The Complete Bike Buying Guide for Families

Velo : guide d'achat pour les familles

There’s nothing like the rush of riding a bicycle—it’s pure freedom on two wheels. Not only is it a ton of fun, but biking also improves your fitness, clears your mind after a stressful day and can bring you closer to your family when you hit the trails together. But with so many cool and different types of bikes available, it can be hard to know which one is the best for you. Don’t worry, we’ve got you!

Whether you want to keep things simple or nerd out with all the (actual) bells and whistles, this guide covers all your bike questions—so you and your family will be hitting those trails in no time!

Just want to start shopping? Check out our 7 best bikes for the whole family.

In this guide

1. How do you know what type of bike you need?

The quickest way to fast-track your search for the right bike is to ask yourself, “Where and when will my family want to ride?”

Here are some of the most popular choices:

Bike type Use
Mountain bike For biking on multiple terrains, including trails
Road bike For commuting to work (and other long rides on pavement)
Cruiser For leisurely after-dinner outings with the fam
Electric bike For long distances and hills without too much effort
Hybrid bike For commuting to work, and leisure rides on mixed terrain
BMX bike For learning tricks at the skatepark
Kids’ bike For getting your child in on the action

Let’s explore the many different types of bikes in more detail:

Mountain bikes

A woman on a red mountain bike

Price range: $150 to $1,000

Mountain bikes have deep-grooved tires that give you lots of grabbing power on dirt trails and gravel. They’re durable, with wide, flat handlebars that make it easier to steer on narrow trails.

Mountain bikes also come with suspension, so you feel less of a jolt when you’re riding over bumps. Some offer front suspension, while others, like this Hyper Bear mountain bike, offer it on both the front and back ends.

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Road bikes

A man in a helmet riding a lime green road bike

Price range: $275 to $800

Road bikes are built to give you a smooth, speedy ride, which is why they’re also sometimes called racing bikes. They’re light, sleek and best for riders who want to go fast or ride long distances.

They have narrow tires, a small seat and usually feature a drop bar handlebar (the kind that looks like a backward “C”). You ride these bikes in a bent-over position, which can take some getting used to.

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Cruiser bikes

A woman riding a cruiser bike in a field of flowers

Price range: $200 to $500

Cruiser bikes are the cycling equivalent of the old recliner your dad watches sports in—built for comfort and made to last. They have larger tires, a big, cushiony seat and wide, curved handlebars to keep you upright.

They often have low frames that are easy to step over, and very simple coaster brakes (the kind you push backward on). Much like that recliner, these bikes can be on the heavier side.

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Electric bikes

A woman with a helmet and backpack riding an electric bike

Price range: $750 to $2,100

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are any type of bike that has the addition of a small electric motor to help make it easier to pedal. They make riding accessible for many people, no matter their fitness level, and could be a good choice if your commute includes a lot of hills.

The battery on an electric bike needs charging, which makes this Hyper Electric a good choice, since it can travel up to 32 km on one charge.

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Hybrid bikes

A woman riding a red hybrid bike

Price range: $300 to $1,300

Hybrid bikes are like that one friend who always seems happy—they can deal with whatever (riding surface) gets thrown at them. They’re on the lighter side and have mid-sized tires that can handle both pavement and natural surfaces. They come with a flat handlebar so you’re sitting in an upright position, to help you keep an eye on traffic.

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BMX bikes

A multicoloured BMX bike

Price range: $175 to $600

BMX bikes are designed for thrill-seekers looking for adrenaline-fueled rides! BMX, which stands for bicycle motocross, is a sport focused on jumps and tricks. BMX bikes have a simple, compact design that’s perfect for the intense riding that BMX lovers crave.

BMX bikes have smaller wheels (usually around just 20-inches) with thick tires and smaller, lightweight frames. They’re perfect for urban riding, and do best in skate parks, on dirt paths and pump tracks.

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Kids’ bikes

Two children riding bikes with training wheels

Price range: $50 to $300

Learning to ride a bike is good for kids from basically every angle: Cycling boosts muscle development and cardiovascular health, it encourages better coordination and even assists with balance. Riding a bike also fosters important feelings of freedom and independence. Plus, cycling around the neighbourhood is a great way to spend a sunny weekend afternoon as a family!

Kids’ bikes share most of the same components found on adult models, but it’s important to note that they are measured by wheel size, which does not directly relate to the frame size. When shopping for your kids, be sure to look at the minimum and maximum seat heights to make sure it will be a comfy fit for your little one.

Kids’ BMX bikes

Kids love BMX bikes due to their compact size. Plus, they’re robust, virtually indestructible, and super fun to ride. If you have a pint-sized daredevil on your hands, they’ll love practicing beginner stunts and tricks.

Kids’ BMX bikes come in wheel sizes ranging from 14-inches to 20-inches and mini bikes can fit riders as young as 4 years old, which means they can graduate directly from their balance bike to a BMX!

