comfort over bumpy roads.
- Cons : Heavier than other aluminum frame bikes.
Priority Start 20
Priority Bicycle’s mission is to design and manufacture bikes that are high quality, efficient, and affordable. This equates to low maintenance belt-driven drive trains and direct-to-consumer sales. For its line of kids’ bikes, this also means building your child’s riding skills.
With the Start 20, your child is introduced to gears (the Start 16 is a freewheel bike), but only a few. With just three gears to choose from, the Priority Start 20 still maintains its focus on simplicity. You and your child will also love the grease-free chain.
This makes maintenance easier without the need for drivetrain cleaning or grease. It also means no bike grease to scrub off your child’s hands and clothes.
- Pros : Sleek and modern-looking design and colors.
- Cons : Be prepared to pay more.
Prevelo Zulu 3 Heir
The Prevelo Zulu Three Heir is a true 20″ mountain bike for kids. If you’re 20″ kids bike that has the best of everything, the Prevelo Zulu Heir is a serious contender.
It has a low and narrow geometry to provide additional stability, combined with a very lightweight frame. The lightweight fork, called the Airfork, is made of carbon fiber and has an 80 mm travel to smoothen all the bumps along rough terrains.
And unlike most 20″ bikes, the Zulu Heir comes with a Shimano 10-speed drivetrain. The additional gear range allows the kid to ride through many different terrains, especially the hillier ones.
It also comes with hydraulic disc brakes instead of V-brakes found in most 20″ bikes, which increases its braking power and easier to stop.
- Pros : High-quality components all around.
- Cons : Be prepared to pay a premium price.
Designed for Off-Road
Trek Precaliber 20
Leading U.S. bike brand Trek continues to delight kids with their latest 20″ bike.
The Trek Precaliber 20 is made from Trek’s lightweight and high-performance aluminum, making this bike a great ride. The material is both durable and rustproof and will withstand all the abuse kids usually throw at their bikes.
It comes specced with a front suspension fork with 35mm travel and 2.25″ wide tires suited for off-road riding. And unlike other bikes, there’s a 7-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain which is usually found on adult mountain bikes.
- Pros : Frame is made from lightweight and durable aluminum.
- Cons : Only available in 2 colors; black and blue.
Cannondale Trail 20
The Cannondale Trail 20 is a great bike for learning how to ride off-road.
The aluminum-framed Crush features a front fork suspension and knobby tires as well as front and rear cantilever brakes for moderate off-road riding. This bike also offers special features for smaller riders including a lower range gear ratio that makes getting started easier.
Smaller brake levers and twist shifters make operating the bike easier for smaller hands while an alloy frame and components keep the overall weight down.
The Cannondale Trail 20’s frame geometry is designed for off-road riding with a top tube that drops sharply from head tube to seat stays, making out of the saddle handling easier and entrances and exits from the cockpit quicker.
- Pros : 7-speed drivetrain has enough gears for most types of terrains.
- Cons : Be prepared to pay more for the Cannondale branding.
Salsa Timberjack 20
If you weren’t already familiar with the bike manufacturer Salsa, you might be able to tell from the looks of the Timberjack 20 that the California-based company specializes in designing and manufacturing kids’ mountain bikes.
This is a kids’ bike built for singletracks. The Salsa Timberjack features Chao Yang 3” tires, flat bar handlebars, swooped down top tube, internal cable routing, front suspension fork, and front and rear disc brakes.
Salsa has also put plenty of thought into the Salsa Timberjack’s geometry, with steering and handling designed to be quicker and more responsive to suit a child’s body. The Timberjack is also fitted with twist shifting and smaller brake levers designed for smaller hands.
- Pros : Front suspension offers a lot of travel for off-road riding.
- Cons : Stock might be hard to come by.