If you are in a hurry and need to know which balance bike for kids is the best option, we can recommend the Woom 1 Balance Bike 12”, Ages 18 Months to 3.5 Year.
It’s essential for children to develop a good sense of balance, and balance bikes are an excellent tool for this. In addition, balance bikes have significant benefits over using tricycles or training wheels in the process towards riding an actual bicycle.
Balance bikes are exactly what the name suggests: two-wheeled bikes without pedals that teach toddlers how to balance. It only takes a brief learning period to get the hang of it, it’s light and easy and most importantly, it makes learning how to ride a bike all the easier.
Here is our top picklist for the best balance bikes for kids of this year:
Benefits of Balance Bikes for Kids
Let’s be fair, tricycles are cute, but they don’t provide the learning curve when it comes to balance. The balance is already provided by having two rear wheels, and your child needs to pedal to get moving. They’re less easy to steer and maneuver with.
Training wheels often aren’t balanced evenly, causing your child to rock left and right while mastering the art of pedaling, plus the training wheels can get stuck. And then the dreaded moment comes when the training wheels need to come off. It’s just as nerve-wracking for parents as it is for the kids.
Balance bikes, however:
- Are easy to use—just focus on balance as no pedaling is involved yet.
- Build coordination and strength by learning to use arms and lifting legs.
- Ride safely and easily over uneven surfaces without getting stuck.
- Are safer to ride, as they’re low to the ground.
- Introduce exercise in a fun way.
- Are convenient for parents, compact, and lightweight.
The biggest benefit is that, after mastering the skills of the balance bike, children can easily transition to a regular bike, without ever needing training wheels. You will be a proud parent when they switch to regular pedal bikes without issues. Watch all the other parents running behind their kids, holding the seat and letting go, in fear of what will happen next.
What Age Is Best for Balance Bikes?
This depends on the nature and character of your child, how confident and how adventurous they are. In general, it can be said that toddlers from the age of 18–22 months can start riding a balance bike. Kids up to five years old usually enjoy them, though the average age to transition to a pedal bike is around four years old.
There is no maximum age limit, though. Balance bikes are even available for adults. Of course, the size of the bike is important, as the fit needs to be good for proper balance and usage. A balance bike for toddlers will surely cause issues when used by a five-year-old.
Most Important Features to Consider When Selecting a Best Balance Bike for Kids
A general rule of thumb is that your child can fit a balance bike if the minimum height of the seat is 1 to 1.5 inches less than their inseam. This ensures they will be able to safely put their feet on the ground. At the same time, it will allow for comfortable rides where they don’t need to pull up their legs too far (like when the bike is too small).
The most common wheel size is 12 inches, where 14 inches are normally seen on balance bikes for older or taller children. Children with special needs or older children who don’t feel confident enough to ride a pedal bike can be seen using larger balance bikes with 16-inch wheels.
The general rule states that the weight of the bike should not exceed 30 percent of your child’s weight, as it will limit their capability of maneuvering easily. The frame and wheels make up for the largest part of the overall weight.
Foam tires are much lighter than air tires, which is why balance bikes that are labeled lightweight usually come with foam tires.
Design and Configuration
A good balance bike will have a design and configuration that assists your child in riding it, as opposed to limiting it. Frame design and wheelbase are the most important things to look for, followed by the handlebar shape and size. Last but not least, the angle of the fork and the position of the seat in relation to the wheels play a part when selecting your perfect balance bike.
A longer wheelbase provides for more stability. The wheelbase is the distance measured between where the front and back wheels touch the ground.
In combination with the wheelbase, this feature has a large effect on maneuverability. The more the fork is positioned at an angle, the more your child is positioned to the back of the bike, the greater maneuverability. A more upright fork will put your child’s weight towards the front, adding pressure, reducing the ease with which he or she can steer.
The best position for the seat leaves only a small space between the rear wheel and the seat when in its lowest position. Positioning the seat low on the frame helps to balance the bike easier when at low speed.
