Best bikes for a 1 year-old

It's really exciting to buy your child (or grandchild) their first bike, especially when they’re raring to get up and about by themselves. If you’re looking for the best bikes for a 1 year-old, you’ve come to the right place.

Believe it or not, toddlers as young as one can experience the joys of riding a bike in their own way, as long as they’ve got the motor skills and coordination they need to balance and scoot themselves along. 

Having said that, it’s important to understand that compared to any other age group, the 12-month period between turning one and turning two involves more skill development than any other.

What this means is that buying a bike as a 1st birthday present will be very different to buying a bike for a child who’s 1 year and 11 months old, for example. That’s why our round up of the best bikes for a 1 year-old baby or toddler contains a real variety of options, including products that technically aren’t ‘bikes’.

To make it easier for you, we’ve ordered them in terms of development, so you can work your way down the list and find something that fits the stage they’re at right now.

At this stage they’re less likely to actually ‘ride a bike’, and it’s more about preparing them for when they’re old enough to ride one of the best balance bikes. Before you go through the list, be sure to check out our top tips section first for the key things to consider, so you choose the right thing for their development needs.

If you’re in a rush and just want a single definitive option, head straight to our quick picks section. Otherwise, we’ve got a full list of recommendations, followed by some detailed buyers’ advice at the bottom, to help you do a bit more research in case you’ve got more questions.

Once you’ve landed on a bike for your little one, be sure to kit them out with one of the best bike helmets for babies and toddlers, and if you’re also thinking about other ways to introduce them to the world of two wheels, check out our list of 7 ways to cycle with a young child, toddler or baby, or our guide to how to start cycling with a small child in a bike seat, cargo bike or trailer.

A little girl seen from behind wearing a blue MET bike helmet


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Quick picks: for parents in a hurry

If you're in a hurry, these are our top picks for different development stages:

  • Best for the full journey: B’Twin Convertible 2-in-1 - converts from a four-wheel roller to a two-wheel balance bike.
  • Best for early rollers: Lena Toddlebike - cheap and cheerful four-wheeler to get babies scooting along.
  • Best for mid-stage steering: Scuttlebug - three-wheeler for confident scooters to learn to steer.
  • Best for older wheelers: Frog Tadpole Mini - a tiny two-wheel balance bike perfect for when they’re nearly 2.

Top tips: choosing the best bike for your 1 year-old

Before you make a purchase, here are some things to consider, to make sure you’re making the right choice for your child:

  1. No pedals: It’s important to understand that at this age children are not ready to start pedalling a proper bike yet, so don’t be tempted to buy them a big bike they can grow into - it will only put them off cycling altogether! At this stage they’ll be learning to balance and scoot along. We’ve got a handy quiz to help you determine, is your child ready to learn to ride a pedal bike? for when they’re a bit older, but don’t rush to pedals too soon
  2. How many wheels? You’re here looking for a bike, but for 1 year-olds the main options are essentially pre-balance bikes, and tend to have three or four tiny wheels. They can be a great way to get them started, and prepare them for learning to ride one of the best balance bikes later. We’ve listed a couple of options that convert into a two-wheeled bike, which can be very handy.
  3. Weight: This is one of the most important considerations to make when choosing a bike for your 1 year-old. They need to be able to lift it if it’s lying on the ground, as well as manoeuvre it around obstacles and corners. So if their bike is too heavy to do that, then they’re going to have a terrible time riding it. Pay attention to the overall weight of the bike you choose, as there are a lot of incredibly heavy bike-shaped toys that aren’t designed for proper use.
  4. Inside vs outside: Some children will only want to scoot around the living room, while others will be raring to get outside. Something to consider when choosing a bike is the type of tyres they have and the level of comfort they offer. Many bikes and ride-ons for this age group come with puncture-proof solid tyres, which are fine for indoor use but can be uncomfortable on uneven surfaces. If you’re heading outside on longer rides, air-filled tyres are much better, but will likely cost more.
  5. Secondhand options: There’s a mixture of price ranges available in this market, and not everyone wants to pay a premium price, but at the same time when you buy very cheap, you tend to end up with something that’s not very good. Consider looking at secondhand options as well, as you’ll often find pre-loved, sometimes discontinued models at a fraction of their original price.

