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What is it about kids and their ability to seemingly grow several inches in height over the course of a day? It feels as though one week they're happily trundling around on a balance bike, picking up skills that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and the next they're looming over you requesting food and a new 26" wheeled bike. Don't despair - our guide to the best 26" wheel kids bikes is here to help!
The move through wheels sizes can be pretty rapid as they approach the teenage years, and up until recently trying to find an appropriately sized 'tween' bike was a real headache. The options were limited to say the least and many older kids were riding around on adult bikes that were too big and affected their riding ability.
Thankfully, the industry has woken up and realised that kids don't jump off 24" wheel bikes straight onto adult 27.5's. The number junior bikes with suitably sized frames and 26" or 700c wheels is thankfully increasing all the time.
In this post we take a look at hybrid bikes with 26" wheels that are suitable for mixed terrain riding. They're be great for kids wanting to cycle to school during the week, but wanting to do something a bit more adventurous at the weekends and during the holidays. They all have flat handlebars and no suspension. If you're looking for something a bit more specialist, then check out our other posts:
We've ordered the bikes by price, cheapest first, based on the recommended retail price (RRP). In general the more you pay on a bike, the better the components and the ride experience, but all bikes listed are well specified, lightweight and should give your child a fun, yet safe, riding experience, and so all deserve a place in our list of the best 26" wheel kids bikes. If we've missed off your favourite, please do let us know in the comments at the end of the page.
Squish bikes launched to the market in 2017 and are the own brand of the cycle distributor Tandem Group Cycles that currently have the likes of Dawes, Academy and Claud Butler on their books. The vision for Squish is to create a high quality but fun looking bike that is lightweight and perfectly tailored for kids.
We are pleased that Squish have realised that kids vary in size as they grow, and provide a choice of frame sizes for older kids. This is something that some of the premium brands have been doing for a while, and it's good to see Squish doing similar.
The Squish 26 comes with a 13" frame for those with a minimum inside leg of 67cm, and a 15" frame for those slightly taller (with a minimum inside leg of 70cm). The bikes are available in three paint jobs that have been designed to appeal to older kids. They are a lot more subtle than the more "fun" paint schemes on the smaller Squish bikes.
The 8 gears (Shimano 8spd 11-32T cassette coupled with a 32T single chainring) should be sufficient for most lumps and bumps.
With a lightweight triple butted alloy frame a full build weighs in at respectable 9.88kg, and a price of £299.99
The Squish 26 is available to buy from a number of local bike shops across the UK. If you don't have a stockist close by, you can also buy online from Tredz cycles. They are sometimes available on Amazon too.
The Wiggins Chartres Junior 26 is the largest hybrid in Sir Bradley Wiggins' brand of kids bikes, and comes with a 9 speed Shimano Altus drivetrain, Clarks disc brakes and a Suntour triple chainset (giving a total of 27 gears). If your child is confident at changing gear, then this will suit them - for less experienced riders a bike with a single chainset up front may help simplify matters for them.
The weight of the Chartres 26 is given as 11kg (approximately). The Wiggins Chartres 26 has a retail price of £325 and is available exclusively from Halfords.
There's no doubting that Frog bikes are popular, and with good reason. They have tapped into a rich seam of need for quality kids bikes at just the right time and delivered exactly what the kids bike buying public wanted - a great looking, well specified lightweight bike that will last several kids and still be going strong.
Frog currently have two frame sizes with 26" wheels, with a third (larger bike) coming in 2018. The smallest of their 26" wheelers is the Frog 69 (for kids with a minimum inside leg of 69cm - usually aged about 10-12 years). The next size up is the Frog 72, for those with a minimum inside leg of 72cm (typically aged between 12 and 14 years of age).
For older / taller kids the Frog 78 will be a great bike when it's launched in 2018.
Frog Bikes all have a lightweight frame which comes in a great range of paint colours. Weights for the Frogs are given as 10kg.
The 26" wheel bikes come with an 8 speed Shimano gear system operated by thumb shifters and having an 11-32T cassette. All Frog Bikes come with two sets of tyres so you can be confident the bike will handle both road and off-road equally well.
