The best 18″ wheel kids bikes for a 5 year old

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 18″ wheel bikes available are what we’d term “Bike Shaped Objects” – they’re heavy and not particularly well made and we wouldn’t really recommend them to you.

Most quality kids bikes manufacturers didn’t have a bike in this in-between wheel size.  However, in the past year or so we’re really pleased that several decently specified, lightweight  18″ wheel kids bikes have come along.

If your child is at that in-between stage then here’s our advice on the best 18″ wheel kids bikes.

Take a moment to GRAB YOUR FREE KIDS BIKE BUYING CHECKLIST which will help you record all the information you need to find the perfect bike for your child. 

Cycle Sprog is an family run, reader supported, website. We belong to several affiliate schemes so may receive a small commission from sales made from links on our site. We do our best to be impartial and recommend products on their quality not whether they are in a scheme.

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.

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.

18″ wheel bikes with gears

Some children can cope with gears on an 18″ wheel bike, others will not need them. Gears add weight and complexity, and usually don’t make an appearance until a 20″ wheel bike. However, some Cycle Sprogs are ready for them earlier, and they can also be useful if you live in a very hilly area (even if you need to change them yourself!)

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There aren't that many bikes for children who have grown out of their smaller bike but aren't ready to move straight up to a bigger bike with gears. An 18" wheel bike is a good half way house, but you do have to be careful not to buy one that is too cheap or heavy. In this article we look at the best 18" wheel bikes for kids aged about 5 years old

COVID-19 / CHRISTMAS UPDATE - October 2020

There was a huge rush on the sale of kids bikes when the spring lockdown started and as a result there is now a shortage of new kids bikes across the UK. We predict that is going to get even worse as Christmas gets nearer, so it's wise to get sorted early this year. 

If you need a new bike urgently (e.g. for a birthday present) then check out this post Help! Where can I buy a kids bike with quick delivery?

We've kept all our links to new bikes in place in this article, so you can check retailers availability of stock, but we've also added in links for you to look for bikes secondhand (in green).   All the bikes we list are quality bikes built to high standards and make great secondhand buys. 

It's also worth checking out The Bike Club to see if they have any bikes left to lease in the size / brand you want. You pay a monthly subscription and then upgrade to the next size when your child outgrows it. You can cancel at any time. Plus you get a warm glow from helping the environment, as well as avoiding the upfront cost of buying outright. 

The best 18″ wheel kids bikes

If you’re a bit confused about all the different things to think about when buying a bike, then there’s a lot more help in our free kids bike buying checklist, which will take you through the process step by step and gives a handy table to record details about the bikes on your shortlist. 

Black Mountain KAPEL (RRP £449)

CYCLE SPROG REVIEWED AND RECOMMENDED BRAND

KAPĒL Black Mountain bikes bike that grows with your child

Black Mountain KAPEL Key data

Price: £449
Suggested Age Range: 5 – 7.5 years
Height range: 110 – 128cm
Standover height: 47cm
Bike weight: 6.7kg in Balance Bike Mode;  8.1kg in standard setup (without pedals) and 8.4kg with pedals.
Frame: Adjustable “growing” frame
Gears:  Yes – 7 gears (Sunrace 7 speed, 11-28 x 32T)
Brakes:  Tektro V-brake with micro-adjust lever
Tyres: Schwalbe Black Jack 

Colours:  Orange, Green, Blue, Purple
Warranty:  3-year warranty on the frame and forks and a 2-year warranty on non-consumable components. This covers manufacturer faults, but not normal wear and tear (so bits like tyres, tubes, brakes pads are excluded) nor competition use/racing.  The warranty applies to the bike, not just the first owner so can be transferred if you sell the bike on. 

If you’ve got the cash, and are looking for a really good quality bike to see your child through the uncertain times ahead, then look no further than the brand new Black Mountain KAPEL.

It’s the latest release from this innovative Welsh company – a “growing” bike with gears.  The unique frame design has two different size positions the bike grows with your child so you don’t need to worry about replacing the bike as quickly as a standard bike.

This is particularly good at the current time, as bike retailers are struggling with stock levels, so you won’t have to worry about your child growing out of it for a long time!

Black Mountain Kapel Mode 1 Small

The bike can also start off in balance bike mode (with an additional adaptor kit) if required so is a good way to get your child off stabilisers and learning to balance at speed before they start pedalling.

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

Black Mountain gives an upper age for the KAPEL of around 7 and a half years, and an approximate height range of 110 – 128cm.

If this is a bit small for your child, then they also do a bigger 20″ wheeler called the HUTTO, which has the same technology but is sized for children 118cm to 134cm tall.

ORDER NOW:  The Black Mountain Kapel can only be ordered via the Black Mountain Website

Puky 18″ wheel bikes (from £187)

uky 18 inch kids city bike with step through frame for cycling to school every day

 

Puky 18 Key Data:

Price: from £187
Height: 115 to 130 cm
Inside Leg: 49 to 58 cm
Bike weight:  10.3 kg
Frame: Steel
Brakes:  Rear coaster brake, front v brake
Gears:  No
Features:  Luggage rack, low step through frame, chain guard, kick stand (plus basket on some models)
Colours:
  Green and Pink
Warranty:

 5-year on frames, forks and handlebars if registered online with Puky within 4 weeks of purchase

In terms of bike design the Puky 18 is about as far removed from the Black Mountain Kapel as you’re going to get!  With a very traditional step through style “city bike” frame and an upright riding position this is a classic continental style bike from a very long established German brand. Puky are more well known for their robust balance bikes here in the UK, but have recently started making their pedal bikes available.

