I tested dozens of 20-inch bikes and found seven to be the best in terms of quality, functionality, and design.
As a parent, it brings me great joy to find my children enjoying a toy or item I’ve bought them. Bikes are among the best presents you can give a young person. This is why choosing the right bike for your child’s outdoor adventures is increasingly important; not only for their safety but for their enjoyment and development as well!
Read on for a comprehensive, unbiased review for seven of the best 20-inch bikes for kids, along with a thorough buyer’s guide to guarantee your money is well spent.
The Best 20-Inch Bike Overview
- Guardian Kids Bike Ethos – Best Overall
- Schwinn Koen Bike – Best Value
- Mongoose Argus ST Kids Fat Tire Mountain Bike – Best For All-Terrain Applications
- RoyalBaby Kids Bike – Best For Beginners
- Schwinn Elm Girls Bike – Best For Girls
- Mongoose Legion Freestyle Sidewalk BMX – Best For Stunts and Tricks
- Firmstrong Beach Cruiser Bike– Best For Leisurely Rides
7 Best 20-Inch Bikes For Your Child’s Outdoor Adventures
Whether it’s your child’s first or fifth bicycle, here are some of the best 20-inch bikes that are guaranteed to bring a smile on his or her face!
Guardian Kids Bike Ethos – Best Overall
The Guardian Bike Ethos is among the highest-rated children’s bicycles found online, and for good reason.
Apart from its awesome decals, the Ethos comes with an innovative SureStop braking system, kid-specific geometry, and a lightweight design. Well-made and ridiculously easy to assemble, it’s no wonder that this bike is a top choice for many parents.
The Ethos is built with the motto, “Safer, smarter, simpler” in mind. At first glance, the Ethos doesn’t have any special defining features other than its cool outer design. But if you look closer, you’ll surely appreciate the components the bike is equipped with!
Designed with Surestop brake technology, the single-brake lever allows kids to stop 44% faster than regular coaster brakes. This innovation also prevents head-over-handlebar accidents. Moreover, the bike’s custom geometry puts your child lower to the ground, therefore improving his or her stability and safety.
The Ethos is available in three color designs: black/blue, black/red, and pink/aqua.
- Intelligent braking system
- Low center-of-gravity design for better maneuverability
- Attractive, kid-friendly design
- Lightweight design of only 20.7 pounds
- Wheels aren’t ideal for all-terrain riding
Schwinn Koen Bike – Best Value
Schwinn bikes are known for their excellent quality, durability, and design. Throughout its many years of operation, Schwinn has become one of the most popular manufacturers of American bicycles, well-loved by kids and adults alike.
The Schwinn Koen Bike is what many call an all-around entry bike. Designed with young riders in mind, this bike is durable, comfortable, and reliable. Best of all, it looks outstanding; a bike that’ll surely turn heads when your child rides by!
What I love most about the Koen bike is the fact that it’s thoughtfully constructed.
As an example, it’s equipped with two different types of brakes; a rear coaster brake for children who lack arm and hand strength, and a front caliper brake that has the same stopping power as adult bikes. Once your child gets used to coaster brakes, he or she can easily transition to powerful front caliper brakes!
On top of that, the cranks and pedals are positioned forward, making it easier for a child to use no matter the height. For maximum comfort, the seats and grips are purposely designed to be on the smaller side.
Plus, the Koen offers room for growth, making it a suitable option for rapidly growing kids.
- Comfortable design with great proportions
- Decent build at a budget-friendly price
- Easy to put together
- Dual brake options
- The seat is difficult to adjust
- Back wheel doesn’t spin freely
Mongoose Argus ST Kids Fat Tire Mountain Bike – Best For All-Terrain Applications
The Mongoose Argus ST is designed for advanced riders who love going on all-terrain adventures. Apart from powerful mechanical disc brakes, the Argus ST is equipped with a rear derailleur with seven speeds, which therefore makes it suitable for all types of terrain.
With tires measuring a fat 20 x 4 inches, the Argus ST provides a strong, stable ride with better grip and traction. The mechanical disc brakes are smartly installed to improve braking power, stopping even in the most slippery conditions.
Due to the Argus ST’s fat tires and steel-frame construction, this mountain bike isn’t the lightest option in the market. Even so, the alloy rims help keep the weight down, making it relatively manageable for kids.
That aside, the bike’s seven speeds easily allow gear shifting and hill-climbing, making the bike’s weight rarely an issue once it’s going.
Suitable for riders of ages six and above, the Argus ST is designed with an adjustable seat height and a threadless headset to fit riders of all heights.
