It feels weird to call bikes “toys” because we all know they mean so much more than that. They are that first taste of freedom for young kids—the ability to get yourself somewhere with your own vehicle, under your own power. It’s an important milestone in a young person’s development, and having the right bike is imperative.
Whether you’re looking to ease a child into that next phase of development or need to upgrade your kid’s existing mode of transport, we found bikes that will do the job, and then some.
The Legend Returns
Available in four colors. Amazon
You’re never too young to appreciate a classic. Schwinn has updated and revamped one of their most beloved and iconic bicycles, maintaining the classic style but adding some modern touches. From the swooping banana seat to the high-arched handlebars, this is a bike that defines “timeless.” The slick-tread Silk back tire is made for skid-stops and burnouts, which are as much as staple of childhood bike riding as, well, the Schwinn itself. Available in an array of colors (“Shadow black,” “Raspberry,” Sunfire Yellow,” and “Burnout Blue”) this is a can’t miss.
The mini-beast. Amazon
Styled to look pro, even if you’re a beginner. The Mongoose Switch is made for kids who may start out on training wheels, but don’t intend to stay on them for very long. The low, stand-over steel frame and spoked wheels look anything but “kiddie,” and it features both coaster brakes and hand brakes. The frame is extremely solid and durable, so it will take a lot of punishment, too.
One Big Rig
For the outdoors-y kid. Amazon
Not every kid is looking to get air off ramps or leave skid marks all over their elementary school parking lot. Young riders with an eye towards mountainous adventures have to start somewhere, too, and this is the perfect first step. The glossy hardtail frame and 6 speeds encourage aggressive riding, and at the 1200 suspension fork handles bumpy rides with ease. This is an ideal first “big” bike for ages 5-9, and the slight-rise handlebars are extremely comfortable and help avoid the back strain that sometimes comes when rides hunch over their bars. If you are looking to get something for a more outdoors-y kid, this is the one.
The First Big Step
They’ve got to start somewhere. Amazon
Everyone has to start somewhere. Styled to look like a bigger kid’s BMX bike, the Chillafish eases young children into bike riding without saddling them with something that looks too much like a baby toy. The seat height is adjustable, and the integrated footbrake gets them used to skidding out and making quick stops even before they get the hang of peddling. The airless rubber tires never deflate and can withstand heavy use, and the bike overall is lightweight but surprisingly durable. Ideal for kids between 2-5, and available in a broad range of colors for all personalities, from lime green to bright pink to camo.