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For many of us, riding a bike is a cornerstone of childhood. We remember wobbly training wheels, taking tumbles, and having a parent’s strong hands on the seat back. Selecting our child’s first bike feels difficult because we know we’re making memories, not just a purchase.
Thankfully, among the aisles of starter bikes, some models truly stand out. These bikes aren’t simply mini adult bicycles. They’re designed for children’s proportions and abilities and come full of safety features. Some brands are new to the market. Others, like Schwinn, are familiar. We feel confident recommending them all.
Our tips will help you pick a bike that piques your child’s interest. Riding a bike is important exercise that has been linked to better concentration and focus. It’s also a lifelong skill. Once a kid learns to ride a bike, they won’t forget. Whether you have a new rider or a seasoned balance biker, these selections will make cycling as memorable as possible.
- The Best Bikes For 4-Year-Olds
- A Guide to Buying the Best Bike for 4-Year-Olds
- FAQ on Bikes for 4-Year-Olds
- What size bike does a 4-year-old need? Is a 16-inch bike good for a 4-year-old?
- Is a 4-year-old too old for a balance bike?
- What is the right seat height for a bike?
- Should your child learn to ride using training wheels?
- Is there any difference in boy/girl bikes?
- The bikes on this list are very expensive. Why should I spend hundreds on a bike they’ll outgrow quickly?
- I don’t have hundreds to spend. Will it hurt my child if I get a cheaper bike from Walmart?
- Do I need to buy any accessories for a bike? What about safety equipment?
- Final thoughts
The Best Bikes For 4-Year-Olds
Woom is widely regarded as the gold standard for kids’ bikes. After investigating the Woom 3, we understand why. The aluminum frame and light tires keep the bike under 12lbs. Woom’s hand brakes fit small hands and respond quickly without much force. They’re also color-coded, reminding kids to use the rear green brake first.
Best of all, the bike’s long wheelbase and low center-of-gravity make balancing easier. Even brand new pedalers remain stable. Upright seating also supports wary riders. Any child struggling with a heavier budget bike should have no problems pedaling a Woom.
Unfortunately, these features come at a price. Woom can’t build such light bikes without charging a premium price. Some parents are understandably hesitant to pay hundreds for a children’s pedal bike. But your little one will find a Woom so easy to ride — surprisingly light and responsive — they’ll have a hard time not enjoying themselves. If you’re set on raising a bike lover, your best buy is a Woom.
- Less than 12lbs, but holds up to 130lbs
- Reflective stripes on tires for added visibility
- Color-coded hand brakes
Give your kiddo some confidence with Huffy’s black-and-yellow racing bike. The bright tires and cool number plate will make your rider feel like a pro, even with training wheels on. Huffy’s been around for generations and their sturdy frames continue to withstand heavy play and inevitable crashes. The Kinetic model has a short seat height, so it’s a great starter bike for smaller bikers. As a bonus, the color scheme provides extra visibility, helping to keep your child safe.
Do remember that the budget price also reflects some budget parts. While the frames are solid, customers tend to complain about the quality of the seat, pedals, and chain.
- Cool racing design
- Includes removable training wheels
- Lifetime frame warranty
Need to impress a fashion-forward rider? The Coewske bike has serious style. This child-sized cruiser comes in six different colors and includes a bell and basket. There’s even a rack behind the seat for carrying treasures. It’s not the lightest bike on our list, or our top choice for off-road riding. But if your child wants to showcase their pedaling skills around the neighborhood, the retro design lets them do it with flair.
- Includes basket, bell and cargo rack
- Appeals to kids who care about aesthetics
Looking for the child-sized version of your dream bike? Check out the Belsize 16″. The aluminum frame and belt drive keep this bike 10lbs lighter than most kids’ bikes. Small riders can easily pick up the bike after a fall. Since the belt drive is made of aluminum, it reduces maintenance as it won’t rust. Plus, belt drives last five times longer than chains. Training wheels can’t be attached, but parents have the option to leave the pedals off initially.
