The 10 Best Tricycles
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in February of 2015. If your toddler is just about ready for a little vehicular independence, consider one of these tricycles. Many of these three-wheeled bikes are a far cry from the trikes of your youth, thanks to awesome designs and innovative features. They can help your child develop and improve balance, stamina, muscle strength and motor functions, and some of them even double as a stroller. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 09, 2021:
We made just a single, small change to this version of the Wiki. The Costzon Balance replaced a similar model that was no longer available. It's meant specifically for toddlers and can help them improve their coordination. Otherwise, our recommendations remain the same. Adults will want to take a look at Husky Industrial, in our special honors section, as that's one of the top companies for full-size trikes.
March 16, 2020:
Due to a lack of availability, we eliminated the Joovy Tricycoo and the Fisher Price Barbie Lights. We also removed the Besrey Glide and the Costzon Learning Bike because of safety concerns.
We added a variety of new items, from small, plastic toy models for very young children to a heavy-duty steel tricycle with pneumatic off-roading tires. Although the Fisher-Price Paw Patrol is one of the plastic options, its durability is quite impressive, and little ones seem to have a lot of fun with its light and sound functions.
The Radio Flyer Deluxe is racing-style variation of the classic trike; the position of the seat can easily be adjusted to accommodate growing children as they get taller. For parents who want to maintain a bit of control over their child’s steering, the High Bounce Extra has a handle protruding from the back, complete with a curved grip and cup holder.
Lapp Wagons Speedway From a third-generation family business in Pennsylvania, this traditional tricycle is recommended for kids who are at least five years old. It’s available in blue, red, pink, or green, and it has a hitch in the back for attaching a mini wagon like a trailer. lappwagons.com
Triaid Playground Trikes Triaid manufactures cycling gear for individuals with special needs or physical disabilities, and the Tuff Trike is no exception. It’s available in two sizes, with thick metal tubing protected by a powder-coated finish. The wheels have heavy-duty treads for managing different types of terrain. triaid.com
Husky Industrial These adult tricycles from Husky require a significant investment, but for serious enthusiasts, the comfort and craftsmanship make them worth it. Their attributes include front and rear fenders, big comfortable saddles, heavy-duty steel frames, and safety parking levers. huskybicycles.com
What Separates a Good Tricycle From a Great One?
At a glance, most tricycles appear to be created alike, but this can be deceiving in terms of versatility, safety, ride-ability, and more.
At a glance, most tricycles appear to be created alike, but this can be deceiving in terms of versatility, safety, ride-ability, and more. If you're purchasing a tricycle, it pays to do your homework. And a tricycle's frame may be the best place to start.
Steel is the industry standard when it comes to tricycle frames. Metal frames are fine, and plastic frames, a little less so. But a steel frame remains durable, and largely resistant to weathering, which is important if you plan on passing a tricycle down from one child to another.
By and large, you'll want a tricycle to feature bright, perhaps even reflective, colors. Bright colors allow a tricycle to stand out, which has immeasurable value when and if you take your child out for a bike ride at night.
Certain tricycles feature rubber wheels, which are preferable to the less-traditional plastic. Rubber wheels have built-in shock absorption, which makes for a smoother ride when kids are pedaling over cracks in a sidewalk. The same can be said for any tricycle with a cushioned seat, in that the cushion is not only comfortable, but it's also much more prone to keep a child from sliding off.
Tricycles are built low to the ground to accommodate small children while also preventing the risk of certain accidents (see below). The only area where this could be a concern is if the tricycle's rear bar - or platform - tends to scrape along the pavement. You can sidestep this by confirming that any tricycle you're interested in features a rear bar that rests at least a few inches off the ground.
How To Keep Your Child Safe On a Tricycle
Tricycles, by their three-wheeled nature, have been designed to help children avoid falling. With that said, we all know that youngsters are capable of doing things that might be unwarranted. The good news is that you can minimize your child's risk of injury by teaching him or her some very simple rules. Let's take a look at where some of the most common tricycle hazards are hiding.
Tricycles, by their three-wheeled nature, have been designed to help children avoid falling.
Consider a tricycle front wheel, for example. A lot of tricycles have been built with a metal guard around the top of that wheel. Said guard, while effective at deflecting dirt and gravel, could also cause an injury if your child's foot or hand gets caught in the well. Same thing goes for any tricycle's spokes. If a tricycle is in motion, jamming a limb into either of those areas could result in a serious laceration, or worse.
Be mindful that young children are prone to mimicking older brothers and sisters, who they might see popping wheelies in the street. While the majority of tricycles are mechanically incapable of popping wheelies, it doesn't hurt to teach your child to wear a helmet from an early age. You can't predict when an unavoidable accident might occur, and a helmet can protect your child from any minor head injuries (to say the least).
Beyond taking these precautions, it's important to supervise your child at all times when he or she is riding a tricycle. Make it point to keep your child away from any intersections or high-traffic areas. Sidewalks are the golden rule. Public parks and secluded areas are even better.
A Brief History of The Tricycle (AKA 'The Trike')
The first tricycle was invented toward the end of the 18th Century as an extension of a three-wheeled wheelchair that had been designed almost a hundred years before. This hybrid tricycle, which was engineered by a pair of Frenchmen, remained little more than a curiosity until 1818, at which point a British coachmaker named Denis Johnson began to manufacture tricycles, which he referred to as pedestrian curricles, based on a newly-patented approach.
This idea of a children's tricycle took off throughout America where it has remained a constant ever since.
Over the ensuing 60 years, inventors across Europe fiddled with various conceptions for a tricycle. One version of the "trike" was built with all three wheels running parallel, while another was powered by hand levers. All of this trial and error eventually resulted in the first-ever front-steering tricycle, which was introduced by the Leicester Safety Tricycle Company in 1881.
Tricycles became a major trend throughout England toward the end of the 1800s. Ironically, these British trikes were being built for adults. British women preferred a tricycle because it sat lower, which was beneficial when riding in a dress. British men preferred a tricycle because it was considered a symbol of sophistication, much like a modern-day BMW might be considered a symbol of success.
The introduction of the automobile caused the adult trike's popularity to wane during the early 1900s. Consequently, tricycles were largely reimagined for a prepubescent audience. This idea of a children's tricycle took off throughout America where it has remained a constant ever since. Today, almost every family with small children owns a tricycle or a big wheel, or some other three-wheeled contraption featuring two pedals and a seat.