We spent over 45 hours researching and testing 15 balance bikes and found that design, performance, and durability were most important. The Strider – 12 Sport Balance Bike scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. This balance bike is the perfect bike for your child age 18 months to 5 years of age. It helps them learn to ride a bike without having to worry about training wheels. The balance bike is easy to assemble and adjust. There is not another balance bike on the market with a lower seat or lower weight or that offers as wide a range of adjustment options. The bike weighs only 6 ½ pounds so your little one can pick it up if it falls over.
Introduction to the Balance Bikes
Balance bikes are a very specific kind of bike that is made for younger children. The design is conducive to teaching kids how to balance and steer on a bike so they are ready to ride a regular bike when the time comes. Balance bikes have no pedals. They can be made from metal, hard plastic or even wood.
When it comes to choosing the right balance bike for your child, it is important to look at durability, construction, size and other factors. Knowing the different aspects of a good balance bike will help you sort through the different choices and decide on the one that is perfect for your child in every way.
Top Rated Balance Bikes Summary
If you are looking for a great way to teach your child to ride a bike, look no further than the balance bike. It uses the principles of learning to steer and balance without having to worry about the child hurting themselves on an unsteady bigger bike with training wheels that can cause tipping.
We considered the most popular balance bikes on the market in the areas of performance, construction, durability, design, brand name and many other factors. The three top choices we have featured here are the three that topped the list in all of the categories we considered them in.
Read below to learn more about balance bikes in our detailed buyer’s guide. The information that we have provided will help you sort through the numerous choices and make an informed decision on the perfect balance bike for your child.
Balance Bike Buying Guide
Why Buy Balance Bike
There is a reason that parents are purchasing balance bikes rather than purchase training wheels. We’ve outlined some reasons below why balance bikes outshine tricycles and bikes with training wheels.
- Regular bikes slow the child down due to being likely to bump into every object in the street. They also occupy more space than a balance bike does.
- Regular bikes are much more difficult to move around.
- Kids have to focus on steering, pedaling, and braking when using a regular bike. It makes the whole process more complicated.
- They tend to fall more often and lose balance easier
- Regular bikes are larger and harder to travel with since many times they don’t fit in the trunk.
- Studies have shown that kids that have balance bikes at 2 or 3 start riding a regular bike at age 3 or so.
The Benefits of Having a Balance Bike
- They are safer for the child
- Injuries are few and far between
- A Balance Bike provides increased confidence because they catch on so quickly
- Balancing skills are enhanced
- They learn how to keep control and maneuver the bike in less than perfect situations.
- They learn to react quickly
- They learn to ride pedal bikes faster
Considerations when Choosing a Balance Bike
- Look for the balance bike that is the perfect height for your child or one that can be adjusted to your child’s height. It may be hard to find the bike that matches their height exactly due to their being so many balance bikes on the market.
- Look for safety measures that will increase the safety for your child. Some will have a steering limiter, no sharp edges and specific tires that match certain terrain.
- The type of frame depends on personal preference but overall there are wood frames, metal frames, aluminum frames, and plastic frames. Wooden framed balance bikes are the lightest but they are susceptible to bad weather. Metal frames can be susceptible to rust and plastics can be very fragile. Steel frames are typically the strongest and most durable but ultimately it is your choice which kind you purchase.
- Some bike makers offer customization for the balance bikes. The best way to find out what bike manufacturers offer this is to go to the website and look for what customization options are available.
What are the Basic Differences among Balance Bikes?
Even though a lot of balance bikes may look the same, there are some differences between styles and brands. Things like height of the seat, overall construction and of factors come into play. Some balance bikes have footrests and some don’t, some include handbrakes and others do not have it. The tires may be different from one balance bike to another as well. The tire construction will determine the lightness of them as well.
Key Features to Consider before You Buy Balance Bikes
There are several features that a balance bike has that you will want to check into. Make sure that the bike or bikes you look at have these features.
- Adjustable seats – Adjustable seats are very beneficial for allowing the bike to grow with the child. The ideal height is the child sitting on the seat of the balance bike with their feet on the floor and their knees slightly bent.
- Weight – The weight of the balance bike is very important. A balance bike for a 2 year old will not weigh as much as a bike for an older child and it will likely weigh more than one for toddlers. If the weight is too heavy, the child will not be able to maneuver the bike very well. Ideally you should get a bike that is no more than 30% of the child’s weight.
- Footrests – Some models of balance bikes have footrests and some don’t. Footrests are really an added feature that doesn’t really help the child learn to balance. It is personal preference but it you want the child to learn to balance and steer quickly, leave the footrests off.
- Bolts – Make sure that the bolts on the balance bike you purchase are rounded and recessed for the child’s safety. Covered also, is even better. The bolts could wear out over time and could possibly scratch the child’s legs. Try to avoid balance bikes with exposed bolts.
- Warranty – A good warranty is very important so only consider balance bikes that have them. Most of the warranties offered will cover frame problems but natural wear and tear will not be covered.
- Materials – The materials that are used in the construction of the balance bike are very important. You want them to last as long as possible, so look for construction materials that are rust resistant and strong. Having the balance bike last is always a good idea when you have children of multiple ages as the younger ones can learn on the same bike their older siblings did.
- Colors, Designs and Styles – There are tons of different colors, styles and designs in balance bikes for you to choose from’ anything from green to pink or blue. Many times they will have colorful accessories such as handlebars, seats and tires that are coordinating colors. Oftentimes they have mudguards, lights, bells, and there are even accessories like baskets that you can take adventure.
Which Accessories Are Worth your Money?
There are several accessories that you may want to look at getting along with the balance bike.
- Lowering Kits – Some of the balance bike modes include a lowering kit which allows you to adjust the frame to fit the child. It is a good choice for when the balance bike is for a child whose feet don’t touch the ground yet when seated on the bike.
- Bells – This is not a necessary accessory, but they sure are fun. Bells can also have a functional use as well, in helping children understand traffic rules, paying attention in the stress and being extra careful.
- Baskets – Baskets are terrific when your child wants to carry around some of their cherished belongings like action figures or little stuffed animals. They also look really cute. While they don’t have any bearing on how fast your child learns to ride, the child will love having a means in which to tote all their favorite things.
- Helmets – Helmets are extremely important for the safety of your child even on something as small as a balance bike. They can still topple over and hit their heads and a helmet will protect their heads and necks. In addition, it sets a good precedence for the gear they will need to wear when they start riding a regular bike.
Balance bikes may be relatively new, but they are gaining in popularity due to the faster, speedier and simpler way kids are learning to ride bigger bikes. The principles behind using balance bikes to learn is that the design is constructed in such a way that they work on the most crucial aspects of bike riding first. These elements include balancing and steering.
The information in this buyer’s guide was designed to help you sort through all of the styles, colors, brand names and other things and choose the right balance bike for your child’s needs and wants with confidence.