Kids' bike reviews

Take care when choosing your child's bike.
 
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01 .Introduction

Kids Bikes

When it comes to buying a bike for your child, safety should be your biggest concern. Buying a bike of the correct size is critical. Don't be tempted to buy one that's too big with the idea that your child will grow into it - it may be hard for them to control and could lead to a crash. A bike is the correct size when a child can place the balls of both feet on the ground and reach the handlebars comfortably while sitting on the seat.

Children’s bike sizes are based on their wheel diameter, usually stated in imperial and/or metric measurement on the wheel itself. On test are six 40cm (16in) and six 50cm (20in) bikes. Nine models from our previous test are still available and are included in the results table. Sizes are generally appropriate for certain age groups (see Children’s Bikes), but will also depend on your child and their needs. CHOICE found that price doesn't guarantee better quality and that some of the more expensive models failed major safety requirements. 

Flat-pack madness

In our last test, we had to assemble four of the bikes, most of which were cheaper ones from department stores that come in a flat pack containing a partly assembled bike. From experience, if you’re planning to buy one of these, we suggests you put aside longer than just the recommended time for its assembly (25 minutes for one model) – a couple of extra hours should compensate for incomplete or confusing instructions. 

In this round of testing, we sent all the bikes (assembled or not) to a bike shop to be assembled and/or checked over. This gave all the bikes the best possible chance at passing the standard. We recommend getting your bike assembled and checked at a bike shop; it costs about $50 but is a smart investment. 

Brands and models

  • # Avanti MXR
  • # Dunlop Jumbo 7291760
  • Dunlop Flutter 16" ME0034 (A)
  • Felt 10-Base 18.5 20"
  • Felt 10-Heretic 16"
  • # Huffy ZRX-16 7225161
  • Huffy Girls 40cm Flower Girl
  • Huffy Boys 50cm Reactive 20"
  • Kink Launch 20" K420
  • Magna Stranded 20"
  • Magna Summer Blase 16"
  • # Malvern Star Blast MI092
  • Malvern Star Radmax 20" (A)
  • Malvern Star Kaos 16" MI0272 (A)
  • # Raleigh Bella Push
  • # Raleigh Gravity 16
  • # Raleigh Gravity 20
  • # Trek Jet 12
  • # Trek Jet 20
  • Trek Mystic 16"
  • Trek Mystic 20"  

(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some stores.
# Previously tested models.  

Sizes and Ages
Size Ages
30cm or 12” 3 - 5  years
40cm or 16” 6 - 8  years
50cm or 20” 9 - 11  years
 
 

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Kids' bikes result table

Brand / model (in alphabetical order within sizes)

Wheel size

Passed reflectors test

Passed bell test

Passed handbrake grip test

Passed fasteners test

Brakes

Frame material

Training wheels

Padding

Weight (kg)

Price ($)

Recommended

# Trek Jet 12
www.trekbikes.com.au

30cm / 12"

BP, FB

Steel

10.3

249

# Dunlop Jumbo 7291760
www.bigw.com.au

40cm / 16"

BP, FB

Steel

11.2

98

Huffy Girls Flower Girl

www.hunterleisure.com.au

40cm / 16"

FB, RB, BP

Steel

10.9

138

Kink Launch K420
www.eciimports.com

50cm / 20"

FB, RB

Steel

   

13.4

549

Magna Stranded
www.hunterproducts.com.au

50cm / 20"

FB, BP

Steel

 

12.8

129

Magna Summer Blast
www.hunterproducts.com.au

40cm / 16"

FB, BP

Steel

11.3

119

Malvern Star Radmax (A)
www.malvernstar.com.au

50cm / 20"

FB, BP

Aluminium

 

10.8

239

Trek Mystic
www.trekbikes.com.au

50cm / 20"

FB, RB, BP

Aluminium

 

11.5

349

Worth considering

Dunlop Flutter ME0034 (B)
www.repcosport.com.au

40cm / 16"

FB, BP

Steel

11.1

98

Malvern Star Kaos MI0272 (C)
www.malvernstar.com.au

40cm / 16"

FB, BP

Steel

11.2

169

# Malvern Star Blast MI0292
www.malvernstar.com.au

30cm / 12"

 

na

BP

Steel

8.6

149

# Raleigh Bella Push
www.raleighbikes.com

30cm / 12"

