All parents have the same dilemma: which balance bike to choose for their kid! We know that it’s very difficult to select products made for kids. As parents, we know well what you are thinking, asking and wondering about. Why should I get a balance bike for my kid? What age is the best? Why shouldn’t I just get a tricycle? We have all your questions answered by offering the best balance bike reviews 2020 options, but also by providing a lot of information about these special kid bikes.
Our objective is to help you make the right choice and pay a reasonable price. For this reason, we got to work and found top rated balance bike options currently available on the market. We compared components, materials, safety features and prices. Now it’s your turn to make your own comparisons and evaluations by reading the best balance bike reviews offered here.
For your convenience, our team also offers you a general view over balance bikes. In this article, you can find more about balance bike parts, key features and which things you ought to consider before you buy a balance bicycle for toddlers. Is your child a bit older? There are balance bikes for kids of younger and older ages. We make it clear that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to bikes for 2-year-old kids and often younger, and children that have already turned 5 or 6. We categorize our reviews by balance bike material and pinpoint the best balance bikes for each age.
What is a balance bike?
Do you suspect what a balance bike is just by its name? You are right. They are bikes, which prep toddlers and small kids to learn how to ride bicycles. They don’t have pedals or chains. They are as simple as bikes can be. They actually allow them to practice on their balance before they use pedals. After all, how will they pedal if they don’t learn how to balance first? When this question was first popped, the first balance bike was created. This was about a century ago and the first invention was called a dandy horse. Now it is considered the archetype of bicycles as we know them today.
It took manufacturers a little over 70 years to realize that kids could use pre-bikes. A German woodworker got to work and soon the first balance bike made of wood was born. What makes balance bikes popular is that they enable children of young age to focus on their balance and let steering skills grow in them naturally. They don’t have to master in balancing, steering, pedaling, coordinating and stopping all at once. They simply sit, put their feet on the ground and concentrate on their balance training. Then they roll. That’s what balance bikes are all about anyway.
Why Balance Bikes Are Better for Beginner Riders than Tricycles
Check out the downsides of tricycles and bikes with training wheels.
- They slow down children because they can bump in every single obstacle in the street and occupy more space
- They are harder to maneuver
- Kids must focus on too many things (pedaling and steering) and not just their balance
- They lose balance easier and so they fall more often
- Due to their construction, they are a tad larger and might not fit in your trunk so kids are limited in playing only around the house
- Kids with early experience in balance bikes start riding pedal bikes at the age of 3 as opposed to kids that their first experience was with tricycles and training wheels. The latter ones start riding pedal bikes at the age of 5 or 6
Benefits of Using Balance Bike
These are the basic benefits of balance bikes:
- The safety of the children is ensured
- Children hardly fall and so their injuries are limited
- They learn easily and so their confidence is quickly enhanced
- They improve their balancing skills fast
- They learn how to ride pedal bicycles sooner
- They learn how to keep control and utilize this knowledge in different situations
- They also learn how to react quickly
- If they have balance bikes with brakes, they learn how to use alternative ways to stop motion when they are faced with obstacles
Top Best Balance Bike Reviews on The Market 2020
What are the Basic Differences among Balance Bikes?
The basic difference is that they are made of different materials and for kids of different ages. So, their height, seat and overall construction must be taken into account seriously. Your kid’s characteristics in terms of age, height and inseam measurement will help you determine which balancing bike is best for him/her. Some include handbrakes. Some have a foot rest area and some do not. Balance bikes might have air, EVA or rubber tires and this will determine their lightness.
What are the main parts of balance bikes?
Although these are the main parts of most balance bikes, they may vary from one branded model to another. Please, take a minute to check the exact position of the balance bike parts as shown in the picture below:
2. Plastic grips
4. Quick release adjustment
7. Alloy rim
The best age to get a balance bike?
It’s not accidental that balance bikes are often called walking or running bikes too. In order for the kid to learn how to balance, he/she must be able to walk first. So, don’t rush to get a balance bike if the child is not walking yet. Some children walk faster than others and so it depends on your child. They can be as young as one year of age, but still walking. In this case, you can buy them a toddler balance bike.
