3 Best Bikes For 5 Year Olds & What Size – 16 Or 18 Inch?

Bikes For 5 Year Olds What Size

A 5-year-old boy or a girl can ride either a 16 inch or a 18 inch bike. However, deciding the perfect fit between these two sizes does not depend only on age, but also on the height and inseam of the kid. Another important criteria is the type of bicycle you should consider for your kiddo. If it should be dirt, BMX, pedal, electric, training wheels, or a balance bike.

There is a bewildering number of bicycle wheel sizes and types catering to children of all age groups. This makes it overwhelming for parents. Picking a wrong bike will hamper a child’s joy and confidence in cycling. So, you have to do it right.

I know you are a busy dad or mom and I’m here to help you figure out the best bike for a 5 yrs old. I’ll make your research as fast and easy as changing a kid’s diaper. Let’s begin!

Notes for the starters:

  • Kid’s bicycles are measured by wheel diameter. So, 16″ or 18″ bikes here refer to the size of the wheels.
  • Measure your child’s height and inseam first.
  • Child’s inseam length should always be 1″- 3″ higher than the stand-over height of the bicycle (this is another correct method to determine a bike size).
  • An 18-inch bike by Brand A and Brand B may have different stand-over or seatpost heights.
Bicycle sizing guide for 5 year old

What size bike for a 5 year old?

16-inch4 – 738″ – 48″ (3’2″ – 4’0″)18″ – 22″ (45 – 55cm)
18-inch5 – 942″ – 52″ (3’5″ – 4’3″)20″ – 24″ (50 – 60cm)

A 16-inch bicycle will be a good fit for a 5 year old boy or girl who is between 3’2″ to 4’0″ with an inseam length of 18″ to 22″. If your child is taller than the average 5 yr old or 3’5″ to 4’3″ tall, then he/she can opt for an 18-inch bike.

But, what if your child’s height and inseam falls into two suggested bicycle sizes? This is where your child’s riding experience and exact inseam length come into play. Also, the type of bike you are buying matters a lot here.


  • Balance bike – The minimum seat post height of a bicycle should not be higher than the child’s inseam length. For example, if your 5 year old kiddo has 21″ inseam, he should choose a balance bicycle with 21″ or lower seat post height.
  • Bicycle with training wheels – Your child’s inseam length has to be higher (3″ max.) than the minimum seat post height.
  • First pedal bike – The inseam length should be equal to or higher than the minimum seat post height. This will make it possible for the child to sit on the saddle with feet flat on the ground. It offers them more control and stability while riding.


Pedal bike – If your 5-year-old girl or boy already knows how to ride a bike without training wheels or can pedal confidently, then pick a bicycle with a minimum seat post height that is 1″-4″ higher than the inseam. As per the thumb rule, the child should be able to stand tip toes while seating on the saddle.

Beginner vs Experienced Kid Riders

Which bike for 5-yr-old: balance, training wheels, or pedal?

Balance bikeThis type of bike has no pedals or stabilizers and it teaches kids the most important skill of riding, i,e balancing. However, a 5-year-old will be too big for a balance bike.
Training wheelsBicycles with balancers or training wheels are less popular nowadays. If your five year old is really timid, less athletic, or has never ridden a bike earlier, then you can choose a bike with removable training wheels.
Pedal bike (recommended)A 5-year-old girl or boy who has experience in riding a balance bike will quickly manage to ride a pedal bike. Most kids will be able to pedal by the time they are five years.

3 best bikes for 5 year olds (16-inch & 18-inch)

1. Schwinn Koen & Elm (16″/18″ wheels)

Schwinn Elm 18" for 5 Year Old
Schwinn Elm 18″ Wheels/Photo by Katy

Ask around about any popular bicycle brand in the U.S and I bet you, Schwinn will definitely come up. Schwinn is an old, well-established player in the bicycle industry, catering to cyclists of all ages.

The brand’s SmartStart line-up focuses on bikes for children, with Koen/Elm model offering everything a young rider would need. What makes it ideal for youngsters is its features and components, such as low stand-over height, light frame, adjustable seat height, close pedal positions, removable training wheels, hand-brake, coaster-brake, and so on.

