Gone are the days when kids had to learn how to ride the bicycle the hard way – riding a bike with training wheels and eventually learning how to ride when they’re removed, only to be met by an unfortunate but almost always expected accident.
Because of the balance bike, kids these days have a much easier time learning how to ride two-wheel bikes.
Below you’ll find some of the best balance bikes for toddlers in the market.
|Purple (4LBS) Aluminum Balance Bike for Kids and Toddlers - 12" No Pedal Sport Training Bicycle for Children Ages 3,4,5
|Strider - 12 Sport Balance Bike, Ages 18 Months to 5 Years, Blue
|Prince Lionheart 12 inches Wheels Wooden Lightweight No-Pedal Balance Bike for Toddlers with Adjustable Height padded Seat 100% made of Birch Wood 2-5 Years Old Max Weight 65lbs
|14" Children's Bike - Romper (Coral (Orangish Pink))
|Chillafish Bunzi: 2-in-1 Gradual Balance Bike & Tricycle, White/Pink
What is a balance bike?
Balance bikes aren’t that much different from standard bikes, except, maybe, for the pedals. Or, to be precise, the lack thereof.
Put simply, balance bikes don’t have pedals.
So, how do they run? Well, it’s simple, they rely on gravity. Basically, the main purpose of the balance bike is to teach kids how to ride bicycles without having to pedal.
They start with walking as they sit over the saddle, then scooting before eventually running (mostly downhill) and developing the necessary confidence to run the bike while lifting their feet as if there were pedals.
This is a win-win proposition for both parents and kids alike.
Because of how they’re designed, balance bikes are much safer. Kids can easily stand over the saddle and put a stop to any momentum. Yet, at the same time, if they want the bike to run, they just have to take their feet off of the grind and glide it in the air.
Plus, because parents don’t need to hold the bike and there are no training wheels needed anymore, it’s easier for kids to build the necessary coordination, independence, and more importantly, confidence, to eventually start riding bikes on their own.
This is why more and more child experts are starting to recommend balance bikes over tricycles and training wheels.
What are the best balance bikes for toddlers?
Now that we’ve established just how much better balance bikes are for toddlers, let’s move on to which balance bikes parents are worth buying.
By considering a multitude of factors (which we will discuss below), we came up with a list of 7 difference balance bikes.
We also carefully discussed the pros and cons of each bike so parents can differentiate each one properly and choose with more discernment.
1. Bixe Extreme Light
The Bixe Extreme Light is the quintessential balance bike for toddlers.
At only 4 pounds, even the youngest of toddlers can carry this around. They won’t have any trouble balancing themselves as well.
Also, because of its aluminum frame and foam tires, the Extreme Light doesn’t necessarily sacrifice quality nor ride comfort just to achieve such a low weight.
As an added bonus, the Extreme Light also comes with adjustable seats and is assembled partially out of the box.
This means that not only is it NOT intimidating to look at for kids, parents can have their toddlers help them out when assembling this bike.
This gives them a much better sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that should only serve them well as they try to learn how to ride bikes.
- Comes partially assembled
- Lightweight aluminum frame
- Child-friendly aesthetics
- Too small for older and bigger riders
- Foam tires
2. Prevelo Alpha Zero
Don’t take Prevelo lightly just because they’re a relatively new company. They have the potential to disrupt the market, especially with offerings such as the Alpha Zero.
The Prevelo Alpha Zero is a relatively expensive balance bike, but it won’t leave parents wanting for more.
At just 8.6 pounds, the Alpha Zero isn’t the lightest. However, when you consider the fact that it’s equipped with a V-brake located conveniently under the chainstays (for safety reasons), wheel nuts, and pneumatic Kendas tires, it’s easy to justify Prevelo’s decision to put a premium price on the Alpha Zero.
This is especially true when you consider that Prevelo can customize the bike and put the rider’s name on it.
So long as you’re willing to pay the price, the Alpha Zero is well worth every penny.
- Relatively lightweight
- High-traction pneumatic tires
- Effective rim V-brakes
3. Strider Sport
You know that you can trust a company when, even though they weren’t the first to create something, their brand have become synonymous with the product.
Strider is one of them.
Strider’s line of balance bikes are so good that most people refer to balance bikes as Strider bikes, and who can blame them? With products like the Strider Sport, their reputation isn’t just for show – they deliver and they do it big.
The Sport, for example, comes with padded seats and more child-friendly grips. Its steel frame is also relatively lighter at 6.7 pounds.
Unfortunately, the Sport isn’t perfect.
Strider’s decision to use foam tires instead of air-filled rubber alternatives makes sense because it keeps the costs of the Sport low.
It does, however, come with at the expense of safety. Although the Sport is still relatively safe for kids to use, as most balance bikes are, the foam tire has a tendency to slip on hardwood floors, as well as cement.
- Easy to find and buy
- Near zero maintenance cost
- Tires aren’t good for hard surfaces
- Doesn’t come with brakes
4. Prince Lionheart Balance Bike
The Prince Lionheart Balance Bike is the ideal choice for families who are conscious about the environment.
Using 100% ethically-harvested birch wood for its frame, this wooden balance bike looks and feels like a modern classic. But don’t mistake its simplicity for its lack of features.
Its seats are still padded and adjustable. It also comes with rubber handgrips, and perhaps more importantly, air-filled tires for added traction and safety in hard surfaces.
Perhaps the only con when it comes to this wooden balance bike is the material is more prone to wear and tear.