These are a few advice we recommend:
- If the child is a late walker, choose a lightweight balance bike to make his/her life easier
- Don’t rush children in riding the bike right away. Some might use it to stand for weeks and start walking when they feel they are ready
- Don’t think of the future. Buy a balance bike to fit the kid’s requirements today. After all, most children only use them for about a year or so and then move on to pedal bicycles
- Make sure the balance bike has add-ons so that you can adjust the seat at a lower or higher position to make it a perfect fit for the child
Get Balance Bikes Tailored to Your Kid’s Needs
- What age can children ride balance bikes? This is one of the most frequently asked questions. The kid must walk – that’s the only rule. Most kids get balance bikes around the age of 2, but there are also products for 16 months toddlers. When children are younger, they are still in the process of developing their coordination skills. But it’s best for them to learn at a young age. Older kids (over 4 years old) usually take longer to learn. Balance bikes are designed for each age, but the characteristics of each child (in terms of development) differ.
- How about if the child is not very tall? The average height of each child play an important role to whether it’s time to get a balance bike or not yet. They must be 84cm tall, but their length height is more important. The lowest seats are approximately 30.5 cm.
- The size of the balance bike is often determined by the size of the tires and the frame. Tire size range from 10” to 20”. Most children would need 12” balance bikes, but then again this is not the best way to choose a balance bike for your kid. 12” bikes might be popular for a certain age and/or kids’ height, but the frame is also relatively big. It won’t be alright for toddlers. You should rely on seat height to make sure you get the right size.
Which Balance Bike Components Are the Most Important Ones?
Seat Height: It depends on the child’s age and height. Some say that the minimum height must be around 1” and 1.5” below the kid’s inseam, but it’s alright if the bike’s height equals the number of the child’s inseam. Your objective here is to make sure the child is able to put the feet on the ground in order to walk and learn how to keep balance. So, keep his/her shoes on and measure the inches from the floor to the crotch.
Tires: There are 5 different balance bike tires. Each has different characteristics, pros and cons, and cost considerations.
- EVA tires are made of hard rubber foam, which allows them to be puncture proof. Though, they provide minimum cushioning and limited traction. They provide some traction on paved surfaces, but are not ideal for all terrains. On the other hand, they are lightweight compared to air tires and so they are an excellent option for toddlers.
- Air tires absorb impact better than foam tires, making the ride more comfortable. They provide better cushioning and traction, but this type of tires are heavier. Another downside with air tires is that they can deflate or go flat. The best way to avoid such headaches is to add tire sealant. Another thing you must consider is that their tube can only be replaced by the manufacturing company. It will be difficult to find a replacement in your area.
- Fat boy tires are larger than standard ones. They have a wider profile and so greater air capacity. Thanks to the extra air, they provide extra cushioning and traction. They absorb impact, but they can also go flat. They are usually found on high-end balance bikes, such as LikeaBike and Early Rider models.
- Rubber Honeycomb tires are relatively new on the market, but so far they have proved to be great. Although there is risk of flats, they provide great traction and some cushioning, and they don’t deflate. However, you won’t find them easily. Only a few balance bikes come with rubber honeycomb tires.
- Solid Rubber tires are recently designed. Although they offer great traction, they don’t offer cushioning. So they are not very comfortable for long rides. On the other hand, they are practical because they are durable and you won’t have to worry about flat tires. They are perfect for short rides.
Brakes Systems: Not all bikes for toddlers have brakes. The main source for stopping the balance bike is the child’s feet. Though, it’s not a bad idea to get a balance bike with a brake system, especially if the kids are a tad older. When children reach the age of 3 and up, they usually have a developed sense of eye/hand coordination. Hand brakes allow them to have an alternative way of stopping their bike and help them during the transition from riding a balance bike to riding a regular pedal one. If you choose balance bikes with hand brakes, make sure they are within the reach of your kid’s hands. Toddlers with tiny hands might have a hard time reaching and using the lever brakes.
