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The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16″

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16″ bikes generally fit most kids who are 4, 5 or 6 years old and are often a child’s first pedal bike. Over the past 9 years, we’ve put over twenty 16″ pedal bikes to the test with various testers to help you find the best.

For Adults Only

Guardian Ethos – Best Bang for Your Buck

Best Bang for Your Buck

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Guardian Kids Bikes Ethos. 16/20/24 Inch, Multiple Colors for Boys/Girls. Safer Brake System for Kids. Lightweight Steel Construction. Easy Assembly. ASO SharkTank. by Guardian Bikes $259.00 $25900 


The BEST braking system for young riders

Lightweight and well-designed, Guardian bikes come with a proprietary braking system that prevents unsafe braking. Not only safe, their system is also much easier to use than most traditional brakes.

SEAT HEIGHT: 18.5″ – 23.5″

WEIGHT: 17.5 lb.

STANDOUT FEATURES: Easy-to-use proprietary braking system

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Pros:

  • Proprietary SureStop braking system for faster and more controlled braking, and NO coaster brake
  • Comfortable upright positioning for young riders
  • Handlebar height is adjustable for more a precise fit
  • Packs a lot of punch into a lower price tag
  • Eye-catching design – fun, colorful graphics and colored rims

Cons:

  • Upright design not ideal for young aggressive riders

Raleigh MXR – Best Mid-range

Best Under $200

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

RALEIGH Bikes MXR 12 Kids Bike with Training Wheels for Boys Youth 2-4 Years Old, Blue by RALEIGH $169.99 $16999 


Desireable geometry, great quality

Impressively durable, the Raleigh MXR provides a smooth, comfortable ride well suited for neighborhood riders. Coaster brake, no handbrakes. Comes with training wheels.

SEAT HEIGHT: 18″ – 24″

WEIGHT: 18.3 lb.

STANDOUT FEATURES: Durable build with good basic components

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Pros:

  • Lightweight for the price and size
  • Comfortable upright geometry for neighborhood riders
  • Durable and essentially maintenance-free
  • Available in green and blue

Cons:

  • Coaster brake, no hand brake
  • Tall minimum seat height for a 16″ bike
  • Effort needed to start pedaling

Raleigh Jazzi 16 – Best Mid-range: Girls

Best Under $200: Girls

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

RALEIGH Bikes Jazzi 12 Kids Bike with Training Wheels, Purple by RALEIGH


Fun design, good quality build

With a fun design that girls love and the durablity that parents desire, the Jazzi is a great mid-priced bike that offers easy of use and longevity.

WEIGHT: 20.1 lb.

STANDOUT FEATURES: Durable build, upright design

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Pros:

  • Lightweight for the price and size
  • Comfortable upright geometry for neighborhood riders
  • Durable and essentially maintenance-free

Cons:

  • Coaster brake, no hand brake
  • Tall minimum seat height for a 16″ bike
  • Effort needed to start pedaling

Raleigh Lily and Rowdy 16 – Budget: Mountain Boys and Girls

Budget: Girls Mountain

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

RALEIGH Bikes Lily 16 Kids Mountain Bike for Girls Youth 3-6 Years Old, Pink by RALEIGH $229.99 $22999 


All-terrain geometry on a budget!

While not as fine-tuned as the Hedgehog, the Lily provides a smooth, lightweight ride with a very aggressive body position for adventurous riders. Handbrake, no coaster or training wheels.Budget: Boys Mountain


The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

RALEIGH Bikes Rowdy 16 Kids Bike for Boys Youth 3-6 Years Old, Green by RALEIGH $229.99 $22999 


All-terrain geometry on a budget!

While not as fine-tuned as the Hedgehog, the Rowdy provides a smooth, lightweight ride with a very aggressive body position for adventurous riders. Handbrake, no coaster or training wheels.

SEAT HEIGHT: 21.5″ – 26″

WEIGHT: 15.6 lb.

STANDOUT FEATURES: Very lightweight for the price

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Pros:

  • Very lightweight for the price
  • Responsive dual handbrakes, no coaster
  • Available in various colors

Cons:

  • Really wide handlebar

Cleary Hedgehog – Best Mountain Bike

Best Mountain Bike

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Cleary Bikes 16″ Inch Single Speed Bikes for Kids, Lightweight, Hedgehog, Multiple Colors by Cleary Bikes $375.00 $37500


The ultimate ride for aggressive riders

Light with impressive stability, the Hedgehog is the perfect ride for basic single track. Responsive handbrakes and low gearing make it ideal for varied terrain. Dual handbrake, no coaster.

SEAT HEIGHT: 19″ – 26″

WEIGHT: 16 lb.