The price tag is higher, but the resulting weight gives your kid an easier ride. It’s also cheaper than our top pick, the Woom 3. If this bike is in your budget, why not get your rider off to a fast, comfortable start?
- Includes adjustable dual hand brakes
- Belt protector increases product life
- Available in blue, pink, or silver
If you prefer buying familiar brands, rest easy and purchase a Schwinn Elm. The Elm looks like a classic “girl bike” and offers the comfort of Schwinn’s SmartStart line. These bikes were designed with children’s bodies in mind and the geometry is perfectly proportioned for small riders. Handlebars hit at a comfortable height and kids won’t feel cramped when pedaling.
The Elm comes in three different color schemes and five different sizes, including a balance bike model. With all these options, you’re guaranteed to find the right bike for your little one.
- Cool chain guard with star design
- Seat handle for parents to hold
If your kiddo mastered and loved the traditional Strider balance bike, move them up to the Strider 14x. The bigger size alone will be a thrill. When your rider is ready to try pedals, they can be attached with the Strider pedal conversion kit. This transition eliminates the need for training wheels and allows kids to remain on their familiar balance bike frame. The pedal kit includes a coaster brake for easy stops.
- The only Strider built for pedals
- Bigger than standard 12″ balance bikes
RoyalBaby is on the verge of becoming this generation’s Schwinn or Huffy. The price point and variety mean more kids will be riding RoyalBaby bikes in the future. Their Freestyle bike provides an affordable option that doesn’t skimp on quality. Many parents have commented on its sturdiness. And while it has many similarities to the Coewske bike, the Freestyle looks sportier.
This athletic bike comes in seven colors, which should appeal to boys and girls alike.
- Has a cool water bottle and holder
- Arrives 95% assembled
- 3 smaller sizes include training wheels
The lightweight H2 is like a budget Belsize. Its aluminum frame and belt drive still increase the price, but it’s over $100 cheaper than our top pick. The RoyalBaby also comes in more sizes, including a 14″ model with training wheels. Kids will love how easy it is to ride this 15lb bike and maneuver it uphill. The aggressive seating position makes it an ideal pick for confident riders, while quick assembly appeals to tired parents.
- At least 5lbs lighter than most brands this size
- Geared towards athletic, aggressive riders
A Guide to Buying the Best Bike for 4-Year-Olds
All these bikes look cool and seem functional. How do you pick the right one for your child? Keep in mind these three things:
First and foremost, measure your rider. Your child’s inseam is the best indicator for bike size. A new rider should sit on a seat with their feet flat on the ground, allowing them to stop safely while learning to balance and pedal. Make sure the seat height allows for this. Also be sure the seat can go up several inches when your child grows or increases their abilities.
Buying a bike your kid will “grow into” isn’t the best move. A child struggling to fit on their bike won’t do well balancing or pedaling. But if your rider is just under minimum height, buy up. There’s also no sense in mastering a 14″ bike weeks before outgrowing it.
Okay, you have the sizing down. But what style is right for your kid? Are they interested in off-road biking or hitting the trails? Maybe they want a big basket for riding their dolls around the neighborhood. An athletic, confident rider will be okay using a bike like the Belsize that requires an aggressive, forward-leaning stance. A more cautious biker will appreciate sitting upright on the Coewske cruiser.
Now that you know what size your kid is and how they ride, analyze their ability. Perhaps they’re a tricycle pro who know how to pedal, but not balance on two wheels. They’ll benefit from some time on a balance bike. The Strider 14x will allow them to master balancing before you add the pedals. Or try the Strider 16 if you want to start your kid on a balance bike but they’re ready for a big kid size.
You may have a kid who rocks a balance bike and simply needs to understand pedals. Any of the bikes on our list should work, as long as they’re sized right.
If your little one doesn’t know how to balance or pedal, think about your child’s learning style. Will they go into it with gusto? Will they want you nearby with a hand on the seat? The Schwinn Elm or Schwinn Koen works well if neither of you are sure how this will turn out. It looks cool and will get your kid excited to ride. It also has optional training wheels. And there’s a spot on the seat for parents to hold on and guide new riders.
