Some of the common questions I hear a lot of parents ask when looking for a for their child,
- What’s the ideal child height?
- 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 aged between 5 to 8 or 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 models for you to get started.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite 20 Inch Kids Bikes
Editor’s Pick : Guardian Original 20
“Kids friendly components and design make it easier to transition from smaller bikes.”
Budget Pick : Co-op Cycles REV 20
“A good value for money vs the quality of components used.”
For Off-road Riding : Trek Precaliber 20
“A bike that the kids would love to bring along to their off-road riding adventures.”
Guardian Original 20
Once the kids graduate to a 20 inch, they would have 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 the Shimano grip shifters, which add an extra layer of function for your child to master. The 6-speed drivetrain has enough gears for the kids to start exploring the gravel trails around their neighborhood and do some hill climbs.
- Pros : Lightweight aluminum frame makes it easier to handle.
- Cons : Only two 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 budget bike, 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 the kids to comfortable transition from a smaller size 14 or 16 inch bike they ride previously.
It comes with both coaster and hand brakes, another feature that makes the transition process easier. 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 for an easier transition from their last bike to a bigger bike with two brake levers.
The adjustable saddle and slacker seat post on the Schwinn Koen 20 allows you to adjust the bike for your child 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 another option to consider.
- Pros : Available in 7 different colors.
- Cons : Heavier than other similarly priced aluminum frames.
Lightweight Aluminum Models
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 various items 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 especially if they have not ridden a balance bike previously.
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 Priority Start 20, your child is introduced to gears (the Priority 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.
- Pros : Sleek and modern-looking design and colors.
- Cons : Be prepared to pay more.
Prevelo Zulu 3
The Prevelo Zulu 3 is a true 20-inch mountain bike for kids. If you’re after a bike that has the best of everything, the Prevelo Zulu 3 is a serious contender. There’s also the Prevelo Alpha 3 to consider if you want something that’s more suited towards road riding as it has a higher gain ratio.
This bike has a low and narrow geometry to provide additional stability, combined with a very lightweight frame. The lightweight suspension forks, called the Airfork, are made of carbon fiber and have an 80 mm travel to smoothen all the bumps along rough terrains.
And unlike its competitors, the Prevelo Zulu 3 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 other models, which increases its braking system power and easier to stop.
- Pros : High-quality components all around.
- Cons : Be prepared to pay a premium price.
For Off-Road Riding
Trek Precaliber 20
Leading U.S. bike brand Trek continues to delight kids with their latest 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 knobby 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 two colors; black and blue.
Cannondale Trail 20
The Cannondale Trail 20 is another great bike for kids learning how to ride off-road.
The aluminum-framed 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 mtb 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.
20 Inch Kids Bike 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 inch 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 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 inch 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.
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 inch bikes are where gearing is almost always introduced. But don’t be surprised to see some models 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. Generally, the
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.
4. Comes with Front and Rear Brakes
Most, if not all models come with front and rear rim 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 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 models 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 riding 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 these today as the majority of kids would know how to balance on two wheels already especially if they have ridden balance bikes when they were much younger.
If your son or daughter still requires training wheels, you’ll have to purchase them separately. The good thing is while they don’t come with training wheels, they’re still compatible with them.