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Best Balance Bikes
Updated on
January 4, 2024

Best Balance Bikes

By Babylist Team
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Best Balance Bikes.
Best Balance Bikes

Do you remember learning to ride a bike with training wheels, then feeling terrified when it was time to say goodbye? Thanks to the balance bike, your toddler is getting a leg up (quite literally) when it comes to mastering two-wheel bike riding.

A quick search of the best balance bike yields hundreds of results. We’re walking you through the ins and outs of choosing a balance bike for your toddler, including how a balance bike works, what age is best for a balance bike, how to measure your child correctly, are balance bikes worth it and more.

What Is a Balance Bike?

A balance bike is similar to a standard two-wheel bike minus one main feature: pedals. Unlike traditional bikes, balance bikes also lack a chain and brakes. Balance bikes are also lighter and easier to navigate than traditional pedal bikes.

How Does a Balance Bike Work?

Balance bikes are powered by the rider’s feet. Instead of pushing the pedals to move the wheels like on a traditional bike, a rider uses their own two feet to push off the ground in a running motion to get (and keep) a balance bike in motion.

Balance bikes are designed to help little ones develop balance through an intuitive process of first walking while sitting over the saddle and then scooting, running, and gliding with lifted feet—no parental assistance required!

Are Balance Bikes Worth It?

Like lots of parenting decisions, there’s no right or wrong way to introduce your little one to biking. Lots of kids have successfully learned to ride a bike using both traditional bikes and balance bikes. Many biking experts do tend to favor balance bikes, for a few reasons.

According to USA Cycling, some benefits of choosing a balance bike include:

  • Accessibility. Balance bikes are lower to the ground than pedal bikes and therefore more accessible to younger children.
  • Maneuverability. Balance bikes weigh much less than pedal bikes, making them easier to ride, steer and maneuver. Balance bikes also teach kids to lean into turns and are easier to maneuver on rough terrains like dirt and gravel.
  • Balance. The process of learning to ride a balance bike works with kids’ general intuition around balance and movement. Balance bikes help your child learn to progress from sitting and scooting with their feet on the ground to eventually balancing and gliding with lifted feet, a process that’s tough to imitate on a traditional pedal bike.

What Age Is Best for a Balance Bike?

Balance bikes come in a wide range of sizes, from bikes for young toddlers to kids up to about five years old. According to Two Wheeling Tots, a parent-run bike review website for kids and families, it’s important to properly fit your little one for a balance bike to ensure success.

A balance bike’s wheel size isn’t a great indication of the bike’s size. Instead, measure your child’s inseam so you’ll know the correct seat height when you’re shopping for a balance bike. The seat should be 0.5”-1” less than your child’s inseam.

What Are the Best Balance Bikes?

Features like price, weight, tires, and frame material are a few of the features to consider when shopping for a balance bike for your toddler or older child. Here’s what to look for:

  • Weight. A lighter bike is easier to maneuver than a heavier bike, especially for a younger child who’s likely not all that strong. A good rule of thumb: a bike should not weigh more than 30% of your child’s weight.
  • Cost. More expensive balance bikes often have higher-end features like lighter frames and better maneuverability.
  • Tires. Foam tires are the most common type of balance bike tires and are lightweight and will never go flat. If your child plans to ride on rougher terrain, consider air tires; they’ll absorb more bumps and provide better traction.
  • Fit. Look for a balance bike with plenty of room between the seat and the handlebars, so your child’s legs aren’t scrunched up when they’re on the move. Their feet should be able to easily reach and push off the ground, and the seat should be low and close to the rear tire for easier balancing. (A poorly designed high seat can throw off your child’s center of gravity.) A balance bike with an adjustable seat will grow with your child and last longer than a non-adjustable option.
  • Handlebars and brakes. Look for a balance bike with grippy handlebars and bumpers to protect your child’s hands in case of a fall. Handbrakes are optional on a balance bike, but recommended by most experts; just be sure they’re small and easy enough for your child to grip and engage.
  • Frame. Most balance bikes are made of metal like steel or aluminum, but some are also available in wood. Steel is more affordable than aluminum, but also much heavier, while wood is eco-friendly but often less adjustable.

Babylist’s Best Balance Bikes

Best Balance Bike for Young Toddlers

What Our Experts Say

Created by a dad trying to think up a way to share his passion for biking with his young son, Strider is a popular name in the balance bike world—for good reason. Their balance bikes are well-made, well-priced and perfect for beginning riders. The Sport 12 is an ideal first balance bike for riders of all different sizes. Notable features include an adjustable seat and handlebar, a lightweight frame and never-flat tires. There’s also a built-in footrest.

What’s Worth Considering

Foam tires are lightweight but don’t have the best traction on rough or uneven terrains like gravel, dirt or grass.

