What to know before buying a balance bike
Balance bikes teach our kids much more than how to ride a bicycle —they teach fundamentals that will make them stronger and go farther in school and hopefully in life. Many parents learned to ride a bicycle with training wheels. This is no longer the best way to teach children how to ride. Balance bikes allow toddlers to start riding earlier and teach young riders critical skills that will allow them to transition to a bike with pedals sooner and with more confidence and control.
Related: The Best Kids Bikes
There are two parts to learning to ride a bicycle: balancing and pedaling. Balance bikes don’t have any pedals, so kids only focus on one thing —balancing. Learning to balance right from the start makes the learning process a whole lot easier for them. Balance bikes also let kids use their feet to stop, steer, and turn around, giving them more control and the confidence to keep riding.
Balance isn’t the only useful thing your child will learn from one of these bikes. A balance bike design encourages kids to use their arms and lift their legs when moving forward. Pushing and riding a balance bike helps them build up their strength and fine-tune their motor skills, coordination, and agility.
The seat of a balance bike is a lot closer to the ground than on a regular bicycle. If your little one does fall, they won’t have far to go. Plus, a balance bike can only go as fast as your child can push, which means you won’t have to worry about any high-speed crashes.
The proverb “Fall down seven times, stand up eight” rings true, mostly when you’re falling over. When learning to use a balance bike, kids learn to get up and try again, eventually learning to not give up in the face of adversity and the pride of learning a new skill.
Best First Balance Bike for Toddlers (18 months to 2 y/o)
These bikes are best for the little ripper who is almost ready for a balance bike but is just learning to walk. These bikes double as walking and balance companions as much as they do a balance bike. For the most part, these rides will help your little one learn the bicycle’s raw feeling and the concept of a bicycle, turning the bars to move and learning it has to stay upright for maximum fun. These quality rides are great because you can use them for multiple children, thanks to their sturdy build.
Remember: even when riding the smallest balance bike, kiddos should wear a helmet. For our Best Kids Helmets, check here.
Strider 2-in-1 Rocker
Think of this as a rocking horse that transforms into a balance bike. The Strider Sport is a great toy for any kid’s room and fantastic for learning how to sit and steer a bicycle. The tires are foam, so you don’t have to worry about flat tires and the bicycle itself is very light, meaning the kiddos won’t have a hard time picking it up if they take a small tumble. The Strider Sport has a seat height range from 30-48 cm (11-19 in.), which means it fits children with an inseam of 30-51 cm (12-20 in.).
- Great for learning the fundamentals of bicycle handing
- Rocker is super nice for kids under 18 months
- Foam tires never go flat
- Foam tires eventually wear and require replacing
Meant to take a beating, while providing endless adventures – the GOMO balance bike goes the distance. Equipped with foam tires, a large padded saddle, and real grips – this ride is great for any little shredder. The GOMO comes in many colorways to match your child’s favorite color with bright nylon wheels to bring the whole ride together to be seen around the neighborhood. The GOMO is light, strong, and cool – plus the adjustable stem and seatpost will grow with them.
- Lots of colorways to match your kid’s personality
- Adjustable parts grow with them
- Large saddle to move around and fit many different styles
- Foam tires wear over time
- Replacement parts could be hard to find
- Grips wear and get sticky
MasterKidz Balance Wooden
Everyone loves these retro-styled wooden balance bikes—they are as much as a work of art as they are a functional toy. They are built from a wooden frame and plastic wheels with foam tires for durability. This little bike will help your child learn the bike basics while you have a great piece of art to have in their room until they are ready to ride. The steering is great for a child learning and the construction of the bike doesn’t allow the bars to jerk around – so the steering is mostly straight and forward. The sturdy construction in adorable retro color simply attracts your little one to take a ride. A perfect balance learning toy featuring an adjustable seat and a limited steering radius to prevent jackknifing.
- The retro look fits any children’s room and styling
- The adjustable padded seat helps sore bums
- Limited steering radius to prevent jackknifing.
- Not water play friendly
- Limited life span and should be limited to one child use
Yedo Tootoo Balance
The next steps for kids that are learning to balance and hit the streets. The TooToo features industry-standard cycling components like Tektro Brakes, Kenda tires, and twin bearing headsets. Make for a very uncompromising little bike for kids that can dish out the rides and takes their bike on every trip. There are no toys here, these are real bikes for tots.
- Pneumatic tires grip and offer real-life suspension
- Hand brakes teach lessons for their next bike up
- Real components make for easy repair and replacement parts when needed
- Heavier than most bikes in this range
- Limited availability (purchase when you can)
Best Balance Bike (2-4 y/o)
These are for the kids that are ready to take the next steps in riding, but that doesn’t mean this can’t be their first bike as well. Some kids don’t get a bike until they start walking and running. What separates these rides from the ones above is the height and adjusts they can accommodate, along with the studied frames and components designed for growing riders. If you have children, you know they can be rough on toys. With their bombproof construction and easy adjustability, these bikes will make it through the family, and you’ll be able to pass them on to another.
