Home > Biking with Kids > 2018 Buying Guide to the Best 14 inch Bike: Boys or Girls

 

The kid in your life is ready for their first pedal bike! What a happy day for every bike loving caregiver out there.

In this guide you will find everything you need to know to make the right decision on the best 14″ bike for the kid in your life.

 

Overview 2018 Best Kids’ Bikes: 14 inch

BrandModelRecommended Age (years)Weight in kg (pounds)Brake StyleCost
PelloRomper3+6.8 kg, or 6.35 kg with freewheel/no coaster brake
(15.0 lbs with coaster; 14 lbs with freewheel)
v-brake (rear only)Check Prices
SpawnYoji 14"2.5+5.9 kg
(~13 lb)
v-brakeCheck Price
IslabikesCnoc 14 Small3+6.04 kg
(13 lb 5 oz)
v-brakeCheck Price
IslabikesCnoc 14 Large3+6.3 kg
(13 lb 14 oz)
v-brakeCheck Price
NorcoBlaster3+n/av-brakeFind a local dealer
Woom23-4.55.15 kg
(11.35 lb)
v-brakeCheck Price
PreveloAlpha One3-4.56.5 kg, or 6.1 kg with freewheel kit
(14.4 lbs, or 13.45 lbs with freewheel)
v-brakeCheck Price ($USD)
Check Price
PreveloZulu One3-4.57.2 kg
(15.9 lb)
disc brakesCheck Price ($USD)
Frog433-46.46 kg
(14 lb 4 oz)
v-brakeCheck Price
ClearyGecko 12"2.5+6.8 kg with freewheel; 7.7 kg with coaster
(15 lb with freewheel; 17 lb with coaster)
v-brakeCheck Price

*Please note: Islabikes.com is closing their doors some time this year and currently (as of early October, 2018) their stock is on sale. Islabikes is not going out of business but rather is shifting their focus back to their home market of the UK, as well as Europe.

 

How to Buy the Best 14″ Kid’s Bike

Your preschooler is starting to look extremely out of proportion on their balance bike, they are insistent on being ready for pedals, or you are convinced they are! It is time to upsize to a proper kid’s bike, with pedals and brakes.

 

14 inch Bike: For what age?

Most kids are ready for the transition to pedals around 3 years old if they have been riding a balance bike. Ready physically (i.e. height and fit) as well as developmentally (i.e. coordination, etc.).

Our eldest was almost 3 and our youngest was about 2.5, but she did not fit the bike and needed help starting and stopping because she couldn’t touch down.

If your kid is eager at a younger age or is on the shorter side, your best bet is likely the Islabikes Cnoc Small or the Spawn Yoji 14″.

While your child may cling to their balance bike for another season or two — our kids both went back and forth between balance and pedal bikes for a while — they are likely ready for pedals when they say they are. Check out the balance bikes for older kids recommended here if they are still really stoked on their run bike. Thankfully, there are several great real kids’ bikes out there that are designed for this age group in mind, with proper hand brakes as well as child sized levers, cranks, and geometry.

A 14 inch wheel bike age range is roughly 3 to 4.5 years old. Some start as young as 2.5, some may fit it until they are close to 5. Depends on the kid’s height, their growth, and their readiness.

 

The basics

So it’s time to go bike shopping, but where to start?

Ideally, you will have your kid try the bike in person at your rad local bike shop at which time you will check the standover height (see below) and look to see how stretched out they are (reach or cockpit).

Can they reach the brake levers? Check.

Unfortunately, many of the best lightweight, high quality 14 inch kids’ bikes do not have a local dealer and are only available online. If this is the case for you, go and try some regular department store style 14″ bikes on for size to help you figure out what works for your child so that you can make the best online purchase possible. Keep it real, do your kid a favour and do not buy a heavy and very likely poorly assembled department store bike.

 

Lightweight 14 inch bike

Please keep the weight in mind, something especially important when starting young children on pedal bikes. The bike’s weight relative to your little ripper’s really makes a big difference in building a love for the sport. A lighter bike is easier for them to maneuver, while getting on or off and is less of a blow if the bike hits them in a crash.

All of the bikes in this particular guide are lightweight and the companies building them recognize that lightweight matters (except for the Norco, the weight is not listed). The lightest bike in this guide is the WOOM 2.

 

Fit

This is not the time to maximize your dollars and buy the next frame up because it jussssst fits. Believe me, we made that mistake once, almost twice. Too small is far better than too big.

 

Cockpit

Being too stretched out can be remedied a bit with a shorter stem (or reversed stem, although that doesn’t always work) or different handlebars, otherwise your little rider might get numb hands on longer rides.