Turning Limiters/Steering Limiters: When it comes to limiters, opinions are divided. Those in favor of turning limiters say that they prevent accidents should the kid falls, keep the brake cables from getting tangled, and ensure the child’s safety since they don’t allow sharp turns. On the other hand, those opposing the limiters say that kids must be exposed to steering from the very beginning. Although limiters can be helpful to toddlers, the turning radius shouldn’t be too limited. Elastic limiters will be more helpful.
Handlebar grips: This is the very last thing parents would check when choosing a balance bike. Though, it’s one of the most significant safety features. The handlebar should be robust and the grips must be made by a thick, uneven rubber-like material so that the child’s hand won’t slip when it gets sweaty. It’s also imperative to select grips with a knobby edge. It will protect the kid’s hand if the handlebar hits against a tree or wall and if the child falls down sideways.
Frames: The frame is one of the most important components of the bike. It must not be too big or too small. It must not be too heavy and must be constructed properly. The choice of the material is critical, but its design is also a basic determinant. Although balance bikes are still considered toys, they are meant to help kids develop their riding and balance skills. They should be constructed in a way that children will be able to control and use them easily.
Cheap balance bikes are not often constructed after thorough research of kids’ anatomy and needs. The distances among components and the quality of the materials used play a huge role to the kid’s safety and good balance. Quality balance bikes are much stronger and manufacturers take into consideration several factors (related to the kid’s age, capacities, height, efforts and inexperience). That’s why high-end bikes cost a tad more, but they are worth it.
The frame of balance bikes is made of wood, metal or composite materials.
Wooden bikes are extremely beautiful, unique and eco-friendly, but often not as adjustable as metal ones. Inexpensive wood choices during the manufacturing process and lack of wood treatment drop the prices, but make balance bikes vulnerable. If you want to buy a wooden balance bike, get prepared to pay more. Some manufacturers use marine plywood, which is also used for the construction of yachts and is highly durable and resistant. But make sure it is made in Europe otherwise it won’t worth the extra buck.
Are you puzzled? Wondering which material to get?
Let’s make it clear that all materials used for the construction of balance bikes have their pros and cons. So the better quality you get, the longer it will last. It’s often practical to consider the special requirements of your family and local environment. Are you going to leave the bike outside? Is it humid in your area? Do you want to keep it for years? Are you on budget? Everything is important when it comes to making the best choice balance bike.
- If you prefer wood, make sure it is sealed with non-toxic paint so that it will be safe and won’t rot. Wood must be certified by Forest Stewardship Council. Most bikes are made of birch wood (extremely durable), which is processed into plywood. Some manufacturers also use marine wood, which is highly resistant to water, but these ones are more expensive.
- Steel is robust, but it will chip and corrode if you leave the bike out in the rain or humid weather. Steel bikes are often more popular than wooden ones because as an overall they are lighter.
- Plastic bikes are also popular because they are light, and most importantly they don’t chip or rot. So, if you want to leave the bikes outside and be sure to find them intact from elements, plastic will do the job.
Key Features to Consider before You Buy Balance Bikes
As we already explained measuring the kid’s inseam to get the right seat height is critical. But what happens when the child gains some height within the next months and still wants to use the balance bike? To avoid such issues, get bikes with adjustable seats. The ideal position for the child (when riding the bike) is to have the feet on the ground with the knees slightly bent. So, if the child gets taller, all you have to do is adjust the seat. Make sure the seat is easily adjustable. Some bikes don’t even require special tools. They have turn-knob releases or clamps.
