Take Strider's 12 Sport Balance Bike, for example. It's lightweight, ergonomically built, and durable enough to accommodate your growing child. We've got nine more parent-approved balance bikes plus a buying guide to help steer you in the right direction of selecting the best one.
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Balance bikes are intended for small children, usually toddlers, although there are balance bikes for babies developing motor skills. Balance bikes for toddlers have become quite popular and offer a great alternative to training wheels. Make sure to consider the bike's weight and height and the intended rider, among other safety features when picking one.
One of the first things you should consider when choosing a balance bike is your child’s age and height. Many children are capable of riding a balance bike, starting around 18 months old. However, children grow at different speeds, and their heights may be different, even though they’re the same age.
While most balance bikes for toddlers have a wheel size ranging from 12 to 16 inches, it is not enough to get the optimal height based on wheel size, unlike regular bikes. With that said, a more accurate way to pair the right height with your child is to measure your child's inseam or the distance between your child's topmost inner thigh area to the ground.
The inseam should then be paired with the bike's height, with the seat about half an inch to an inch shorter to get the most comfortable height. For example, a 13-inch inseam should have a seat height of about 12.5 inches. The seat height and its adjustability (if any) should be readily available in the product description or reviews.
Your child must be able to stand with his or her feet firmly on the ground while straddling the balance bike. Their knees should be bent just a bit when seated so they can comfortably push themselves forward or stop conveniently. We also recommend adjusting the handlebars, if possible, on your child’s bike so it matches his or her height.
Baby balance bikes are smaller and shorter and are suitable for babies ten months and above or those about 26 to 35 inches in height. Also known as baby walkers, these bikes are best for those who can already walk. They often come with three to four wheels that keep the bike upright at all times.
Balance bikes for babies help develop motor skills such as steering and maneuvering, balancing, or pushing themselves while on the seat without tumbling over as the wheels provide constant support.
You should also consider the bike's tire material. Tires play a crucial part in the bike's performance and comfort for the rider. They are often made with plastic, for a no-inflating-needed approach or the typical air-filled rubber tire.
Foam tires are lightweight and never go flat. However, you need to consider the surface the bike will be ridden on. If the child will mainly stick to pavement or indoor flooring, foam tires would suffice. More aggressive riders who prefer a variety of terrains like off-road, grass, or pebbled streets, for example, would need rubber tires.
When using foam tires, it is important to note that the material has less traction than rubber ones, so they might slip or slide during leaning turns. The decision would then be based on the riding surface and the child's riding style.
Having a lightweight bike is convenient for parents who may have to carry it to the park or the car. They may weight as light as six pounds, so a lightweight balance bike means the child can lift it independently if they tip over or need to carry it across a street. Plus, it's easier to control a lightweight bike, meaning a smoother ride.
On top of the bike's weight, the child's weight should also be considered to ensure they match. A general rule would be a bike that doesn't weigh more than 30 percent of your kid's weight. We also recommend checking the maximum weight capacity of the bicycle as an extra precautionary measure to gauge if the overall design could handle the rider safely.
Most balance bikes don’t have a handbrake, so are they even necessary? The answer is they're optional and not a requirement. While having handbrakes is standard for bicycles, a balance bike is meant for young riders who are still honing their balance and might find the hand-eye coordination of braking too distracting.
Furthermore, toddlers often find it difficult to grasp and pull brakes, given their smaller hands. When they do get older, however, hand brakes are a great addition to help save their shoes, prevent injury and prepare them for the pedal bike.
Other added features on a balance bike make a child's experience more worthwhile, such as turn limiters, footrests, kickstands, and handlebar grips. Turn limiters are an attachment located above the front wheel which prevents it from completing a full revolution. This safety feature prevents sharp turns on the handlebar.
The jury is still out on turn limiters - some noting it is an essential safety feature for young kids still learning how to ride at slow speeds and others saying it prevents kids from learning proper steering. In line with handlebar capabilities, you might also be interested in extra padding or gripping on this area to help your child maintain better control.
Footrests, although not easily spotted at first glance, are often included on the bike's frame. The extra frame space near the back wheel lets your child relax when stationary or while gliding, although they should not obstruct the feet when pushing.
Meanwhile, kickstands are nifty features, especially if you don't have a designated spot to lean the balance bike. They might be sold separately, so we recommend checking for this add-on if necessary.
Since your child will eventually graduate to a standard pedal bike, it makes sense to purchase a balance bike that can transform into a pedal bike. That way, you don’t have to buy a second bike, saving you money, and your kid will transition easily, as he or she gets to use the same bike.
However, we recommend checking the child's height and weight beforehand, to estimate if they will outgrow a balance bike, resulting in the same one being too small for a pedal bike.
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12 Sport Balance Bike
Ergonomic Seat and Footrests for Comfortable Riding
Air Ride Balance Bike
Kid-Friendly Design That Teaches Balance
Baby Balance Bikes
A Balance Bike for the Young Learner
Scooter Mint Balance Bike
Kids Can Ride in Style
Kid's Go Glider Balance Bike
An Ideal Balance Bike for Late Bloomers
Lightweight Balance Bike for Toddlers and Kids
Extremely Lightweight and Simple to Assemble
Balance Bike for Kids with Basket
A Fancy Kids Ride With Air-Filled Tires
Baby Balance Bike
Limited Turn Control for Extra Stability
LT Balance Bike
Get On and Off This Bike Easily
A Transitional Bike With a Turn Limiter
A few reviewers thought that for the price, the bike could have rubber and not plastic tires. Some had an issue with the seat not staying in position. Meanwhile, many others noted that the bike's design was good overall. It's easy to assemble and was a hit among toddlers and young kids.
