If your toddler is getting ready to ride a bike, you might want to consider a balance bike. As the name suggests, these handy devices help your budding cyclist to find their balance, making it much easier for them to take to a regular bike when the time is right. Unlike training wheels or stabilizers, balance bikes encourage toddlers to adapt to life on two wheels – in fact, many parents and carers have come to favor this simple but effective training tool above extra wheels.
With so many kids balance bikes on the market, finding the perfect option for your little biker can be a real challenge. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together this handy guide. Below, we run through ten of the best balance bikes available right now, before answering some common questions about this new bike training method.
The Best Balance Bike
Kicking off our list is this Strider bike. This lightweight toddler balance bike is the perfect way to help your child learn the ropes when it comes to cycling. At under seven pounds in weight, it’s the perfect option for younger children, aged 18 months to five years. Thanks to an adjustable seat, the bike is able to grow with your child, allowing them to practise their balance gradually and naturally.
It’s also comfortable to ride – an ergonomic seat and padded handlebars mean that kids can keep playing for hours on end. Made from durable painted steel, this bike is built to last, too. Thanks to its puncture-proof tires, there’s no need to worry about damage or complicated maintenance. The handy bike can be put together without tools, so your new cyclist can get started right away. Parents agree that the bike’s sturdy frame gives them peace of mind, and noted that it’s incredibly easy to put together. Overall, it’s the ideal first bike for practically any kid, standing them in good stead for future cycling adventures. Available in seven different colors, you’re sure to find an option that your child will love.
Adjustable balance bike
Suitable for ages 18 months – 5 years
Constructed from painted steel
Tool-free adjustable seat and handlebars
Comfortable and durable
- Weight6.7 pounds
Built to last
Adjustable for a long service life
Easy to put together
Puncture-proof tires for easy maintenance
Available in a wide array of colors
Relatively high price point
Manual not included
The next option to earn a spot on our list is this affordable and versatile balance bike by Retrospec. The sturdy design helps budding cyclists to develop their confidence and balance, for better long-term results than training wheels or tricycles. Thanks to its step-through frame, the bike is easy for youngsters to mount and ride. It’s not too heavy either, for simple manoeuvrability.
The bike is just as easy to maintain as it is to ride – its maintenance-free design and puncture-proof tires mean that all you need to do is set things up and watch your kids go. With its adjustable seat and handlebars, the bike is able to grow as your child develops – there’s no need to replace the bike after a dramatic growth spurt! Thanks to this nifty feature, the bike is suitable for children aged between 20 months, and five years. Available in a staggering 17 different colors, your tot is sure to find the bike of their dreams among Retrospec’s collection.
Balance bike suitable for kids aged 20 months to 5 years
Adjustable seat and handlebars
No maintenance required
- Weight12 pounds
Step-through frame makes it easy to mount with smaller legs
Puncture-proof tires and maintenance-free design
Affordable price point
Available in a huge range of colors to match any taste
Heavier weight than other options on the market
Some parents find that footrests are poorly placed for gliding
Banana Bike have also earned themselves a spot on our list with their own kid-friendly bike without pedals. The new and improved model boasts better bearings, stronger metal, a more comfortable seat, and a quick release seat bracket. Its unique banana shaped frame makes it easy for kids to mount and get started – the bike’s seat height starts as low as 12.2 inches, so it’s suitable for children as young as 18 months old.
With its lightweight design, tipping the scales at under 10 pounds, the bike is easy for kids to tow around by the handle, helping them to go further than they could on a scooter or tricycle. It also features puncture-proof foam tires, so there’s no need to worry about the hazard of blow-outs. In this latest iteration, the bike is easier to assemble than ever before, so you and your youngster can get started on their cycling journey straight away. Available in three eye-catching colors, the bike is suitable for toddlers of the most discerning taste. At under $70, the Banana Bike is also one of the best value options on the market right now.
Balance bike suitable for children aged 18 months to 5 years
Unique ‘banana’ shaped frame
Lightweight for easy manoeuvrability
Adjustable seat and handlebars
Puncture-proof foam tires included
- BrandBanana Bike
- Weight9.2 pounds
New and improved design is easier to assemble, maintain, and ride
Step-through style frame makes it simple for kids to mount
Lightweight and durable
Available in 3 striking colors
Some parents find the seat challenging to adjust
Non-rubber tires aren’t as grippy as traditional counterparts
The next balance bike to make it onto our list is by Chicco. Their Red Bullet model boasts a lightweight and ergonomic design, which makes it easy for kids to find their balance at the start of the cycling journey. Its height and size is suitable for children aged around three years and up. Thanks to its adjustable seat and handlebars, the bike can grow with your child, for an impressively long lifetime. In fact, the seat can be positioned at any height between 13 and 15 inches.