Choosing the right balance bike in terms of weight is essential. A balance bike for 2-year-old children would be heavier than a bike for toddlers and lighter than bikes for older kids. The golden rule is to get a bike, which weighs no more than 30% of your kid’s weight. He/she won’t be able to maneuver the bike if it weighs too much for his/her capacities. Lightweight balance bikes also allow kids to carry them and have control over them as they are trying to keep their balance. These things are extremely important for small kids since most experienced riders can control better their bikes. So, pay attention to the tires and the frame. They are the components, which add more weight
Parents often wonder whether to get balance bikes with or without footrests! The truth is that children do not need them. As a matter of fact, they might make the kid’s efforts harder since they will feel obliged to use the footrest instead of focusing on their balance. It will be even harder for toddlers because footrests often get in the way of their feet. Once more, your decision depends on your child’s size and age. If the child is relatively tall and older, the footrest might not bother him/her. In a different case, it’s best to avoid it.
Check out the bolts. Nobody looks at the bolts. But it’s crucial to buy a balance bike with rounded, recessed and covered bolts. They might wear and tear over time and the kid’s legs might get scratched. So, avoid getting bikes with exposed bolts.
Get balance bikes from manufacturers that offer warranty. Most of them cover frame problems and not natural wear and tear. Make sure to check whether the manufacturer of your kid’s bike requires you to register to be eligible for the warranty.
The materials used for the construction of balance bike are important. The strongest and more resistant to rust they are, the longer they will last. Though, if you don’t have younger children that might get your first born child’s balance bike and you don’t plan to resell it later, you don’t have to spend a lot on expensive materials.
The price depends on many factors – from the quality and strengths of the materials to the overall construction of the bike. The most expensive ones are the high-end, highly resistant wooden balance bikes.
Color, Designs and Styles:
There are many colors, designs and styles. You can find balance bikes in different colors – from green and ivory to pink and red. They often come with colorful and stylish accessories, including the handlebars, seat and tires. They might have elegant mudguards, bells and lights. Some models allow you to fit a beautiful basket and some balance bikes can be winterized for the winter snowy days. So, you have many accessories to add apart from special vests and helmets.
Which Accessories Are Worth your Money?
- Some balance bike models include a lowering kit, which allow you to rearrange the bike’s frame to fit the characteristics of a young child. It’s a necessary accessory for 2-year-old children with feet that won’t touch the ground.
- Bells are not particularly necessary since you will stay with the kid at all times, but they help children get a grasp of traffic rules, pay attention in the street and be extra careful. They usually make very cheerful sounds and so they are pleasant.
- You might think that baskets are the least your kid needs when is out learning how to balance the bike, but you will have a different opinion when the son insists on bringing his action figure with him and the daughter won’t take a step without her doll.
- Perhaps one of the most important accessories is the vest. They are often made in intense colors so that you, but most importantly other people, bike riders and drivers will distinguish the child from a distance.
- The most important among all accessories is the helmet. They are a must-have accessory since they can protect a child during a fall.
<h3?How to choose a toddler bike helmet for his/her balance bike
- Make sure there is foam protection around the neck and excellent face protection.
- It must be lightweight but still robust
- It should be made of flexible plastic to absorb impact
- It should be made of flexible plastic to absorb impact
- The straps must be soft and easily adjustable
- The padding must be removable so that it can be cleaned
- Make sure the helmet fits the head of the child perfectly and doesn’t move around – measure the circumference of the head carefully (right above the eyebrows and one inch above the ears)
Size Matters When You Choose Balance Bikes
The issue of size keeps coming up. And for a good reason too. It’s useless to get a balance bike of the wrong size for your kid because it won’t be used. If it’s too small, it might be inappropriate for the child’s weight and height, and will also make the kid feel uncomfortable. If it’s too big, his/her feet won’t touch the ground and the hands won’t reach the handlebar grips. So the bike won’t be used. The distances among the bike’s components are crucial.
First choose the right seat height. The MOST important thing is to measure well the child’s inseam but also his/her overall height in order to choose the right seat height.