FAQ on Bikes for 4-Year-Olds
What size bike does a 4-year-old need? Is a 16-inch bike good for a 4-year-old?
Your child’s measurements are far more important than their age. Pick a bike based on the rider’s inseam. And if you’re trying to decide between models, go with the lighter bike. A child’s bicycle should weigh no more than 40% of their body weight.
Is a 4-year-old too old for a balance bike?
Definitely not! Many kids start on balance bikes when they’re 18 months old. But some love other ride-on toys, tricycles, or running. If you’d prefer to start your older child on a balance bike, Strider makes great options for 12”, 14”, and 16”. You can also leave the pedals off a traditional bike and use it as a balance bike. Four-year-olds will likely master the balance bike faster than really young riders.
What is the right seat height for a bike?
The seat should be at the same height as a child’s inseam. Once they’re comfortable, you can adjust the seat for better posture and pedaling. But a kid should be able to put their feet flat on the ground while sitting on the seat. This way they can use their feet to stop before they’ve mastered brakes.
Should your child learn to ride using training wheels?
According to Jacob Rheuban of Prevelo Bikes, riders are better off learning without training wheels. The trainers help kids pedal but prevent them from mastering balance, which is more important and difficult to learn. The easiest way to get young riders balancing is with a pedal-less bike. You can start with a traditional balance bike, or by removing the pedals from your child’s traditional bike.
In addition, balance bikes actually operate better. They go over bumps smoothly and can be used off road. Training wheels can make aggressive riding difficult. Bikes with training wheels don’t turn as well and are more likely to tip over.
Of course, not every kid likes balance bikes. If your child has their heart set on a pedal bike and refuses a balance bike, try some training wheels. Plenty of kids still learn that way. Training wheels won’t damage your child.
Is there any difference in boy/girl bikes?
There’s no real difference in functionality. Stand-over bars have traditionally been lower on girls’ bikes because of dress. Women could get on the seat more easily while wearing a skirt. However, young riders with little legs are more comfortable stepping over a low bar, too. The majority of bike frames are considered unisex and come in several colors. Most “girls” bikes are pink or floral, while “boys” bikes are red or blue. The Schwinn Elm, for example, is identical to the Koen, but comes in traditionally feminine colors and has a basket.
The bikes on this list are very expensive. Why should I spend hundreds on a bike they’ll outgrow quickly?
It’s true that some kids grow like bean sprouts and require constant wardrobe updates. But a good bike, sized appropriately, should last multiple seasons. Of course, they’ll need a new bike eventually, and it makes sense to be as budget-minded as possible. Do keep in mind though that the lighter and more comfortable the bike, the easier it will be to ride. If you want your kid to succeed at biking and stay interested, it’s worth spending extra to find the best model for your rider.
I don’t have hundreds to spend. Will it hurt my child if I get a cheaper bike from Walmart?
No science says a cheaper bike will hurt your kid, or even their riding abilities. But these bikes typically weigh more and don’t maneuver as well. Riding a cheap bike might frustrate your kid, causing them to lose interest. We understand holding true to your budget. But we encourage you to find the lightest, most comfortable bike in your price range.
Do I need to buy any accessories for a bike? What about safety equipment?
You certainly don’t need accessories, but your kid might be more excited if they have a basket, bell or kickstand. If your bike lacks reflectors, add some to make your kid more visible. Also be sure your child wears bright colors and a well-fitting helmet. Knee pads, elbow pads and gloves are not required or regularly recommended. But if your rider tends to wipe out, feel free to add this safety gear.
Hopefully this process feels less daunting. With our list of best bikes for 4-year-olds, you can find the perfect fit whether you need one in black, pink, a kickstand or a basket. We hope you’re so excited about buying your kid’s bike that you buy one for yourself too. Exercise benefits everybody, and all families flourish with more together time. No need to visit a restaurant or movie theater. Family night can be as easy as, well, riding a bike.
Need something for a younger child? Check out our picks for best tricycles for 1-year-olds.