For easy maintenance, the bike also features puncture-resistant tires, so there’s no need to worry about blow-out. Thanks to rubber grips on the bike’s handlebars, and a padded saddle, the bike is also extremely comfortable for kids to ride. Parents across the board agreed that the durable bike is an excellent alternative to trikes and training wheels, which makes it easy for kids to find their balance.
Balance bike suitable for children aged 3 years and up
Adjustable seat can be positioned between 13 and 15 inches high
Ergonomic handlebars and seat
Great alternative to trikes and training wheels
- Weight6.8 pounds
Lightweight design is easy for kids to handle
Comfortable to use
Adjustable design can grow with your child
Budget friendly price point
Straight frame may be difficult for some children to mount
Plastic tires may not provide optimum grip
KaZAM have also earned themselves a spot on our list, with their unique balance bike design. Unlike other bikes on the market, KaZAM’s model features a patented step-in frame, with an integrated footrest located in a natural position. This footrest helps kids to transition between gliding on the balance bike and coasting on a bike with pedals. Featuring a padded saddle and handlebars, it’s comfortable for kids to ride – even for long stretches of time.
This unusual configuration makes it easy for kids to find their balance, easing the often challenging beginning of their cycling journey. Thanks to its adjustable seat and handlebars, the bike can accommodate kids aged up to five years; growing as they do. Meanwhile, puncture-proof EVA tires ensure that the bike requires little to no maintenance, while both seat and handlebars can be adjusted without the need for tools. Available in 10 striking colors, the bike is suitable for virtually any taste.
Balance bike suitable for kids up to 5 years of age
Patented step-in frame
Naturally positioned footrest
Adjustable seat and handlebars
- Weight8 pounds
Lightweight design is easy for kids to handle
Easy to mount thanks to a step-through frame
Available in 10 striking colors
Naturally placed footrests ease the transition from balance to regular bike
Comfortable to ride
Adjustable handlebars and seat helps the bike grow with your child
May be too small for some kids
Some parents found assembly difficult
This Schwinn balance bike has also earned a spot on our list. Featuring a BMX style frame, this handy bike helps cool kids to find their balance before starting out on a regular bike. Thanks to its low centre of gravity, the bike makes it easier to balance than other models. Meanwhile, a quick-release adjustable seat allows the bike to grow as your child does, keeping it in service for many years to come.
Unlike many options on the market, the bike features air-filled tires. Although they’re not puncture-proof, these tires do make for a smoother, more comfortable ride. The bike also features a ball bearing headset, which makes for easy steering, while chrome-finished handlebars ensure an attractive finish. With conveniently placed footrests, the bike also helps kids to place their feet in a natural position for coasting, helping to smooth the transition to a regular bike with pedals. Whatever your kid’s style, Schwinn are here to accommodate – their balance bike is available in 11 different colors. Customers say that the bike is highly durable, and easy for kids to ride. It comes already assembled, and includes a limited lifetime warranty, so you can rest assured it’s built to last.
Balance bike suitable for children aged 2 to 4
Adjustable seat and handlebars helps the bike to grow with your kid
Features air-filled, spoked tires
Equipped with conveniently placed footrests
- Weight14 pounds
Highly adjustable for a long service life
Strategically placed footrests help encourage balancing
Available in 11 different colors
Limited lifetime warranty included
Low centre of gravity for a comfortable ride
Heavier than many options on the market
Seat may not be durable
Cruzee have also earned themselves a spot on our list, thanks to this cute and lightweight balance bike. Suitable for toddlers aged between 18 months and four years, this model is the ideal first step in your kid’s cycling journey. Each bike is constructed from totally rust-proof anodized aluminum – not only can this durable material stand up to corrosion, it’s also incredibly lightweight, helping your kid to handle the bike all on their own.
In fact, Cruzee say that this bike is the lightest of its kind in the world, helping kids to keep on playing for hours at a time. Thanks to its low centre of gravity, the bike can significantly improve your child’s balance, helping them to develop their confidence in time for taking to the pedals. With its wide seat and padded handlebars, the bike is as comfortable as it is fun to ride. It also features puncture-proof foam rubber tires, which combine grip and comfort. Featuring a lifetime warranty, you can rest assured that this handy bike is built to last.
Balance bike suitable for children aged 18 months to four years
Constructed from anodized aluminum
Impressively lightweight design
Puncture-proof rubber foam tires
- Weight4.4 pounds
Lifetime warranty included
Lightest balance bike on the market
Easy for kids to handle
Comfortable to ride – large seat and padded handlebars
Low centre of gravity for easy balancing
Less affordable than other options on the market
Some kids find the seat a little too hard
The next balance bike to earn a spot on our list is the Glide & Go model by Radio Flyer. This bike is the perfect option for budding cyclists, helping them to develop their sense of balance and learn to handle a conventional bike. It’s a great option for bumpier terrain, thanks to the addition of traction tread tires, which hug the road for a better grip.