 

na

BP

Steel

9.4

200

# Avanti MXR
www.avantibikes.com

40cm / 16"

BP, FB

Aluminium

10.4

200

# Huffy ZRX-16 7225161
www.bigw.com.au

40cm / 16"

BP, FB, RB

Steel

12.1

138

# Raleigh Gravity 16
www.raleighbikes.com

40cm / 16"

BP, FB

Steel

12.5

170

# Raleigh Gravity 20
www.raleighbikes.com

50cm / 20"

BP, FB

Steel

 

14

200

# Trek Jet 20
www.trekbikes.com.au

50cm / 20"

BP, FB, RB

Steel

 

11.3

349

Not recommended

Felt 10-Base 18.5
www.southcottcycles.com.au

50cm / 20"

 

FB, RB

Steel

 


14.1

395

Felt 10-Heretic
www.southcottcycles.com.au

40cm / 16"

 

FB, RB

Steel

   

12.6

389

Huffy Boys 50cm Reactive
www.bigw.com.au

50cm / 20"

 

FB, RB

Steel

   

14.3

148

Trek Mystic
www.trekbikes.com.au

40cm / 16"

 

FB, BP

Steel

11.9

279


Table notes

* Including the supplied accessories, rounded to the nearest 0.1kg. 
# Tested in December 2009. 
(A) Discontinued. New model has new decals and a new light weight frame. 
 
(B)
Discontinued. New model is re-branded as Repco and has a new saddle and decals. 
(C)
Discontinued. Only change of decals.
(BP) Back pedal brake. 
(FB) Front rim brake.
(RB) Rear rim brake.   
na Not applicable

Using the table

Recommended These bikes passed all the key safety aspects that were tested.  
Worth considering These bikes failed safety aspects of the standard, which we consider to be minor failures. 
Not recommended These models failed safety aspects of the standard, which we consider to be major failures. 
Price Recommended retail, as of May 2010.


How we test

Our tester, Antonio Bonacruz, tests a range of 16" and 20" wheel bikes against the mandatory Australian Standard, AS-NZS 1927:1998. These tests cover many elements, including instructions, safety and design requirements. He specifically focuses on Section 2 - design requirements and Section 3 - performance requirements of the standard. Before testing we sent all the bikes to a bike shop to get assembled and/or checked over. This allows the bikes to be on the same level playing field and gives them the best possible chance at passing the standard. We also had two experts assess the bikes on details such as construction, wheels, components, brakes and value for money. 

Meet the experts


Simon Hayes is the editor of Bicycling Australia. Simon HayesJohn Droz

John Droz is the proprietor of Gilbert's Cyclery in Waverley. 

# 30cm 12”

Trek Jet 12

Trek Jet 12Price $229

Good points

  • Padding on handlebar and stem.
  • Comes with training wheels.

    Expert Comments:

  • "Solid construction and well assembled."
  • "Well-designed spokes and wheels."
  • "Mudguards."

Bad points

  • Tyre pressure stated in psi only.
  • "Poor-quality pedals."

# 40cm 16”

Dunlop Jumbo 7291760

DunlopPrice $98

Good points

  • Padding on handlebar and stem.
  • Comes with training wheels.

    Expert comments:

  • "Good quality components all well adjusted."
  • "Mount for basket or other accessories."

Bad comments

  • "Small brake pads."
  • "Basic seat."

Huffy Girls 40cm Flower Girl

Price $138Huffy Flower girl

Good Points

  • Passed all our safety tests.
  • Padding on handlebar.
  • Front pouch with drink bottle.
  • Quick release on the seat pillar allows for easy adjustment of the seat.
  • Comes with training wheels.

Bad Points

  • None to mention

Magna Summer Blast 16”

Price $119Magna Summer Blast

Good Points

  • Passed all our safety tests.
  • Padding on handlebar.
  • Front pouch.
  • Quick release on the seat pillar allows for easy adjustment of the seat.
  • Comes with training wheels.

Bad Points

  • None to mention.

# 50cm 20”

Kink Launch 20” K420

Price $549Kink Launch

Good Points

  • Passed all our safety tests.
  • Two step pegs.
  • Good amount of seat post adjustment.

Bad Points

  • Most expensive bike on test.

