LAST UPDATED: January 11, 2021
The Best 20-Inch Bikes (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Enter the wild and wacky world of 20-inch bikes and walk out with a winner
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON January 11, 2021
In the world of bicycles, there is nothing quite like a 20 inch bike. Smaller bikes fit neatly into the category of children’s cycles, while larger two-wheelers are designed for older children, teenagers, and adults. Not so with the 20-inchers. This strange size category includes bicycles for riders of virtually every size and persuasion. Children transitioning from the world of training wheels regularly hop onto bikes of this size with features such as hand-activated front (and sometimes rear) brakes and multi-gear drivetrains. BMX bikes and cruisers suddenly find themselves competing with that unknown contraption called “mountain bike.”
To further complicate things, there are plenty of 20-inch offerings for teenagers and adults. Folding bikes and large-frame BMX bikes now dot the landscape. Whatever a bike buyer’s age or interest may be, there is a good chance they will leave the store walking alongside a brand-new 20-inch two-wheeler.
These Huffy clones cover all the basics and then some without burying your wallet. These single-speed BMX bikes are perfect for growing bikers and include a wide variety of extras.
- These bikes feature a BMX-style steel frame with multiple color schemes available
- They use both coaster and caliper brakes
- Each bike is covered by Huffy’s limited lifetime warranty
- These bikes lack reflectors
- Some users have reported the occasional issue missed by Huffy’s quality control efforts
This offering from Dynacraft provides boys with a utilitarian performance at a great price point. The single-speed design relies on simple, traditional components to keep kids rolling along.
- This bike uses a BMX-style steel frame
- It uses rear coaster brakes.
- This bike is inexpensive
- The frame and fork are covered by Dynacraft’s limited lifetime warranty
- This bike was designed mainly with boys in mind
- It lacks a quick release saddle post lever
- This bike lacks the quality of its pricier competitors
The Guardian Ethos combines the best of the BMX and mountain bike frame designs with the company’s proprietary SureStop braking system to provide riders with safe, solid, and reliable performance.
- This bike uses a steel frame available in both masculine and feminine color schemes
- Guardian’s SureStop braking system simplifies and shortens stops simultaneously
- Guardian offers impressive customer service
- This bike is a bit pricey
- It lacks both reflectors
- This bike lacks coaster brakes, a positive for some parents
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of 20-Inch Bikes
- Prepare for the future. Owners of 20-inch bikes are usually new graduates from the world of training wheels, coaster brakes, and single-speed drivetrains. This new breed of bike prepares growing riders to prepare for larger bikes where such things may no longer exist.
- Learn new skills. Most riders of 20-inch bikes are kids learning how to master a new bike with new features, but sometimes, these new bikes introduce young riders to new skills. Rarely will you encounter a 4-year-old tackling trails on a mountain bike or attempting jumps on a BMX bike. 20-inch bikes are ideal for learning new styles of riding.
- Downsize successfully. Minimalism is a growing trend and, recently, a growing necessity. For adults interested in decreasing their carbon footprint, their “stuff” footprint, or both, 20-inch folding bikes may just be worth the cash, especially for those living in urban neighborhoods.
Types of 20-Inch Bikes
BMX bikes rely on a single-speed drivetrain and a minimalistic design to give bikers the ability to transform into airborne performers. Usually, these bikes feature only rear brakes, with true freestyle bikes relying on hand brakes instead of coaster brakes. Due to their simplistic design, these bikes are an excellent choice for new and inexperienced riders as well as daredevils.
Cruiser bikes have been around longer than virtually any other design type. They combine a single-speed drivetrain, rear coaster brakes, and an upright seating position to maximize comfort on flat surfaces. This design tends to be heavy and relatively slow, making them ideal for new or inexperienced riders as well as those interested in relaxation. Often, these bikes include springs under the seats, handlebar baskets, and luggage racks, hearkening back to the mid 20th century. On rare occasions, shoppers can find cruisers with three or seven gears, although this drivetrain configuration is especially rare among 20-inch bikes.
Mountain bikes were designed to tackle trails and maneuver over mountains using a combination of a hand-control, multi-speed drivetrain, dual hand-activated brakes, and, often, shock-absorbing suspension components. This specially-engineered layout allows users to quickly and easily adjust their speed to match conditions on various trails and terrain features with minimal effort. On 20-inch mountain bikes, drivetrains with six or seven gears are the norm. This allows riders to learn how to manage their gears effectively before they grow into a larger bike with two or three times that number of gears.
