So, the older kid, who’s 10, has grown out of her Electra single speed beach cruiser with the 20” wheels. The seat doesn’t go high enough. The next step was a 24” kids bike. But I hate that size. That’s the size where they are nearly big enough for a proper bike in a 26” wheel, assuming the frame can be small enough. The 24” size, in my opinion is just a money gimmick. You get a still-crappy, heavy, hi-ten steel lunker in a marginally larger wheel. The idea that your kid will have 3-ish bikes (16”, 20”, 24”) before they get to a proper bike is pure marketing and hype.
So, I researched. And researched. It’s hard to find a good small frame bike. But I did find one. My LBS had a Linus Mixte 3 in the small size, and the 26” wheels. Real brakes. Gears. And enough range in the frame-saddle-bars that she can ride it now (admittedly at a little stretch) and can continue to ride it all the way to college (assuming it’s not stolen). Yes, that’s a lot of money for a “kid’s bike”, but in my mind, it’s a bike that grabs them when bikes are really important, and then stays with them for a long time. It’s not a phase bike. It’s a real bike.
The little one is riding a 16” now, but I’m pretty sure that she’ll be on the Electra this summer. She’ll get a few good years out of it, and then she too will be ready for a real bike.