Best 26″ kids’ bikes 2024

Whether your child has been riding bikes since they were a toddler, or is just beginning their cycling journey, investing in one of the best 26” kids’ bikes is the best way to set them up for success. 

While buying smaller kids’ bikes for younger children can be a lot simpler, in that there tends to be less variation between the different options on the market, when it comes to bigger bikes for bigger kids, suddenly you’re faced with a huge amount of choice. 

With so many brands competing on the market, you can expect the best kids’ bikes to offer more than just a good paint job. It’s at this point that you’ll start to see a lot more variability between builds from different bike manufacturers, with some bikes coming equipped with higher quality components than others, which inevitably pushes the price up. 

What’s more, at this age children have more opportunities to branch out into different cycling disciplines as well, which means it’s not just as simple as buying a 26” kids’ bike. You now need to decide which type of bike they need. We’ll guide you through this shortly.

Best 26" kids' bikes: two children riding side by side towards the camera on mountain bikes on a gravel path

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options on the market, then this guide should help simplify everything for you. We’ll help you establish which type of bike best suits your child’s riding style, and then provide you with our pick of the absolute best options on the market, catering to a range of budgets. 

If you still need some more buying advice, you’ll find a handy Q&A section at the bottom of this article that answers some of the most common questions.

Once you've chosen a bike for your child, don't forget to kit them out with one of the best bike helmets for kids., and since their heads grow as much as their bodies, don't miss our useful guide to how to measure your child's head for a bike helmet.

Cycle Sprog is a reader-supported website. When you buy through links on this page we may earn an affiliate commission.

Which type of bike do they need?

We wish it was as simple as measuring them and choosing whichever bike fits the budget, however if your child is going to continue cycling into their teens, then you want to make sure they’re set up on the perfect bike that suits the style of riding they're into, and that they’ll love riding for years to come.

It’s worth noting that many of these bikes can serve multiple purposes. If your children love doing a bit of everything, opt for an urban/hybrid bike. If they love mountain biking but are also riding to school, a mountain bike can handle both.

Hybrid bikes

If they’re mainly using their bikes to get around, whether it’s cycling to school in the week, going for leisure rides on mixed surfaces like gravelly towpaths and traffic-free cycle routes — and crucially, they’re not looking to race — then a hybrid bike could be perfect. The best 26” hybrid bikes are essentially a cross between road and mountain bikes, with flat handlebars and slightly chunky tyres, offering the best of both worlds.

 

Best 26" kids' bikes: girl in a blue hoodie lifting the Blue Riverside 900
Best 26" kids' bikes: a boy on a mountain bike in a gravel path

Mountain bikes

If your child loves ripping around the woods on muddy, bumpy trails, then getting them one of the best 26” mountain bikes will keep them happy on the trails. These usually come with suspension forks that lessen the impact from riding on bumpy surfaces, making it safer and more comfortable. They will often have good brakes and a wide range of gears, since mountain biking involves a lot of climbing and descending. They usually have flat handlebars and chunky tyres full of air and a knobbly tread, for grip in the mud.

 

Road bikes

If they’re joining you for a Sunday club ride, they’re showing interest in racing, or they simply love riding fast on tarmac at the weekends, then consider investing in one of the best kids’ road bikes

These are designed to be ridden on tarmac, and to be as efficient as possible. They’ll usually have drop handlebars, which puts the rider into a more aerodynamic position, and as a result the brakes and gear levers are different to those found on flat handlebars. Many 26" wheel road bikes come with a set of cross-top brake levers on the flat part of the drop bar, creating a dual braking system that helps youngsters transition gradually to fully using the drop bar levers. Road bikes will also come with skinnier tyres in order to keep up the pace, and tend to be lighter in weight, as a lot of road riding is about speed.

 

Best 26" kids' bikes: A girl riding an Islabikes Luath road bike in a race
Best 26" kids' bikes: Three children with step-through city bikes chatting in front of a bridge

City bikes

City bikes are similar to hybrids in many ways, in that they're designed to be practical and mostly ridden on paved surfaces. However unlike hybrids, which can also be taken off-road to a certain extent, city bikes are designed more for urban transportation. They're not always as rugged as hybrids, but they can be set up with mudguards and racks in the same way. What sets them apart usually is the frame design. The best kids' city bikes tend to have a Dutch-style step-through frame that puts the rider in a 'sit up and beg' riding position. This can be very comfortable but not always ideal for climbing steep hills. It does however make it easier to mount and dismount if your child has mobility issues. It also makes them skirt-friendly, which is partly why these types of bikes tend to be thought of as "girls' bikes", but they're suitable for anyone who wants to ride them.