Additional Specs
Age Range 18 mos to 5 years, up to 27 lbs
Bike Weight 6.7 lbs
Seat Height 11-19”; fits children with an inseam of 12-20”

Best Balance Bike for Any Terrain

What Our Experts Say

In the market for a higher-end balance bike that’s just as well-suited for younger toddlers as it is for older kids? Look no further than the woom 1. Although pricy, balance bike lovers have nothing but amazing things to say about this beautifully (and smartly) designed bike. Customers rave about the bike’s geometry and fit, two important factors that can greatly affect how your child learns to balance and ride. The woom boasts a lightweight aluminum frame, 12” air-filled tires that can handle any surface and an ergonomic seat and handlebars. You’ll also get a rear brake, a feature many bike experts recommend, and something called a steering limiter that prevents your tiny rider from turning too hard.

What’s Worth Considering

As of July 2023, a voluntary recall was issued for WOOM Original bikes from model years 2018-2021 with a one-bolt stem clamp design. The stem and handlebar on the bikes can detach and cause riders to lose control, posing a fall hazard. Affected bicycles are woom ORIGINAL bikes in sizes 1, 1 PLUS, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and can be identified by their one-bolt stem clamp design, using a single silver bolt. Please stop using your bike and follow the required steps outlined here to order your free Stem Safety Kit with the items you’ll need to service your stem.

The max seat height on the woom 1 is on the lower end at 14”. It’s also the most expensive balance bike on our list, and it’s often out of stock, so if you have your eye on one, you’ll want to check in often.

Additional Specs
Age Range 1.5-3.5 years, up to 110 lbs
Bike Weight 6.6 lbs
Seat Height 10-14”; fits children with an inseam of 11-15”

Best Affordable Balance Bike

What Our Experts Say

We’ll take an excuse to relive our nostalgic banana bike days. The perfect upgrade to one of the most fun retro bikes ever invented, this version combines the original banana-shaped frame with a modern balance bike design, all at a very budget-friendly price. The weight (just over six pounds), general fit and adjustable seat are all things you’d usually find on much more expensive balance bikes. There are also soft, grippy handlebars and an ergonomic, padded seat.

What’s Worth Considering

There are no brakes on this bike. If you want to upgrade to air tires, check out the Banana GT model.

Additional Specs
Age Range 2-5 years, up to 55 lbs
Bike Weight 6.4 lbs
Seat Height 12.2-15.7”; fits children with an inseam of 13-17”

Another Affordable Option

What Our Experts Say

More than just fun to say (and fun to look at!), the Chillafish BMXie2 packs a lot of balance bike into an awesomely affordable price. For well under $100 you’ll get a balance bike with an adjustable seat, an integrated footbrake and footrest and something called a Rubberskin tire—a hybrid tire that combines the convenience of a never-flat tire with the suspension and tread of a rubber tire). The bike comes in lots of different color combos, always a toddler selling point, and even has a customizable front panel for stickers.

What’s Worth Considering

While the integrated footbrake is unique, it can be a bit confusing for young riders since it’s located on the footrest. There’s no handbrake and the seat height is limited to three settings. This balance bike is also on the heavier side, weighing in at almost 10 pounds.

Looking for yet another budget-friendly balance bike pick? Check out the GOMO Balance Bike.

Additional Specs
Age Range 2-5 years, up to 77 lbs
Bike Weight 9.6 lbs
Seat Height 12.6-15.3”; fits children with an inseam of 13-16”

Best Balance Bike for Older Toddlers

What Our Experts Say

Guardian’s balance bike offers many of the high-end features that you’ll find on more expensive balance bikes: handbrakes, an aluminum frame, an adjustable seat and handlebars, a steering limiter and air-filled tires. There’s also a tall maximum seat height, making it a good choice for older toddlers. (It’s a great choice for a younger toddler, too, as they can grow along with it.) Guardian bikes are made in the US and are easy to assemble, and riders rave about the quick, easy setup and stellar customer support.

What’s Worth Considering

This balance bike is on the more expensive side. Fun fact: The brand made an appearance on Shark Tank!

Additional Specs
Age Range 1.5-4 years, up to 27 lbs
Bike Weight 8.5 lbs
Seat Height 12.5-16”; fits children with an inseam of 13.517”

Lightest Balance Bike

What Our Experts Say

Easy to ride and easy to carry—even for the youngest riders—Bixe weighs only four pounds thanks to its aluminum frame and foam tires, making it the lightest balance bike on our list by far. This makes the bike a big hit with little riders, especially the toddler set who are just beginning to ride and may be intimidated by a big, bulky ride. The Bixe also boasts an adjustable seat and handlebar and a footrest for balance. It comes partially assembled.

What’s Worth Considering

Bixe also makes a 16” version of this lightweight balance bike, perfect for older and bigger riders who may be struggling to ride on two wheels.

Additional Specs
Age Range 2-5 years, up to 85 lbs
Bike Weight 4 lbs
Seat Height 11-17”; fits children with an inseam of 12-18”
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