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 four balance bikes and one pedal bike. Why? 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 minimum seat height. Then look for a balance bike with the largest diameter wheels that will accommodate your child.

Pedal bikes

If at 2-3 years old, your little rider has already mastered the balance bike, but is still small enough, the Cleary Gecko 12 is an amazing first pedal bike.

Note: Taller 2-3 year old kids may fit better on a 14-inch or even 16-inch wheel bike. Check out our lists of Best 14-inch bikes and Best 16-inch bikes before making a purchase.

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, cost 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

Vitus Smoothy Balance Bike

The Vitus Smoothy balance bike is one of the lightest, most durable and stylish on the market. The Smoothy features a unique cast Magnesium frameset that features a useful carry handle and integrated footrests for coasting. The headset upper and lower bearings make the steering control smooth and reliable. Fine tune the height of the handlebars.

Vitus has a specially designed balance bike saddle that features a ‘scoop’ shape so your child will be sat in the correct position all of the time. This ensures they can steer effectively and are positioned perfectly, giving themselves the best possible change of balancing effectively. Also, the seat-post is fully height adjustable allowing room for growth

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

Cleary Gecko 12 Single Speed

The Gecko 12” single speed bike is an great option for introducing cycling to your little one. Firstly, this tiny kids pedal bike is light. In fact, it weighs just 15 pounds for the coaster brake or 13 pounds for the freewheel option. Secondly, the Gecko single speed includes front and rear child-specific hand brakes on both coaster brake bike, and freewheel option. Thirdly, the saddle, grips, handlebars and brake levers are designed for little riders. Fourthly, Cleary designed the bike geometry to enable riders to sit on the seat with their feet safely planted on the ground. Both seat height and reach to the handlebars are adjustable with one bolt, to easily optimize the fit.

Buy this balance bike from:

Saddle Height?
DrivetrainSingle Speed
Frame MaterialAluminum/Alloy
Claimed Weight13lbs

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

Alpha Zero
Strider 12 Classic
Balance Bike
Smoothy Balance Bike
Woom 1
Balance Bike
Cleary Gecko 12
Single Speed
Saddle Height11.5-15.6 inches11 inches12 inches10.2-14.5 inches?
Drivetrainbalance bikebalance bikebalance bikebalance bikesingle speed
Frame6061 aluminum alloyaluminum alloymagnesiumaluminum alloyaluminum alloy
Brakesrear V brakesnonenoneV brakesV brakes
Claimed Weight8.5 pounds6.7 pounds7.1 pounds7.4 pounds13 pounds

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