Folding bikes are an adult commuter’s answer to traffic snarls and an urban denizen’s answer to high parking costs and higher fuel costs. Due to their folding design, these bikes require a smaller wheel diameter than that found on other adult bikes, but they will fit multiple different riders with a wide variety of heights, making them much more adaptable than other adult bike designs. Their compact folding size also allows them to fit more easily inside elevators, offices, and apartments. To make up for their inherently lower speeds, folding bikes usually come with a multi-speed drivetrain.
Originally founded in Ashland, Mass., Dynacraft has been providing “fun on wheels” for North American families since 1984. Today, the company operates out of American Canyon, California, distributing bikes, like the Dynacraft Magna Throttle, scooters, and battery-powered ride-ons under the Dynacraft name and under license for some of the world’s biggest names, including Hot Wheels, Hello Kitty, and many more.
Guardian got its start in 2013 when the company’s founders began providing bicycle manufacturers with its revolutionary SureStop technology. After a few years, it took the next step and began providing the overlooked kids’ bike market with its own line of SureStop-equipped bikes, like the Guardian 20-Inch Ethos. The company produces kids’ bikes and accessories, maintaining its original safety focus.
One of the oldest names in American bicycles, Huffy has been at it since America’s “bicycle craze” in 1892. The Ohio-based company produces bicycles for all ages and stages, such as the Huffy Go Girl/Ignyte, electric bikes, scooters, tricycles, ride-ons, and biking accessories, a far cry from its origins as the Davis Sewing Machine Company of Dayton, Ohio.
Schwinn got its start in 1895 when German immigrant Ignaz Schwinn partnered with Adolf Arnold in Chicago, Ill. to form World Bicycles. Today, the company produces cruisers, road bikes, mountain bikes, electric bikes, balance bikes, scooters, and tricycles. Bikes like the Schwinn 20-Inch Koen populate America’s sidewalks, parks, and bike paths, providing everyday Americans with quality bikes.
20-Inch Bikes Pricing
- Under $100: Bikes in this price range tend either toward minimalism, and some may struggle with quality control issues. To get the most bang for your buck, pick something simple and utilitarian.
- $100 to $200: This range includes bikes with a good balance between quality and features, although an overabundance of extras could signal the need to further investigate a bike’s quality.
- $200 and up: These bikes provide riders with build quality and useful or convenient features. As the saying goes, “Buy once. Cry once.”
20-inch bikes are a bit more unusual than many of their counterparts due to the variety of brake systems they choose to employ. Bikes often use either rear coaster brakes or hand-activated front and rear brakes. 20-inch two-wheelers can use either of these setups, but they also commonly feature a combination of both systems, sometimes with a front hand brake and other times with both front and rear hand brakes.
20-inch bikes are the first size category to feature both single-speed and multi-speed bicycle drivetrains. For bikers seeking a simpler riding experience, there are a wide variety of single-speed options available, usually in the form of BMX or cruiser bikes. On the flip side, those looking to learn a new biking skill can get a “big kid bike” with multiple gears, and adult folding bikes with 20-inch wheels also come with multi-speed drivetrains.
The best bikes of any size include several safety-oriented features. Most commonly, young riders should look for a bike with reflectors, chainguards, and handlebar pads, although the last couple of items usually do not appear on mountain bikes. On the flip side, adult riders hunting for a folding bike need only include reflectors on their list of non-negotiable.
- Helpful Extras. While not essential to their function, some bicycles come with a few helpful features that may be worth spending a little extra money to obtain. Items like kickstands have immensely practical benefits, making them worth buying separately in the rare instance a bike lacks one. Other non-essential extras, such as BMX pegs or a basket, also enhance a bike’s level of fun and function.
Best 20-Inch Bikes Reviews & Recommendations 2020
A bicycle that can perform well, look cool, and hold up well is a rare find indeed, but the Huffy Go Girl/Ignyte checks all those boxes without breaking the bank. This BMX bike features a single-speed drivetrain mounted to a durable steel frame, and the rear coaster brake combines with a front caliper hand brake to provide great stopping power. The quick-release lever at the base of the saddle post allows for easy seat height adjustments, and each bike includes a kickstand, a chainguard, and a handlebar pad. The boys Ignyte also includes front BMX pegs, while the Go Girl opts for streamers instead. The Huffy Go Girl/Ignyte is easy to assemble, and both versions include multiple color combos and a limited lifetime warranty.