To help your new cyclist to learn road etiquette, the bike also includes a real bell, which is fun to use, too. The bike is also built to last, thanks to an adjustable seat that can be raised to keep up with your child’s growth. Parents say that kids love to ride the bike, which makes progress easier than training wheels or tricycles. Founded in 1917, Radio Flyer have been helping kids to have fun for over 100 years, and continue to do so from their Chicago-based headquarters. At under $70, Radio Flyer have managed to produce a great bike at a surprisingly affordable price point.
Balance bike, suitable for kids aged 2 -5 years
Helps kids to develop their sense of balance
Durable, grippy tires
- BrandRadio Flyer
- Weight6.61 pounds
Great for bumpier terrain
Adjustable seat height helps the bike grow with your child
Affordable price point
Air-filled wheels can puncture
Does not feature footrests
Handlebars can become loose with frequent use
For slightly older children, this balance bike by Glide Bikes could be the perfect option. Its unique design closely resembles a regular bike, thanks to the addition of footrests, positioned where the pedals would be on a grown-up model. These simple pegs can also be removed, and put back into place when your little cyclist is ready. Fitted with an adjustable seat and handlebars, the bike can be altered to accommodate your child’s growth. This allows the bike to be comfortably ridden by children aged between five and seven years.
Unlike the bikes on our list for younger riders, the bike also features fully operational hand brakes – this gives your child more control over the ride, fostering confidence that can be easily translated to a pedal bike. Made from a light but durable steel alloy, the bike can ensure the wear and tear associated with everyday use. Meanwhile, composite Mag wheels fitted with all-terrain tires help your budding biker traverse even tricky terrain. Each bike includes a handy kickstand, and can be had in six eye-catching colors.
Balance bike suitable for children aged 5 – 7 years
Design closely resembles a pedal bike
Removable foot pegs and kickstand included
Helps to foster cycling confidence
Fitted with hand brakes
- BrandGlide Bikes
- Model19.6 pounds
- Weight11 pounds
Adjustable seat and handlebars can accommodate growth
Hand brakes help your child further develop cycling skills
Mag wheels and all-terrain tires can negotiate tricky terrain
Relatively high price point
Not suitable for younger riders
Last, but not least, comes this wooden balance bike by Radio Flyer, earning the brand a second spot on our list. If you’re searching for a bike that looks a little more traditional, this could well be the perfect solution. The adorable, pedal-free design helps kids to develop their sense of balance, helping them make an easy transition to a ‘big-kid’ bike when the time is right.
The bike’s premium wooden frame is built to last, and offers the charmingly rustic look that only wooden toys can deliver. Meanwhile, a comfortably cushioned seat makes the bike easy for kids to ride for hours at a time. Its 12 inch air tires also ensure a smooth ride, helping your child to traverse tricky terrain. Soft touch hand grips also help to ensure a comfortable experience. Each bike also features an adjustable seat, which can grow with your child.
Wooden balance bike suitable for children aged 2 years and up
Made from durable premium wood
Helps kids learn to balance
- BrandRadio Flyer
- Weight9 pounds
Charmingly rustic appearance
Air tires ensure a smooth ride and good grip
Padded seat and soft-touch handlebars for improved comfort
Air tires can be punctured
May be too small for older children
Best Balance Bike Buying Guide & FAQ
These 10 balance bikes are the best of the buch, and we’re confident you’ll find the perfect option for your budding cyclist somewhere on the list. To help you choose, we’ve compiled this handy buying guide. Below, we run through which factors to consider when choosing a balance bike for your child, why you might want one, and how to get the most out of it.
What to Consider When Buying a Balance Bike
When it’s time to choose a balance bike for the young cyclist in your life, it’s a good idea to consider the following factors:
- Size and Age Range
First and foremost, it’s important to choose a bike that’s a good fit for your child. Most manufacturers will provide a suggested age range, but we all know that kids grow at very different rates. For this reason, it’s usually best to measure the child’s inseam before selecting a bike. Fortunately, most bikes feature adjustable seats and handlebars, making for a much better fit.
Balance bikes can be made using a few different materials:
- Painted Steel
Steel is a budget-friendly and durable option. Steel is strong and flexible, and as long as it’s covered by a layer of paint, it can withstand corrosion, too. However, it’s a little heavier than other options, so might be difficult for smaller children to handle.
Aluminum is a great option for balance bikes because it’s lightweight, extremely strong, and resistant to corrosion. These properties allow it to stand up to everyday use, and help kids to ride and handle it comfortably. However, aluminum balance bikes do tend to be the most expensive option.
