How to choose a first pedal bike for your child

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This post tells you what you need to think about when choosing a first pedal bike for your child. I wholeheartedly recommend the Isla bike as a great first bike because my daughter was happily riding it without stabilisers within two hours of her first ride. 

How to choose a first pedal bike for your child

Hands up who’s planning on making a bike their child’s big Christmas gift?

Both our girls started out with balance bikes.

M moved to a pedal bike over the summer, but F is hoping Santa will bring her a new bike.

So Alice and I have been chatting about what makes a great first pedal bike.

Not only are bikes a major financial outlay, but the bike you choose can be the difference between your child learning to ride easily or finding it really difficult.

In this second of two posts (See the first post, on balance bikes here) on how to choose a first bike for your child, we are

focusing on pedal bikes.

From balance bike to pedal bike

Balance bikes are a great way to ready children for cycling because learning to balance is such a major factor in learning to ride.
Whilst pedal bikes with stabilisers may look super cute, they can potentially slow down the learning to cycle process and aren’t great off-road.

Once your child has mastered a balance bike it’s time to move them on up to their first pedal bike.

The most important factor for a pedal bike is that it is lightweight and easy for a child to handle.

So forget about all the fancy schmancy trappings of theme bikes and hunt down a well made, super light bike, that will have your child cycling on their own as quickly as possible.

So, what’s the pedal bike that we chose for M?

It’s an Isla Bike Cnoc16.

Here’s the skinny…

Isla Bike Cnoc 16

How to choose a first pedal bike Isla-2BBike-2BCnoc-2B16-2BRed

M has a red Cnoc16 Isla Bikes.

The Isla Bike USP is that they’re not simply scaled down versions of adult bikes, each component is scaled especially for each kids bike in the range.

They’re super lightweight and don’t bother with unnecessary fancy bits.

Of course the proof is in the cycling.

I can barely express in words how amazing it was to see M master her new bike in under an hour.

With no stabilisers.

It. Blew. Me. Away.

Don’t tell F, but Alice has had a chat to Santa about bringing her an Isla bike for Christmas…

If a new bike is top of your child’s Christmas wish list, here’s the lowdown on what to look for with first pedal bikes.

Checklist for choosing a first pedal bike:


Cushioned saddles help stop sore undercarriages. Hard plastic ones don’t.

2. Saddle height

Beginners should be able to straddle the bike and have both feet flat on the ground.

Make sure seat height is adjustable.

3. Bike weight

As light as possible, some kids bikes are up to 50% their own weight, adult bikes tend to be 20%.

4. Brakes

Some bikes have coaster brakes – engaged by pedalling backwards, easier for kids who’s hands aren’t yet ready to master handbrakes.

Bikes like the IslaBike have handbrakes. Test ease of use of handbrakes by pulling the lever with your little finger.

5. Gears

Until your child is ready for long distance rides or trail biking, gears aren’t necessary.

6. Handlebar grips

A rubber grip with a knob at the end protects small hands from hitting the ground or scraping up against walls and other hazards.

If you think you’re child isn’t yet ready for a pedal bike, then why not read our post on the benefits of buying a balance bike.
And of course, whichever bike you decide on for your child, don’t forget to invest in a good cycle helmet for them, hop on over to Amazon to see a great selection of cycle helmets (UK).

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How to choose a first pedal bike for your child to learn to ride a bike. We recommend Isla bikes, they are super light-weight and so easy to ride that kids don't need stablisers, my daughter was happily riding her Isla bike with no stabilisers within two hours of riding it for the first time #IslaBike #Learntoride

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Hello, I'm Luci, Editor of Mums Make Lists. MML is full of creative tips I’ve put together to bring calm and balance to the lives of busy mums and their families.

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