Tough enough to take a beating from kids, yet nimble enough to cruise through pump tracks and single-track, the Stampede Bikes Sprinter 16 is hands down the best 16″ bike under $250. With dual handbrakes, no coaster and wider handlebars for a wider base, the Sprinter is a deal at $239. With a minimum seat height of 22″, the Sprinter is best for kids in size 5 or 6 pants or experienced riders in 4T pants. (Stampede Bikes is TykesBykes new name)
Weighing in at 17.9 lb., the Sprinter easily and eagerly put to work by four and five-year-old testers. From driveway stunts to bike jumps, around the neighborhood, the Sprinter shined.
All-terrain Riding and Positioning
Out at the pump track, the Sprinter didn’t skip a beat. Its wide handlebars provided a solid base and the freewheel prevented unexpected stops and allowed for proper pedal placement at takeoff. While knobby tires would be best on dedicated all-terrain bike, the Sprinter’s medium tread had no problems gripping packed dirt.
The Sprinter’s overall stability was an unexpected surprise. Our four-year-old tester, who barely fits on the bike, heard the beckon of a lonely puddle and quickly put the Sprinter to work. Within minutes, he was turning sharply and leaning in and out of turns, skills he was previously resistant to try. Sprinter’s flat and wide handlebars provided the stable base he needed. His more upright WOOM was made it more comfortable for him to learn to pedal on, but made learning to lean more challenging.
Gearing, Brakes and Grips
Getting down to the details, the Sprinter has a mid-range gain ratio (measures overall gearing of the bike) of 3.56, making it ideal for everyday riding, including moderate short inclines. The dual handbrakes are easy-reach and easy-pull and are paired with locking grips. Locking grips prevent grips from slowly creeping down the bars, which can be a challenge to put back in place. While rare, during one bike test, we actually had a grip completely fly off a 16″ bike, causing the testers to crash.
When first transitioning from a balance bike to a pedal bike, kids need to be able to touch the ground while on the seat so they can stop with their feet (like they are used to on a balance bike). Once they learn master pedaling, they can ride bikes with a seat height several inches taller than their inseam. Our 42″ tall four-year-old tester with an 18.5″ inseam (4T pants), has no problem riding the Sprinter with a 22″ minimum seat height, but it does take more effort to get started than his smaller 16″ bikes. Once over the bike, he has just enough height to stand on his toes with one foot while positioning the pedal with the other. If he was just learning how to pedal, the Sprinter would be too tall for him.
The best 16″ bike under $250, the Sprinter is a workhorse on both paved and all-terrain riding. With a 22″ minimum seat height, it is best beginning riders in size 5 pants or more experienced riders in 4T. Stampede Bikes also offers a 20″ Sprinter
with mechanical disc brake and 7 gears.