The Ridgeback Scoot is a bigger kids balance bike full of great features that will help your little rider to set off on their first two-wheeled adventures. Equipped with real industry cycling components and fast tread pneumatic tires, this ride is at home on the streets or trails. The hand brake will help your little one learning about stopping while keeping them engaged during the rides. The 14-inch wheels roll fast and are big enough to keep speed when they learn to glide and balance on their own. Thie bike is built to rock with all the trappings of a “real bike”
- Easily adjustable quill stem
- pneumatic tires are great for off-road exploration
- Handbrake teaches easily braking with no need for pedal brakes in the future
- Heavier than some similar bikes
- Quill stem needs to be adjusted after falls
The Woom 1 balance bike helps introduce children to the fun world of cycling. This balance bike is designed to enable toddlers to easily hop on and roll away. Even if a child has only just started to walk, the Woom 1 helps them to gain confidence and a sense of balance on two wheels. The cool design is appealing to any kiddo and the neat aesthetics will satisfy any design-savvy parent. No toys here either—this is a real ride with industry-standard component and Schwalbe G-One tires!
- Great design will make your child want to ride
- Real components make the upkeep and maintenance a breeze
- Woom family of bikes is full of smart upgrades
Starting early is the key to teaching your young ones the joys of bicycle life, and there’s no better way to do so than with Specialized Hotwalk. It’s for kids 18 months to 4 years old, and it’s designed for fewer crashes and more smiles to make learning to ride a bike as easy as can be. This ride is as real as it gets with a tough A1 premium aluminum frame that has a low standover – made to fit all sizes of little kids. 12-inch alloy wheels are not only light but durable enough to take plenty of abuse. Top it off with Specialized Rhythm Lite Airless tires will never go flat, allowing your little ripper to scoot around on and off-road worry-free.
- Great styling and many color options
- Airless tires will never need maintenance
- Bombproof construction is perfect for the kid that loves to ride
- Limited amount of stem height
Prevelo Alpha Zero
The Prevelo Alpha Zero 12-inch toddler balance bike is an exceptionally well thought out bike for children, ages 18 months and older. Specifically engineered for children, the Alpha Zero is a foolproof choice for parents who want to get their child excited about riding a bike by providing an easier and safer riding experience with its child-focused, award-winning geometry, lightweight all-aluminum construction, and low minimum seat height and step over.
- Great design will make your child want to ride
- Real components make the upkeep and maintenance a breeze
- Rear stem and steer allow for updated sizes
Ready to ride but still likes to Balance at times (5 +)
The bike right before peddling is the most challenging stage to get through, the “I like my balance bike” phase. These bikes give them the best of both worlds —a bike that fits them, and some you can transform into a bike with pedals and “boom” welcome to pedal bike land. These are the entry into a big kid bike and with that unlocks a whole new world of challenges. But don’t worry, these bikes are built to take wipe-outs in stride.
A true marvel of a balance bike, the Strider 14X allows the rider to balance when they want and when the time comes for pedals, you can install them with an 8mm key and you’re set to go. The pedals are very slim, so the balance bike is still in full effect, and if your child would like to balance and glide they can easily. The Strider 14X comes with a coaster brake and cog installed from the get-go with a slick cover to keep hands and pants safe from harm. It boasts an easily adjustable padded seat and stem that can take a beating. Real pneumatic tires round out this cool ride!
- A balance and pedal bike on one
- Slim pedals allow the bike child to choose when to pedal or glide
- Lots of colorways and bombproof construction
Commencal Ramones 14 Balance Bike
If they’re still just not ready for pedals, this bike fills the gap and will be the envy of all your mountain bike neighbors. The frame design leaves room for the calves so their little legs can push efficiently. The foot platform has also grown to accommodate growing feet. The kids have adult-looking graphics (team replica colors with unique fork decals), and parts are made for kids, like the cockpit controls with narrower bars for small hands. Skateboard grip is used on the foot surface, and there are fat 14-inch tires for extra traction with the ground. Finally, the RAMONES 14 comes disc brake ready when they start going too fast or the 14-inch bike is available, complete with brakes and pedals already.
- Fat tires are fun in the dry and snow
- Beautiful design and attention to riding detail
- Disc brake ready!
For big kids that are learning to ride and want to glide – this is a full 16″ tire bike ready to roll all without the pedals. The beefy construction can accommodate bigger kiddos and the seat/stem can grow with them all the way till their ready for the pedal bike.
- Built tough for bigger kids
- Easily adjustable on the seatpost and stem
- Replacement parts readily available
- No option for pedaling attachment
- No option for foot placement when gliding
Woom 2 pedals
The Woom 2 makes it easy for kids aged three years and older to switch from a balance bike to a pedal bike without using counterintuitive training wheels. In no time at all, kids intuitively learn the skills they need to ride: pushing the pedals, resting their feet, and balancing. The Woom 2 features comfy riser – BMX style bars that put the child into a comfortable upright position so they can see the road and features ahead. The Woom 2 comes with slightly knobbly tires to encourage trail riding but won’t slow them down on the road chasing their friends. Oversized pedals and chain guard make it easy for them to find the pedals from a gliding position – and the chain guard keeps little fingers free of grease and cuts. A perfect bike for the precocious mini-shredder!
- Great design and craftsmanship
- Real-life industry components make for easy maintenance
- Oversized pedals are easy to find when making the transition from balancing
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