First, having enough space between the seat and the handlebars is important, because your little one needs space to lean into the handlebars when moving. The best balance bikes for kids have straight handlebars or only a small curve. Balance bikes with handlebars in a curve towards your child leave less space to lean.
There are two main types of tires: air and foam. The type of tire chosen plays an essential role in the comfort level and performance of the bike.
Foam tires are lightweight, cheap to make, and will never go flat. If your child will usually use the bike in a neighborhood with tarmac, there won’t be a problem having foam tires.
Air tires are more comfortable when it comes to shock absorption and they provide more traction. They can even come in all-terrain varieties with more profiles. They are also easily replaceable, whereas foam tires aren’t.
As one of the features of balance bikes is that children can easily reach the ground and will therefore mainly use their feet to stop, having a brake is not mandatory. We do, however, recommend opting for a balance bike that has a hand brake; as an extra safety measure, to save wear and tear on shoes and to prepare them for actual bikes later.
Brakes come in short-reach versions as well as standard versions. Short-reach versions are easier to reach and handle by a smaller child.
Precautions and Safety Tips When Using Balance Bikes
- Always have your child wear at least a safety helmet, elbow and knee protection can be optional.
- Teach them how to respond when told to stop (feet/brake).
- Do not encourage younger children to use the hand brake; they may use too much force.
- Do not convert a regular pedal bike into a balance bike; they are considerably heavier and have a different center-of-gravity.
How to Teach Your Kids to Ride a Balance Bike Safety?
Here is a video to show you how:
The Best Balance Bikes for Kids Reviews
1. Woom 1 Balance Bike 12” – Best Overall Balance Bike for Kids
The first impression of the Woom 1 is a funky look and an ergonomic proper design. It features 12-inch wheels, the wheelbase is long, and the frame has the perfect shape for a balance bike for toddlers. The seat has nice padding and shape to sit comfortably, and has the correct position, being close to the rear wheel.
The handlebars have a small curve, but are almost straight—not bent towards the driver—which allows enough space for your child to lean into the handlebars. A hand brake is situated on the handlebar, so you can prepare your child for the transition to an actual pedal bike more easily.
An extra feature is a removable steering limiter that prevents the front wheel from turning full circle, helps promote steering straight, and limits swerving. The seat is easily adjustable in height. A solid but lightweight aluminum frame and air-filled tires combine the best of both worlds for both parents and children.
- Both solid and lightweight.
- Long wheelbase.
- Pneumatic tires.
- Hand brake.
- Steering limiter.
- Fairly high priced.
2. Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike No Pedal Bicycle – Best Balance Bikes for 4 Years Old
The Retrospec Cub comes at a very affordable rate. Due to the frame being low to the ground, children can step through rather than swinging their leg over the seat to get on. The wheelbase is relatively long, which allows for proper positioning of your child.
Both the seat and handlebars are adjustable, which allows the balance bike to grow with your little one. It’s suitable from around 20 months to five years.
This model has solid foam tires that never go flat. This means low maintenance and yet enough profile to also take on different terrains.
The bike is rather basic with no extras like a hand brake or steering limiter; however, it features a small platform where your kid can rest their feet on when coasting.
Whether it’s the tires or the construction of the bike, steering and coasting doesn’t seem as easy or smooth as other balance bikes we’ve seen.
- Step through.
- Adjustable seat and handlebars to grow with your child.
- Platform to rest feet when coasting.
- Good price.
- No hand brake.
- Less smooth steering and coasting, more pushing.
3. Strider – 12 Sport Balance Bike – Best Balance Bikes for 3 Years Old
The well-known Strider balance bike is lightweight, weighing less than 7 pounds. This is convenient for parents to transport it around and allows your child to ride and coast easily.
It’s suitable for children aged 18 months to 5 years and comes in a range of fun colors. The fork is at quite a steep angle, allowing your child to lean into the handlebars.
Both the seat and handlebars are adjustable without needing tools. The seat height can range from 12 to 20 inches in height, making it suitable for the younger generation and allows it to grow with your child until ready for the next step.
