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It's like riding a bike -- you never forget

Possibly because it's so difficult to learn, people say you never forget how to ride a bike. To make this process a little less painstaking, consider these two things: Patience goes a long way, but buying the best trike for your first-time biker is essential.

Given the wide variety of bikes for children, we must first break them down into brackets. Kids' bikes (not including tricycles and balance bikes) are categorized by wheel size, the most common being 12-, 16-, and 20-inch models. Kids ages 1 to 4 years old should start with a tricycle or balance bike. While the traditional tricycle will teach your child confidence, pedaling and control, it will not develop balance. On the flip side, a balance bike doesn't teach the skill of pedaling, since it is propelled using only the feet.

Consider whether you want to rely on training wheels for the long term. Training wheels can be used with a balance bike, although most riders can already balance themselves. If you decide on a tricycle, you will need to spend some time teaching your child how to properly balance on two wheels once they graduate to a regular bike. Both balance bikes and tricycles will cost somewhere between $60 and $160.

By the time children outgrow either the balance bike or tricycle, between the ages of 3 and 5, they will be ready for a 12-inch bike. Most 12-inch bikes come equipped with removable training wheels. You also want to be sure that the bike has an adjustable seat to ensure it can be used as the child grows. Children ages 4 to 7 will most likely need a 16-inch bike. These bikes are usually equipped with removable training wheels and adjustable seats. Safe and reliable models are available for about $100.

At 7 to 10 years old -- depending on the child's height -- it will be time to ditch the training wheels for good and move on to a 20-inch bike. This is where you will see the most diverse selection, including mountain, BMX and cruisers. Here you can spend anywhere from $100 to $500, so you need to know your needs more precisely. Parents may wish to skip a learning stage, depending on the growth and skill development rate of the child.

Based on expert and customer reviews, we have compiled a list of the best kids' bikes available in a multitude of styles and sizes. While there is always a better bike out there, we strive to find you the best value for your dollar.

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