(Last updated on March 16th, 2023)
Cycling is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy nature and time with friends and family. With technology taking over a lot of young minds, a great way to break away from it is to get out for a bike ride.
Cycling is quickly increasing in popularity, and kids at much younger ages are now turning to bikes.
The typical age for a child to learn how to ride a bike is between 3 and 8 years old. What’s great about bikes for three year olds is they come in all different shapes and sizes.
You get balance bikes, trikes, and stabilized standard bikes.
In this article, I am going to be telling you:
- Why cycling is great for young children
- What to look for in a young children’s bike
- Some excellent recommendations for bikes
- Buyer guide for the best bikes for 3 year olds
- Frequently asked questions
- Is the Bike Compatible?
- What’s the Ability of the Rider?
- Is the Design Right?
- How Much Do You Want to Spend?
- Do You Have All the Safety Gear?
Why is Cycling Great for Young Children?
Cycling is great for young children for many reasons, and I highly recommend the sooner they get on a bike, the better. Here’s why:
Not only is cycling a great experience for a young child, but it also is a great experience for parents. To see a child learn a new skill and improve their health is rewarding and is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors.
It Builds Confidence
Cycling is a great way to help build confidence in a child. Teaching them a new skill that many other children this age are yet to learn is a great way to give them a positive mind frame. Raleigh has a great article on why cycling is so good for children.
It’s Great for Family Walks
Regarding young children, they can limit family activities such as walking. They are too small to travel a far distance themselves, and buggies are not always convenient. Teaching them to ride a bike can help them travel further distances easier.
What to Look for When Sourcing the Best Bikes for 3 Year Olds?
There’s a lot to consider when looking for the right bikes for a three-year-old. Here’s what to look for in the best bikes for three-year-olds.
The first and most important thing is safety. I look for bikes that have been tested, and that will give a young child the safest experience possible. Click here to find out more about the ISO safety standards.
I look for brands that make excellent products. I want bikes to come from experts who have made the best bikes possible to give young children the best cycling experience possible.
Then we have design. Bikes for three year olds come in many different designs. You have balance bikes, push-along bikes, and standard stabilizer bikes. I review a couple of each type in this article.
Age and Size Range
Although we are looking at bikes designed for children of three years old, I still look for a wide age range of bike ability. This is so the bike will last them more than just a year, or they might be able to use it before they get three years old.
Cost is always an important factor when buying the best bike for 3 year olds. I don’t look for the cheapest or the most expensive but the best value for money.
|Bike||Cost||Style||Pedals||Age Range||Weight||Brake Type||Rating|
|Strider 12”||$190||Balance||No||1.5 – 5||5lbs||None||7/10|
|Best View||$78||Balance||No||1.5 – 5||6.2lbs||None||8/10|
|Radio Flyer||$70||Tricycle||Yes||2 – 5||14.5lbs||None||8/10|
|Joystar 12 inch wheel||$100||Bicycle||Yes||2 – 4||18.5lbs||Front||9/10|
|Ninebot 14 inch wheel||$109||Bicycle||Yes||2 – 7||19.3lbs||Front||9/10|
|XPIY||$70||Tricycle||Yes||2 – 4||10.3lbs||None||10/10|
For Ages 1.5 – 5
1. Strider 12” Pro
|Age||1.5 – 5 Year olds|
- Looks epic with motocross styling
- Wide age range from 1.5 to 5 years
- EVA tires stop punctures
- Only weighs 5 lbs
- Lots of seat height adjustability
- Price is high
- No adjustability on the handlebars
The Strider 12” Pro is considered the best or one of the best balance bikes on the kid’s bike market. It is designed for children from 1.5 to 5 years old, which, like the Best View, offers a great range while they grow.
Children like this bike with its motocross-style number plate and sharp, sporty design. This bike also comes with EVA tires so that punctures won’t be an issue, but the ride won’t be incredibly comfortable, especially on bumpy ground.
It is a great bike with a performance footrest making the downhills super fun for the child. It has many adjustabilities but only on the seat, not the handlebars, like the best view. Coming in at only 5 lbs, it is the lightest bike on this list and is incredibly easy to carry around if your child gets bored on a walk.
The Strider 12” is an excellent balance bike. I can see why it is rated so highly. It is incredibly light at only 5 lbs and looks very cool. It is quite expensive for a balance bike, and I would like adjustable handlebars. If you like the dirt bike style, you might like our article on Kid’s Dirt Bike.
For Ages 1.5 – 5
2. Best View
|Age||1.5 – 5 Year olds|
- Looks great with deep blue paint and green detailing
- Wide age range to compensate for growth
- Great for learning the basics of cycling
- Lightweight at only 6.2 lbs
- EVA Tires mean no punctures
- Great value for money
- EVA tires are not as comfortable as inner tubes
- Very basic design no brakes or pedals
Let’s start this list strong with the Best View. The Best View is a balance bike designed for children from 1.5 to 5 years old. It has a great age range so that it will work for the child before and after three years old.
