One of the basic things every boy or girl goes through is that of learning the way of the bicycle. Finding your balance is not always an easy task, however, and many a tumble and fall may occur. Enter balance bikes: a clever invention designed to help even the youngest children learn how to ride a bicycle. It improves coordination and balance at this crucial development stage, enabling them to make a seamless transition towards a pedal bike. Peruse our list of the best balance bikes for kids and quickly get your kids outside and experiencing the joy of riding.
Top 5 Best Balance Bikes for Young Children
Here are the all around best balance bikes currently on the market.
Early’s Riders Balance Bike easily made our list of the best balance bikes. Sidestep the wobbly and frustrating training wheels altogether! This is one of the best balance bikes in the market today for children age 3.5 to 6 years. The thing that makes this bike absolutely awesome is its build quality. This is our pick for the best bike for 4 year olds.
Water and weather proof marine grade birch (FSC certified), aluminum rims, and a laid back chopper build ensure your kid is rolling in style. The bike has an adjustable seat, reach, and the ability to change to restricted or unrestricted steering. These modifications make this the ideal balance bike for your child to feel comfortable learning on.
Easy grip handles, light weight (11 pounds), a 125 pound weight capacity, pneumatic tires with notched fork ends round out this balance bike nicely. And don’t forget those flame decals and embroidered faux leather seat. That increases the speed of this bike by at least 200%.
Radio Flyer has been in business for over 100 years, and makes a trusted line of products including their famous little red wagons. The gorgeous red is back and this time it coats a formidable steel frame. At 10.2 pounds, its still light enough for youngsters to handle.
Their balance bike is a well-priced option considering the solid steel frame and 12 inch air tires. You can also choose to order this bike with foam tires. We like the little ringing bell on the handle bar. It provides an extra bit of added fun that takes the pressure off kids as they learn to balance.
Radio Flyer suggests their balance bike for ages 2.5 to 5 years and it is our top pick for best bike for 3 year olds.
The Joovy Bicycoo comes in a white/red or black/grey color option. It is one the top rated balance bikes currently and is certainly one of the best toddler bikes out there. The aluminum frame is lightweight (bike is total 8.75 pounds) and well-built. The minimum recommended age for this balance bike is 18 months.
Relative to steel and wood, it is much lighter and easier for a younger kid to manage. The extra wide 2.25 inch tires are perfect for learning and help give the child confidence when first setting out. These tires are pneumatic which provide plenty of suspension and a smooth ride.
A rear brake operated by hand, adjustable seat, and sleek design contribute to why the Bicycoo won design awards at Europe’s largest cycling tradeshow. We like that this bike has a hand operated brake, which helps children get used operating hand brakes in adult bicycles. Once they find their balance, they will be ready for anything.
The Cub is Critical Cycles take on the balance bike and it gets our pick for the best balance bike for the money. Its almost half the cost of some of the other popular models. The big difference is that the tires are air free, so it doesn’t provide as smooth a ride. But, if you’re child is planning on using the balance bike for long, it’s probably not that big of a deal and that means no tire maintenance too. As such, it wins our pick for the best balance bike for 2 year olds.
The Cub balance bike fits children from 20 months to 5 years old. Its foot-to-floor frame design is easy for children to get the hang of, they simply put their feet down when they want to stop. This balance bike is CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) compliant, easy to use, adjustable seat and handlebars. Indeed, Critical Cycles checked most the boxes with this one.
The Prince Lionheart Blance Bike is an award winning bike with a retro look. A beautiful birch wood frame with a clear finish and real rubber tires appeal to little boys tastes. The air filled 12 inch rubber tires makes it easy for the child to step, steer, and glide along.
The height adjustable padded seat makes this bike suitable for children from age 2 to age 5 (max weight limit 65 pounds). The handles of the bike are made of rubber in order to give the child a firm grip. Though it does require adult assembly, the fact that everything is so small and lightweight makes for an easy job.
General Thoughts on Balance Bikes
Balance is one of the hardest things to master for young children. Add that to learning to steel, pedal, brake and it’s just a little too much all at once. This is why it is the first thing a child should learn long before they are taught how to pedal. Many parents buy a tricycle (or using training wheels) to teach their children skills before a real bike, but were not so sure that is the best route.