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Kids’ tricycles

Trikes are closer to big-kid bikes, which appeals to independent toddlers and preschoolers (and tend to suit 2- to 4-year-olds). Look for grow-with-me configurations, which can extend the life of your kid’s trike.

While some balance bikes come with wood or plastic frames, even the smallest pedal bikes can also come in steel or aluminum construction, which are sturdier. A high seat back and safety strap make early riding experiences safer for younger kids. Some models also come with a removable push bar, which allows parents to use it as a stroller. (Win-win!)

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Kids’ balance bikes

Kids as young as 18 months can get rolling with a balance bike (sometimes also called a strider bike), which will support the development of their fine motor skills and get them feeling comfortable on two wheels from the get-go.

Balance bikes have no pedals and rely on kids pushing along with their feet. They are a safe and easy entry point for the youngest cyclists.

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2. What's the difference between men's bikes and women's bikes?

If a bike fits your frame and you like how it rides, it doesn’t matter how it’s classified. That said, a bike that’s labelled as a “women’s bike” will typically have a few specific features.

  • Frame size: It will often have a shorter distance from the bottom of the frame to the bicycle seat, and from the seat to the handles.
  • Frame style: Some “women’s bikes” will also have a step-through frame, which means that the top bar is angled downwards rather than straight across. This design originated when women riders often wore long skirts so that they could easily cross their legs over the bar when mounting or dismounting.
  • Handlebars: It might have a narrower set of handlebars, which could be an important consideration if you have small shoulders.

3. How much does a bike cost?

Knowing where you want to ride, how often, and what bike features are important to you will make it easier to decide how much you want to spend. As with most purchases, consider your budget and buy the bike that best suits your needs.

  • For occasional rides: You can probably find an adult bike that meets your needs for around $200 or less. At this price range, it’s a good idea to find a bicycle shop to assemble the bike (if necessary) and set it up, so you get the best fit and most comfortable ride possible. A knowledgeable bike mechanic can also give you the confidence of knowing that everything is working as it should be.
  • For daily rides: If you’ll be riding the bike nearly every day, you should be able to find a bike that lasts for between $300 to $1,000. Be sure to do your research and spend time making sure the bike fits both your needs and your body. Bikes at higher price ranges will offer better-quality suspension, high-tech brakes (e.g., disc brakes) or a considerably lighter frame.
  • For your child: Good-quality kids’ bikes are around $150 but can go as low as $100. Kids outgrow their wheels rather quickly, so it’s a good idea to set your “good enough” price and set that as your budget.

Money-saving tip

The simplest way to keep the cost of owning a bike low is to commit to regular maintenance, such as keeping the chains lubricated and the tires pumped. A tune-up is a smart move in the spring or any time a bike hasn’t been ridden in a long time.

4. What bicycle accessories do you need?

A boy and a girl wearing helmets while riding bikes

Before you get rolling, there are some essential extras that shouldn’t be overlooked. Bike accessories can improve the safety, comfort, and overall cycling experience for you and your family. Below are the most important items to add when purchasing a new bike.

  • Bike helmet: Yes, it’s hard on the hairdo, but a helmet is a no-brainer for, well, your brain. It’s also required by law for children under 18 in many provinces, and in some, the law extends to all ages.[1] Keep in mind that there are adult helmets (that tend to prioritize airflow and comfort) and kids’ helmets (that emphasize safety, with a wider protection area). The airflow on this Bell Sports adult helmet is great for keeping you cool. There are also stylish bike helmets for kids, like this Bell Sports Ollie one.
  • Bike lock: If you live in a city, a high-quality bike lock is a crucial investment.
  • Bike pump: And for bikes with tires (um, all of them!), you’ll want a bicycle pump—ideally one with a pressure gauge, like this Air Attack 650 pump.
  • Lubricant: Add a bottle of chain lubricant and you’re all set.

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Safety tip

Before using a bike pump, check your tires to see what pressure is needed. The recommended tire pressure is printed in raised lettering on your tire. You can measure your tire’s current pressure by using a tire pressure gauge. After pumping air into your bike’s tires, make sure to confirm the pressure is correct by using your gauge.

There are other add-ons for your bike that are like sprinkles on your ice cream—they make a great thing even better.

  • Bike bell: A bike bell that you can ring while still holding onto the handlebars is key on city streets, and the law in some municipalities.
  • Fenders: Add on fenders to keep the rain and mud off your clothes.
  • Bicycle lights: If you’ll be riding after dark, invest in bike lights—this Bell Pharos 650 light set includes both front and back lights.
  • Bike basket: Bike baskets and carriers can prevent unsightly backpack sweats; some are even designed to keep your phone right under your nose, like this Top Tube bike bagBiking gloves, a water bottle cage and cycling glasses are also great extras if you plan on doing longer rides.
  • Child carriers and trailers: Young families might also want a child carrier or child’s bike seat, so even the littlest ones can join in on the fun. This Bell Sports trailer can hold two kids with a weight capacity of up to 45 kilograms.