Minor adjustments can be made by moving the seat fore/aft, but do you really want to be making component changes on an already spendy kid’s bike though? No. Find the bike that fits.

 

Standover height

If your kid is barely clearing the top tube they will be wobbly getting on and off the bike and crashes will hurt even more when they slam their crotch on the top tube before their feet touch the ground.

Measure your child’s inseam by putting a book between their legs and having them gently push the book up as high as comfortable. Measure the distance from their flat, bare feet on the floor to the top of the book, i.e. their inseam. (While you’re at it, get your bare-footed kid to stand against a wall and figure out how tall they currently are; not the most important measurement, but you can recommend it to the manufacturer’s recommended heights for their bike.)

Compare their inseam measurement to the standover height or recommended inseam from the bike’s manufacturer (see below). Aim to have 3-5 cm (~1-2″) of clearance or match the recommended minimum inseam for your child for easier dis/mounting of their new 20 inch bike and for less chance of them slamming the top tube if they fall forward when ripping it up.

So, to make sure you buy a bike that is not too big, aim for their inseam measurement plus 3-5 extra centimetres (or ~1-2″ more) to equal the manufacturer’s measurement for standover height.

 

Seat height

With your child sitting on the seat, they should at least be able to touch with their tippy-toes, preferably the full front half of their foot for extra stability and confidence, especially since they’re likely transitioning from a balance bike where they are used to having lots of foot control. The minimum seat height should not be much more than their inseam measurement; theoretically, the inseam measurement equal to minimum seat height means they could sit on the bike with feet flat on the ground.

 

Extra details on fit

Here are some more specific details on fit that might help to paint a better picture of how these bikes might fit your child. Hopefully you can try one out in person, but if not this should help:
BrandModelRecommended Age (years)Minimum Inseam
in cm (inches)
Standover Height
(mm)
Top Tube Length
(mm)
PelloRomper3+38.1 cm
(15")
381
(saddle height range: 444.5-552.5 mm)
SpawnYoji 14"2.5+35.6 cm
(14")
355 (theoretical)
IslabikesCnoc - Small3+33 cm
(13")
(saddle height range: 13-16.5"/330-419 mm)
IslabikesCnoc - Large3+38.1 cm
(15")
(saddle height range: 15-19"/381-482.6 mm)
NorcoBlaster3+420337 (theoretical)
Woom23-4.5(saddle height range: 410-490 mm)350 (effective)
PreveloAlpha One 14"3-4.5(saddle height range: 397-445 mm)349 (effective)
PreveloZulu One 14"3-4.5(saddle height range: 406-635 mm)330 (effective)
Frog433-443 cm
(17")
340 (effective)
ClearyGecko 12"2.5+38.1 cm
(15")
356
(14")
322 (effective)

 

Brakes

None of the bikes listed in this guide on buying the best 14 inch bike for your kid use coaster brakes. All bikes listed here use hand brakes and it is what I recommend as the best choice out there.

Unfortunately, in the USA coaster brakes are required for this size of bike even if they have hand brakes, so the bikes will likely need to have a freewheel kit added on to get rid of the coaster brake. WOOM handles this nicely with a freewheel kit. These kits are essentially a rear wheel with a freewheel hub (instead of a coaster brake hub), so you will need to change over the tire and put the wheel back on the bike, including hooking the chain on the rear cog. I hope that I haven’t made it sound too complicated, it’s not a tricky job and YouTube can help!

When we were kids, there were no special kid-sized brake levers as there are nowadays. Yes, we successfully grew up on coaster brakes (and may even prefer them for our low-maintenance winter bike), but hand brakes are where it’s at. This is especially important for a kid learning to use a pedal bike for the first time. Both of my kids were back pedal-ers before they figured out forward pedalling; if they had coaster brakes it would have been extremely confusing. In fact, my eldest borrowed a single speed coaster brake bike last year while we were on holiday and it was a disaster for her.

Most 14″ kids’ bikes have Tektro v-brakes and they work just great in our experience. While they might not be the disc brakes that you are now so accustomed to, yourself, v-brakes are more than sufficient for riders in this ability and age group.

 

Gears

Gears are not yet an option for this sized bike which is good because it keeps things simple and lighter.

 

Training wheels

If your child has successfully been using a balance bike, you will not need training wheels. If they are just beginning to ride and haven’t had the chance to learn to balance on a balance bike, I highly recommend it. There are balance bikes aimed at this age group or you could buy them a good lightweight pedal bike and remove the pedals, cranks, and bottom brackets while they master balancing and braking. When they’re ready, put them back on.