The following chart will help you decide:
|Inseam Size||Average Kid's Age||Size of Bike's Wheels|
|14 – 17'' inseam||2-4||12''|
|16 – 20'' inseam||4-6||14''|
|18 – 22'' inseam||5-8||16''|
|20 – 24'' inseam||6-9||18''|
|24 – 28'' inseam||9+||24"|
The following chart shows which size bike is best for which height:
|Size of Bike's Wheels||Child's Height|
Pedal bike sizes are a bit different. The above charts help you choose pedal-less bikes. Pedal bike sizes are a bit different. As an average, 43” tall children will need 12” pedal bikes. 44” to 49” kids must get 16” pedal bikes but keep in mind that as they get taller, they will soon need to move to 20” bikes.
The position of the handlebar grips is critical. Let’s get back to balance bikes. It’s not just the seat height and tire size, which determine the overall size of the bike and the kid’s comfort. The handlebar grips must be within their reach too. If they are set too high, toddlers aged 2 years old or under won’t be able to hold on to them. Tall handlebars are ideal for tall kids (with average age around 3 ½) who need the room between the handlebars and the seat. This distance is extremely important. So the question about adjustable components is raised again, like it did with the bike’s seat. The truth is that most balance bikes have fixed handlebars, but some models allow you to slightly curve them to give your kid the extra room he/she needs as he/she is getting taller.
Why It Is Critical to Read Balance Bike Reviews
Buying a new balance bike is far from easy. When it comes to your kid, you have to consider the overall quality of the product and how easy it will be for your kid to ride a particular bike. The materials used to construct the balance bike, the quality of the tires and the size of the product will make a huge difference to your child’s training. It can get pretty confusing when you want to choose a safe product, which will be appropriate for your child’s age, height and capacities. At the same time, you must stay on budget. As you can see, it gets more and more complicated. At the end of the day, you’ll just have a headache and still want to select a stylish and colorful balance bike – after all, this is a product for a child! With our reviews, we tried to give you a direction, inform you about the best balance bikes on the market in 2016, offer you options that combine quality with affordable prices, and help you make a choice.
How to Enhance Child Safety
- Give them the help they need. They don’t only need encouragement from you, but also patience. At first, they might be scared to lift their feet off the floor, but they will soon learn. Your help counts
- Explain to them how balance bikes work in simple words, but don’t make too much of it to scare the kid away. He/she will feel more confident just by knowing that this is a lovely toy with which he/she can have fun and still learn
- Make sure they wear the right clothing and shoes. If they don’t wear special made vests, they should wear bright colors so that everyone can see them. Their shoes must be comfortable
- Let them start riding their new balance bike inside the house and on smooth surfaces with not too many obstructions
They should always wear a helmet to protect their head from injuries in case they fall
- Make the right adjustments so that their feet are on the ground and their hands can easily touch the levers
- Get the best product in terms of quality
Top Rated Balance Bike Brands
Early Rider – It’s a world-class brand and has choices for children of 18 months old to 6 years of age. The company uses lightweight aluminum and all parts (even the hidden ones) have not cut corners. What’s amazing with this company is that if they don’t find the parts they want to use for the construction of their bikes or they feel they are too expensive, they make them on their own. They use certified WBP (Water and Boil Proof) glue and manufacture the bikes in their own factory in London.
Glide Bikes – The company is located in the US and opened its doors eight years ago. Their goal is to make the perfect balance bikes, which can be used by kids as tools. The company focuses on designing quality bikes at perfect sizes having children in their minds. Their products weigh around 8-10 pounds and are designed with the patented low speed geometry (2mph) to give kids the chance to learn how to balance.
FirstBIKE – The founder of the company Ralf Coerschulte is a father himself, and also a cyclist and product designer in Germany. He started developing balance bikes to support kids’ physical development and boost their self-confidence. Now the company distributes products all over the world and is one of the most successful companies in its field.
Chillafish – The company makes design balance bikes. They give an artistic touch and turn balance bikes into artwork. Every now and then, they launch a limited edition of bikes which feature illustrations of great artists. They make balance bikes funky and fun!
KaZAM – When the KaZAM founders started making their first balance bikes, the product didn’t exist in the USA. They adopted the idea in Europe and made their first model for their 2 ½-year-old son. He loved his bike. After much planning, designing and patenting, the KaZAM company was part of the global market. Their products include the patented easy-step-in frame design and also have a footrest. Today, the company is one of the leaders worldwide.