Best bikes for a 1 year-old

Here's our selection of the best ways you can get a 1 year-old onto wheels. They’re roughly in age order based on a mixture of physical development and inside leg measurements.

A note on development stages: For each recommended item we’ve assigned a ‘development stage’, to give you an idea of where your child should be developmentally to get the most out of it. Here’s a breakdown of what they all mean:

  • Early / rolling: They’re just starting out, with three or more wheels, and the focus is on getting them used to scooting along with their feet.
  • Mid / steering: They’re ready to learn to start steering, while still scooting on three or more wheels.
  • Late / balance bike: They’re ready to scoot along on two wheels but aren’t big enough for a 12” balance bike
  • Full journey: A convertible option that starts out as a pre-balance bike and can be transformed into a small two-wheeled balance bike.


B’Twin Convertible 2-in-1

Best overall

Best bikes for a 1 year old: Two views of the Btwin convertible 2 in 1, with its four-wheeled version on the top left, and its two-wheeled version on the bottom right

  • Weight: 2.9kg
  • Type: Pre-balance bike
  • Height: 73-95cm
  • Development stage: Full journey

Buy if: You want something that will help to develop their cycling motor skills from a very young age

While not technically a ‘bike’, many children under 18 months start out on a pre-balance bike (or toddle bike) like the B’Twin Convertible 2-in-1. These tend to be a popular choice with parents who have younger children desperate to get moving on wheels, but are too young to ride a balance bike. It helps them to develop their ability to scoot along, before they’re ready to take on a two-wheeled balance bike. What we love most about the B’Twin is that it can convert into a two-wheeled balance bike later down the line. So if you’re looking for a one-time investment that will prepare them for cycling from a young age, this offers excellent value for money and will see them through from as young as 10-12 months, up until age 3 potentially.

Lena Toddlebike

Best budget option

Best bikes for a 1 year-old: A colourful four-wheeled Lena Toddlebike on a blank background

  • Weight: 0.8kg
  • Type: Pre-balance bike
  • Inseam: 20cm+
  • Development stage: Early / rolling

Buy if: You want a cheap and cheerful option that does the job

The Lena Toddlebike is a great beginner scooter (or pre-balance bike) for when a child has begun walking — usually around 18 months, but it can be earlier — and has an inside leg measurement of 20cm.

It features two wheels at the rear, making it more stable than a balance bike if your child isn’t at that stage yet, and requires more stability.

The geometry is narrower than a traditional three-wheel trike, which enables your child to learn the balance skills needed to progress quickly onto a balance bike when they are ready.

It can be used inside and outside the house, though the plastic tyres may not be suitable for bumpy surfaces, and is REALLY lightweight (less than 1kg).


Best for portability

Best bikes for a 1 year old: The four-wheeled Scramblebug on a blank background

  • Weight: 1.8kg
  • Type: Pre-balance bike
  • Height: TBC
  • Development stage: Early / rolling

Buy if: You’re likely to be carrying it around a lot and taking it to different places

The Scramblebug is a popular choice with parents who have younger children desperate to get moving on wheels, but are too young to ride a balance bike.

It is aimed at ages 10 months to 2 years and has 4 wheels to provide maximum stability for young riders. It’s available in 3 bright colourful designs – green, purple and red.

It’s very lightweight, and features a 3-step simple folding system meaning it’s portable so you can easily take it on your travels.  

The wheels move 360° so the rider can move around in any direction – forwards, backwards and even sideways. The Scramblebug can be used both indoors and outdoors.


Best for learning to steer

Best bikes for a 1 year old: The three-wheeled Scuttlebug on a blank background

  • Weight: 2kg
  • Type: Pre-balance bike
  • Height: TBC
  • Development stage: Mid / steering

Buy if: They’re confidently moving and are ready to learn to steer.

The Scuttlebug has a three-wheel design which is great for stability and is aimed at slightly older toddlers aged 1 to 3 years old.

Available in a range of bright, colourful designs, including bumblebee, butterfly, grasshopper and beetle.

It requires steering, so is the next stage in helping your child develop their motor skills (whilst having great fun and being active).

The Scuttlebug wheels are suitable for indoor and outdoor use and ensures a smooth, quiet ride. It folds in three simple steps meaning it’s portable and can easily be taken on your travels.