The Frog 69 has a retail price of £340 and the Frog 73 is currently listed as £350. When it is available, the Frog 78 will cost £370.
Where to buy Frog Bikes
Frog Bikes can be found in bike shops around the world! However, if you prefer to buy on line, we've included some links below.
From one of the most famous names in the cycling world of yesteryear, Raleigh are rightfully back with an excellent line up for the UK market that includes a great range of children's bikes.
An attractive looking bike due to it's simplicity, the Raleigh Performance Junior 26 is labeled up as a mountain bike however fits the bill of a great hybrid bike perfectly. What's a label anyway?
The Junior 26 has 8 speeds to choose from via the Shimano Revoshift gripshifter, and an 11-32 cassette mated up to an own brand 32T chainset that combines to give a useful spread of gears.
Specified with Kenda small block tyres, the Junior 26 should be equally at home on paths, trails and roads. A rear plastic mudguard is also supplied - a useful addition for keeping your back dry!
The Raleigh Performance Junior 26 has a retail price of £340.
Cuda Performance are going through an exciting period of design with new models coming to market. Early 2018 sees the new CP26 being released, and this is Cuda Performances multi purpose offering for children aged around 10 years and over.
With a double butted aluminium frame and cromoly forks, the CP26 is certainly mixing it up with the other manufacturers of this style and type of bike.
Braking is supplied by Tektro and there is the usual 32T single chainset matched to an 11-32T cassette with 8 gear options. Alloy hubs and rims are shod with Kenda small block tyres to give great grip on a variety of surfaces.
The Cuda Performance CP26 has a stated weight with pedals fitted of 11.2kg and has a retail price of £340.
The Academy range is the premium junior offering from Dawes Cycles. The 26" wheel version comes in both 13" and 15" frame sizes, with a lightweight triple butted 6061 aluminium frameset matched to a cromoly fork.
With a simple but effective 8 speed system comprising a 32T chainset (with age appropriate 152mm length cranks) and an 11-34T cassette, the Academy 26 is suitably geared for most eventualities.
The specification has been carefully selected to keep overall weight in check and this shows as the Academy 26 comes in at a respectable 9.87kg.
The Dawes Academy 26 has a retail price of £379.99.
Pioneers of quality lightweight kids bikes, Islabikes have been producing quality kids bikes since 2005 - long before anyone else realised the demand. Their all purpose hybrid bike - the Beinn - come in two 26" wheel versions to take account of the size differences of children.
The Beinn 26's come with a frame that is designed to fit a child like a glove. Components are proportioned for children's bodies; narrower bars for smaller hands, low q factor (distance between crank arms for comfortable pedalling) and the aluminium frame tubes have been specified to be strong but thin walled to save weight.
Islabikes manufacture a high proportion of componentry themselves, but have specified SRAM gearing for the Beinn range, with a twist grip selecting one of 8 speeds.
Available in either a small 13.5" frame (62cm - 74cm inside leg) or in the large 15" (60 - 80cm inside leg), the Beinn 26 weighs in at 9.4kg and 9.9kg (pedals included) respectively and costs £439.99
The Bonaly range is definitely a subscriber to the philosophy of 'keeping it simple', with its rigid fork, low centre of gravity and of course, light weight. It's technically a mountain bike, but with its rigid forks it's suited to mixed terrain (although probably not the best choice if your doing lots of on-road riding).
Hoy have specified Shimano Acera for the derailleur, shifter and brakes and although this groupset isn't bejewelled with all the bells and whistles of higher range offerings, provides a damn fine bang for the buck.
The 8 speeds come via a 32 toothed front chainring matched up to an 11-34T cassette, with the power transferred to ground through Kenda Small Block 8 tyres.
The stated weight of the Hoy Bonaly 26 is 11.6kg on Evans website.
From the Squish to the Hoy, we've tried to cover bikes at a variety of price points in our list of the best 26" wheel kids bikes. If we've missed off your favourite, please do leave us a comment below, telling us what the bike is, and why you love it so much.
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