The handlebars come with a cool BMX-looking padding, which also serves as a protection in case your little one needs to make unexpected stops. Foam tires and a solid frame promise a low maintenance balance bike.
- Adjustable seat and handlebars.
- Protective padding on handlebars.
- Built-in footrests.
- No extras like handbrake.
- Assembly can be tricky.
4. Banana Bike LT – Lightweight Balance Bike – Best Balance Bikes for 2 Years Old
This balance bike must have chosen its name to suit the style of the frame. The Banana Bike LT features a very simple-looking frame construction in the shape of a banana with only the necessary assembly points, giving it a very lightweight look. The bike only weighs 6.4 pounds, making it suitable for toddlers.
With no limiter on the steering, it’s possible the bike can swerve too far to one side. The handlebars have cushioned ends with extra-safe grips and have a straight shape, allowing enough space to lean. A step-through design makes for an easy-to-get-on starter bike. The Banana has foam tires.
A convenient quick-release mechanism allows the comfortable seat to be adjusted to 3.5 inches higher than the minimum at 12.2 inches. The handlebars can’t be adjusted but seem to have a good average height to accommodate growing children, too.
- Extra grip handlebars.
- Quick-release seat adjustment.
- Easy to use.
- No steering limiter.
- Handlebars aren’t adjustable.
5. Radio Flyer All-Terrain Balance Bike – Best All-Terrain Balance Bike for Kids
The Radio Flyer looks a bit more like a regular pedal bike, due to the construction of the frame. The middle part is considerably higher than most balance bikes, which means your child needs to swing his leg over the seat to get on.
The seat can go down all the way to the frame though, leaving only a small gap between the seat and rear wheel. The seat has a quick-release mechanism to adjust the seat height, as well as a well-ribbed seat bar to prevent it sliding down.
The handlebars are quite curvy, adding to the feel of an actual pedal bike. They’re not bent towards the driver though, so still allow ample space between the seat and handlebars. Soft-touch grips make for comfort and extra grip.
It has a sturdy, relatively lightweight steel frame and surprisingly has 12-inch rubber air-filled tires for all terrains. For this price you can’t have everything though, the rims of the wheels are made of plastic and the tires need regular refills.
The Radio Flyer comes with an extra feature in the form of a bell to warn unsuspecting others that your little one is coming. Though cute, it doesn’t substitute for the lack of a hand brake.
- Cool look.
- Well-ribbed seat bar on the adjustable seat.
- Sturdy frame.
- Rubber air-filled tires.
- Ringing bell.
- Leg needs to be swung over the seat.
- Plastic rims.
- Tires need regular air refills.
6. Ancaixin Baby Balance Bike – Best Balance Bikes for Toddlers
This balance bike is suitable for the youngest munchkins aged 10–24 months who are learning to walk or developing balance. Instead of two wheels, it features four—two on either side of the frame, assisting in extra supported balance.
It has a sturdy steel frame and a comfortably large, padded seat that is fixed to the frame and cannot be adjusted. The handlebars allow steering to a maximum 135-degree angle, limiting the steering range to prevent falling sideways. This doesn’t always work as children have fallen sideways or even over the front using it.
A sturdy and straight handlebar with grips allows baby to firmly hold on. The design doesn’t allow for a step through, so assistance may be needed to get on and off the bike safely.
The wheels have a rubber coating, which guarantees no noise when baby is riding. Walking moves, however, can cause baby’s feet to get under the rear wheels, which may be an overlooked design flaw.
- Nice beginner bike towards a larger balance bike.
- Large comfortable seat.
- Four wheels for extra balance.
- Use it indoors and out.
- Not as stable as it promises to be.
- Rather small for the maximum age given.
7. Bixe 16″ Pro Balance Bike for Big Kids – Best Balance Bike for Older Kids or Special Needs
The Bixe balance bike is designed specifically for kids between 5 and 9 years old with large 16-inch tires. It comes at an affordable price and the first impression is a sturdy and proper frame design and configuration.
