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Trying to choose the ideal first bicycle for your child can be difficult with all the different options out there. You want your little one to feel safe, comfortable and encouraged on their new ride – helping to set them up with skills for life.
We have put together a guide to some of the best 16-inch bikes for kids as well as some information on how to choose the right one based on your child’s size and ability.
- Raleigh Bikes MXR 16 Kids Bike (Best Overall)
- Early Rider Limited Seeker 16 Kids’ Bike (Best Mountain Bike)
- Co-Op Cycles REV 16 Kids’ Bike (Best for Boys)
- Schwinn Jasmine Girls Bike With Training Wheels (Best for Girls)
- Cannondale Trail 16 Single-Speed Kids’ Bike (Best Value Bike)
- Dynacraft Magna Major Damage Boys BMX Street/Dirt Bike (Best Budget Bike)
- Cleary Bikes Hedgehog (Best Runner-up)
Top 15 Best 16-Inch Bikes Reviewed
1. Raleigh Bikes MXR 16 Kids Bike (best overall)
- Min/Max Seat Height: 19.5 to 24 inches
- Weight: 20 pounds
This Raleigh MXR bike is an aluminum frame bike with 16-inch wheels that comes with a set of training wheels to help develop your child’s skills and give them confidence.
This can be a great first bike, with the slightly raised handlebars being easier to reach from an upright sitting position, which might be more natural and comfortable for a new rider.
However, the brakes on this one are coaster brakes (back pedal brakes), so there are no hand brakes, which might not be ideal.
- Training wheels included – ideal for a first bike
- Good value – affordable and druable
- Raised handlebars – more natural seated position for first-time riders
2. Early Rider Limited Seeker 16 Kids’ Bike (best mountain bike)
- Min/Max Seat Height: 19.7 inches to 23.9 inches
- Weight: 13 pounds 2 ounces
The Early Rider Limited Seeker 16 is a lightweight mountain bike that is designed for off-road adventures. It features chunky 2.25-inch balloon tires to help your child navigate muddy or rugged terrain, which also – let’s face it – make it look cool.
It has short lever V-style hand brakes that are designed to be easy to pull for small hands for added safety. It also features a durable brushed aluminum frame with sealed components that can make the bike ideal for all-weather adventures.
- Chunky tires – great for off-roading
- Durable construction – ideal for riding in all weather conditions
- Hand brakes – for added safety
3. Co-Op Cycles REV 16 Kids’ Bike (best for boys)
- Min/Max Seat Height: 21.5 to 24.5 inches
- Weight: 17 pounds
The Co-Op Cycles REV 16 Kids’ Bike can be a great first bike for boys, as it comes with cool little stickers to personalize the frame. However, girls can also find this fun.
It has an aluminum frame and comes with a set of removable training wheels to help with balance. It also has a handy little bell to help your child let pedestrians know they’re coming through.
However, the REV 16 features rear coaster brakes but it comes in relatively gender-neutral colors – ideal for passing down to younger siblings.
- Stickers included – lets kids customize their new ride
- Bell – great for warning pedestrians
- Training wheels included – ideal for a first-time rider
4. Schwinn Jasmine Girls Bike With Training Wheels (best for girls)
- Min/Max Seat Height: around 20.5 to 24.5 inches
- Weight: 22 pounds
This Schwinn Jasmine Girls Bike is designed to be easy to pedal and look cute. It benefits from SmartStart features, which are designed to be more comfortable for kids to use, including narrower pedal positions to better suit kids’ hips.
This colorful bicycle comes with removable training wheels to encourage balance and help develop pedaling skills. It also comes with a cute plastic basket on the front – ideal for toys or a drink.
A nice feature of this one is that it comes with both a hand brake for improved safety, and a coaster brake, letting your child get to grips with using both styles.
- Basket included – great for beverages and kids who like to travel with a soft toy
- SmartStart features – made to suit kids’ smaller body proportions
- Removable training wheels – ideal for a first bike
5. Cannondale Trail 16 Single-Speed Kids’ Bike (best value bike)
- Min/Max Seat Height: 22 inches
- Weight: 19.1 pounds
The Cannondale Trail 16 bike can be a great option if you’re looking for a quick and durable little bike that’s easy to pedal and cool to look at.
It features 1.75-inch multi-use tires that are designed for riding over a variety of surfaces and can be great for neighborhood cycling. This is a single-speed bicycle with coaster brakes, so may not ideal for everyone. It also comes with tool-free training wheels to help kids develop their skills.