Neither bike includes reflectors, and a few owners have complained about occasional quality control issues.
Essentials are a necessity of life, and extras are a nicety of life. The Dynacraft Magna Throttle may lack many innovative extras, but it does have all the essentials and a great price tag to match. This BMX bike features a tough, boy-proof steel frame mated to a single-speed drivetrain, while the rear coaster brake provides simple, reliable stopping power. The black frame, red fork, and white handlebars give this bike an aggressive, masculine look, and while it may lack innovative extras, the bike does cover the essentials and then some with the included kickstand, chainguard, handlebar and crossbar pad, and reflectors. Still, the easy-to-assemble Dynacraft Magna Throttle manages to keep the weight down, and both the frame and fork boast a lifetime warranty.
Unfortunately, the boyish aesthetics of this bike, the lack of a quick-release saddle post, and some quality control issues may limit its appeal.
American creativity and ingenuity have led to some impressive innovations, like the Guardian 20-Inch Ethos, a bike designed to enhance rider safety. This lightweight kids bike features a steel, mountain bike-inspired frame design and uses a single-speed drivetrain. It comes with a kickstand, a quick-release lever at the saddle post’s base, and a color suitable for both boys and girls. What makes it stand out is Guardian’s innovative SureStop braking system. This system incorporates control of both the front and rear calipers into a single brake lever, allowing riders to stop in much shorter distances than with traditional systems that require independent, coordinated brake control to compete. The Guardian 20-Inch Ethos is very easy to assemble and is backed by excellent customer service.
Our biggest gripes with this bike are its high price tag and its lack of reflectors. Some may find the lack of coaster brake disappointing.
Looking for a bike to put a smile on any kid’s face? Then take a closer look at the Royalbaby 20-Inch Freestyle. This BMX-style bike comes in a variety of colors sure to please both boys and girls. The step-through frame relies on its steel construction to provide strength and durability, while the single-speed drivetrain makes it easy to get up and go. For stopping power, it relies on the rear coaster brake or the dual hand-activated caliper brakes. The quick-release lever allows users to adjust the saddle height with ease, allowing for a customized riding experience. The Royalbaby 20-Inch Freestyle comes with a kickstand, a chainguard, front and rear fenders, and front and rear reflectors, and the bike is easy to assemble.
One oddity with this bike is the low, offset position of the rear reflector, and some have reported an occasional quality control issue.
Names like Schwinn are associated with quality and performance, and bikes like the Schwinn 20-Inch Koen are sure to make aspiring BMXers feel like winners every time they go for a ride. This boy's BMX bike is built to last, thanks in part to its tough steel frame. As one would expect, this bike uses a single-speed drivetrain, and it benefits from both a rear coaster brake and dual hand-activated caliper brakes. The quick-release saddle post allows for quick, easy height adjustments. The bike comes in either black, blue, or red, each with a flashy white fork, and it leverages Schwinn’s kid-friendly SmartStart engineering. The Schwinn 20-Inch Koen includes a kickstand, a chainguard, a BMX-inspired number plate, and a limited lifetime warranty.
Sadly, this boy-centric bike lacks reflectors. Some owners have run into occasional fit and finish issues, and the generic instruction manual can make assembly difficult for some.
Some girls just want to be girls, and with the Pacific Cycle Nickelodeon's JoJo Siwa Girls Cruiser Bike, being a bike-riding girl has never been easier. This bike features a classic cruiser design, minus the luggage rack commonly seen on adult cruisers. It uses the traditional single-speed drivetrain to generate power and relies on comfortable rear coaster brakes to bring it to a stop. The steel frame leverages the classic girl’s step-through design, and the quick-release saddle post allows the bike to grow with its rider. This bike has a perfect powder blue paint job with white and pink accents and includes a kickstand, fenders, seat springs, and a basket. The Pacific Cycle Nickelodeon's JoJo Siwa Girls Cruiser Bike assembles easily and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Sadly, this girl's bike lacks reflectors, and the “universal” instruction manual can make assembly difficult for the less experienced individual.
