The best 18" wheel kids bikes

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  18" wheel kids bikes have come along. If your child is at that in-between 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.

Here at Cycle Sprog we need to make enough money to feed and clothe our growing Sprogs! One way we do this is by using affiliate schemes where possible. This means we may receive a small commission from sales made when our readers click a link and buy a bike. Thanks for your support.

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 (£310) and the Islabikes Cnoc 20" (£320)

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.

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 there are more coming along slowly, and we'll update this post whenever anything new comes along.

18" wheel bikes with gears

Most of 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. There's currently only one geared 18" wheel bike we're recommending, the Black Mountain KAPEL, and it does come at a price!  We'd love to hear if you know of any others we can add to our list.

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.

Black Mountain KAPEL (RRP £449)

Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended brand

Black Mountain Kapel Mode 1 Small

If you're looking for a bike to see your child through the next few, uncertain years, then look no further than the brand new Black Mountain KAPEL.  It's the latest release from this innovative Welsh company - a "growing" bike that can be ridden in balance bike mode before becoming a bike with gears (the only 18" wheel bike with gears we've found) when your child is ready to make the step up.  The frame has two different size positions so there is plenty of room for growth.

You can find out what Penny thought of the smaller sized SKOG Black Mountain Bike here, and why she's keen to upgrade to the next size.

Black Mountain give an upper age for the KAPEL of around 7 and a half years, or an approximate height range of 110 - 128cm. You "dial down" the 18" wheel bike to fit where previously you'd have had to go out and buy a 16" wheeler when your Sprog outgrew their 14" wheels.  If this is a bit small for your Sprog, then they also do a bigger 20" wheeler called the HUTTO, which has the same technology, but more additional options, including suspension and disc brakes.

Weights for the KAPĒL are given as 6.7kg in Balance Bike Mode and 8.1kg in standard setup (without pedals) and 8.4kg with pedals.

Order now:  The Black Mountain Kapel can only be ordered via the Black Mountain Website

Cube Cubie 180 (£329) - save 10% with our code

Cycle Sprog recommended brand

Cubie 180 is a new 18" wheel kids mountain bike

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 as 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 available from Tredz

SAVE £5 ON THIS BIKE AT TREDZ: If you sign up for the Tredz newsletter (which you can do from their homepage) before you complete your purchase, they will immediately give you a £5 gift voucher - nice!

BUY SECONDHAND:  The Cube Cubie 180 was only released in 2018, so you're unlikely to find many available secondhand at the moment. 

Squish 18 (RRP £279.99) - save 10% with our code

Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended bike

Squish 18 Aqua - 18" wheel kids 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.

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.

Buy Now:  Squish 18 at Tredz Bikes

TOP TIP! If you sign up for Tredz newsletter (which you can do from their homepage) they'll immediately send you a voucher code for £5 off your first purchase, which you can apply to your basket before you checkout and pay for the bike.

Cuda CP18 (RRP £250)

Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended brand

Cuda CP18 - an 18" wheel kids bike for children aged 4 to 6 years old - no gears

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 March 2020 to reflect the 18" wheel bikes currently available.

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