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Balance bikes (also known as training bikes, pushbikes, bikes without pedals or pedal-less bikes) are a phenomenal way for your toddler to learn how to ride a bicycle. They allow kids to figure out how to keep their balance on two wheels much easier than traditional kids’ bikes with training wheels.
Do you remember the time when you were learning how to ride a bike? It was scary and exciting, no doubt. You wanted to ride on your own, but you were terrified you might fall if your parents let go of you. There’s no reason for your kids to go through the same ordeal.
They can learn how to ride a bike without the risk of falling and earning scrapes and bruises.
Keep reading to learn all there is to know about balance bikes, including our recommendation of the 11 best balance bikes on the market.
Additional information: Balance Bikes Explained
The biggest benefit balance bikes provide is that children feel confident because they are in control at all times. They can choose whether they want to support themselves with their feet or lift them up in the air and maintain balance and momentum. If they lose balance, they’ll always land on their feet and just keep going.
Balance bikes provide a natural way of learning how to balance on two wheels.
When they grow up a bit and the time comes to transition to a bike with pedals, it will be a matter of minutes before they master it.
Moreover, balance bikes are much lighter than kids’ bikes with pedals. Therefore, it’s a lot easier for children to control them. They are also much less likely to get injured if they fall and the bike falls over them.
I used to learn how to ride a bike with training wheels, and I can say that it was not a fun experience at all. I managed to do it, but I wish there were balance bikes around when I was a child.
Training wheels provide a fake sense of balance, so they are not a good teaching method.
Stabilizers, as they are also called, provide support when kids lose balance, so it’s very hard to learn how to maintain balance on your own. They also prevent the kid from steering by leaning left or right, which is the right way to do it on a real bike. Instead, they steer by turning the handlebar, which is a skill they will need to unlearn later on.
Once you remove training wheels, kids need to start learning from scratch and they need their parents’ help to do it.
That’s not the case with balance bikes.
Read more: How To Teach Kids
Balance bikes are suitable for all young ages. If your child can walk, they can ride a balance bike as well. Generally speaking, children from 1.5 years of age can usually comfortably ride balance bikes. If they’re younger than that, you can give pre-balance bikes a try.
A strict upper age limit doesn’t really exist either. A 7-year-old child can ride a balance bike if they are not too tall for it. It’s a great way to learn how to ride a bicycle at any age!
If a toddler can walk, they can also ride a balance bike!
The real limitation to riding a pedal-less bike is inseam length and not age. If your kid’s legs are longer than the bike’s minimum seat height, they can start cruising along.
A balance bike is a bike without pedals. These bikes are usually pretty small, with saddle height that allows kids to touch the ground with their feet. Children can then push against the ground with their legs and propel themselves that way.
The beauty of balance bikes lies in the fact that kids can lift their legs completely or they can use them to lean from one side to the other. In most cases, children become confident riding balance bikes in a matter of hours, so you’ll see them cruising around with their feet in the air and a smile on their face in a very short time.
When deciding which balance bike size to get for your kid, you should measure their inseam length and then get a bike that has a minimum seat height about 1-2 inches shorter than the kid’s inseam. This will also allow room for growth, so your child can continue riding the same balance bike even after they become taller.
Choosing the right size for kids bike is by far the most important thing when buying a balance bike.
Frame size matters regardless of whether we’re talking about kids’ or adult bikes.
Three things that we need to pay attention to when choosing the right balance bike size are:
The most common balance bike tire size is 12″, but wheels can go up to 16″ and even 20″ in diameter, which is intended for older kids. You can even buy balance bikes for adults, so they are really great for everyone.
A child’s inseam length is the deciding factor when choosing which balance bike to purchase for your toddler.
Here are the top balance bikes in our opinion
Best Budget Balance Bike
Fit: 13.75″ minimum standover height
Specs: 12″ air tires, weighs 9 lbs, available in two colors
If you’re on a tight budget and you don’t feel like spending too much money on a balance bike, then Co-op Cycles REV 12 is the best choice you have. This bike provides tons of value for the money and comes will all of the necessary features your kid needs to have fun and cruise around.