Wishbone 3-in1 bike

Best for long-term use

Best bikes for a 1 year old: Three iterations of the Wishbone 3-in-1, stacked vertically, with its smallest version at the top, and largest version at the bottom

  • Weight: 3.03kg
  • Type: Balance bike
  • Inseam: 27-46cm
  • Development stage: Full journey

Buy if: You want something that will grow with your child.

The Wishbone 3-in-1 starts out as a three-wheeler trike for toddlers with an inside leg of 27cm, which easily converts to a small two-wheeled balance bike.

For older children, the frame can be flipped and the seat post extended to cater for children up to an inside leg of 46cm (probably about 4 years).

There is also a 2-in-1 version that skips the trike bit if your child doesn't need it.

Wishbone is a New Zealand based company, and their environmental credentials are worth mentioning. The wooden version is made from sustainably produced birch and the plastic version from recycled carpet fibres and only one product is needed to span several years.

In the UK they’re easiest to get hold of on ebay.

Frog Tadpole Mini

Best for when they’re almost 2

Best bikes for a 1 year-old: the Frog Tadpole Mini on a blank backgrond

  • Weight: 2.9kg
  • Type: Balance bike
  • Inseam: 23-30cm
  • Development stage: Late / balance bike

Buy if: They’re ready for two wheels but not big enough for a 12” balance bike.

The 10” wheel Frog Tadpole Mini is one of the very smallest proper balance bikes available and it’s suitable for children with an inside leg of just 23cm.

While it does have a rear brake, which will allow your child to get used to braking when they are ready, don’t expect a very young child to use them – feet are more than adequate for stopping!

The tyres are pneumatic, which means they’re air-filled, so you can take this bike outside and ride on a variety of surfaces, and there’s a quick-release seat post so that it easily grows with your child.

How to choose the best bike for a 1 year-old

If you still need a bit of guidance, here are some things to consider before making a purchase.

Can a 1 year-old ride a bike?

There can be a real difference in the physical abilities of children at this age, especially between those who have just turned one and those who are approaching their second birthday.
Each toddler will develop at a different rate, so please be patient and don’t force them to ride a bike if they’re not interested or not ready.
If they’re still crawling, then they’re not ready to ride a bike.

What type of bike can a 1 year-old ride?

Of course a one year-old won't be riding a pedal bike, but there are several options available which are mainly suitable from about 18 months and over, although some toddlers will be ready slightly earlier than that, and others a lot later.
A pre-balance bike or toddle bike, which has 4 small wheels, is a great choice to get them started and is suitable from as soon as they can toddle around independently. After that, they can move onto a balance bike.

Does my 1 year-old need to wear a helmet?

Generally it’s not a legal requirement, though that will depend on where you live and where your child will be riding, so be sure to check first. If you do decide to get them a helmet, then the smallest available is the B’Twin 500 Children’s Helmet.

Best baby and toddler helmets

Find out our top picks of the best bike helmets for babies and toddlers.

Should I buy a bike with stabilisers?

No! While we all learned to ride bikes with stabilisers as kids, things have moved on a lot since those days and balance bikes are a much better way for children to learn to ride, especially at this age. A one year-old won’t be able to pedal a bike with stabilisers, but they will be able to scoot along on either a very small balance bike like the Frog Tadpole Mini, or a pre-balance bike, like the many we’ve listed here.

How much should I spend on a bike for a 1 year old?

You really don't need to spend too much on a bike or pre-balance bike. While there are more expensive (and very high quality) options out there, at this stage you can get away with something under £40. Of course, how much you spend is entirely up to you, depending on your budget and priorities.

Is it safe for my 1 year old to ride their bike outside?

Yes, but we’d recommend that you’re very careful about where it is they ride. Ideally stick to areas without any motor traffic, like parks and purpose-built cycle paths, and never leave them unattended.

How do I cycle with my 1 year old?

If you’re thinking about cycling with your 1 year-old in tow, there are lots of options available, from mounting a seat to your bike to pulling a trailer behind you. To get you started, take a look at our guide to 7 ways to cycle with a young child, toddler or baby.

If you want some more personalised suggestions based on your individual needs, you can fill out a short form and we’ll send them directly to your inbox.


Amanda Oakley

Are there any with peddles?
My one yr old wants to move her feet in that motion a lot .

I struggle to find a peddle bike or trike or bucket rider small enough.
Child Height 27” or so

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