 

14″ Bikes: Styles

The frame styles for little kids’ bikes are in the urban/hybrid category and some times they lean more towards a mountain bike with a slightly more aggressive stance.

 

14 inch Balance bike

There is a 14″ Strider aimed at the 3-7 year old crowd that can be either a balance bike or pedal bike. This seems like a great option for a less confident rider, late starter, or for a kid who still loves their 12″ (or smaller) wheeled balance bike but has grown out of it. When ready, you just add pedals to this model of Strider! The only drawback that I can see is that the brake option is a coaster/back pedal brake.

There is also the newer balance-bike only WOOM 1 Plus that has 14″ wheels and is aimed at the 3+ balance bike loving crew!

That said, any bike can be transformed into a balance bike by either removing the pedals or having your local bike shop removing the entire bottom bracket (plus cranks and pedals along with it). My little brother did this for his kids and when they were transitioning to a pedal bike, they had the same bike in a different colour with the cranks and pedals on. My nephews were super familiar with the geometry and handling of the bike so it worked well.

Check here for more information on balance bikes for all ages.

 

Hybrid and mountain bikes

Most of the bikes suggested here are hybrids, also suitable for early mountain bikers.

I would caution you against getting a bike with shocks for your young child. Kids this size barely have the body mass to actuate a front shock so this feature really just adds unnecessary weight to their bike.

One aspect of that I really like about the mountain bike options on the market are the wider 14 inch bike tires that they come with, giving the kids a nice wide and cushioning platform to work with.

One brand listed in the recommendations, below, went with a 12″ wheel.

 

14 inch BMX bikes

BMX bikes are sweet. They have a great sloping top tube making them easy to get on-and-off of and the racing models are very lightweight in their basic design. There seems to be a decent used market for them, too.

A feature of BMX bikes that I love (many other brands of bikes take advantage of this in their 14″ and 16″ wheeled offerings): an adjustable handlebar that you can lean fore/aft to change the reach of the cockpit.

Whether or not you get a BMX bike, be sure to spend some time at your local pump track for skills development (plus, it’s super fun).

 

Budget

Let’s face it: these bikes are not cheap. Lightweight kids’ bikes is a niche market that is growing so there is a bit more competition now, but it’s still not budget-friendly. But, you know what you are doing and consider this an investment. You’re just like us: you want to support your kid’s journey into biking because you want to share your passion with them and you know that the right gear helps accelerate their ability. It is more fun to ride a bike that is less than half of your body weight than one that is 3/4 of your weight!

Chances are if you are actually researching what 14 inch bike to buy your kid, you are not heading to the department store because you are looking for something lightweight and good quality. Or, perhaps you’re hoping to support your local bike shop (LBS) instead of a big box store.

Some of these brands can be found at most mainstream LBSs, others at only boutique ones, and most are only available online.

Having sunk a crap tonne of cash into our eldest’s first pedal bike, I have been reassured that the resale value of these beautiful bikes is excellent. So, while it may cramp your cash flow, be confident that (unless the bike gets stolen) you will recoup the majority of your hard earned coin while haven given your kid the best chance at becoming proficient at cycling and loving it. You’ll also be buying a bike that will last for siblings; our Spawn is still in excellent shape even after a few years and two kids’ use.

 

Used 14 inch children’s bike

They go like hot cakes! On kijiji or our local kid’s outdoor playgroup Facebook group, any high quality kid’s bike that goes up for sale is gone within days and has multiple offers. Some bikes resell for practically full price.

Set up alerts on an app on your phone. That’s what I did, and I still was usually only second to contact the seller so have yet to succeed in buying second hand but highly recommend it.

Start your hunt months ahead of time and good luck!

 

Our Family’s Choices

After great success with our lightweight Strider, we searched for a lightweight 14 inch bike. There were not many options on the market at the time and we wanted to support local.

 

1. 14 inch mountain Bike: Spawn Yoji 14″

We ended up choosing a Spawn Furi (now the Yoji) because they were a local brand (initially based in our hometown of Calgary, Alberta — they are now located in Squamish, BC), were fairly lightweight, and had nice 1.9″ wide mountain bike tires.

Our eldest started on this bike. We took the pedals off (not the cranks), she used it as a balance bike for about a week — getting accustomed to a bigger bike and hand brakes, then we put the pedals back on at her request and she was off!

Our youngest is currently on this bike. She insisted upon riding it last summer when she was 2.5 years old even though she could not yet touch the ground! After initially back pedalling, she figured out pedalling and then she was off, too (although we had to stay close for starting and stopping, especially at first, as she could not touch — she eventually figured out how to stop on her own by the end of the summer, tilting the bike enough to touch down on one side). She just turned 4 years old so we will finish out this season on the Furi and will likely move to our 16″ wheeled Spawn Banshee in the spring.

