Best Bikes For Kids 1-3 Years Old


Looking for the best bikes For kids 1-3 years old? These 12-inch wheel bikes are made for the smallest riders. Our list includes five balance bikes and no pedal bikes. Why? While 12-inch pedal bikes exist, they are often really heavy and cheaply made.  Unless your kiddo is already a pro at gliding and turning on a balance bike, there is no reason to jump into a pedal bike too early. A balance bike is an excellent first step to help your kiddo learn balance and steer on two wheels. No pedals means that your rider will have an easier time learning to balance and will build confidence quickly. For more info on balance, bikes check out The Glory of Balance Bikes.

The best bikes for 1 - 3 year olds

Balance bikes

If you are looking for a first bike for your 1-3 year old, we’re true believers in the magic of the balance bike. Balance bikes are the best first step to help your kiddo develop the coordination to balance and steer without having to think about pedaling. Most important, be sure to choose a balance bike that will fit your little one. Be sure the minimum seat height is low enough for your kiddo to sit on the seat with both feet touching the ground. First, measure your child’s inseam length to determine the minimum seat height. Then look for a balance bike with the largest diameter wheels that will accommodate your child.

Pedal bikes

We were unable to find any 12″ pedal bikes to recommend. (The pedal bikes with 12-inch wheels that we found were not of great quality). If your young rider has mastered rolling, gliding, and turning on a balance bike, check out our Best 14-inch Bikes and Best 16-inch Bikes for several quality pedal bikes that might be just the ticket.

Here is an overview of our top five 12-inch wheel bikes 1, 2 and 3 year old kids

Check out the comparison table at the end of the article to see all the size, weight, and other data in one place.

Prevelo Alpha Zero

The Alpha Zero balance bike is a great ride to help little ones learn balance before they jump on a pedal bike. Firstly, the Alpha Zero features a lightweight 6061 aluminum frame. Secondly, the Alpha Zero comes with Tektro rear v-brakes with small reach brake levers. This will help your kid learn to brake before they learn to pedal.

As expected, Prevelo goes the extra mile to engineer bikes for kids to be confidence inspiring, easy, and fun to ride as possible. Above all, Prevelo bikes feature low minimum seat heights and low bottom brackets. This geometry places the rider close to the ground (lowering the center of gravity) to help kids feel more confident, learn easier and ride better.

Buy this balance bike from:

Saddle Height11.5in - 15.6in
DrivetrainBalance Bike
Frame Material6061 Aluminum/Alloy
BrakesRear V-Brakes
Claimed Weight8.5lbs

Strider 12 Classic Balance Bike

The Strider 12 Classic is the traditional entry-level balance bike. There are no unnecessary bells and whistles on this simple and durable balance bike. The Strider Classic 12” balance bike is lightweight to help make learning to ride easier for first time balance bike riders. Importantly, the Strider classic utilizes basic characteristics as the top-selling Strider 12” Sport at an affordable price for the budget-minded family.

Buy this balance bike from:

Saddle Height11in
DrivetrainBalance Bike
Frame MaterialAluminum/Alloy
Claimed Weight6.7lbs

Co-op Cycles REV 12 Kids’ Balance Bike

Get your little one used to balancing on 2 wheels without the fuss of pedals. The Co-op Cycles REV 12 kids’ balance bike has a maneuverable aluminum frame and rugged, kid-friendly construction. The aluminum frame is light and easy to maneuver. This bike has a minimum standover of 13.75 in. with the seat in its lowest position.

Buy this balance bike from:

Saddle Height12 inches+
DrivetrainBalance Bike
Frame MaterialMagnesium
Claimed Weight7.1 pounds

Woom 1 Balance Bike

The Woom 1 Balance Bike features a high quality and light weight frame and components. Most importantly, the Woom 1 has an extremely low step-through height and an adjustable seat height to fit the smallest riders. Specifically, Woom designed this bike for ages 18 months-4 years or height 32″-39″. In addition, the Woom 1 comes with high quality V-brakes to enable easy braking at an early age.

Buy this balance bike from:

Saddle Height10.2in - 14.5in
DrivetrainBalance Bike
Frame MaterialAluminum/Alloy
Claimed Weight7.4lbs

Hornit Airo 12 Kids’ Balance Bike

Hornit designed the Airo 12-inch bike for kids to be user-friendly and safe. Firstly, the frame has integrated footrests with grip tape to let your little shredder experiment with coasting. Secondly, the aluminum rims and air-filled rubber tires are durable and provide lots of traction. Thirdly, the neoprene-padded stem prevents harsh impacts. Finally, this bike comes in a wide variety of colors, so you can deliver the goods in their favorite shade! The recommended inseam is 11.8 inches – 18.1 inches. Your kiddo will love the look and feel of this balance bike.

Buy this balance bike from:

Saddle Height?
DrivetrainBalance bike
Frame MaterialMagnesium
Claimed Weight?

Shotgun Dirt Hero 12″ Balance Bike

The Shotgun Dirt Hero 12 in. balance bike is meticulously designed to assist the youngest riders in learning skills and fostering confidence on trails. Equipped with front and rear 12 in. wheels featuring a thru-axle design and paired with 2.25 in. Vee Tire Co. MTB tires, this bike ensures stability and traction on diverse terrains. Additionally, it includes three colorful skins, providing children the opportunity to customize their ride to reflect their personality. Moreover, the weather-sealed headset enhances durability and longevity, safeguarding against the elements and ensuring a lasting outdoor adventure experience.

Buy this balance bike from:

Saddle Height13-17 inches
DrivetrainBalance bike
Frame MaterialAluminum
Claimed Weight8 pounds 12 oz

Comparison chart: Best 12-inch wheel bikes for 1, 2 or 3 year olds 

Alpha Zero
Strider 12 Classic
Balance Bike
Co-op Cycles
REV Balance Bike
Woom 1
Balance Bike
Airo Balance Bike
Saddle Height11.5-15.6 inches11 inches12 inches10.2-14.5 inches?
Drivetrainbalance bikebalance bikebalance bikebalance bikebalance bike
Frame6061 aluminum alloyaluminum alloyaluminum alloyaluminum alloymagnesium
Brakesrear V brakesnonenoneV brakesnone
Claimed Weight8.5 pounds6.7 pounds9.3 pounds7.4 pounds13 pounds

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