- Great for children with an adventurous streak
- Thick wheels provide extra cushioned rides
- High-quality gear and brake system
- Ultra-rad look
- Quite heavy
- Not the most affordable
RoyalBaby Kids Bike – Best For Beginners
If you’re searching for a beginner’s bike that has it all, you might want to check out the RoyalBaby Kids Bike.
Available in seven eye-catching colors, including the ever-popular Snow White, Hot Fuchsia, and Ocean Blue, the RoyalBaby is well-loved for its design, safety, and functionality.
With wide, 2.4-inch pneumatic tires for increased stability and dual caliper and coaster brakes, the RoyalBaby is created with safety as a priority. It’s also equipped with non-slip resin pedals, a chain guard, and a sturdy steel frame.
Another great feature is its super easy-to-install design. In fact, 95% of the bike is already assembled! Moreover, the height and angle are fully adjustable, making it a great option for growing kids.
- Solid build and finish
- Fully adjustable
- Easy handling
- Multiple color options
- Handlebars don’t rotate completely
- Chain and pedal movement isn’t the smoothest
Schwinn Elm Girls Bike – Best For Girls
Available in gorgeous colors of pink, purple, and teal, the Schwinn Elm is sure to make your little princess feel like, well, a princess!
Although popular because of its fabulous designs, the Elm isn’t just a pretty face; it’s loaded with Schwinn technology that’ll have you raising your brows in admiration.
Similar to the Schwinn Koen, the Elm is equipped with two different brakes to help your child transition from beginner to intermediate.
It’s also designed with Schwinn’s SmartStart technology that’s specifically created for kids. It comprises a lighter frame, easy gearing, narrow pedal positions, and forward-facing cranks and pedals.
On top of that, the Elm is proudly made with a Kid-Specific Q-Factor technology, one of which includes narrower pedal positions to match the width of your daughter’s hips. This, therefore, promotes easier handling and peddling for longer durations.
The seats, saddle, and slack seat-tube angle are all adjustable to match your daughter’s height as she grows. Apart from the bike itself, the Elm comes with a saddle handle, a chain guard, a kickstand, a basket, and a number plate.
- Made to support a child’s proportions
- Comfortable fit
- Improved safety due to dual brake system
- Sturdy steel frame
- The chain would sometimes malfunction
Mongoose Legion Freestyle Sidewalk BMX – Best For Stunts and Tricks
The Mongoose Legion BMX is a thing of beauty. Among all the bikes I’ve tested and reviewed, the Legion BMX is the only one that made me go ‘wow!’ from the design alone.
The red Legion is my personal favorite because of its wheels and grip, but you can also choose from six other different models and colors. The white/purple option is particularly chic, in my opinion!
Equipped with a premium Mongoose Hi-Ten Steel frame and fork, this bike offers a durable and responsive ride that’ll last years. It’s super-fast, too; with a 40x16T BMX gearing with durable one-piece forged steel and 170-millimeter cranks.
The wheels are made with cast aluminum with sealed bearings and a cable detangler handlebar that spins a full 360-degrees. Along with its freestyle Mongoose pegs, the Legion BMX supports almost every bike trick in the book.
- Multiple color and model options
- Reliable performance
- Sturdy steel frame and durable fork
- Great for learning stunts and tricks
- Not the easiest to assemble
Firmstrong Beach Cruiser Bike – Best For Leisurely Rides
The Firmstrong Beach Cruiser is designed for children who love riding at their leisure.
With its mid-fat tires, laid-back geometry, and oversized dual-spring seats, the Cruiser allows your child to ride for long hours without tiring themselves. It’s the perfect bike for riding on the beach or around the neighborhood.
For easy pedaling and smooth braking, the Cruiser is equipped with pedal-backwards coaster brakes and front and rear fenders. If your child’s a beginner rider, the Cruiser allows you to easily install a pair of training wheels on the back of the bike.
The saddle’s shock-absorbing technology makes riding fun and effortless; never again will your child be bothered by the odd bump and gap on the road! Despite its super simple design and single-gear, the Cruiser won’t disappoint in terms of speed.
- Reminiscent of a classic beach cruiser; simple yet appealing
- Multiple color options
- Dual spring oversized seat for extra comfort
- Relatively lightweight at only 23 pounds
- Doesn’t come with accessories or extra gear
Features and Factors to Consider When Buying a 20-Inch Bike
Not every bike is worthy of being ridden by our beloved children! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different models and brands out there, so it’s quite challenging to pick the best among the seemingly never-ending list.