- Tool-free training wheels – can be removed and installed without tools
- Good value – durable and easy to ride with good learning features
- Thick tires – great for neighborhood riding and trails
6. Dynacraft Magna Major Damage Boys BMX Street/Dirt Bike (best budget bike)
- Min/Max Seat Height: around 20 to 24 inches
- Weight: 24 pounds
This Dynacraft Magna Major Damage bike can be a great budget option if you’re looking for a BMX-style bike for your child. This one is brightly colored and should appeal to both girls and boys.
It features an adjustable padded saddle for comfort and is best suited for kids with a leg inseam of roughly 18 to 22 inches.
A good feature of this affordable bike is the added training wheels so that first-time riders can find their balance safely.
- BMX style – appealing design for kids
- Bright color – increased visibility
- Affordable – good budget option
7. Electra Sprocket 16” Kids’ Bike
- Min/Max Seat Height: 16 inches
- Weight: 21 pounds
The Electra Sprocket is a 16-inch bicycle with a classic look. It is designed with patented Flat Foot Technology that lets your kids sit on the saddle with their feet flat on the ground, which can be more reassuring for learners. Its design also gives way to a more upright sitting position which first-time riders might prefer.
The Sprocket features chunky 2.15-inch tires that benefit from having a Kevlar Guard coating for added durability and protection from punctures.
A nice feature of the Sprocket 16 is that it comes with tool-free training wheels. It also features a hand brake so it can be safer but has rear coaster brakes as well.
- Durable – aluminum construction and Kevlar Guard tires
- Hand brake – pull-lever front brake on the handlebar for improved safety
- Flat Foot Technology – for feet firmly on the ground even when seated
8. Cleary Bikes Hedgehog (best runner-up)
- Min/Max Seat Height: 19 to 24 inches
- Weight: 16 pounds
This Cleary Bikes Hedgehog can be a great choice if you’re after a durable and lightweight cycle for your child. It features a steel frame for added strength and benefits from having front and rear wheel Tektro hand brakes with an easy-pull lever on each handlebar.
It can be ideal for cycling on a range of terrains and features a sleek brown faux leather saddle for style and comfort. This is a sturdy bicycle that can be ideal for kids who have already mastered pedaling, as this does not come with training wheels and is not compatible with them.
- Tektro brakes – front and rear brakes with two hand levers designed for small hands
- Durable construction – strong steel frame
- Lightweight – easy for kids to handle and pedal
9. Early Rider Limited Belter 16 Kids’ Bike
- Min/Max Seat Height: 19 to 22 inches
- Weight: 13 pounds 4 ounces
This Early Rider Limited Belter 16 is a stylish, durable mountain bike that’s designed to handle a variety of terrains with ease. Its chunky 2-inch tires give it a trendy look and make it easier to ride over muddy or sandy ground.
This is a very lightweight bicycle that can be easy for kids to move around and start pedaling. It benefits from having front and rear wheel Tektro brakes with easy-pull levers designed for little hands.
It can be a great cycle for kids who have already learned to balance.
- Tektro brakes – front and rear brakes operated from levers on handlebars
- Lightweight – easier for kids to handle
- Chunky tires – ideal for all terrains
10. Prevelo Alpha Two 16in Single Speed Bike
- Min/Max Seat Height: 18 to 26 inches
- Weight: 14.9 pounds
The Prevelo Alpha Two bike is a very lightweight and durable bicycle with an aluminum frame that can be great for small kids learning to ride.
A good feature of this one is the Tektro brakes. These front and rear brakes can be controlled from the levers on the handlebars, letting your child get to grips with braking skills early on. The levers are designed to be easy to reach for little hands.
The design of the frame features straight handlebars which can give a more leaned sitting position. This can be good for kids trying out more rugged trails.
- Lightweight – easy for kids to handle
- Low profile bolts – for added safety
- Dual-lever brakes – handlebar controlled front and rear wheel brakes
11. Electra Starship Kids’ Bike
- Min/Max Seat Height: 16 inches
- Weight: 26 pounds
The Electra Starship has a 16-inch steel frame so it’s built for durability and strength, making it a good choice if you’re looking to pass it down to younger family members.
It has a cruiser-style design for a retro look and features Flat Foot Technology, letting your child put their feet flat on the ground when they stop, even while they’re still seated.
The Starship features chunky 2.12-inch balloon tires for riding over rugged ground and there are front and rear mud-guard fenders. This also comes with training wheels and features a front hand brake for added safety. Additionally, it has a rear coaster brake.
- Cruiser style – stylish retro appeal
- Balloon tires – ideal for different terrains
- Steel frame – durable and strong
12. Strider 16 Sport Balance Bike
- Min/Max Seat Height: 19.5 to 25.5 inches
- Weight: 17.7 pounds
This Strider 16 Sport Balance Bike can be ideal for kids who are not quite ready for pedals. This is a balance bike so it does not have rotational pedals, but it does have small pedals for feet to rest on.