 

Specialist bikes

Less common, but not unheard of, there are also some specialist bikes on the market that are worth knowing about. Gravel bikes are incredibly popular nowadays, and perfect for riding on light trails and towpaths. Some families enjoy bikepacking together, and a gravel bike can make this a lot more fun. Meanwhile, there are cyclocross bikes available with 26” wheels, perfect for youngsters who enjoy racing in the winter slop, getting muddy and taking on fun obstacle courses at the weekend. Or, for indoor racing enthusiasts, you can even get brakeless fixed gear track bikes destined for the velodrome.

 

Best 26" kids' bikes: A boy cycling on grass in a cyclocross race

Best 26” kids’ bikes: hybrid bikes

Hybrid bikes are perfect for everyday use. They’re designed to offer the best of both on- and off-road, delivering a comfortable and efficient ride on a variety of surfaces. They’re generally the most popular kind of bike, because they’re all-rounders, so if your child does a bit of everything, or if they’re new to cycling and aren’t sure if they love it yet, then one of these will set them up for some two-wheeled fun.

B’Twin Riverside 900

Best budget option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A blue B’Twin Riverside 900 hybrid bike on a plain background

  • Price: £329.99
  • Weight: 10.5kg
  • Height: 135-150cm
  • Colours: Blue

Buy if: You need a simple and affordable bike for riding in a variety of places

The B'Twin Riverside 900 is a great affordable option if you’re on a budget. At this price point you can expect a sturdy aluminium frame and fork, combined with child-specific components that are mostly unbranded but still do the job well. 

The Riverside 900 is equipped with 1.75” thick tyres for a comfortable ride on mixed surfaces, and 8-speed gearing with trigger shifters designed for small hands. Stopping power comes from V-brakes, which are simple to use and maintain at home, and included with the bike are reflectors, a bell and a battery-powered front light. It’s also compatible with mudguards, pannier rack and kickstand, which can be bought separately.

For more detail, read our B'Twin Riverside 900 review.

Squish 26

Best mid-range option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A red Squish 26 hybrid bike pictured on a plain background

  • Price: £424.00
  • Weight: 9.3kg
  • Inseam: 67-79cm
  • Colours: Blue, Grey, Green

Buy if: You need a choice of frame sizes

The Squish 26 comes with two frame size options (13" and 15") so you can choose the right size for your child's height and inseam measurement. Both options come with 26" wheels and will have the same rolling efficiency, but you can make sure the frame itself is easy for your child to mount and dismount.

A practical bike ideal for riding around town and to school, the Squish 26 features Shimano 8-speed gearing, Tektro Mini V-Brakes with thumb shifters, and mounts for a bottle cage, mudguards and rear rack.

Woom 6

Best premium option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A red Woom 6 hybrid bike on a plain background

  • Price: £579.00
  • Weight: 9.5kg
  • Inseam: 73-86cm
  • Colours: Red, Green, Blue, Grey

Buy if: You want the best quality and have money to spend

At this price point you’re getting higher quality components that will last longer before they need replacing, while also being designed specifically for children. 

The aluminium frame and fork is equipped with SRAM X4 8-speed gearing, V-brakes with easy-reach levers, and 2” Schwalbe Little Joe tyres for a plush ride on mixed surfaces. Also included are Woom’s own ergonomic saddle, lightweight wheels, and adjustable Vario stem, which allows you to adjust the geometry as your child grows to help keep them comfortable for longer.

We've got a whole database of kids' bikes available, so if you want to keep looking, check out all the 26" kids' hybrid bikes we'd recommend.

Best 26” kids’ bikes: mountain bikes

Perfect for the muddy thrill-seekers, mountain bikes are designed to tackle trails and uneven surfaces while making the ride comfortable and safe. Unless your child’s super confident and skilled, opt for a hardtail mountain bike (one that has a suspension fork only). If the options here aren’t what you’re looking for, check out our larger roundup of the best 26” mountain bikes. If and when they’re ready to level up, we’ve got a guide to the best kids’ full suspension mountain bikes.

B’Twin Rockrider 26

Best budget option

Best 26" kids' bikes: An orange B’Twin Rockrider ST500 mountain bike on a plain background

  • Price: £279.99
  • Weight: 14.3 kg
  • Height: 135-150cm
  • Colours: Orange

Buy if: They’re new to mountain biking and don’t need the bells and whistles

If they’re just getting started with mountain biking, or you’re on a tight budget, B’Twin’s bikes often offer up a good bargain. What you can expect at this price point is a solid build with unbranded but still decent components. The Rockrider 26 is built around an aluminium frame and suspension fork that offers 90mm of travel to soak up the bumps of the trails. 