To help you with your search, here are some factors and features to consider before buying a 20-inch bike:
20-inch bikes are generally designed for children between the ages of six and eight. Even so, it isn’t uncommon to find 20-inch bikes that are designed for children under the age of six, and over the age of eight. It all depends on the bike’s design and your child’s height and build.
Therefore, it’s best to measure your child’s inseam and overall height before shopping for a bike. If your child is particularly tall for his or her age, you might want to consider buying him or her a 24-inch bike, instead. If they’re quite small, you might want to shop around for 16-inch bikes.
As follows are the recommended wheel-size per age group, inseam, and height:
|16 inches||4 to 6 years||16 to 22 inches||3’4” to 4’ (41 to 48 inches)|
|20 inches||5 to 8 years||19 to 25 inches||3’7″ to 4’5” (45 to 54 inches)|
|24 inches||8 to 11 years||23 to 28 inches||4′ to 4’9″ (49 to 59 inches)|
|26 inches||10 + years||25 + inches||4’6″ (56 + inches)|
It might be tempting to buy your child a bike that’s several inches bigger than what’s written on the recommended chart above, in hopes that they’ll grow into it in a few months or years.
However, the extra size and weight may not only frustrate your child, but it might also be a potential hazard. As such, I highly recommend parents to buy a bike that fits their child’s age.
One of the most desirable features of a bike is its weight. As professional bikers always say, the lighter the bike, the easier the ride! This rule applies to bikes for all ages.
Ideally, your child’s bike shouldn’t weigh more than 30% of his or her weight. This is especially true for small, light children.
Steel bikes are much heavier than aluminum bikes, so you might want to keep an eye out for the latter.
Bigger tires also equal more weight. Adult riders prefer bigger tires because of the extra traction, speed, and handling it provides. However, young children don’t necessarily need to worry about acceleration, cornering, or biking through rough surfaces, unless your child is an aspiring cyclist!
The same is said for gears additions such as kickstands, suspension, and more.
If your child is a powerful and experienced biker with years (or months) under his or her belt, definitely indulge them in ‘professional’ biking gear and equipment! For many kids, gears are a favored addition to their bikes and will make their riding experience more enjoyable.
With that said, do try to keep the bike under 50% of your child’s weight after the included additions to prevent them from struggling while riding.
There are two types of brakes commonly found on 20-inch bikes: coasters and hand brakes.
Coaster brakes are designed for children who lack the arm and hand strength to operate or push the bike’s hand lever. Even so, I’ve found that coaster brakes don’t offer the same control that hand brakes do, so I typically avoid them. Unless absolutely necessary, I always go for handbrakes rather than coaster brakes.
Hand brakes have a much more efficient stopping power than coaster breaks. You’ll find them in selections referred to as v-brakes, rim brakes, and disc brakes.
V-brakes are the most popular option because they’re easy to maintain and replace, even on the go. The same is said for rim brakes, except their braking performance is often affected by water and mud.
Disc brakes are the best and most expensive option among the three, as their braking power is unaffected by rain, mud, or snow, and doesn’t cause damage to the tire’s rims.
Bike accessories come in many different forms. Some are equipped with lights, reflectors, and pedals, while others come with water bottles, cages, bells, baskets, and more! There are also bikes that come with nothing at all, or with training wheels, tassels, and Spokey Dokeys.
If your little one is fond of long bike rides with his or her friends, it might be worth buying a bike with bells, lights, and water bottle holders. If he or she uses the bike to ride to school or to a neighbor’s house, get them a bike with a detachable basket. You know what’s best for your child, so the decision is in your hands!
Parents understandably want to buy the best for their kids, but sometimes the ‘best’ costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Keep in mind that cost doesn’t always dictate quality or functionality. While browsing through dozens of bikes online and in local bike shops, I’ve discovered a fair amount that cost less than what I had initially anticipated for all they had to offer!
20-inch bikes can cost as low as $50 to as high as $1000, the sweet spot being $200-$350. Buying a used bike is also a great option, provided that it’s relatively new and undamaged.
Bikes that cost under $100 are often heavy, weak, and would fall apart after several short months. More importantly, safety isn’t always guaranteed when buying low-priced bikes. If given a choice between a $100 second-hand bike and a $100 new bike, you’re better off with the former option.
In terms of quality, design, and overall performance, my pick for the best 20-inch bike is hands down the Guardian Kids Bike Ethos. Apart from its impressively build, it’s lightweight and relatively affordable, making it a great option for young riders.