You’ll want to avoid leaving this balance bike outside when it’s not in use.
- Made out of high-quality and ethically-harvested 100% birch wood
- Air-filled rubber tires
- FSC certified for added safety
- Easy to assemble and set-up
- Wood material requires extra care
5. Pello Romper
For older kids, the Pello Romper comes with some of the best components in its class. This includes wide and comfortable air-filled rubber tires, a Cane Creek headset, as well as a caliper hand brake. It even comes with a seat post that can extend to accommodate kids of various sizes and ages.
Finally, the Romper is designed with unique rotating handlebars that lets you adjust the fit and comfort as your child gets older.
If not for its 15 pound weight, the Romper would be an easy recommendation for older toddlers.
- Best-in-class components
- Accessible hand brakes
- Low-step-through frame for easy access
- Improved traction and cushioning
- Might be too heavy
6. Chillafish Bunzi 2-in-1
For parents who are still on the fence with balance bikes and don’t want to invest too much on it. The Chillafish Bunzi 2-in-1 is a good compromise.
This “transformer” converts between three-wheeler trikes and two-wheeler balance bikes quite easily. This means that you can start your kids with a tricycle before eventually moving them on to a balance bike.
It’s an ideal choice if you want to go about things safely and don’t want to surprise your kid with the lack of a pedal on balance bikes.
The incorporated handle and wheels that are designed for in-house use make it obvious this was meant for young kids who have barely begun to walk.
Unfortunately, because of this, it’s less of a true balance bike and more of a toy.
- Converts from three-wheeler to two-wheeler
- Designed for in-house use
- Affordable price tag
- Most kids will outgrow this in less than a year
7. Banana Bike LT
Most parents will take any excuse that they can to relive their glory days. The Banana Bike LT is a good opportunity to do that.
Incorporating the retro banana-shaped frame shape of the bikes of the past and combining it with a more modern balance bike design, the Banana Bike LT is a fun bike that will let parents and kids alike bond through their relatively simple and similar experiences.
The new LT isn’t just banking on nostalgia alone to sell though.
It weighs at just a little over 6 pounds, comes with comfortable and soft adjustable seats, grippy handlebars, and wheels that are puncture-proof.
This combination of features make it perfect for kids between ages 2 and 5.
- Nostalgic and child-friendly banana-shaped frame
- Comes with a full manufacturer warranty
- Relatively affordable
- Fairly basic
The best time to buy a balance bike for kids
Balance bikes are built for children to ride on as soon as they can walk comfortably and confidently on their own. That happens right around the 18-month-old to 2-year-old mark.
However, even if they’re designed for kids that young, little ones as old as five can still enjoy them, while others are even made for older kids.
Just keep in mind that most kids will start to get bored with balance bikes (even if it’s their first time to ride any kind of bike) when they turn four or so.
Regardless of age, it’s important that you consider the proper sizing for the rider.
Just like when choosing bikes for adults, you need to consider bike fit when choosing balance bikes for kids. Ideally, the balance bike should be adjustable.
This is because kids grow up rather quickly in their younger years and you’ll want something that they won’t outgrow in only a year.
What’s wrong with training wheels?
Training wheels, or stabilizers, have been around for years.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with them as well, except, maybe for the fact that they could stand to use some improvement.
Apparently, according to research, bike stabilizers aren’t as good for teaching kids how to ride bicycles as expected. This is because they drastically change how bikes work. Instead of teaching kids how to balance, training wheels teach kids to rely on the stabilizers to balance them.
This is counter-productive since stabilizers don’t teach kids how to steer or ride a bicycle, they teach them how to steer and ride a tricycle.
As a result, children adjust by steering using the handlebars and not by leaning.
By the time children start riding bicycles without training wheels on their own, they’ll have to unlearn most of what they had learned with training wheels and adjust accordingly, therefore impeding their progress and quite possibly, even their confidence.
Why balance bikes are worth the money
Some parents think that because balance bikes are essentially bikes without pedals, they’re better off buying bikes for their kids. This is partly true, especially if the child is already a bit older and might learn faster (and not feel embarrassed) by using a bike that’s more appropriate for their age.
For younger kids though, it’s a different story.
At around 2 years of age, children have a hard time balancing themselves while walking, let alone riding bikes. Although using training wheels can help teach them how to ride bicycles, again, as already mentioned, it’s an entirely different process.
But by buying balance bikes, you teach the child the right way how to ride, steer, and balance themselves upright on a bicycle.
By the time that they’re old enough to ride an actual bicycle, the only learning they’ll have to do is how to pedal, which isn’t that hard in the first place.
As far as costs are involved, balance bikes can vary in price.
At around the $50 price point, you can expect high-quality balance bikes albeit a bit heavier or less durable than most parents would prefer.
At higher price ranges, most of these issues are solved. Pricier balance bikes tend to be more durable, lighter, and have better safety components, among other things.
While this isn’t to suggest that buying the model with the most features is the best idea, spending somewhere around $100 to $150 is ideal if you want a balance bike that your child can enjoy for a long time.
And there you have it, the best balance bikes for toddlers today.
With our comprehensive list of the 7 best balance bikes for toddlers, it’ll be much easier for you to find the right balance bike for your child. But if in case the models we rounded up are not enough for you, that’s okay.
If you’re shopping for a balance bike, consider the following features: compliance with safety guidelines, durability, adjustability, ease-of-use and assembly, maintenance, and safety features.
So long as you keep those things in mind, you’ll find the perfect balance bike for child.