Becoming reliant on stabilizers such as training wheels may actually cause more harm than good. By going the balance bike route, you can skip the silly trikes and wobbly training wheels. If you get one that has a brake to like the Joovy model in our list, they will learn everything they need to do besides pedaling. Your child will feel comfortable and gain confidence in their ability.
So how does a balance bike work from the child’s perspective? A balance bike is very easy for a child to ride. All they need to do is sit on the balance bike and use their feet to push them forward. As they continue walking along on the balance bike, their confidence will increase and they will be able to glide without having their feet on the ground. After sometime they can move to gliding and steering at the same time. Once they master that, they are ready for a real bike.
Another great thing about balance bikes are that manufacturers design them strictly for ages 1.5 to 5 years of age. That means they are lightweight and easy for the child themselves to move around. Furthermore, they are made with adjustable seats and handlebars, so at no matter what age the child gets started it can be adjusted to their height and arm length.
Benefits of Balance Bikes
There are many advantages that balance bikes offer. See below for some of their key benefits.
First and foremost, a balance bike is able to safely teach your child how to balance. With a balance bike, the child will have fewer falls than on a pedal bike. Falls can be damaging to a child’s confidence and really hinder the learning process that needs to happen. Pedal-less balance bikes are more natural for them to control with their feet, and since their are no pedals their little feet and shins won’t get hurt.
Balance bikes, relative to full size adult bikes, are quite economical. Most parents do not like the idea of getting their children balance bikes because they believe it is a waste of money. They therefore prefer to go for tricycles, then bikes with training wheels, and eventually they get the bike. This is even more expensive that buying a balance bike. Your child will not need to have a bike with training wheels once they are done with a balance bike. This is because they will have already learnt the important basics such as steering, balancing, and coordination.
The other advantage you get from a balance bike is the fact that they are a great way to encourage your children to play outdoors. You have the peace of mind knowing they aren’t going to go far or get up too much speed on this kind of bike. Kids must power their balance bike with their legs, push and gliding, pushing and glide and that is indeed excellent exercise. This keeps them busy and allows you to tend to other things.
The other benefit you get from balance bikes is the fact that your child will be able to transition faster to a pedal bike. This is because balance is the most important thing to learn when it comes to riding a bike. A child with a balance bike is able to master that integral skill quickly. They also have an easier time learning how to ride a pedal bike compared to children who have been relying on a bike with training wheels. They will be pedaling circles around the neighborhood kids in no time!
Top Things to Look for Before Buying a Balance Bike
When you decide to buy a balance bike, it is very important not to rush through the process. This is because there are numerous balance bikes on the market and they differ in quality and features. In most cases, you will find that wood and aluminum balance bikes are more expensive.
Below are some of the things you should look for before buying a balance bike.
- Height and Handlebar Adjustment. One of the critical features you want to look for is adjustability. It is an important feature because it makes it possible for you to adjust the height and grip of the bike as your child grows. With this feature, your child can use the same bike for a number of years before they transition to a bike with pedals.
- Air-filled Tires. Another neat feature to look for are air filled pneumatic tires. These are important because they elevate the bike, smooth out any bumps, and make it easy for the child to glide on the bike. It also gets them used to the feel of what a normal bike feels like. While they are a little more maintenance, we think it’s worth it in the long run especially if the bike will be used to train more than one child.
- Comfortable Seat. You want the seat to be well cushioned and as comfortable as possible. You don’t want an uncomfortable seat to discourage your child from learning how to ride. Plus, if they really enjoy riding their new balance bike, it’s going to get a lot of use. You may as well spend money on one that’s comfortable.
- Style. Hey, style points certainly count for something and this is doubly true with kids. You want to find something that is their favorite color, or has a really cool design that will make them treasure their new bike. Whether you go for the bright red of Radio Flyer’s balance bike or the retro wood look of the Early Rider, there’s a number of options to choose from.
- Lightweight Frame. An aluminum or other lightweight material is ideal for the frame of a balance bike. This really helps the extremely young children such as 2 and 3 year olds hold and control the balance bike.
We always recommend children wear a safety helmet while riding a balance bike. You may even want to consider knee and elbow pads if they are having a lot of difficulty. Happy gliding!