Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best kids' hybrid bikes

Choosing the right bike for a child can be tough because most kids need a bicycle that's sturdy and versatile. Kids' hybrid bikes are well worth considering. A hybrid bike is somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike and is great for riding over different types of terrain.  That means they're perfect for riding on smooth surfaces like roads or paved trails, as well as off-road and over grassy fields and dirt tracks.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a kids' hybrid bike is the size: it needs to be right for your child. Too small and the bike will be uncomfortable to ride and your child will outgrow it quickly. Too large and it will be tough for your child to control. You should also think about factors such as gears — and if your child really needs them, tires, type of brakes, and any accessories your child needs.

We’ve put together the following buying guide with all this information and more, so keep reading to get in the know about kids' hybrid bikes and check out our favorites when you’re ready to buy.

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Hybrid bikes have flat handlebars like those on mountain bikes rather than drop handlebars like on road bikes. This encourages an upright position that kids tend to find more comfortable.

Key considerations


Frame size generally doesn't vary too much between different kids' bikes. You need to consider the wheel size when finding the right fit for your child. Since children grow at different rates, always consider your child's height rather than age when working out the correct sizing.

14-inch wheels: These bikes are suitable for children between 39 and 40 inches tall.

16-inch wheels: These bikes are suitable for children between 41 and 43 inches tall.

18-inch wheels: These bikes are suitable for children between 44 and 46 inches tall.

20-inch wheels: These bikes are suitable for children between 47 and 49 inches tall.

24-inch wheels: These bikes are suitable for children between 50 and 54 inches tall.

26-inch wheels: These bikes are suitable for children between 55 and 60 inches tall.

29-inch wheels: Older kids and teens might want to upgrade to a bike this size, which is essentially an adult’s bike, though some of these bicycles have smaller frames to accommodate kids. Others may want to stick with a 26-inch wheel size but upgrade to a larger frame size.


The tires on kids' hybrid bikes set them apart from both road bikes and mountain bikes.

Shallow tread: Road bikes have narrow tires with a shallow tread, which allows cyclists to ride quickly over smooth surfaces.

Deep tread: Mountain bikes have wide tires with a deep tread that offers plenty of traction over uneven terrain.

Medium tread: Hybrid bikes have tires somewhere in between the two. They're a medium width with a tread of medium depth. This means the tires have decent grip off-road but can still tackle road riding at a reasonable pace.


It's worth considering whether your child needs gears on the bike at all. For young children, gears can be confusing and are likely to be more of a hindrance than a help. Kids' hybrid bikes with a wheel size under 20 inches usually forgo gears altogether. Those with a 20-inch wheel size may or may not have gears, but if it does, it will only be a few. Most kids' hybrids with 24- or 26-inch wheels have several gears to help adjust how the bike handles in different conditions.


Chain guard

The chain guard is affixed over the bike chain, so kids’ clothes won’t catch on the chain and to keep oil from the chain from getting on their skin or clothing.


Kids' hybrid bikes tend to have brakes more akin to those found on mountain bikes than those on road bikes. This means that disc brakes and V-brakes are common. However, on smaller bikes with 14- or 16-inch wheels, pedal brakes are common, so kids can slow down and stop by pedaling backward.


You can find hybrid bikes in a wide range of hues, so choose a color you know your child will love.


Bicycle helmet: Joovy Noodle Helmet
While it isn't a legal requirement in all areas, it's extremely important that kids wear a helmet while riding a bike. Bicycle helmets save lives every day, so going without isn't worth saving a few bucks or avoiding a battle of wills with your child. The Joovy Noodle helmet is an excellent option with a dial for an adjustable fit. It conforms to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.

Wheel lights: Activ Life LED Bike Wheel Lights
We wouldn't recommend that kids ride bikes unsupervised at night, but when they do cycle in low light, visibility is important. These multicolored LED wheel lights greatly increase visibility and look neat, too, so your child won't object to putting them on their bike.

Basket: BIRIA Bicycle Basket
Don't underestimate how useful a bike basket can be. Kids can carry snacks and a drink with them, take toys to the park or a friend's house, or bring home something cool they found on their bike ride. This simple wire mesh basket fits on the handlebars with hooks, making it easy to put on and take off.

Bike lock: Sanwo Security Bike Lock
If your child will be cycling to school or anywhere the bike will be left unattended, a bike lock is a necessity. This combination cable lock is easy to use. Just make sure to choose a combination your child can easily remember!

Kids’ hybrid bike prices

Inexpensive: These kids' hybrid bikes start at around $80 to $150 and tend to be fairly basic or small bikes for young kids.

Mid-range: These kids' hybrid bikes cost $150 to $250. In this price range, you'll find some great bikes in small and medium sizes.

Expensive: High-end kids' hybrid bikes cost $250 to $500. These include bikes of all sizes but particularly larger bikes designed for teenagers.


  • Consider the weight of the bike. The heavier the bike, the more difficult it will be for a child to handle and control it. Most hybrid bikes have an aluminum frame, which offers a nice combination of strength and low weight.
  • Consider where your child will ride the bike. A hybrid bike is a decent option for children who are just as likely to ride a bike to school or the park as they are to ride off-road on bumpy trails, but these bikes aren't perfectly suited to either. If your child is an avid off-roader, then a mountain bike is a better option.
  • Consider changing the tires. While the wheel stays the same, you can choose tires with a deep tread for better grip off-road or smooth, slim tires for riding on roads or paved trails.
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Larger, high-end kids' hybrid bikes may feature suspension forks to give a smoother ride off-road, but small or basic models tend to do without.


Q. Are kids' hybrid bikes suitable for riding off-road?
The whole point of kids' hybrid bikes is that children can ride them off-road, as well as on roads, sidewalks, or paved cycle paths. They're great for riding over grass, on dirt tracks, through forests, and so on, but they're not designed for hardcore off-roading over extremely rough, rocky terrain. For this kind of riding, only a mountain bike will do. That said, most kids are only likely to engage in light to moderate off-road cycling, such as family bike rides on unpaved trails or rides around the park, and a hybrid bike is just fine for this.

Q. Is it true that kids' bikes are unisex?
Yes. While kids' hybrid bikes are sometimes labeled for boys or girls, there's no real difference between the two aside from color and design. Unfortunately, stereotypes about girls liking pink and princesses, and boys liking blue and dinosaurs still exist, but there's absolutely no reason why boys can't ride hot pink bikes and girls can't ride blue or green ones, so it's safe to assume all kids' hybrid bikes are unisex.

Q. Do training wheels fit on kids' hybrid bikes?
Many smaller hybrid bikes for children have mounting holes for fitting training wheels to help kids' learn to ride a bike. Once you reach around the 20-inch wheel size, however, training wheel mounting holes are less common. Always double-check the bike’s specifications if you want the ability to fit training wheels.

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