7-speed gearing should be sufficient for most off-road riding, and the 1-to-1 gear ratio means they’ll have a decent climbing gear for tackling all but the steepest hills. V-brakes offer simple and reliable braking, while the 2” wide knobbly tyres can help keep them upright and balanced on uneven terrain. Additional accessories you can add separately include a kickstand, bottle cage and mudguards.

Squish MTB 26

Best mid-range option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A green Squish MTB 26 mountain bike on a plain background

  • Price: £599.99
  • Weight: 12.5kg
  • Inseam: 68–80cm
  • Colours: Green

Buy if: They’re getting more serious on the trails

If you’ve got a young ripper who’s serious about the trails, then a mountain bike with good quality components will make for much longer-lasting fun. The Squish MTB 26 is a great option for this, because it comes with quality components, like the Tektro mechanical disc brakes for powerful stopping on the downhill segments, and SR Suntour suspension fork with 100mm travel and a hydraulic lockout. This gives them all the finetuning they need to climb efficiently so they can make the most of the descents.
8-speed Shimano Altus gearing gives them enough leeway to traverse different gradients, while the bike still boasts child-specific finishing kit, like the easy-reach Shimano Rapidfire trigger shifters and Tektro Junior Specific brake levers. And because they’re still children after all, Squish includes a sticker set so they can make the bike their own.

Scott Ransom 600

Best premium option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A green Scott Ransom 600 full suspension mountain bike on a plain background

  • Price: £1,749.00
  • Weight: 13.9kg
  • Height: 135+cm
  • Colours: Green

Buy if: They’re a budding downhill daredevil

The Scott Ransom is an excellent option for budding downhill or enduro racers, starting at 135cm in height. The custom butted alloy frame comes equipped with a 140mm X-Fusion Slant RC suspension fork, coupled with a 130mm X-Fusion rear shock, both fine tuned specifically for a child rider.

One of the key features of the Scott Ransom is its Flip Chip technology, which allows you to swap out the 26” wheels for 24” ones, meaning you’ll get a lot more use out of it as your child grows. It also makes a great option if there’s a younger sibling who’ll benefit from it once the elder one is done with it. It also boasts a Syncros Dropper Post and 2.4” Kenda Hellkat tyres, making this a fantastic premium option for the serious rider.

We've got a whole database of kids' bikes available, so if you want to keep looking, check out all the 26" kids' mountain bikes we'd recommend.

Best 26” kids’ bikes: road bikes

Streamlined, efficient and speedy, the best kids’ road bikes are great for kids who love to ride fast and conquer the open road. There aren’t as many of them on the market as there are mountain bikes, but thankfully there are some great quality options to choose from.

Van Rysel Triban 100

Best budget option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A red Van Rysel Triban 100 road bike on a plain background

  • Price: £349.99
  • Weight: 10.2kg 
  • Height: 135-150cm
  • Colours: Red

Buy if: They’re just getting started with road cycling

The Van Rysel Triban 100 26” road bike is designed purely for paved surfaces. The aluminium frame and fork is paired with a mixed Shimano and Microshift 7-speed drivetrain, providing a decent enough range of gears for most road cycling, alongside dual Tektro brake levers. This means there are two sets: one on the top of the handlebar, and another integrated into the drop bar levers. This helps them progress from flat bar riding to drop bar riding with confidence.
The skinny 25mm B’Twin Resist 5 tyres offer efficient rolling and stability, while the bike comes complete with battery-powered lights, a bell and wheel reflectors. It’s also compatible with mudguards, a rear rack and a bottle cage, which you can add separately.

Islabikes Luath 26

Best second-hand option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A grey Islabikes Luath 26 road bike on a plain background

  • Price: £799.99 new, reduced second hand
  • Weight: 8.7kg
  • Inseam: 65-75cm
  • Colours: Grey

Buy if: You want a second hand bargain

Since it’s discontinued, the Islabikes Luath, once a premium option, can now be found at a much reduced price if bought second hand. The Luath is a versatile do-it-all drop bar bike that can be used for road cycling and triathlon, as well as cyclocross and gravel if you swap out the tyres. If your youngster is keen to dabble, then the Luath is a great versatile option.

The aluminium frame and carbon fork combination makes it super lightweight, while the Tektro cable disc brakes and 8-speed Shimano Claris gearing makes for a high quality drivetrain that should last through a lot of use. Compatible accessories you can add yourself include mudguards, a rear rack, kickstand and bottle cage.