REV 12 has 12″ wheels fitted with air tires. These will make the ride a lot more comfortable even when riding over pebbles or uneven ground in the park.
You can’t go wrong with REV 12 if you want all the must-haves but don’t feel like spending too much money.
The frame is made from aluminum so the entire bike weighs just 9 lbs. That makes it very easy to control it and maneuver on it. Also, most kids will be able to lift it over obstacles without your help.
The minimum standover height is 13.75″, which makes REV 12 suitable for children aged 2 and above.
To make the experience more fun, Co-op Cycles makes this bike in two colors — pink and green. They also ship it with a sticker pack that lets your child personalize the bike and make it just their own.
Best Balance Bike with Brakes
Fit: 1.5 – 3.5-year-olds (32″ – 39″ Tall)
Specs: 12″ wheels with air tires, rear hand brake, five distinct colors, lightweight aluminum frame
Woom 1 is one of the most exciting kids’ balance bikes out there for a good reason. It has all of the desirable basic features, including some advanced ones, such as a front hand brake.
Woom 1 is made around a super-lightweight aluminum frame that makes this bike weigh only 6.61 lbs. It’s one of the lightest you can get. The frame is available in five exciting colors, so you can let your child choose the one they like the most.
Woom 1 is ideal for very young riders and provides a great way to introduce the concept of two wheels.
This bike has 12″ wheels coupled with treaded air tires that provide plenty of comfort and grip. You can easily change the tire pressure to adjust both.
Other than that, Woom 1 also has a steer limiter which prevents the front wheel from turning too much, which could result in a fall.
The minimum seat height of this bike is just 10.04″ and the maximum is 14.37″, which means it is intended for the youngest of riders. The recommended height range is between 32″ and 39″.
Most Popular Balance Bike
The Strider toddler bike is one of the best balance bikes you can get for a toddler that’s just 18 months old. This is a phenomenal choice because of the bike’s sturdy build which includes a frame made of steel. That makes it almost invincible, so your future kids will be able to enjoy it as well.
Even though steel is heavier than aluminum, Strider weighs just 6.7 lbs. It rolls on knobby 12″ wheels which offer lots of traction and plenty of stability and control.
One of the best features Strider has to offer is the integrated footrests. Once your toddler learns how to balance without supporting themselves with their feet, they can just lift them up on footrests and coast around unobstructed.
The Strider toddler bike has mini-grips and a comfy saddle, which allow your kid to easily take over control.
This bike is suitable for kids with inseam lengths between 12 and 20″, which roughly translates to 1.5 – 5-year-olds. However, if you’re looking for a balance bike with pedals, then you should consider the Strider 14X.
Best For Taller Kids
Fit: 3 – 4.5 years (37″ – 43″)
Specs: 14″ wheels with air tires, front and rear brakes, footrest, five colors
As we have mentioned above, pedal-less bikes are not intended only for the smallest of toddlers. Taller and older kids can have fun on them as well. Woom 1 Plus is the best balance bike for 3-year-old kids and older.
The reason for that are its 14″ wheels with knobby air tires that are excellent for bike paths, parks, or unpaved roads. The frame is made from lightweight aluminum and this bike weighs 9.48 lbs, which is very little considering the bigger size.
With Woom 1 Plus, you can become a future cycling pro even if you start at an older age.
Since Woom 1 Plus is intended for slightly older kids, it comes equipped with front and rear brakes. Therefore, when the time comes for your little one to transition to a pedal bike, they’ll be familiar with how brakes work.
Woom 1 Plus also features integrated footrests and a steer limiter, which are excellent safety and comfort features. The saddle and the handlebar height are adjustable, so children as short as 37″ and as tall as 43″ can easily ride.
Best Premium Balance Bike
Fit: 11.22″ minimum standover height
Specs: 12″ wheels, air tires, lefty single-sided fork, funky colors,
Cannondale bikes are hugely popular and they are not reserved just for parents. Toddlers can develop their cycling skills as well, thanks to the Cannondale Trail balance bike. This bicycle has many features seen on this brand’s adult bikes, which is what makes them an excellent choice.