It’s got a very cool design and comes in a deep blue with green detailing. It’s designed for all different types of terrain with its off-road tires. These tires are made with EVA instead of using an inner tube. It’s a solid foam wheel. To learn more about EVA and Inner tubes, you can read on Global Baby.
The seat and the handlebars are adjustable up and down, making this great for different height ranges. It also has fenders to keep the rider clean and dry, and weighing only 6.2 lbs is incredibly lightweight.
The Best View is a basic balance bike. Still, it is the perfect platform for a child to learn how to cycle. It is a great place to start, with a wide age range and many adjustabilities. The best thing is it’s only $78, so incredible value for money.
For Ages 2 – 5
3. Radio Flyer Tricycle
|Age||2 – 5 Year olds|
- Iconic brand
- Looks excellent in red with a unique design
- EVA Tires for puncture free rides
- The bucket seat makes it very comfortable
- The rear bar can control if required
- Good price
- Unique retro design isn’t for everyone
- It doesn’t fold up or double as a balance bike
The iconic Radio Flyer is one of America’s most popular tricycles. This tricycle performs as great as it looks with its classic styling. You might have heard of the Radio Flyer before, as these tricycles have been sold for many years.
The Radio Flyer is a three wheeled tricycle and is designed for children from the age of 2 – 5, which is a wider range than the XPIY above. The wheels are made for all terrains, and the tires are EVA for a puncture free ride. It’s made with an adjustable bucket seat that doesn’t go up and down but backward, keeping the child low to the ground.
The bucket seat is made to have great comfort for cycling, unlike a bike seat can be sat on for a long time. It also comes with a rear storage compartment for toys or water. It also comes with a bar, so an adult can completely control it if required. Coming in at 14.5 lbs, it’s not the lightest, but quality can weigh more.
I really like the Radio Flyer. It looks fantastic and is a great tricycle for a child to learn to cycle on. It doesn’t offer the gadgets or technology that comes with the XPIY, and it is essentially quite basic. Overall though, for $70, you can’t go wrong.
For Ages 2 – 4
4. Joystar 12”
|Age||2 – 4 Year olds|
- The price is excellent at $109
- Lots of different versions of the same bike wheel size
- Fairly light at 18.5lbs
- The front wheel brake is powerful
- Well thought through design
- A lot of adjustabilities
- One of the best bike with training wheels
- Limited age range
- Air-filled tires get punctures
The Joystar 12 inch wheel is the final bike on our list. This is the smallest wheel bike in the Joystar range. They also offer 14”, 16”, and 18”. You can use either the 12” or the 14” wheel versions for a three year old. The Joystar is a great looking bike and comes in four different colors.
The 12” Joystar bike is designed for 2 to 4 year olds. It is great for all types of cycling terrain and comes with grippy air-filled tires. It has stabilizers for control, a chain guard for safety, and a brake to stop quickly.
It’s a very adjustable frame, and you can heighten or lower the seat and handlebars. Weighing in at only 18.5 lbs for a well-equipped bike, you can tell they have thought about the design to make it efficient. Regarding safety, they have included a hook for a parent to hold onto the rear seat and reflectors.
The Joystar is a very cool bike. I like how it looks. The fact it comes in so many wheel sizes is ideal. The price is great, and it’s very adjustable. There is very little I can say I don’t like apart from the limited age range.
For Ages 2 – 7
5. Segway Ninebot
|Age||2 – 7 Year olds|
|Brake||Front Wheel and Rear Wheel|
- Looks excellent with multiple designs
- Wide age range of 2 to 7 years
- Stabilizers for control
- Excellent twin brakes on a single lever
- Proper wheels, and tires
- 14” inch wheel
- Best bike with training wheels
- Quite heavy at 19.3lbs
- Normal tires mean possible punctures
One of our favorite bikes on this list, and definitely the best design in our opinion, is the Segway Ninebot. This bike is designed for children from 2 to 7 years old and is more of a proper bike than anything else on this list. It also comes in boy’s and girl’s designs, which are cool looking bikes.
It is a smart looking bike packed with excellent hidden features that, on the surface, are challenging to see. The first thing to mention is the frame is not steel like others but lightweight aerospace-grade aluminum. Next, you have the completely enclosed chain ensuring maximum safety.
You have stabilizers to ensure the bike stays upright and a brake lever that controls both the front and rear brakes of the bike. The wheels, unlike the others on this list, are not EVA. They are proper inner tube tires that offer incredible comfort, and you can adjust the pressure. The bell and reflectors are nice accessories too.