Frog Road 70

Best premium option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A blue Frog Road 70 road bike on a plain background

  • Price: £720.00
  • Weight: 9.3kg
  • Inseam: 67-84 cm
  • Colours: Blue

Buy if: You want a brand new do-it-all drop bar bike

If you have money to spend and your child is serious about all types of cycling, then the Frog Road 70 is an excellent 26” versatile drop bar bike. It’s designed for road cycling and triathlon, but similarly to the Luath, it's versatile enough to handle cyclocross and light gravel, thanks to the second set of tyres that come included. The aluminium frame and fork is combined with Shimano Sora 10-speed gearing, making it a great option for hilly rides.
Tektro Oryx cantilever brakes are solid and reliable, and the Frog Road 70 also comes with dual braking lever systems so your child can progress to drop bar braking in their own time. It comes with a range of accessories, including a bell, bike reflectors, wheel reflectors, paint plasters, and frame protector patches. You can also add a bottle cage and mudguards.

While there aren't currently many other drop bar bikes around at the moment, keep an eye on our bike database for all 26" road bikes.

Best 26” kids’ bikes: city bikes

Similarly to hybrid bikes, city bikes are predominantly designed for practical transportation. You can fit a rack and mudguards to them, making them ideal for the school run or getting around town. The step-through frame is their most distinctive feature, creating an upright and comfortable riding position, and also makes them skirt-friendly. Contrary to popular belief, they're not just girls' bikes.

 

Frog City 67

Best mid-range option

Best 26" kids' bikes: A black Frog City 67 city bike on a plain background

  • Price: £590.00
  • Weight: 9.61kg (with pedals)
  • Inseam: 63-81 cm
  • Colours: Teal, Pink, Black

Buy if: You want a complete riding-to-school setup straight off the shelf

If you can’t bear the thought of searching for compatible accessories to make your child’s bike school run-ready, consider paying a bit more for something that’s good to go, straight off the shelf. The Frog City 67 comes set up with mudguards, a rear rack, kickstand, bell, reflectors and a chainguard. All you need to add is a pannier and some lights. As an added bonus, its step-through frame puts the rider in a comfortable upright position, perfect if you live in a relatively flat area, plus it’s skirt-friendly.

The aluminium frame and fork is combined with 8-speed Shimano Altus or Microshift Mezzo gearing and easy-use trigger shifters. Tektro V-brakes are paired with easy-reach levers, while the 1.5” Kenda City tyres deliver a smooth and comfortable ride on tarmac.

Woom Now 6

Best premium option

Woom NOW 5

  • Price: £839.00
  • Weight: 12.8kg 
  • Height: 142-167cm
  • Colours: Blue, Green

Buy if: You want a fully-equipped and practical carrier

The Woom Now 6 is a unique design among the rest of this list, sporting a 26-inch rear wheel coupled with a 20-inch front wheel, to accommodate a built-in front carrier for transporting bags, sports equipment, or whatever else your youngster might need to take with them. 

Chunky tyres make light work of Britain's pot-holed roads, and the included wide mudguards make it practical year round. It also features a dynamo hub with lights that don't ever need charging, disc brakes for weather-proof stopping power, and a frame-mounted bag for storing other essentials.

 

If none of these are what you're looking for, then check out the rest of the 26" bikes listed in our bike database.

Best 26” kids’ bikes: specialist bikes

Similarly to road bikes, there aren’t that many specialist kids’ bikes widely available just yet, but we’ve scoured the internet and consulted with parents in our community to bring you the best options right now. Gravel and cyclocross bikes can sometimes be interchangeable if you’re struggling to get and not the other. Cyclocross bikes are designed more for racing, but both bikes are capable of fun and fast off-roading.

 

Boardman ADV JNR 26

Best for the budding bikepacker

Best 26" kids' bikes: A grey Boardman ADV JNR 26 adventure bike on a plain background

  • Price: £480.00
  • Weight: 10.5kg
  • Inseam: 68–80cm
  • Colours: Blue

Buy if: You’re planning some family bikepacking trips

Bikepacking as a family has never been easier, and the Boardman ADV JNR 26 means that your youngster can load up their bags and pedal through the wilderness right alongside you. It’s both on- and off-road capable, thanks to its lightweight triple-butted aluminium frame and fork, 1.5” Vee Rubber Speedster tyres, while the Tektro Mira cable disc brakes offer up excellent stopping power.
The Shimano 8-speed rear derailleur coupled with a Microshift shifter offers a wide range of gears for tackling a multitude of gradients. Specifically, the combination of a 32T chainring with 34t rear cog means it’s ideal for spinning up steep hills. Meanwhile, it’s got mounts for mudguards and a rear rack, and plenty of space for bikepacking bags so you can tailor it to your family’s adventures.