Magna Stranded 20”

Price $129Magna stranded

Good Points

  • Passed all our safety tests.
  • Padding on handlebar and top bar.
  • Quick release on the seat pillar allows for easy adjustment of the seat.
  • Comes with a kickstand.
  • Good amount of seat post adjustment.

Bad Points

  • Steering geometry is not within recommended limits.

Malvern Star Radmax 20”

Price $239Malvern Star Radmax

Good Points

  • Passed all our safety tests.
  • Padding on handlebar and top bar.
  • Quick release on the seat pillar allows for easy adjustment of the seat.
  • Comes with a kickstand.
  • Good amount of seat post adjustment.

Bad Points

  • Steering geometry is not within recommended limits.

Trek Mystic 20”

Price $349Trek Mystic 20

Good Points

  • Passed all our safety tests.
  • Padding on handlebar.
  • Front basket.
  • Comes with a kickstand.
  • Good amount of seat post adjustment.

Bad Points

  • Steering geometry is not within recommended limits.

Worth considering

# 30cm 12”

Malvern Star Blast MI0292

Malvern Star  BlastPrice $150

Good points

  • Padding on handlebar and stem.
  • Comes with training wheels.

    Expert comments:

  • "Solid frame construction."
  • "Solid, durable training wheels."
  • "Excellent value for money."

Bad comments

  • "Basic pedals."
  • "No front brake."

Raleigh Bella Push

Raleigh Bella PushPrice $200

Good points

  • Padding on handlebar and stem.
  • Comes with training wheels.

    Expert comments:

  • "Well assembled." 
  • "Durable training wheels."
  • "Solid construction."
  • "Parent-push handle is good for beginners."

Bad points

  • No brake on front wheel.
  • No rear, in-wheel or front reflectors.

    Expert comments:

  • "Very basic pedals."
  • "Solid nose on seat, which could be uncomfortable."

# 40cm 16”

Dunlop Flutter 16” ME0034

Price $98 Dunlop Flutter

Good Points

  • Padding on handlebar.
  • Comes with training wheels.

Bad Points

  • Steering geometry is not within recommended limits.
  • Sharp corner on the metal chainguard – however it is unlikely to come in contact with the hands and legs of the rider.
  • Doesn’t comply with Clause 2.3 (fasteners) of the standard - the screw for the seat pillar is loose threaded. We consider this a minor failure.

Malvern Star Kaos 16” MIO272

Price $169Malvern Star Kaos

Good Points

  • Padding on handlebar and top tube.
  • Comes with training wheels.

Bad Points

  • The end protector on the end of the control cable for the front brake became detached exposing a sharp end.
  • Its chainguard doesn’t completely enclose the chainwheel. We consider these two points’ minor failures to the standard.

Avanti MXR

Avanti MXR16Price $199

Good points

  • Padding on handlebar and stem.
  • Comes with training wheels.
  • Some good-quality components.

Bad points

  • Tyre pressure stated in psi only.
  • Basic pedals and seat. 

Huffy ZRX-16 7225161

Huffy 40 cmPrice $138

Good points

  • Padding on handlebar and stem.
  • Comes with training wheels.

    Expert comments:

  • "Full-sized reflectors."
  • "Ergonomic hand grips." 
  • "Good choice of tyres."
  • "Three types of brakes help children to learn."

Bad points

  • Handlebar stem insertion mark - the mark is present but it is indistinct.

    Expert comments:

  • "Chain guard flimsy."
  • "Non-standard seat tube."

Raleigh Gravity 16

Raleigh Gravity 16Price $170

Good points

  • Padding on handlebar and stem.
  • Comes with training wheels.
  • "Comfortable seat and hand grips."

Bad points

  • "Basic pedals."
  • Tyre pressure is in psi only.

# 50cm 20”

Raleigh Gravity 20

Raleigh Gravity 20Price $200

Good points

  • Good amount of seatpost adjustment.
  • Padding on handlebar and stem.
  • Has a kickstand.
  • Back pedal brake works well.

Bad comments

  • "Basic pedals."
  • "Welds could be more consistent."
  • "Hand grips quite hard to the touch for small hands."
  • "Basic front brake, may require re-tightening."

Trek Jet 20

Trek Jet 20Price $299

Good points

  • Good amount of seatpost adjustment.
  • Padding on handlebar, stem and tube.
  • Has a kickstand.