It is built to let your kids develop their balance before graduating to push pedals and can be a good option for kids who want to move up from tricycles.
It features a strong steel frame and durable cross terrain tires that can perform well in the skate park and on the trails. The Strider 16 also benefits from having a front brake on the handlebar and a padded saddle.
- Balance bike – no rotational pedals, built to develop a child’s balance on two wheels
- Hand controlled brake – helps kids learn how to use standard bicycle brakes
- Steel frame – strong and durable construction
13. Schwinn Scorch Boys Bike With Training Wheels
- Min/Max Seat Height: 20.5 to 24.5 inches
- Weight: 21 pounds
The Schwinn Scorch bike features a sturdy steel frame and 16-inch wheels. It is designed for first-time riders and comes with a set of training wheels that can be easily removed when the time comes.
This durable bicycle has the benefit of dual brakes – both a hand brake and coaster brakes, which can make it easier for kids to learn how to use their hand brake.
A great feature of the Scorch is the SmartStart technology. This means the components are designed to suit kids’ smaller bodies, such as narrower pedals and smaller hand grips. It is also geared to be easy to get going from a stopped position.
- Handbrake – for increased safety
- Steel frame – for added strength
- Built to child specifications – fits small hands and narrow hips
14. Raleigh Jazzi Kids Bike With Training Wheels
- Min/Max Seat Height: 19 to 23 inches
- Weight: 18.5 pounds
This Raleigh Jazzi 16 is a lightweight bicycle that offers good value with easy-to-remove training wheels and a durable aluminum frame.
The Jazzi can be an affordable option as a child’s first bike, as it features a lower frame to keep your little rider closer to the ground, which can feel more reassuring when learning to balance. The frame design can also make it easier for first-timers to step over.
Another good feature for first-time riders is the higher profile handlebars, which can let your child sit in a more upright position. However, this bicycle has coaster brakes only.
- Training wheels included – ideal for first-time cyclists
- Low frame – the rider is closer to the ground for learning
- Lightweight – easy for kids to handle
15. Schwinn Krate Evo 16 With Training Wheels
- Min/Max Seat Height: 20.25 to 23.75 inches
- Weight: 24.5 pounds
The Schwinn Krate Evo 16 is a retro-looking kids’ bicycle with a 70s Stingray style that can be ideal as a first bike for riding around the neighborhood. It comes with a set of training wheels to help your child master the art of pedaling.
It features a front suspension fork for a smoother and more comfortable ride. It also benefits from having a bucket-style saddle with a grab handle at the back.
One neat feature is the Slik rear tire, adding to its retro design. This durable steel frame bicycle is crafted to meet kids’ proportions but only has coaster brakes, which may not suit everyone.
- Retro design – looks cool on the sidewalk
- Smaller proportioned construction – smaller and narrower components
- Front suspension fork – for added comfort over bumpy terrain
How To Choose A 16-Inch Bike For Your Small Child
The age range for a 16-inch bicycle can be anywhere from age 3 up to around age 7, as the suitability can depend more on the height and ability of your child than their age.
You’ll usually find that most cycles of this size are designed primarily for 4 and 5 year olds who have inseams ranging from around 18 to 22 inches.
Brakes that are operated from the handlebars, such as caliper brakes or V-brakes, will generally be what you’re looking for as these can be a much safer option. Most hand brakes for kids will usually be designed with smaller proportions and have levers that are easy to pull for little fingers.
However, a lot of the options at the cheaper end of the scale will tend to have coaster brakes. These are brakes that are operated from the pedals, not the handlebars, so essentially you pedal in reverse to stop.
Coaster brakes or back pedal brakes are not ideal – and in some countries, such as the UK, they are actually illegal for use on public roads. So you might find that it can be better to let your child learn how to use hand brakes from the beginning.
Coaster brakes can also be a little trickier to use, as you may find that your child might instinctively start to pedal backward when they begin to lose their balance. With coaster brakes, this can cause them to stop suddenly and fall off.
When you’re choosing a first bicycle for your child, weight can be an important factor. A lightweight one can be a lot easier for a small child to use, as they can move it around more easily and, importantly, can set off pedaling much quicker than if the bike was very heavy.
You’ll probably find that the lighter weight options will tend to be more expensive because they will often have higher quality components that can help to keep the weight down.
Generally speaking, the bike should weigh less than 30% of your child’s bodyweight otherwise it could be difficult for them to ride and could put them off wanting to learn.