First of all, this Cannondale pedal-less bike has a lefty single-sided fork which looks extremely cool and unique — every kid will love it. The frame is made from the lightweight and durable SmartForm C2 Alloy, which is seen on many Cannondale bikes intended for adults. It weighs just 8.7 lbs.
Cannondale Trail balance bike is a downsized adult bike ideal for building skills and learning the ropes of riding on two wheels.
The grips and saddle are made by Cannondale, especially for their youngest riders. Therefore, they provide comfort and are suitable for kids’ hips and tiny hands.
Cannondale lists the minimum standover height as 11.22″, but they don’t mention the maximum. However, consider that the seat tube length is 4.7″ long, which means you have plenty of room for adjustment.
Best Plastic Balance Bike
Fit: Ages 2-5 (12″ – 17.5″ seat height)
Specs: Lightweight plastic frame, rear drum brake, 12″ wheels, air tires
FirstBike Cross is our choice of the best balance bike for toddlers with a plastic frame. Pedal-less bikes are not designed to endure a lot of abuse since kids usually don’t weigh a lot, which means they don’t need to be made from aluminum or steel — plastic will do the trick as well.
This bike has a lightweight and fun plastic frame that stands on 12″ wheels with air-filled tires. These are pretty wide, so they provide lots of stability and control.
Don’t think that FirstBike Cross’s plastic frame is weak — it comes with a lifetime insurance which says enough about its quality.
If you want a pushbike with brakes, this one checks that requirement as well. It has a rear drum brake with a tiny handlebar-mounted lever which is suitable for toddlers’ little hands.
The frame is painted in fun orange and gray colors and features lots of reflective stickers that improve visibility and make the bike look even better.
Reversible Frame Design
Fit: 1.5 – 6 years; Standover height 11″ – 20″; Rider height 30″ – 45″
Specs: 12 wheels, foam rubber tires, reversible frame, cool giraffe design
When it comes to unique designs, Yuba Flip Flop is the best balance bike for toddlers you can get. It has an awesome-looking giraffe paint job and even a rear rack so your kid can carry their favorite toys wherever they go.
Yuba Flip Flop is a balance bicycle with the most WOW factor.
Yuba Flip Flop comes with an aluminum frame that offers you one very cool feature. Namely, the frame is reversible which means you can swap the position of the saddle and the handlebar. This way, the bike becomes longer, the standover height taller, and the Yuba becomes suitable for taller kids. You can do it in a matter of seconds!
Its rubber tires are 12″ in diameter and filled with foam, so they cannot get punctured. Even though they are not air-filled, they are still quite comfortable and stable.
The standover height on Yuba Flip Flop ranges between 11″ and 20″, so the minimum and maximum rider height are 30″ to 45″.
Cheapest One on This List
Fit: 1.5 – 5-year-olds (11″ – 17″ saddle height)
Specs: 12″ rubber foam tires, safety-end screws, soft hand grips
The Croco is a fun and friendly crocodile who will help your kids learn how to ride a bicycle. The Croco is the best balance bike for 2-year-olds due to its fun colors and clever safety features.
You can choose between a premium and a basic model. The price difference is just $14, so we recommend the premium model. Its frame is made from aluminum, so it weighs less. Also, the handlebar height is adjustable only on the premium model. However, the basic model with the steel frame is fantastic as well and weighs just 6 lbs.
Both models have puncture-resistant rubber foam tires, plastic 12″ wheels, and very soft and comfortable grips and saddle. The frame is available in nine different colors, which makes The Croco the best balance bike when it comes to the color scheme.
The Croco balance bike is available in premium and basic variations and comes in 9 fun and vibrant colors.
This balance bike is ideal for kids between 1.5 and 5 years of age as it has an 11″ – 17″ minimum/maximum saddle height.
Best Model with Foam Tires
Fit: 1.5 – 5-year-olds (12″ – 17.5″ inseam)
Specs: Rubber foam tires, footrest, recessed bolts, adjustable handlebar
The Gomo balance bike is the best bang for your buck if you are on a tight budget and you’re looking to get the most value for money on a model with foam tires.
