7 Best Balance Bikes for Toddlers

Best Balance Bikes of 2019

September 9, 2019

Best Balance Bikes of 2019

Balance bikes build confidence, independence, and coordination—an awesome trifecta. Many biking experts recommend skipping tricycles and training wheels altogether and starting here instead.Best Balance Bikes of 2019

Do you remember learning to ride a bike with training wheels, and then feeling terrified when it was time to say goodbye? Couldn’t your parents hold the back of the banana seat while steering you down the block just a little bit longer?

Thanks to the balance bike, today’s generation is getting a leg up (quite literally) when it comes to mastering two-wheel bike riding.

What’s a Balance Bike?

A balance bike is pretty similar to a standard bike minus one main feature: pedals. This small two-wheeler sans pedals is much lighter and easier to navigate than a traditional pedal bike. Balance bikes are designed to help little ones develop balance through an intuitive process of first walking while sitting over the saddle, then scooting, running, and gliding with feet lifted (no parental assistance required!).

Balance bikes build confidence, independence, and coordination—an awesome trifecta. Many biking experts actually recommend skipping tricycles and training wheels altogether and starting here instead. Not only are balance bikes safe to ride on all sorts of outdoor surfaces, but they’re so much fun… just ask any kid that zips by you on one at the park.

How Do I Know Which Balance Bike to Buy?

Balance bikes come in a range of sizes (for kids 18 months to 5 years) and budgets (from $50-$200+). The higher-end models have more features, top-notch components and better maneuverability. You’ll want one with an adjustable seat that grows with your child and lasts several years. The earlier you start your tot on a balance bike, the longer they’ll ride it. In most cases, a toddler will ride a balance bike for 2-3 years and switch to a pedal bike when they’re 4 or 5.

What to Look For When Choosing a Balance Bike:

  • Make sure there is plenty of room between the seat and handlebars, so your child’s legs aren’t scrunched up when they’re on the move.
  • Your child’s feet should be able to easily reach and push off the ground (especially important for the running stage as well as stopping).
  • 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.
  • Some balance bikes have hand brakes that preschoolers are coordinated enough to use, but most riders just rely on their feet to stop. (Sorry, shoes.)
  • Handlebars should have rubber grips and bumpers to protect your child’s hands should they steer into something or fall.
  • The tire size on smaller balance bikes should be 12”.
  • The heavier the bike, the harder it will be for little ones to maneuver. A good rule of thumb: a bike should not weigh more than 30% of your child’s weight.

Fan Favorite

Why We Love It

At just around a hundred bucks, the Strider Sport is a popular, well-made balance bike for riders as young as 18 months. It’s one of the smallest and lightest on the market, weighing in at under 7 pounds, helping newbies hit the road with ease. The seat and handlebars are both adjustable to accomodate kids up to 5 years old (12-20 inch inseam), and there are no tools required for assembly or for adjustments. The Sport also features never-flat tires and a handlebar pad, along with built-in footrests perfect for long glides.

Keep in Mind

Confused trying to figure out which bike is the best fit for your little one? Check out Strider’s easy-to-follow inseam guide.

Top-Notch Two-Wheeler

Why We Love It

The amazing features of the WOOM 1 combine to create a smooth ride with exceptional performance… so get ready to be wowed by your toddler. From the low seat/step-through to the long wheelbase, it’s thoughtfully designed so the littlest riders can quickly find their center of gravity (and groove!) on two wheels. Other notable features include the removable steering limiter, brakes that are easy for small hands to master, and wheels with alloy rims and rust-free spokes.

Keep in Mind

This is a great starter bike for toddlers and younger preschoolers. When kids learn balance early on a WOOM 1, they’ll be ready to pedal at at a very early age on the WOOM 2.

Best on a Budget

Why We Love It

The Radio Flyer is an inexpensive choice that brings big-time fun. While the components don’t stack up to those on higher end bikes (and don’t handle wear and tear as well), it rides smoothly on pavement and is easy for kids to maneuver. The steel frame is lightweight, the cushion is comfortable and the seat adjusts to grow with your kiddo up to age 5.

Keep in Mind

The Radio Flyer comes with a real ringing bell…fun for your kiddo, but maybe not so much for everyone else?

Retro Fun

Why We Love It

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 new version combines the original banana-shaped frame with a modern balance bike design. Weighing in at just over 6 pounds, this bike works for little ones from ages 2 through about 5. There’s an extra-comfy (and adjustable) seat and soft, grippy handlebars, as well as puncture-proof wheels.

Keep in Mind

Users rave about the kid-friendly design and the affordable price point

The Transformer

Why We Love It

Can’t make up your mind over a balance bike or a trike? Have them both with the Bunzi. This adorable three-wheeler converts into a two-wheeler (without tools) when your tot is ready. It’s the most gradual way to get the hang of a balance bike. The wheels are designed for use inside, too. Parents appreciate the incorporated handle when they need to carry it from room to room.

Keep in Mind

The Bunzi will definitely help your toddler develop balance and coordination on wheels, but it’s more of a ride-on toy than a true balance bike.

Ultra Light

Why We Love It

Easy to ride and easy to carry—even for the youngest riders—Bixe weighs only 4 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 comes partially assembled.

Keep in Mind

Looking for a balance bike for older, bigger riders? Check out the Bixe 16” Pro Balance Bike.

Wooden Wonder

Why We Love It

This frame of this wooden balance bike is made from 100% birch wood, giving it a classic feel alongside a modern design. Although it’s all about simplicity, there’s an adjustable, padded seat, solid rubber handgrips and air-filled tires. This is a great pick for eco-conscious families.

Keep in Mind

A wooden balance bike shows more wear and tear than those made of materials like aluminum alloy and steel. It’s more prone to scratching, warping and rotting from the elements. So, avoid leaving it outside when not in use.

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