STANDOUT FEATURES: Lightweight, nimble ride

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"
5-year-old on the Hedgehog

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Rear hub enables two freewheels – gain ratios ranging from 3.8 to 2.76 (comes as 3.1)
  • Easy-pull, small reach brake levers
  • No coaster brake
  • Very stable

Cons:

  • Lower top speed than most 16″ bikes

Schwinn SmartStart Elm and Koen – Best Budget

Best Budget: Girls

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Schwinn Elm Girl’s Bike, Featuring SmartStart Frame to Fit Your Child’s Proportions by Schwinn $117.99 $11799 


Designed to be easy to pedal

Features upright design to help facilitate balancing. Pedals are moved forward to help increase leverage for easier pedaling. Has coaster brake and a handbrake, but handbrake is poorly designed.Best Budget: Boys


The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Schwinn Koen Boy’s Bike, Featuring Smart Start Frame to Fit Your Child’s Proportions by Schwinn $149.82 $14982 


Designed to be easy to pedal

Features upright design to help facilitate balancing. Pedals are moved forward to help increase leverage for easier pedaling. Has coaster brake and a handbrake, but handbrake is poorly designed.

SEAT HEIGHT: 20.5″ – 24.5″

WEIGHT: 20.6 lb.

STANDOUT FEATURES: Easy-to-ride, kid-specific design

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Pros:

  • Lightweight for the price
  • Good upright geometry for beginners
  • Long wheelbase provides more room to pedal

Cons:

  • Finicky Brake

Kids’ Pedal Bikes: How to Choose

What size bike does my child need?

A 16″ bike is generally the best fit to purchase for 4 and 5-year-olds. If your child is already 6 or is a very tall 5-year-old, a 20″ bike should also be considered to allow for more room for growth.

If this bike is your child’s first pedal bike after a balance bike, the bike’s seat should be set at or just below their inseam measurement. This allows a child to sit on the seat and easily put their feet down to steady themselves or stop the bike. This is critical as they learn to pedal to instill confidence and for maximum safety.

If your child has already mastered pedaling, you should set the bike’s seat about 2″ above the child’s inseam to allow for maximum efficiency while pedaling.

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Within the 16″ wheel size, there is a very large range of seat heights. The smallest 16″ bike we recommend has an 18″ minimum seat height, while another has a minimum seat height of 21.5″! To allow for the most room for growth, find a bike that has a minimum seat height that comes as close as possible to your child’s ideal seat setting (which will vary based on inseam and whether or not this is your child’s first pedal bike).

Weight

Ideally, your child’s bike shouldn’t weigh more than 40% of their body weight. In general, the lighter the bike, the easier and less tiring it will be for your child to ride. Heavy bikes are really hard to manage for little ones who are still mastering the art of balancing and pedaling at the same time!

For example, can you imagine a 4-year-old trying to ride the Royal Baby 16″ bike which weighs 24 pounds compared to the woom 3 at 11.7 pounds??

Frame Design

A bike’s frame design plays a major role in the overall feel and performance of a bike. Some bikes put a child in an upright position that feels very natural for beginning riders and is great for neighborhood riding.

Other bikes require a rider to lean forward to grip the handlebars, putting kids in a more aggressive position. These types of bikes are generally better for more experienced, adventurous riders who will be doing more aggressive riding.

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Brakes

Coaster brakes (back pedal brakes) are often found on 16″ bikes, but they can inhibit a child’s ability to learn to pedal while balancing a bike. Why?

When learning to pedal and balance on a bike, kids (like adults!) naturally pedal backward when attempting to regain their balance. If the bike has a coaster brake, pedaling backward inadvertently activates the bike’s brake, which slows the bike and often leads to a crash. Without a coaster brake, pedaling backward to regain balance isn’t a problem.

As a result, we much prefer bikes without coaster brakes and with responsive hand brakes that are easy for small hands to operate.

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Gearing and Gain Ratios

For kids ages 4, 5, and 6, gears are just too much to handle and bikes with gears and shifters are not available on 16″ bikes. However, the gearing of a bike is still worth taking into consideration. In the biking world, the gain ratio relates to the gearing of a single-speed bike and is often used to determine how hard it is to pedal a bike.

High gain ratios (3.7+) are harder to get started pedaling but can more easily maintain higher speeds. Lower gain ratios (3.3 and below) are really easy to start pedaling but can’t reach high maximum speeds. Gain ratios in the middle do a little bit of both! For 16″ bikes, we generally prefer mid-range gain ratios from about 3.3 to 3.7.

The Best Kids Bikes for 4 and 5-year-old: 16"

Price

Good bikes are not cheap. Every bike on this list is significantly better than a bike you’ll find at big-box stores, but also costs more. The more expensive bikes on this list are more lightweight, have higher-end components, and frame designs that make them easier to ride.

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