I will be posting about 24” wheel road bikes later, but what if you are looking for a 20” wheel? What choices do you have?
It turns out, you have very little in the way of choice. If you have a child up to the age of 7, and they want to ride a road bike you are a bit stuck. It really boils down to:
Islabike Reis 20” track bike
70s/80s era bike off eBay
The Reis track bike can be run as a fixed wheel, or it can be turned into a freewheel and have brakes added, giving a single speed road bike. The frame has a dropped top tube, and isn’t too long, meaning children from about 5 upwards can ride them. The Reis really is a great bike, and if you can afford it, something to consider. However it is only a single speed, and while ideal for the track, is not so good if you are wanting to take a child on the road.
The alternative is to have a hunt on eBay for a vintage steel framed road bike from Peugeot, Raleigh etc. In the 1970s and 1980s both manufacturers made 20” wheel versions of their adult bikes, and you can often pick them up for reasonable money. They are not as light as an Islabike (by a long way), but with a few modifications can work just as well.
We ended up going for the vintage bike option, and I will be documenting what we bought and the modifications we made shortly.