The best 18" wheel kids bikes - 2019
There's a strange anomaly within the kids bike market. There are lots of 18" wheel bikes out there, which fit in the gap between a 16" wheel starter bike and a geared 20" wheel bike. However, the vast majority of them are what we'd term "Bike Shaped Objects" - they're heavy and not particularly well specified and we wouldn't really recommend them to you. The majority of quality kids bikes manufacturers don't have an offering in this wheel size. However, in the past year or so several decently specified, lightweight single speed 18" wheel kids bikes have come along. If your child is at that inbetween stage, when they're not quite tall enough for a 20" wheel bike then here's our advice on the best 18" wheel kids bikes.
Why would you want an 18" wheel bike for your child?
Younger but very tall children, or those with additional needs, might not be able to handle the complexity of gears that most 20" wheel bikes have.
Some manufacturers have addressed this with single speed 20" wheel bikes, such as the Frog Single speed 52 (£300) and the Islabikes Cnoc 20" (£329.99)
Other children of around about the age of 5 or 6 years of age may have outgrown their 16" wheel bike but are a little bit too small for the larger frames sizes that come with 20" wheel bikes. There are some small framed 20" wheel bikes available, including the Frog 52 (£325) and the Islabikes Beinn 20 Small (£390) but most are a big leap up from a 16" wheel bike.
However, all these options are quite pricey for what may be a temporary stop gap bike before the transition to a bigger bike, so here's our pick of the best quality 18" wheel kids bikes currently available in the UK. The choice is very limited at the moment, but one of my predictions for 2019 is that there will more well specified 18" wheel bikes coming along.
At the current time all these 18" wheel bikes are single speed, which can be annoying if your child is old enough to cope with gears but too small for a 20" wheel bike, or if you're riding on hilly terrain and could do with manually changing their gears for them. Perhaps bike manufacturers will come up with a solution in the near future? Watch this space!
The best 18" wheel kids bikes
If you're new to buying kids bikes, then you ought to read these two articles first:
Then you'll understand why we recommend these bikes over some of the cheaper 18" wheel bikes you may see in the shops.
Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended bike
Lightweight and packed with great components, the Squish 18 looks great with its vivid blue and green paintwork. It's a single speed bundle of fun, that has a long wheelbase to give confidence and easy to use 'child-sized' components that are perfect for smaller hands. The colour is really attractive, and when our tester feasted her eyes on it, she was smitten. The minimum saddle height is 50cm with Squish advising that the bike is suitable for children with a minimum height of 110cm (about age 5 years and over)
The Squish 18 is adorned with lightweight alloy components including chainwheel, wheel hubs and rims. Small block tyres are fitted to give good grip on a variety of surfaces, so the Squish 18 can be used for fun in the mud too.
It feels as though it's been well thought out and put together, not only in its structural design but also in how it has taken the desires of a child into account too. A cool sticker set accompanies the bike and these can be used on the frame or anywhere else that takes their fancy.
Its design is on the money too. Paintwork is hardwearing, the colour scheme works well and it's just fun. As a little one, you'd want to ride it as it looks a blast. Little touches like the green brake outer cables match the green on the frame are pleasing on the eye.
The Squish 18 is very light, due to its triple butted alloy frame. Weighing in at just 6.96kg, it really is class leading, with virtually all other 18" wheel bike currently available being made of much heavier steel frames, or else aluminium frames with steel forks and components.
You can read our full review of the Squish 18 here.
Squish Bikes are sold through a network of local bike shops, where you can check the bike is the correct fit for your child before you purchase. Plus you're also supporting your local independent bike shop at the same time.
However, if you don’t live near a Squish Bikes stockist, then buy online at Tredz Bikes, who offer free UK delivery. They will also give Cycle Sprog readers a £10 discount if you use the code SNG7NYG2 at the checkout.
BUY NEW ===> BUY THE SQUISH 18 AT TREDZ BIKES AND ENTER CODE SPROG10 AT CHECKOUT FOR £10 OFF
BUY SECONDHAND ==> The Squish 18 has been out just long enough now for the occasional bike to come up second hand on Ebay, but it will be a number of years until there's a lot available used.
Cycle Sprog recommended brand
If your Cycle Sprog is desperate to get a proper mountain bike, but isn't quite old enough to handle a 20" wheel bike with gears, then the Cube Cubie 180 should keep them happy during the waiting phase.
The Cubie 180 is inspired by Cube's adult and junior range of mountain bikes - we've reviewed a couple of Cube's kids mountain bikes and have been really impressed.
Cubes only 18" wheel bike has a lightweight aluminium frame and forks that have been designed to take the knocks and scrapes a little shredder will undoubtedly give it.
The Cubie 180 has front and rear V brake bosses so your child can learn how to control their speed using brake levers designed for little hands. The single speed Hudson 32T chainset is fitted with a Hebie Chainlooper chainguard to keep the chain away from legs and clothing.
The Cubie 180 comes with new width Schwalbe Black Jack tyres which are a mountain bike tyre suitable for all terrain types.
The good news is there's no heavy suspension or gearing to weigh the Cubie 180 down, meaning it weighs only 7.5kg. Not quite a light as the Squish 18, but so much lighter than most of 18" wheel kids bikes available.
The standover height of the bike is 485mm, meaning it should fit an age range of about 4 - 6 years, depending on the height and capability of the rider.
BUY NEW: The Cube Cubie 180 is usually available from either Tredz or Evans Cycles. If you're buying at Tredz, use the code SPROG10 at checkout to get an additional 10% off
BUY SECONDHAND: The Cube Cubie 180 was only released in 2018, so you're unlikely to find many available secondhand at the moment.
Cuda CP18 (RRP £250)
Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended brand
The Cuda CP18 is another 18" wheel bike that is well specified and had a lot of thought and consideration going into the design. It's slightly heavier than the Squish 18 and the Cube, weighing in at 8kg with pedals, but this is still much lighter than the majority of 18" wheel bikes available. The branding is more mature than the Squish, so this bike might appeal to slightly older riders. It comes in three colour schemes - pink, green and red - which are all pleasing to look at.
The saddle height of the Cuda CP18 ranges from 53cm to 66cm so there will be plenty of growing room with this bike. As you'd expect from the Cuda Performance range, the brakes are sized for small hands and it's a single speed so there's no gearing to get confused with.
We've reviewed a few of Cuda's larger geared bikes and have always been impressed with the build quality and performance.
BUY NEW: The Cuda CP18 is available from a network of local bike shops
BUY SECONDHAND: The Cuda CP18 is a relatively new bike and therefore doesn't often come up secondhand on Ebay at the moment, but it's worth checking as they do sometimes make an appearance. Cuda do other bike ranges in 18" wheels, which are heavier and less well specified, so make sure you check the listings so you're aware of which bike you're getting.
Other articles you may find useful:
Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase Cycle Sprog will get a small commission. This doesn't affect what you pay, but does allow us to continue running the website. Thanks for your support.
This post was first published in December 2017 and updated in May 2019 to reflect the 18" wheel bikes currently available.
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