These bikes are designed with a more sedate urban style cycling in mind than some of the smaller mountain bikes that seem to be the trend at the moment with many brands.  The bikes are steel framed, which is reflected in their heavier weight, but this is a well designed steel frame bike, compared to some of the really cheap offerings you can get at catalogue retailers. Puky apply an impact-resistant and durable powder coating to the bike which encases the metal components like a plastic coating and is UV and weather resistant. It’s apparently also free of toxins and pollutants.

You must also be aware that the rear brake is a coaster brake, which are popular on the continent, but not so much here in the UK. This means your child needs to back pedal to activate the rear brake. Some kids love this, others struggle to transition from using two lever brakes.

Puky have several have different designs available, with varying amounts of accessories (such as baskets) and components fitted.

We know someone who has used a Puky bike for riding to school all year round and they’ve been very pleased with it, especially as their Sprog wanted a more upright riding position.

Buy new:  Puky 18

Squish 18 (RRP £280) 

CYCLE SPROG REVIEWED AND RECOMMENDED BIKE

Squish 18 Aqua - 18" wheel kids bike

Squish 18 Key Data:

Price: £280 
Minimum height: 110cm
Minimum Inside Leg: 50cm
Bike weight: 6.98 kg
Frame: Alloy
Tyres: Dawes Cadence
Gears:  No
Brakes:  Tektro V-brake – adjustable
Colours:  Aqua, Blue
Warranty: Frame and Forks - 3 years; components - 1 year (excluding wear and tear)

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 Squish 18 is adorned with lightweight alloy components including chain wheel, 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.

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 NEW:  Squish 18

BUY SECONDHAND: Squish 18 on eBay

 

Click here for your free guide

Cube Cubie 180 (£349) 

The Cube Cubie is an 18" wheel small kids mountain bike for children who are too small for gears and suspension bikes

Cube Cubie 180 Key Data:

Price: £349
Standover height:  48.5cm
Bike weight: 7.5kg
Frame: Alloy
Tyres: Schwalbe Black Jack
Gears:  No
Brakes:  Alloy V-Brake With Powermodulator
Colours:  Blue/White and Indigo/Mint
Accessories: Can be fitted with training wheels/Stabilisers
Warranty: Frame and Forks – 6 years; components – 2 years (excluding wear and tear)

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 25T chainset is fitted with a 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

BUY NOW: The Cube Cubie 180

 

Wild 18 (£200)

Wild 18 is a great bike for a 5 year old boy or girl who isnt quite ready to move onto a geared bike but has outgrown their single speed smaller bike

Wild 18 Key Data

Price: £200 (with Go Outdoors discount card)
Height range: 110 – 120 cm
Minimum inside leg: 49cm
Bike weight: 7.2kg
Frame and forks: Alloy
Gears:  No
Brakes:  Tektro alloy with Tektro full alloy short reach levers
Colour:  Yellow/red
Warranty: 1 year

Wild Bikes are a relatively new bike range launched by Go Outdoors in 2018.

Everyone we know who has bought a Wild Bike is really impressed with it because you’re getting a good quality, well designed and lightweight bike at a lower price than most of the established names.

Obviously there are differences in the quality of the build and components to come in this cheap, but it’s a great choice if you’re not sure you’re ready to spend on a higher end bike.

The Wild 18 has an upright riding position for a low centre of gravity, and narrower cranks which bring their legs closer together in line with their smaller hips, which combined with the low weight of the bike gives an enjoyable and easy riding experience.

Buy new:  Wild 18 

Buy secondhand:  Wild 18’s come up occasionally secondhand, but they’re a relatively new bike so there’s not that many available yet. 

Click here to download

 

Raleigh Pop 18 (£230)

Raleigh Pop 18 Kids Bike

Raleigh Pop 18 Key Data:

Price: £230
Suggested Age Range: 5 – 7 years
Height range: 112 – 125cm
Bike weight: 9.9kg
Frame: Aluminium
Tyres: 18 x 1.50, black tanwall with puncture protection
Gears:  Yes – 6 gears (Shimano Tourney TZ20 14-28 x 32T)
Brakes:  Aluminium V-brake with adjustable 3-finger brake levers
Colours:  Green, Blue
Warranty:  Standard 12 months – register bike on Raleigh’s website

If you’re looking for an 18″ wheel bike with gears, but don’t have the cash to spend on the Black Mountain, then at the other end of the price spectrum is the Raleigh Pop 18.

Whilst the Pop is almost 2 kg heavier than the Black Mountain it is lighter than a lot of similarly sized kids bikes because it’s got an alloy frame.

Other components on the Pop 18 are mainly steel, so will be heavier and may rust more easily than some of the more expensive bikes so do make sure you keep it well maintained, especially after riding in the rain.

If you’re looking for a geared 18″ wheel bike for some fun and don’t want to spend too much then the Raleigh Pop 18, with its eye catching paintwork, is well worth considering.

Buy now:  The Raleigh Pop 18

 

DISCONTINUED 18″ WHEEL KIDS BIKES

The following bike(s) have been discontinued, but we’ve left them in here in case you are buying one secondhand

Cuda CP18 (RRP £250 in 2019)

Cycle Sprog reviewed and recommended brand

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

Cuda CP18 Key Data

Price: £250 in 2019
Saddle height: 53cm to 66cm
Bike Weight: 8 kg
Available colours: Pink, green, red

The Cuda CP18 was a well specified 18″ wheel bike which had a lot of thought and consideration going into the design.  The bike was discontinued at the end of 2019.

We’ve reviewed a few of Cuda’s larger geared bikes and have always been impressed with the build quality and performance.

BUY SECONDHAND:  The Cuda CP18 wasn’t around for very long and therefore doesn’t often come up secondhand on eBay 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. 

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This post was first published in December 2017 and updated in October 2020 to reflect the 18″ wheel bikes currently available.

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