The Segway Ninebot is a very cool bike. With epic designs and a wide user age range, it’s a great start to a cycling experience. It has high-quality stabilizers and twin brakes alongside 14” wheels. Besides being heavier than other bikes on this list, there’s not much to dislike about this bike.
For Ages 2 – 4
6. XPIY Tricycle
|Age||2 – 4 Year olds|
|Style||Tricycle / Balance|
- Looks great with a red and black design
- Quite light for a tricycle
- It can be used with or without pedals
- Doubles as a balance bike
- Price is excellent
- The age range is only 2 years
If you don’t like the idea of a balance bike for your young child, then you might consider a tricycle. They give automatic balance and slowly teach your child how to pedal, so it will be easy work when they come to ride a bike. The XPIY Tricycle is one of the best you will find currently available.
It’s a three wheeled bike designed for children from 2 – 4 years old. It has pedals to keep them active, but they are removable if you want your child to use them as a running tricycle. It looks great and suits both boys and girls.
What I like about the design is that it can fold up smaller and be used as a balance bike. It also comes with an adjustable saddle to make it more comfortable. You also have off-road EVA tires, and weighing in at 10.3 lbs for what you get, it’s pretty light.
The XPIY is a great place to start to get a child cycling. It has many different options, from pedals to no pedals and balance bike or tricycle. It’s a nice tricycle; those EVA tires will save you from punctures. It may have a smaller age range than others but apart from that, for $70 incredible value for money.
3 Year Old’s Best Bike Buyers Guide
When it comes to picking the right bike for your young child, it isn’t easy, and there’s a lot you need to be thinking about. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself.
Is the Bike Compatible?
The first thing you need to do is ensure that the bike is designed for a rider of the age of three. There are a lot of children’s bikes out there in all shapes and sizes, and it can be difficult to visualize the size of the bike when looking online. So ensure you look at the specifications. Here’s more information on Child’s Bike Sizing.
What’s the Ability of the Rider?
Some children grow quicker than others and have different cycling abilities. If you find your child still struggling with balance or confidence, it might be worth using a balance bike or tricycle. If your child is very confident, jump straight to a proper bike with stabilizers.
Is the Design Right?
A common mistake a lot of people make is buying a bike for a younger person and getting one they don’t like. I highly recommend asking the child which bike they like the look of. If they don’t like the bike, they won’t ride the bike.
How Much Do You Want to Spend?
In our opinion, it’s vital to consider the budget for children’s bikes. Unlike adult bikes, children’s bikes don’t last as long. You will find bikes will need replacing quite often as the child grows. You will also find resale on children’s bikes is typically much less than you will buy the bike for.
Do You Have All the Safety Gear?
Another thing you must consider is safety equipment. Just like adults, children should have safety equipment too. Here’s what I recommend:
- Helmet (For a selection of helmets, check out Best Toddler Bike Helmets)
- Elbow Pads
- Knee Pads
- Safety Flag
It may seem like a lot of safety gear to need, but it does make a big difference. Even if you are nowhere near roads or other cyclists, getting them into the right safety habits while they are younger is important.
Finding the right bike for your three year old tire can be challenging. There’s so much to think about, and you want to get it correct the first time. I hope you have the knowledge you need to get the right bike by reading this article. I also hope along the way; you were able to learn about bikes and how bikes for children of three years old can greatly differ.
For more bikes to choose from for more ages, check out our article on Best Kids Bikes.
Frequently Asked Questions
The bike depends on multiple things, such as the child’s ability, the riding style you think they will want to do, the budget you have to spend, and their confidence levels.
A balance bike is perfect for a three year old. It’s a great way to give them cycling confidence without them having to pedal and feel unbalanced. I highly advise a child to use a balance bike before a proper bike with stabilizers.
It generally differs depending on the bike’s style and the manufacturer. A 14” wheel bike should be ok for a child of the age of three.
In our opinion, there’s not typically an age for stabilizers. It’s more of a confidence and skill issue. They are ready to ride without stabilizers when you feel they are ready.
The balance bike offers a better cycling experience for a three year old compared to a tricycle. There’s very little skill required on a tricycle compared to a balance bike.
I’m Robbie Ferri, a writer from Norfolk in the UK. I love cycling, the gym, and have a huge passion for sharing my stories and knowledge to anyone with the time to read them. My main passion is cycling. I started eight years ago. In that time I have broken world records, cycled all over the world in Ultra Bikepacking races, and am lucky enough to have enjoyed some incredible times on two wheels with some incredible people. I have also worked in a bike shop and with some of the industries leading brands, not just promoting products but designing them too.
Under it all I am just someone very passionate about exploration and living a healthy lifestyle. Everything I do I put 100% into it and feel that life is for living. Never should you have a dull day.