However, that’s not to say that kids can’t get to grips with cheaper, heavier bikes – it just might take a little longer.
There are a number of factors that might influence the size you need and one of those is the height of your child. A 16-inch bicycle features 16-inch wheels and is generally designed for kids who are around 3 foot 5 inches up to around 4 foot.
Video: Kids’ Bike Sizing Guide
However, you should also take into account your child’s inside leg measurement, as their inseam can help determine whether or not a cycle will be too big for them to step over or reach the ground with their toes.
Smaller children may be better off with a smaller wheel, for example, a 14 inch if they’re shorter and have a shorter inseam. And if they’re taller than average, they might be better on a 20-inch bike.
Inseams of around 16 to 22 inches are generally ideal for a 16-inch bike, however, the height of the seat can affect this.
If your child is pedaling for the first time on two wheels then you might want to opt for something with a lower seat position or lower frame, so that they can comfortably put their feet on the ground. Ideally, the lowest seat height should be within an inch of your child’s inside leg measurement.
As your child gains confidence and improves their pedaling skills you can raise the seat as required.
If your child has already mastered pedaling on a smaller bike and this is an upgrade then the minimum seat position probably doesn’t need to be as low and you can go a couple of inches higher than their inseam, but generally no more than 3 inches.
However, they should still be able to comfortably stand over the top tube or crossbar, so it can be worth taking into account the height of the frame.
A lot of bicycles in the 16-inch range come with training wheels included. This can be reassuring to have for some kids who haven’t yet mastered balancing. If your child has already got to grips with balancing on a balance bike, they may not need training wheels.
If you’re using training wheels, try to position them a little higher than the rear tire so that your child can learn to balance on two wheels. This lets your little one use the training wheels as more of a safety net instead of relying on them entirely.
Most kids’ 16-inch bicycles will only have a single-speed gear. Lots of gears are not really necessary for little ones who are trying to learn basic cycling skills.
Gain ratio can be something to look for, with the higher gain ratio bikes being more difficult to get started from a stopped position than ones with a lower gain ratio. However, the higher gain ratio ones will tend to offer increased speed over flat ground than lower ratios but might also be more difficult if pedaling uphill.
Most 16 inch bikes will average around a gain ratio of 3.
Girls Vs. Boys Bikes
Probably the main difference in girls’ and boys’ bikes is the color options, as a lot of the time the frame is the same. When you’re looking at 16-inch bicycles for your child to learn on, the height of the seat and frame and the overall weight can be more important things to consider.
There are some differences in some models, such as the sloped top tube that can sometimes be seen on girls’ bikes. Back in the day, this difference in the frame design was so that girls could easily step over the frame while wearing a skirt or dress.
There are also some features that you might find on bicycles for girls that you might not see on a typical boy’s bike, such as a basket.
16 Inch Bicycles: FAQs
Do Kids’ Bikes Need Suspension Forks And Lots Of Gears?
A 16-inch bike will generally only have a single-speed gear, as it is designed for kids learning to ride. Kids will usually have no use for gears and it can be too much to add into their learning when they’re just trying to master pedaling.
The same goes for suspension forks – these are not usually found on most 16 inch models because first-time riders probably won’t be riding on very rugged terrain.
Price – What Does A More Expensive Kids Bike Get Me?
The more expensive ones will tend to be better quality, and will generally be designed to last a long time so they can be passed down to younger family members or re-sold.
They will also usually be much lighter than cheaper ones so that it’s easier for your child to handle.
What Age Is A 16 Inch Bike For?
Generally, it can be more to do with the height of your child than their age. Most bicycles of this size are recommended for kids aged from 3 to 7 years. But probably the target age group is 4 and 5 year olds.
How Do I Know What Bike Frame Size I Need?
Because kids’ bicycles are sized by wheels and not the frame, the size and style of the frame can vary with lower frames being good for first-time pedalers.
It can be best to choose a frame that your child will be able to comfortably stand over – their inseam can help you determine the stand-over height with the seat post being around 1 inch higher than their inseam so their feet can touch the ground.
If you’re looking for the best 16-inch bicycle for a first-time rider we think the winner is the Raleigh MXR because it’s a quality bike that’s affordable and offers good value, with training wheels included. However, it does only have coaster brakes.
If you’d prefer something with front hand brakes that can also handle some off-road adventures, a fantastic runner up is the Early Rider Limited Seeker 16 with its chunky tires and durable, lightweight frame that’s easy to pedal.
Another good runner up is the Cleary Hedgehog, as it can be ideal for riding around the neighborhood and the trails. It also has the advantage of front and rear Tektro brakes on the handlebars.
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