Both Koen and Elm are available in six wheel sizes (12″, 14″, 16″, 18″, and 20″) and range of colors. 16″ and 18″ are suitable for 5-year-olds, while 20″ is appropriate for children of 7 – 13 years. The difference between Koen and Elm is that Koen is designed for boys and Elm is designed for girls. Apart from frame design, printings, and front basket, I don’t think there is any other difference when it comes to technical specifications.

Koen is more of a BMX style while Elm is a cruiser type with low step-over frame. When it comes to weight, both of them are at around 20/21 lbs, which some users say is slightly heavy for the kids. Thanks to its steel frame and spokes, and other accessories included.

That said, Koen/Elm is equipped with high-quality parts, components, and it’s engineered perfectly as per kids’ body structures. It’s fairly priced and absolutely a worthwhile purchase.

Adjustable seat-post & low stand-over heightNot really lightweight
Range of colors and sizes
Removable training wheels
Easy to assemble & comes with extra accessories

2. RoyalBaby Freestyle

RoyalBaby Freestyle Bicycle
RoyalBaby Freestyle 18″ Wheels

With 4.5 Stars ratings and 15,000+ reviews on Amazon, RoyalBaby Freestyle is No. 1 Best Seller in kids’ bicycles category. This means that most parents who chose this bike for their little ones are quite satisfied about it.

Arguably, the selling point of this bicycle is its pricing – ‘why spend $200 plus on a kid’s bike which you’ll be using for only a couple of years?’. RoyalBaby’s business revolves around engineering and makes only kids’s specific bikes. So, their bike geometry towards a child’s body proportions is much better than any other store bikes.

RoyalBaby Freestyle comes in five sizes targeting children of all ages. But, I’ll be talking about only 16″ and 18″ both of which are suitable for 5-year-old boys and girls. Let’s first talk about the differences between the two wheel sizes. The 16″ one weighs around 22 lbs, comes with training wheels (removable), and it’s recommended for tiny riders who are 41″ – 45″ tall. The 18″ one on the other hand weighs 27 lbs, doesn’t come with training wheels, and is suggested for kids of 45″ – 53″ height.

The RoyalBaby Freestyle bike boasts of its extra wide tires, which of course provides extra grip, stability, and traction. But, for toddlers or little learners, it requires a bit of effort to quickly pedal. Anyways, other components such as the durable frame, adjustable saddle and handlebar, dual hand brakes, etc. are spot on.

For parents who are on a budget, RoyalBaby Freestyle is a solid bike that offers all the things your five year old buddy would want.

Durable enough to pass down to younger siblingsSitting position may be little awkward for beginners, which makes it slightly harder to pedal
Available in five sizes with variety of colorsHeavy for the little learners
Adjustable saddle height
Can use it as a balance bike (needs to remove pedals and training wheels)

Related – RoyalBaby Bike Reviews & Sizing

3. Mongoose Legion (best BMX/Dirt bike for 5-year-old)

Mongoose Legion 16" BMX bike
Mongoose Legion 16″

Mongoose as a brand has made a name for themselves in BMX world since 80s and 90s, offering hundreds of bike models for different types of rider worldwide.

For young riders who want to boost their riding skills or take them to the next level, Mongoose Legion is a great choice. The Mongoose Legion BMX bike comes in different sizes – 16″ (L16) suits 3’2″ – 4’0″ riders while 18″ (L18) fits 3’8″ – 4’8″ children. So, for a 5-year-old, either L16 or L18 would be ideal depending on your child’s height.

Here, I would like to mention that when selecting a BMX bike size for kids, it’s always better to size down if the child’s height is between two sizes. This makes it easier and safer for the kiddo to spin, control, and maneuver the bike.

Coming to Legion, both L16 and L18 feature hi-ten steel frames and forks, 14G steel spokes, single wall aluminum rims, wide 2.3 inch tires, and weigh around 26 pounds. Great specs for any BMX bike for beginners!

Many parents face one common issue though – weak braking system. Legion L16 and L18 is equipped with aluminium U-brake. Generally, this type of brake isn’t powerful as other brakes like V-brake or rim brake. So, I don’t think the problem is with the bike. Most BMX bikes for experienced riders actually don’t have brakes.

Durable, reliable, and safe buildMay need some efforts while assembling
Strong steel frameSaddle needs improvement
Can withstand abuses by bad boys :-)
Wide tires

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