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Shopping tip

The cost of a sturdy bike lock might surprise you. It’s a smart idea to check prices before you buy a bike, particularly if you’ll be parking it in a busy spot. That way you can factor that cost into your bike budget. Finding your bike missing is no way to end your workday.

5. What size bike should you buy?

When you straddle the bike, there should be a gap of at least a few centimetres between you and the frame. If you’re sitting on the seat, you might have to tilt the bike to the side slightly to plant your foot on the ground, but you shouldn’t be so high up that you feel like you’ll fall over. When your feet are on the pedals, your leg should have a slight bend at the knee when your foot is at the lowest point in the circle.

6. How many gears do you need on your bike?

A close-up view of a mountain bike

The number of gears is an important consideration when buying a bike. Once upon a time, a 10-speed bike was a kid’s wildest dream. Now plenty of bikes come with 27 or more speeds—a.k.a. gears—to shift through. Do you really need all those gears?

The more gears a bike has, the more flexibility you’ll have when riding. You can shift to a lower gear to make a hill climb easier, or shift up to pick up speed on a flat road or downhill. Having tons of gears won’t automatically make you faster, just more efficient.

7. Should you test-ride before you buy?

If possible, try to test-ride at least a couple of bikes, even if you’re just trying out your friend’s sweet new ride.

Once you find something you like, take it out for a 10 to 15-minute ride. Find a hill. Ride over bumps and uneven surfaces. Shift through all the gears. How do your shoulders feel? What about your backside? Do you like the handlebars and the position your body is in? Can you easily work the brakes and gear shifters?

At the very least, a test ride should help you find a starting point for frame size and the kind of seat and handlebar you prefer.

8. What are the main parts of a bike?

You can leave the finer details to the fanatics, but it’s helpful to know a few key parts of your bike so you can describe a problem at the repair shop.

  • Frame: The frame of the bike is what everything else attaches to. It’s usually made of metal, often aluminum, or carbon fibre on more expensive bikes.
  • Wheel: The parts of a bicycle wheel include the rubber tire, the hard rim on which the tire sits and the spokes that fan out from the centre hub to the rim.
  • Suspension: The suspension is the shocks of the bike, which cushion you from bumps or jolts.
  • Seat: The bicycle seat (or the saddle, if you’re fancy) is where your backside goes.
  • Drivetrain: The drivetrain is the mechanism that allows you to change gears and translate your pedal power into movement.
  • Shifters: Shifters are attached to your handlebars and allow you to change gears.
  • Brakes: The most common types of brakes are coaster (when you push backward on the pedals) and rim (brake pads activated by hand levers apply pressure to the wheels’ rims).
  • Pedals: Pedals can be simple and flat, but some include toe clips that secure your shoes to the pedal—not for the faint of heart.

9. How can you research the best bikes?

A great starting point for your research is asking friends and family about their favourite styles or brands of bikes—a quick post on social media can give you all kinds of helpful ideas. You can also ask questions on bike forums—three of our favourites include and Mountain Bike Reviews. Another place to get advice is local bike groups on Facebook, such as Cycle Toronto or Ottawa Mountain Biking.

Online reviews can give you additional insights (but remember to use your own judgment). Visit a few bike shops if you can and ask a lot of questions. Again, get recommendations for good shops in your area. If you visit a store and don’t feel welcome, don’t stay. You should never feel like you’re trying to join a secret society. Riding a bike is for everyone.

Finding the right bike can take time, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Once you’ve found your perfect ride, check its return policy before you buy. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to give your bike a proper tryout and to make sure that everything is working properly. 

Shopping tip

Walmart Canada’s 120-day return policy on bikes means you’ll never be stuck with a bike you don’t absolutely love. Plus, you can return bikes to in-store locations across Canada, even if you bought your bike online.

You’re now ready to hit the ground rolling on your search for the perfect bike, paving the way for a healthier, happier you.

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Article Sources
Karen is an award-winning journalist who writes about health, parenting and a variety of lifestyle topics. Her work is frequently published in Today’s Parent, Best Health and Canadian Living. As a busy Toronto-based mom of two, Karen runs on lattes (a lot of them!) and, as it happens, running.

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How we choose products

Simply put, we don’t recommend any products we wouldn’t buy ourselves. Our writers leverage a number of sources as a starting point, including reputable third-party reviews, user reviews, and Walmart Canada’s category specialists. theHUB editorial staff has final say for all products included in this guide.

Any product claims noted are provided by the manufacturer, unless otherwise stated. Prices shown are subject to change. Please check for the latest pricing. This article is intended as general information. To be sure a product is right for you, always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.