Gomo features a steel frame that’s both light and strong, so this bike weighs just 6.4 lbs. Both boys and girls can easily lift it and carry it around when they’re not riding it. The colors also make it suitable for both boys and girls, as Gomo is available in black, light blue, pink, dark blue, red/yellow, and red/gray.
Gomo provides lots of value for little money, which is reflected in the footrest, lightweight frame, and fun designs.
This kids’ balance bike rolls on 12″ plastic wheels with flat-free rubber foam tires. They can be ridden over different terrains and in various conditions without any issues.
One of the best things about the Gomo balance bike is the integrated footrests. They are placed right under the saddle, so they are very practical and easy to use.
This bike is suitable for kids of up to 60 lbs in weight, with an inseam between 12″ and 17.5″.
Ultimate Smooth Ride
Fit: 2 – 5-year-olds (12.6″ – 17.3″ saddle height)
Specs: 12″ wheels, air-filled tires, three colors, lightweight
Last but not least on our list is the Banana GT. This is a simple and straightforward balance bike with a rugged look and a sturdy frame. It rolls on 12″ aluminum wheels and knobby rubber air-filled tires that provide more than enough grip on all surfaces.
The handlebar is made from aluminum as well, which further lowers the weight of this balance bicycle. That makes it suitable for both boys and girls, along with three fun and exciting colors — blue, red, and yellow.
Banana GT has an adjustable saddle with a quick-release lever, so no tools are required to make the changes. The saddle height starts at 12.6″ and extends up to 17.3″. Therefore, kids between the ages of 2 and 5 can easily fit on it. But, depending on the height, even younger or older kids can ride it.
Bar ends feature soft rubber cushions which eliminate any risk of injury and the grips and saddle provide plenty of comfort so your toddler can ride for hours until they are prime for a long nap.
Your kid can start mastering a balance bike when they’re around 1.5 years old. Even before that, if they can walk, they can start using pre-balance bikes and simply walk around while supporting their weight on the handlebar.
To make sure that your kid enjoys balance bikes and have fun using them, here are a few tips that will help you (and them) get started!
Wearing a helmet is crucial when talking about bike safety. That is true when it comes to balance bikes as well.
Get a helmet that fits snuggly on your kid’s head — it should neither be too tight nor too loose.
Try to teach your kid that wearing a helmet is cool by wearing one yourself and being a role model. Children’s helmets are usually very colorful and fun, so it should be easy to find one that your kid likes.
Make sure they wear it on every ride. And you, too! Always
Read More: How To Choose A Bike Helmet + Best Picks
Ensure that the saddle height and handlebar height are adjusted properly before going for a ride. Ideally, saddle height should be one to two inches lower than your kid’s inseam length.
The handlebar should be around tummy height when the kid is standing next to the bike. When they’re riding, their position should be almost upright and most of their body weight should be on the saddle.
The best way to teach your kid how to ride a balance bike is to show them how to do it. Lower the saddle on your bike as low as possible, sit on it, push yourself around, and then ask your child to do the same.
Teach your kids how to ride a balance bike by example!
It’s important to believe in their skills and let them figure it all out on their own. Don’t hold them or support them with your hands. If you do that, then you’re ruining the very idea behind balance bikes.
Related: Best Kids Bikes & Buying Guide
Take it easy and don’t rush the process. It can take some time before your kid becomes comfortable sitting on and riding a balance bike. That’s completely normal. Let them do it at their own pace and they will have much more fun later on.
In the beginning, you can walk by them to show them that you are there if they happen to need some help and support. But, the most important step is to present riding a balance bike as a fun activity and a game, instead of a chore or an obligation that needs to be completed.
To make riding a balance bike more fun, you can come up with some fun side activities. For example, you can ask them to follow you or chase you and tag you. You may set up some cones or obstacles that your kid can ride around, weave through, or try to avoid. You can also use chalk and draw a road or a line they can ride along.
The possibilities are immense, so there are no excuses not to have fun.
Stay away from hills until your child is a bit older and more confident. For starters, riding on flats should be the best option. Choosing a soft surface, such as grass, is also a great idea. If your kid falls on it, they’re unlikely to get scraped or bruised, which also means they will not be scared to get on a balance bike again in the future.
Enjoy your ride!