Preserve the environment, save some space, and hit the road all with the EuroMini ZiZZO Campo, a folding bike built for city commuters and urban dwellers alike. This lightweight folding bike was designed for maximum portability and compact storage thanks to its aluminum frame, quick release connection points, folding pedals, and magnetic catcher for securing the frame. It features a seven-speed Shimano drivetrain with a Shimano Revoshift grip shifter and a rust-resistant stainless steel Shimano Tourney Derailleur, and the dual hand-control caliper brakes making stopping safe and easy. This bike comes in multiple different colors and includes plenty of extra features, such as a kickstand, reflectors, water bottle mounts, and 2-inch multi-terrain tires. Due to its folding design, the EuroMini ZiZZO Campo is incredibly easy to assemble.
This adult folding bike is expensive which makes the low-quality inner tubes and tall, non-adjustable handlebars a little frustrating.
Whoever said the trail boss had to be a boy never met the Diamondback 20-Inch Tess, a bike designed for girls with trails to tame and mountains to level. This girls mountain bike comes with a Hi-Ten steel frame to withstand the rigors of tough terrain and an HL Zoom fork with 40 millimeters of travel to soak up punishment on the trail. The six-speed Shimano drivetrain comes with a single trigger shifter by the right handle for quick, easy shifts, and the dual caliper hand brakes feature an adjustable lever for just the right touch. This bike also includes a quick-release saddle post lever to simplify seat adjustments. The easy-to-assemble Diamondback 20-Inch Tess comes in deep pink with the perfect amount of black and white accents.
The biggest omissions from this girl's bike are the missing kickstand and reflectors.
The Mongoose Legion Mag is the stuff of legends, filling the dreams of legions of boys looking to get some hang time and try some stunts at the bike park down the street. This boys BMX bike comes with everything an aspiring stuntman could imagine, with its four BMX pegs, a cable detangler, and other critical features. Like all good BMX bikes, this one comes with a single-speed drivetrain and a rear caliper brake activated by an aluminum hand lever for maximum control. The Hi-Ten steel frame and fork can take expected and unexpected tumbles and the aluminum mag wheels provide both strength and weight savings. The Mongoose Legion Mag pairs 170-millimeter, single-piece forged steel cranks with 40 x16T gearing and is available in multiple colors.
Sadly, this bike’s aesthetics are less than ideal for BMX-loving girls, and proper brake installation can be difficult. Quality control can be hit or miss.
Know a young biker looking for a way to climb hills and scale mountains? The Hiland 20-Inch Kids Mountain Bicycle may just be the answer to their dilemma. This kid's mountain bike was built to handle almost any terrain. It uses a six-speed drivetrain to make quick work of inclines, and the front and rear hand-activated caliper brakes can cut speed quickly. This bike pairs its steel frame with a suspension fork capable of handling up to 40 millimeters of travel, maximizing strength and off-road comfort. The quick-release saddle post allows for a customized seating height, and the included kickstand keeps things pristine. The Hiland 20-Inch Kids Mountain Bicycle comes in multiple colors, and parents will find it easy to assemble.
Notably, this bike lacks reflectors, and its tires are quite slick for a mountain bike. It may also need a drivetrain tune-up before any serious adventures.
- Purchase the proper bike for the rider’s intended use. Single-speed bikes are ideal for less-confident bikers, while multi-speed bikes are better suited to more advanced riders.
- Select a bike based on the rider’s size rather than their age. Bike sizes are based on specific measurements that fit many of those within the recommended age range, but bikes are not one-size-fits-all machines.
Q: What age is a 20-inch bike for?
20-inch bikes were designed for kids measuring between about 48 and 60 inches tall. Proper bike sizing relies much more heavily on a rider’s height than their age. That said, 20-inch bikes usually fit kids somewhere between six and 12, depending on the bike’s frame size.
Q: Can you put training wheels on a 20-inch bike?
Yes, 20-inch bikes can support the use of training wheels, although these bikes do not include training wheels. That said, there is a solid market for training wheels for larger bikes.
Q: Do 20-inch bikes have gears?
Sometimes, although probably less than 50 percent of the time. Most 20-inch bikes use single-speed drivetrains unless they are mountain bikes or adult folding bikes.
The Huffy Go Girl/Ignyte offers kids everything they need to be safe, successful, and cool all at once, yet this bike will not break Mom and Dad’s bank. While a bit on the utilitarian side of things, the Dynacraft Magna Throttle is a great option for the budget-conscious buyer.