Check prices online here.

 

Other excellent choices

Here are eight more suggestions for high quality 14″ bikes for your little ripper. We have or know people who have happily used every brand listed (except Cleary, which look too rad to not include in this list):

 

2. Pello Kids’ Bikes: 14″ Pello Romper14" bike for kids

Pello bikes are newer on the lightweight scene — we were unaware of them four years ago when in the market, at least. They look great!

Nice upright positioning, 2.1″ wide tires, partial chain guard, and high quality components — like a Cane Creek headset — make this bike a good choice.

Of note, it only has a rear brake which helps to keep things a bit simpler for young kids as well as reduce the weight and price of the bike. A freewheel hub adaptor kit is available to get rid of the rear coaster brake after purchase (recommended) and with it installed the bike weighs 14 lbs.

Check prices online here.

 

3. WOOM Bikes: WOOM 2lightweight 14" bike

I am in love with WOOM bikes and the WOOM 2 is no exception. The lightest of them all at a measly 5.15 kg (11.35 lb) and very well built with great attention to detail.

The thing that I like most about WOOM bikes is their upright stance which helps to ground the kids on the bike and give them a positioning similar to their balance bikes. The WOOM 2 has both front and rear brakes and also comes with a coaster brake which I highly recommend switching out for their freewheel hub. Lightweight aluminum frame, good components, and a full chain guard seal the deal for me.

Check out their nice smooth helmets, too! A great helmet should echo the shape of the human head and theirs does.

Check prices online here.

 

4. Islabikes 14 inch: Cnoc 14 (small or large)high quality kids bikes

A long time player on the high quality lightweight kids’ bikes scene, Islabikes is definitely worth a look at. However, their presence in North America is waning with their recent announcement to close their USA office and focus on their home market of the UK, as well as Europe. The good thing here is that their bikes are on sale while stock lasts!

These seriously lightweight bikes even offer great add-ons like fenders, perfect if you live in a wet climate and really hard to find for this size wheel unless you DIY.

They even have two offerings of their Cnoc 14, acknowledging that kids really do grow at different rates.Their large has a slightly higher top tube and BMX style handlebars, instead of the flat-bar found in the small.

Check prices for the small online here. (Large)

 

5. Norco bike: Blaster 14″ Freewheel

Norco is a popular choice as it is widely available. While they tend to be decent build quality they are on the heavy side, so look elsewhere if that is important to you — personally, it is my top consideration.

Definitely look for the freewheel version of their 14″ bike or don’t buy it.

Check details online here.

 

6. Prevelo: Alpha One 14″ Kid’s Mountain Biketop 14 inch bike

Spawn and Prevelo are the brands you go to if you are a mountain biking families! Prevelo has two 14″ bike offerings: the more hybrid style Alpha One and the Zulu One with disc brakes and beefier 2.1″ mountain bike tires. Here is a complete overview comparing the two bikes.

Lightweight, high quality components, a nice two-sided guard on the chain ring, front and rear hand brakes, freewheel kit, plus great build quality make Prevelo bikes a top choice.

Check prices online here (Alpha One). (Zulu One)

 

7. Frog Bikes: Frog 43lightweight 14 inch bike

Our 20″ Frog 55 has proven to be very durable and well made so I also highly recommend this British brand of well built children’s bikes.

At 14.2 pounds, this is one of the more lightweight 14 inch bike options on the market. I also trust brands that recommend their bikes as being balance bikes for bigger kids, like Frog does with this model.

Check prices online here.

 

8. Cleary Bikes: Cleary Gecko 12″Starter Pedal Bike

Cleary decided to go with a 12″ wheel instead of 14″ for their smallest pedal bike offering and I have heard wonderful things about this bikes: little rippers hopping on and peddling right away as they transition instantaneously from balance bike to pedals!

This bike is designed to fit kids with an inseam measurement of 15″ to 18″ and the real beauty of it is that the 15″ inseam kid can have both feet flat on the ground with the seat post provided — a key feature for inspiring confidence in that transition from balance bike to pedals, as described above in the fit section. They also seem to have the cheapest freewheel option available (which I highly recommend).

Check prices online here.

 

Other guides

 

Other relevant posts that might interest you

 

Disclaimer: This Mom Bikes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and its partners. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. But, never fear, not every link in this post is an affiliate link; I did not pick these bikes with the slim hope that I could make some referral marketing income: some of these links are not affiliate links and I have recommended them because I truly think that they are the best lightweight 14 inch bike options out there in the North American market that I am aware of. Good luck with your purchase decision and happy trails!

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