A few reviewers mentioned the bike was challenging to assemble due to the poorly explained instructions. The handlebars were also wobbly for some. On a positive note, parents shared their kids quickly got the hang of the bike, making it a great training tool. The construction is very sturdy and the overall bike was well-built.
This bike is designed for younger children who are learning to walk or mastering their balance. It has three wheels for support and would not tumble to one side when not in use. The handlebar is soft and non-slip, plus the frame is made with sturdy carbon steel so your baby can climb and push the bike with ease.
A few reviewers wished the bike seat was adjustable so it could accommodate growing children. It was also too wobbly for some babies to use. Meanwhile, parents shared that the bike helped their kids practice balancing and strengthened their legs in the process. Furthermore, the adorable colors and designs made it a hit among young children.
This bike looks like the iconic Vespa, giving your child a stylish ride while they learn to balance and strengthen their legs. It comes with an adjustable seat to adapt to your child's growing height. Meanwhile, the rubber handles ensure a non-slip grip as the young learner maneuvers the scooter.
According to a few reviewers, the plastic rims could crack easily, and there are no replacement parts offered by the manufacturer. The wooden seat could also be uncomfortable for some kids. Still, many others said the bike was adorable. Customer service is responsive to address issues such as overinflating tires. Parents loved that the bike was made of high-quality wood.
The Go Glider balance bike is the largest in this category and is designed for older kids. This balance bike is designed to move more slowly than standard pedal and balance bikes. Once the child is more confident, parents can remove the footrests and install the pedals (kit sold separately), making it a great way to get your kid off training wheels and onto a two-wheeler.
Assembly was a challenge for a few parents because of the blurry instructions. Some also commented that the brakes were of poor quality. Meanwhile, many others said the bike was sturdy and an excellent balance bike that transitions to pedals. The product successfully taught kids how to ride a bike.
This toddler bike might be made with aluminum, but it is extremely lightweight, weighing only four pounds. It has an adjustable padded seat and handlebars, so you can expect this to grow with your child. What's more, the quick-release clamps let you assemble the bike without any tools needed.
A few reviewers noted that the bike was smaller than expected. Some said the seat only extends to a height of 13 inches off the ground. Meanwhile, many parents confirmed this was truly lightweight and easy to set up. Children's feet or legs swing freely on the sides without getting caught on the frame.
This looks like your classic city bike, wicker basket included. Unlike other balance bikes with plastic wheels, this one has air-filled rubber wheels, lessening the vibration when riding on roads. Your child also gets all the perks like soft handlebar grips, reflectors, and a bell. This bike is a great stepping stone to the pedaled version.
A few reviewers noted that the seat's lowest height setting (16 inches from the ground) might be too high for young kids. On a positive note, parents loved the beautiful, well-crafted bike that is easy to assemble. They added it taught kids how to balance effectively.
This balance bike is designed for young learners developing motor skills. It comes with four wheels for added stability and comfort during use. The simplistic design makes it easy for babies to grab the handlebars, get on the seat and push forward. It also has a 135-degree turn limitation to keep the child from falling over.
A few parents wished the seat was adjustable as it was too small for the child even within the recommended age. Still, most of the user reviews indicate zero problems with the bike. Parents noted it's cute, sturdy and perfect for babies who know how to walk.
This balance bike is designed with child safety in mind. It has safety grips for better control and an ergonomic design that makes it easy for kids to get on and off the bike. Furthermore, this bike's seat can adjust up to 3.5 inches to accommodate your child's growing height.
A few reviewers had issues assembling the bike, noting the parts don't fit or tighten properly. Meanwhile, many parents shared that their kids would use the bike everywhere with no issues. They advise others who want their toddler to ride a regular bike to get this one as it would teach the fundamental techniques well.
This bike looks like a big kids bike but is made for toddlers still mastering how to balance. Weighing 10.3 pounds and being designed with a curved frame makes it easy to carry this bike around. What's more, its custom footrest gives kids a wide space for their feet. The turn limiter on the handlebar frame helps kids perfect control and steering.
According to a few reviewers, the front wheel and handlebar unaligned quickly. Some noted the wheels were "sticky" and didn't spin properly. Still, many reviewers said the assembly was a breeze, and it's easy to transport the bike anywhere. The seat's height adjustability was secure, and kids got to use the balance bike for years.
Are you ready for more must-have activities and tools for kids that guarantee hours of fun? We've got a few suggestions to get you started.
No. 1: Strider | 12 Sport Balance Bike
No. 2: Radio Flyer | Air Ride Balance Bike
No. 3: Ancaixin | Baby Balance Bikes
No. 4: Janod | Scooter Mint Balance Bike
No. 5: Glide Bikes | Kid's Go Glider Balance Bike
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