Children can get on and off either stepping through or swinging their leg over the seat. The wheelbase is long, and the angle of the fork allows for ample space to maneuver. The handlebars have safety grips and are adjustable in height, as well as the seat.
Full rubber air-filled tires with a good profile allow for proper traction. The bike features small rubber strips on the frame on either side of the rear wheel to rest feet on when coasting. The angle of this part of the frame might be a bit too high to reach for some, though.
The seat of this bike is very firm, which can be uncomfortable, especially when going over bumps or rough terrains.
- Suitable for older kids or children with special needs.
- Air-filled tires.
- Rubber strips for resting feet.
- Sturdy frame.
- Built-in footrests.
- Very firm seat.
- The adjustments mechanisms aren’t quick-release.
8. TheCroco Aluminum Lightweight Balance Bike – Best Lightweight Balance Bike for Kids
The frame of TheCroco is made of lightweight aluminum and weighs only 4 pounds—this can definitely be called a lightweight balance bike. The frame also provides a space next to the rear wheels to rest feet on, with rubber strips to prevent them from sliding off.
Both the handlebar and seat can be adjusted in height using a convenient quick-release mechanism. Whether due to a lack of rims on the seat and handlebar connection bars or to a quick-release mechanism that isn’t tight enough, it’s possible that either one doesn’t fully lock into place and slides a bit.
This balance bike has a bit of a shorter wheelbase, which makes the space between the seat and handlebars somewhat tighter. Your child needs to get on and come off swinging their leg over the seat, as the frame is too high to step through.
It has foam wheels with an extra seal for more durability.
- Quick-release seat and handlebar adjustment.
- Bike size and adjustment range may not grow with child long enough.
- Seat or handlebars may slide back after adjustments.
9. Schwinn Balance Bike, 12″ Wheels – Best Retro Balance Bike for Kids
This balance bike looks a bit like a mini BMX. A sturdy steel frame combined with extra-wide rubber air-filled tires on wide rims makes it feel like a little cross bike. It has a proper wheelbase and fork angle to allow enough space for the driver to maneuver easily.
The soft, comfortable seat can be adjusted with a quick-release mechanism, which allows it to grow with your toddler when learning how to balance. The bottom of the seat is made of plastic, which makes durability questionable. Though the handlebars are fixed, they have a good average height to still be functional when toddler grows.
The bike has quite a large area on the frame to rest feet on, which can help when coasting or going downhill. Rubber grips on the handlebar ends add to safety and comfort.
- Nice look and lots of colors.
- Large wheels with wide rubber air-filled tires.
- Quick-release adjustable seat.
- Poor material used for seat.
- Fixed handlebars.
10. Chillafish Bunzi: 2-in-1 Gradual Balance Bike & Tricycle – Best Gradual Balance Bike for Babies
This bike holds the middle between a balance bike and a tricycle, as you can choose to have two or three wheels without needing tools. The seat also grows with your child; it is 8.7 inches when in the tricycle mode and 9.8 inches when in the two-wheel mode.
Though that may sound adjustable, it’s more based on the order of which your child will be using first three and then two wheels, combined with their growth. At the speed at which most children grow, it’s doubtful you’ll be using it too long.
The entire bike is made of lightweight ABS material, but it gives it a bit of a cheap feel and look. This balance bike is meant for younger children and can be a nice first step towards an actual balance bike.
- Nice option as a first training balance bike.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Seven fun designs to choose from.
- Entirely made of plastic.
- Small design, short duration of usage.
Strike a Balance
In my opinion, the Woom 1 Balance Bike 12” is the best balance bike around, as it ticks all the boxes when it comes to safety, comfort, and easy practice. The Woom doesn’t only look great; it has the proper frame, fork angle, wheelbase, and tires to make for a great quality balance bike.
In addition to that, it has extra features like a hand brake for safety and to assist in the transition to a pedal bike, and a removable steering limiter to prevent oversteering.
Of course, personal needs or the amount of time you estimate your child using it may cause you to make different choices. Happy riding!