Our pick of cheap kids' bikes for mountain and road riding that balance great performance with small prices

Looking for a cheap kids’ bike for road or off-road adventures that offers great performance? Look no further.

This can be a tricky one. It can be tempting to choose a bike that your child can grow into, but bikes that are too big can be tough to handle and even tougher to steer.

This means you’ll likely be buying an extra bike or two as they grow, but the better the bike fit, the more they’ll learn to love life on two wheels – just like you!

The most important things to consider when choosing any bike for your child are height, weight and ability. Cheap kids’ bikes tend to be heavier than mid-range or high performance bikes.

So, unless you’re looking for something high-spec, here is a selection of some good performing and budget options to help you buy the best bike you can.

Balance bikes don’t have a chain or pedals and are great for helping children build the coordination they need for riding a two wheeled bike.

Instead of pedalling, tots propel themselves along using their feet and steer using handlebars just like those on the real thing.

Made from aluminium, the Micro Balance is incredibly lightweight, making it simple to manoeuvre but also easy to carry once they’re all scooted-out.

With grippy handles and an adjustable seat, the Banana Bike is a great value choice to get your child riding solo.

It weighs just 1kg more than the Micro Balance Bike and features puncture-proof EVA tyres, with a good tread pattern for traction.

These scoot bikes can be used both indoors and out, but once hooked on the glide, your child will be cruising everywhere so don’t forget to grab the right size helmet at the same time.

This is a slightly more upmarket option if you’re looking for a particularly handsome starter bike.

For children aged four to six, or roughly 105cm to 115cm / 3ft 5in to 3ft 9in, choose a bike with 14in to 16in wheels.

One of the B’Twin’s many pros is the Stop Easy System made specifically for small hands. The brakes are claimed to release 30 per cent more braking power than the average mechanisms and keep the movement more natural, with levers that press parallel to the handlebars.

There’s also a useful guard covering the mechanical elements of the drivetrain to prevent kids popping fingers where they might get caught.

This is a limited-edition model that not only features alloy V-brakes but lightweight Kenda tyres that are suitable for both road riding and rougher terrain.

If you’re looking for a bike to help graduate your child onto their first off-road trails, the Carrera Centos is a lightweight bike that will get them out and about.

The Ridgeback’s off-road tyres offer enough traction and stability for adventurous kids and short, rugged rides.

Boasting the name of one of Britain’s most successful professional riders, Bradley Wiggins, the 16in Chartres features alloy brakes with pinch-free brake levers.

Plus, what we particularly like is that all components have been fitted to the proportions of small riders. It’s a lightweight and forgiving first pedal bike.

For ages seven to ten (height 115cm to 135cm / 3ft 9in to 4ft 5in) choose a bike with 18in to 20in wheels.

You’ll also start to see a wider range of gears appearing and you may find bikes with front suspension, which is more suitable for rough terrain.

With a 6-speed rotational shifter the Schwinn gives easy gear changes as standard for riders making the step up, plus an FS20 suspension fork provides extra comfort.

Wide 1.95in tyres are made for multi-surface use and are ideal for off-road use. It’s a bike you can rely on when getting out and about.

Hoy Bikes’ Bonaly is the brand’s bestselling kids’ bike for a reason. Built under the legacy of Sir Chris Hoy, this bike has narrowed its cranks to bring kids’ pedalling positions closer together to mean no overstretched legs and offer a more comfortable ride.

An easy shift gear lever gives junior riders even more control and should you ever have to carry it for your child, it’s a lightweight frame at 7.5kg.

This 2020 model of the Riprock 20in kids’ bike is designed to give your child freedom over the terrain they want to ride.

Its 20in wheels, 2.8in tyres and custom suspension fork absorb the bumpy stuff, plus powerful brake discs will give your child the confidence to ride the way they want to.

Children aged between 10 and 13 (height 135cm to 150cm / 4ft 5in to 5ft) will usually move on to a 24in wheel bike. At this point, you are likely to find bikes that are essentially smaller versions of adult bikes.

You’ll also start to see different types of bike, from junior-sized road bikes and mountain bikes to hybrid/leisure bikes.

So choose a bike type that’s going to suit the majority of the riding your child will be doing – if it’s mostly going to be off-road, then wide tyres with a grippy tread are a good choice, for example.

Its BMX tyres have plenty of grip and give, while rear-only gears keep things simple for learning off-road skills.

This is a bike built with smaller riders in mind, so the geometry and riding position should be just what they’re looking for.

Built for high-speed road riding, the Wiggins Rouen bike has a 16-speed Shimano Claris drivetrain with Microshift gear levers and Tektro dual cantilever brakes. This is a bike designed for hill-climbing control and tougher rides.

It’s got all the pros of a big road bike but is perfectly proportioned for the smaller cycling enthusiast.

Once you’ve got the bike, you’ll want to buy a few other bits and pieces to keep your child safe, secure and comfortable while they’re riding.

Our buyer’s guide to kids’ helmets offers a few recommendations, as well as help to ensure your child gets a well-fitted helmet.

Finally, if you are considering doing the school or nursery run by bike, we have plenty of advice for commuting with kids too.

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