Wooden bikes have a certain traditional charm, and they’re also surprisingly durable. However, wood is porous when not treated, and might not stand up as well to wet conditions.
When choosing a balance bike, you’ll have a couple of different tires to select from. Most bikes feature foam or plastic puncture-proof tires. Although they’re more durable and not prone to blow-outs or air leaks, these tires don’t offer the same smooth ride as an air filled option can.
As with any purchase, budget is an important consideration when it comes to choosing a balance bike. Luckily, bikes are available in a wide array of price ranges, and you can snag a quality bike for under $60.
- Additional Features
Most balance bikes are fairly simple, but others offer extra features that could improve your child’s learning experience. Bells, hand brakes, and footrests are a few key features that can help a child gain confidence when it’s time to ride a oedal bike.
Benefits of Toddler Balance Bikes
Introducing your toddler to a balance bike comes with a whole host of benefits:
- Balance bikes help your toddler learn to ride a bike more quickly
- Using a balance bike results in fewer falls compared to training wheels
- Balance bikes teach kids to steer
- Introducing your child to a balance bike helps them to balance on two wheels
- Using a balance bike improves children’s strength and coordination
- Balance bikes offer more control than training wheels
- Most balance bikes are compact and easy to transport
- The majority of balance bikes require no maintenance at all
- Some balance bikes also introduce children to braking
- Balance bikes help your child learn to steer
Stabilisers Vs. Balance Bike - Which is Better?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to bike training - stabilisers (also known as training wheels) are the more traditional option, but many parents and carers are now opting for the new balance bike method. Both options can be employed successfully, but current opinion suggests that the balance bike may have the edge.
- Stabilisers/ Training Wheels
This teaching method involves purchasing a small pedal bike for your child, and adding an extra pair of wheels either side of the back tire. This allows the rider to practise peddling, steering, and braking without the difficulty of balancing on two wheels. The main issue with using stabilisers is that children become used to riding on four wheels - not two. This can make it very frustrating for them when it’s time for the training wheels to come off.
- Balance Bikes
Starting with a balance bike teaches your child the same cycling skills, but in a different order. Rather than learning to steer, pedal and brake first, the device helps children get used to balancing on two wheels. Balance bikes tend to have a lower center of gravity than their pedal bike counterparts, so your child can learn to balance gradually, before they’re introduced to a grown-up bike.
Best Balance Bike FAQ:
Q: What is a balance bike?
A: As the name implies, balance bikes are designed to teach children how to balance on a bicycle. They look a lot like regular bikes, with a few key differences:
- No Pedals - balance bikes are powered by the feet; this ensures that kids have some contact with the ground as they learn to balance on two wheels
- Solid Tires - balance bikes tend to have solid, puncture-proof tires rather than conventional air-filled tires, for easier maintenance
- Lower Center of Gravity - because they’re for beginners, balance bikes have a lower center of gravity than pedal bikes, making them easier to ride
- Age Appropriate Size - the handlebars on balance bikes are usually positioned lower than those on a pedal bike, so it’s easier for children to hang on
- Lightweight - balance bikes are designed to be as lightweight as possible, making it easier for small children to ride them
Q: How does a balance bike work?
A: Balance bikes are designed for children aged between 18 months and five years. Because of their small size and special child-friendly design, balance bikes can be ridden by much younger children than pedal bikes with stabilisers, helping them experience the joy of cycling earlier in life.
Q: How do I size a balance bike?
A: When it comes to measuring your child for a balance bike, it’s all about the inseam. They’ll need a seat that’s high enough to support them, but low enough to allow their feet to reach the floor for ‘scooting’ along.
To measure the inseam, have the child stand up straight against a wall with their shoes on. Next, place a book between their legs, and slide it up until it meets the crotch seam of their pants. Hold the book in place and have them step away, before using a measuring tape to measure from the ground to the top of the book.
Our Top Pick
For us, this sturdy and versatile balance bike by Strider is simply the best of the bunch. Suitable for children aged 18 months to five years, the bike comes with an adjustable seat and handlebars. For comfort and safety, it’s incredibly lightweight - tipping the scales at under seven pounds. Not only does this make the bike easier for youngsters to ride, it also makes for convenient storage. Meanwhile, padded handlebars and an ergonomic seat help your budding biker get comfortable on board for long bouts of play-time.
The bike is also built to last - made from light but durable painted steel. The addition of puncture-proof tires makes this bike virtually maintenance-free. It’s simple to build, too, so your kid can get started on their cycling adventure straight away. With its sturdy construction and ease of use, Stider’s long-lasting balance bike is the perfect introduction to the joys of cycling.