KinderBike – The company was created in Germany in 2001. The founder, Heinz Petzold, created the first balance bike for his grandson. By 2005, the company was already distributing products in North America. Today, the company is considered one of the tops in the industry.
Strider – Ryan McFarland came up with the idea of balance bikes when he saw his 2-year-old son struggling to ride his 12” pedal bike with training wheels. He removed all parts, which made the bike heavy and useless to the little fellow, and here he was: he had just made his first balance bike. The Strider Sports International, Inc. was actually created a few years later in 2007 and is located in South Dakota.
Wishbone – The company was created by a New York couple with two toddlers. Originally from New Zealand, Rich made the first Wishbone bike in their own bathroom. A little later, they moved their construction work to a garage in Wellington, New Zealand. And then the story of the Wishbone balance bikes began.
Schwinn – The company makes all types of bicycles and is around for over 100 years. They always wanted to make bikes for all ages and help people exercise and enjoy themselves. That’s what they do with toddlers too.
7 Reasons Why Balance Bikes Are Worth the Hype
Are you wondering why should you buy a balance bike for your kid? It’s natural! After all, we didn’t have balance bikes when we were growing up and that didn’t keep us from learning how to ride a bike! Well, let’s not forget that progress is made in the meantime. We’d all agree that some products on the market are not necessary. But when it comes to children’s bicycles, which help them have fun, learn how to balance, keep control and develop their steering skills, products are worth our attention and money.
These are 7 excellent reasons why balance bikes are worth the hype.
The child is safe: Children actually depend on their own two feet, learn how to control their very first bike and get prepared to ride pedal bikes. So when the times comes, they will already know how to balance on two wheels and will fall fewer times than if they’d had their first experience with training wheels. Quality balance bikes with carefully designed handlebar grips will also protect them from finger/hand injuries and so they won’t suffer a lot during their learning period.
You spend less: Instead of getting a tricycle or bikes with training wheels, you only get a balance bike. With that said, remember that you have options among balance bikes in terms of sizes whereas with 12” pedal bikes you most likely get a bike with training wheels and then you will have to move to a bigger pedal bike. Kids usually use balance bikes for a year or so, and then move to larger pedal bikes. One more thing: balance bikes suffer the less damage and can be resold easily.
Perfect for family quality time: Balance bikes don’t need as much space on the street as tricycles. As soon as kids learn how to use them, they move relatively fast. Such things give the chance for the whole family to spend more time together and parents don’t have to stop every other step to wait for their child. Don’t forget that balance bikes are lightweight and so you can carry them much easier than any other bike.
A great excuse to go out and play: You won’t have to convince your child to go out and play. They will love their bike because they will use their feet to stay in control and feel independent. They will beg you to go out and play.
Kids’ learning abilities are enhanced: The moment they start balancing on the bike, their confidence will hit the roof. The feeling that they have accomplished something significant will urge them to try harder. This won’t only boost their energy and self-confidence, but also teach them how to deal with future concerns.
You don’t have to worry about bike problems: As long as you get the best possible balance bike on the market, you don’t have to worry about anything. They are very simple without chains, batteries or tiny components.
Kids learn how to ride pedal bikes sooner: It is noticed that children that learned how to balance in a pedal-less bike learn how to ride pedal bikes sooner than if they had their first experience in training wheels
Why balance bikes? That’s the question we tried to answer by offering the best balance bike reviews 2020. But we didn’t stop there. We have gathered the most useful information around balance bikes made of different materials and designed for different ages at the best prices on the market so that you will have a full picture of the available products.
Why do you need to know so much? Simply because our kids and their healthy development matters to every single parent worldwide! We just wanted to explore every perspective and view the topic from different angles in order to answer the hard questions: which is the best balance bike for my child? We just hope that we managed to answer your question so that you’ll get the best balance bike for YOUR child!