Frog Track 70

Best for the budding track racer

Best 26" kids' bikes: A green Frog Track 70 track bike on a plain background

  • Price: £470.00
  • Weight: 7.77 kg (inc. pedals)
  • Inseam: 67–79cm
  • Colours: Green

Buy if: Your child is destined for the velodrome

The Frog Track 70 is a track bike for young racers aged 11-14. It’s a specialist bike designed for racing in a velodrome or outdoor track racing circuit, and as such it doesn’t come with brakes, has single speed gearing, and features a ‘flip flop’ hub, which means you can turn the rear wheel around to switch between a fixed gear or a coasting one. 

Since it’s designed for racing, the geometry of the aluminium frame and fork is track-specific, designed to minimise drag, and focused on simplicity and efficiency. Kenda K196 1” tyres deliver traction and stability without too much rolling resistance, to keep speed a priority. It comes with paint plasters and frame protection, and while it’s out of stock at the time of writing, it’s due back in the next couple of months.

If none of these are what you're looking for, then check out the rest of the 26" bikes listed in our bike database.

How to choose from the best 26” kids’ bikes

If you still need a bit of buying advice, here are some key considerations to make when choosing the best bike for your child.

How much money should I spend on a 26" kids’ bike?

While smaller bikes tend to have a little less variability between builds and price points, 26” bikes are essentially bikes for small adults, and come with a lot more build options. Some brands will use higher quality components, while others will sacrifice one aspect of a bike to make up for the cost of another (e.g. great brakes, but a heavier frame).

The great thing about this is that there are different options to suit different budgets, and there are some great brands out there offering excellent value for money. 

We’d definitely advise against buying something cheap with a price that seems too good to be true (because it usually is), and the cheaper the bike, generally the lower quality it will be. If you want your child to enjoy cycling for a long time, give them the right tool for the job.

In terms of actual numbers, we’d say you should expect to spend at least £250 on a new bike, but prices can go all the way up into the thousands if you’re wandering into specialist territory. 

If you’re on a tight budget, you should also consider buying a good quality bike secondhand, as there are some bargains to be had. Another option is to lease a bike through The Bike Club.

What are the key things to look for in a kids’ bike?

At Cycle Sprog we only recommend bikes that we’d be happy to let our own children (or nieces and nephews) ride, and we've got plenty of kids' bike reviews to prove it. All the bikes we’ve listed here, and in our other guides come from reputable brands who we know make good quality bikes and offer good customer service and warranties. All that is to say, you can trust our recommendations if you’re struggling to narrow down your options.

Of course, if you’re still shopping around for options that we’ve not listed, then these are the key things to consider to make sure you’re buying something that’s good quality for your child.

First of all, check the frame materials and weight. Steel tends to be very heavy, while aluminium offers a great balance of lightness and durability. 

Ideally look for drivetrain components that come from a reputable brand, like Shimano, SRAM and MicroShift, as you won’t struggle to find replacement parts when you need them.

If you’re buying second hand, use our guide to buying a second hand kids’ bike to make sure that you’re getting a good deal, and not buying something that will cost even more money in repairs.

What age range is a 26” kids’ bike for?

Children grow at such different rates that it’s difficult to give a definitive answer to this. Generally, a 26” kids’ bike can be suitable for children ranging from around 10-14 years old, however the best way to figure out if it’s the right size is to get your child’s measurements. We’ve got a handy guide about how to easily measure your child for a new bike, to take the guesswork out of it.

Once you've got their height and inseam length, you can input those into our Kids' Bike Search and let it do the hard work for you!

Is there a difference between boys’ and girls’ bikes?

On the whole, not really, at least not in relation to the way the bikes are built, though some manufacturers still opt for the pink vs blue aesthetic.

Whatever your thoughts on gender and colour, rest assured that if you buy from a reputable brand that makes good quality bikes, then regardless of the colour or stickers that adorn it, the build itself will be suitable for boys and girls alike. 

There are some instances where differences can be a good thing. For example, girls who are cycling to school in a skirt might benefit from a bike with a step-through frame and a chainguard, as these will make it easier to pedal and prevent school uniforms from getting mucky. That said, a step-through frame isn’t just for girls and can work for anybody.

The most important thing is that your child, regardless of their gender, loves the bike they’re riding.

 

If you're still not sure which bike to go for, then try out our Kids' Bike Search below to look at all the best options on the market.

Keep up to date with the latest Cycle Sprog articles

Sign up to receive our newsletter straight to your inbox.

Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.