    Expert comments: 

  • "No loose parts, rattles or knocks."
  • "Good choice of tyres."
  • "Rear mudguard."
  • "Lots of growing adjustment in seat post."

Bad comments

  • Rear reflector is obscured by the wheel.

Not recommended 

Felt 10-Base 18.5 20”

Price $395 Felt 10-Base 18.5

Good Points 

  • Four step pegs.

Bad Points

  • No chainguard on the sample we tested (the manufacturer insists this bike should come with one).
  • Failed Clause 2.14.2.3 (handbrake grip dimensions) of the standard. The handgrip brakes can be too wide for small hands, which we consider major if the child needs to suddenly apply the brakes.
  • The end protector on the end of the control cable for the front brake became detached exposing a sharp end.
  • Did not comply with Clause 2.8.3 (tyres) of the standard. There are no kilopascals (kPa) units to indicate tyre pressure. We consider this a minor failure.

Felt 10-Heretic 16”

Price $389 Felt Heretic

Good Points

  • Four step pegs.

Bad Points

  • Failed Clause 2.14.2.3 (handbrake grip dimensions) of the standard. The handgrip brakes can be too wide for small hands, which we consider major if the child needs to suddenly apply the brakes.
  • Did not comply with Clause 2.8.3 (tyres) of the standard. There are no kilopascals (kPa) units to indicate tyre pressure. We consider this a minor failure.

Huffy Boys 50cm Reactive 20”

Price $148 Huffy Reactive

Good Points

  • The only bike on test to come with suspensions on the frame and fork.
  • Quick release on the seat pillar allows for easy adjustment of the seat.
  • Comes with a kickstand.
  • Good amount of seat post adjustment.

Bad Points

  • Steering geometry is not within recommended limits.
  • Failed Clause 2.14.2.3 (handbrake grip dimensions) of the standard. The handgrip brakes can be too wide for small hands, which we consider major if the child needs to suddenly apply the brakes.
  • There is marking to indicate the minimum handlebar insertion however it’s not clear.

Trek Mystic 16”

Price $279 Trek Mystic 16

Good Points

  • Comes with training wheels.
  • Padding on handlebar.
  • Front basket.

Bad Points

  • The end protector on the end of the control cable for the front brake became detached exposing a sharp end. We consider this a minor failure.
  • Failed Clause 2.8.1 (a) (locking devices) of the standard. When the locking nut on the axle of the front wheel is tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications, the minimum removal torque was found to be less than 80% of the manufacturers recommended tightening force. We consider this a major failure.

Construction Bikes should have consistent welds along the frame; avoid a bike where the welding looks patchy. Shake the bike to check if anything is loose or rattles. Check there are no sharp projections – wires, nuts and bolts should have covers if they project. 

Wheels Check they run true by lifting the bike or putting it upside down and spinning the wheels, both front and back. If a wheel is not running true, you’ll see a wobble as you look at it from the front or rear of the bike (see video below). This means it needs some adjustment. Also check to see whether it rubs against anything, including the brakes when they are not activated. If they do or are difficult to turn, this will make your child’s ride harder and less enjoyable, so ask the bike shop to adjust accordingly.  

Adjustment See just how much distance there is when you adjust the seat post. There should be a mark showing the maximum movement for the seat; if the adjustment is quite small, your child will outgrow it quicker than you might like and you’ll be up for a replacement bike. 

Brakes Look for back pedal brakes where the child can simply reverse their pedalling to stop. Rim brakes (with brake pads on front and/or rear wheels) are common on adult bikes, as children usually don’t have the strength to pull them and, in some cases, are too wide a hand grip for small hands. Before buying, check the brakes work effectively; for back pedal brakes, put the bike upside down and reverse the pedal movement; for front and rear rim brakes, push the bike forward when right side up and test by pulling the hand levers. If they’re not working well, ask for them to be adjusted. Front and rear rim brakes often have very small brake pads, and so wear out sooner. 

Value A more expensive bike does not guarantee better quality, as our testing shows. Often a well-known brand commands a higher price when a cheaper brand will serve just as well, and in some cases give better bang for your buck. 

Video: Kids' bikes test footage

A short video showing the difference between 'true' and 'not true' wheels.

Your say - Choice voice

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