A balance bike, also known as a running bike, is a bicycle with no pedals. It’s intended for small children, ranging from toddlers to preschoolers. If you’re teaching your kid how to ride, try for a balance bike; recently, they’ve become more popular than your standard bicycle equipped with training wheels.
There are many balance bikes on the market, so it may be difficult to select one. Some are from recognizable brands, such as Strider, Woom, and Radio Flyer; they have varying weights, and some have extra features such as handbrakes and kickstands. This list can help you decide on the right balance bike for your child.
How to Choose a Balance Bike – Buying Guide
First, let’s go over what to look for when choosing a balance bike for your child. There are many factors to consider, such as the weight of the balance bike, age of the child, and importance of brakes.
Make Sure the Balance Bike is Age- and Height-Appropriate
One of the first things you should consider when choosing a balance bike is your child’s age and height. Many children are capable of riding a balance bike starting around 18 months old. However, children grow at different speeds and their heights may be different, even though they’re the same age.
Your child must be able to stand with his or her feet firmly on the ground while straddling the balance bike. Since some balance bikes don’t have a handbrake, it’s important that your child can stop by simply putting his or her feet on the ground. Also, make sure to adjust the handlebars and saddle on your child’s bike so it matches his or her height.
Is Having a Handbrake Important?
Some balance bikes don’t have a handbrake, so are they even necessary? The answer is no. From an adult’s perspective, having handbrakes is standard for bicycles, but for young children who are still learning how to ride, it’s easier to just put his or her feet on the ground.
Furthermore, handbrakes tend to be hard to squeeze and too large to grasp with tiny hands. It’s easier if they just stick to the handlebars.
However, handbrakes are useful for older children who will soon transition to a standard pedal bicycle. Once again, consider the age of the child when making your decision.
A Lightweight Bike is Easier for the Child to Manage
Having a lightweight bike is convenient for parents who may have to carry it to the park, or to the car to ship it somewhere else. More importantly, a balance bike has to be lightweight enough for the child to lift by him or herself if they tip over, or walk with it across the street.
Furthermore, a lightweight balance bike is easier to control, so your kid can have a smoother ride.
Having a Kickstand or Stationary Stand is Convenient
If your home doesn’t have proper storage or a place on which to lean the balance bike, a kickstand or freestanding bike stand (sold separately) can come in handy. You’d be able to park it wherever you want and not worry about it falling over. Some balance bikes come with a kickstand, while others have a kickstand that can be purchased separately.
Consider a Balance Bike with Optional Pedals
Since your child will eventually graduate to a standard pedal bike, it makes sense to purchase a balance bike that can transform into a pedal bike. That way, you don’t have to buy a second bike, saving you money, and your kid’ll transition easily, as he or she gets to use the same bike he or she has had all along.
However, you must still keep in mind the child’s height and weight; if he or she has outgrown his or her balance bike, then it’s time to move on to a larger pedal bike.
Top 10 Best Balance Bikes to Buy Online
Here is our list of the top 10 recommended balance bikes. We’ve looked at factors such as price, ease of use, and intended age range.
10. ZUM CX Wooden Balance Bike
A Unique Look for a Low Price
Although many balance bikes are made of aluminum like standard pedal bikes, some are made of wood. Wooden balance bikes are very eye-catching, since they’ve got the novelty of rarity. Be aware, though, that wooden bikes are weak to rain, so if you don’t have indoor storage, it’s best to go with a bike with an aluminium frame.
The ZUM CX is particularly appealing to parents because the frame can be reversed depending on the child’s height. This means that this balance bike will adjust to the child’s height as he or she grows taller.
9. Cruzee UltraLite Balance Bike
Super Light Balance Bike for Easy Maneuvering
Having a lightweight balance bike is important for several reasons. The Cruzee UltraLite Balance claims to be the lightest out of all balance bikes on the market, at 4.4 pounds. This means that even the youngest riders will have little problem maneuvering on it, or picking it up if it tips over.
This balance bike also comes in a whopping nine different colors that include purple, green, pink, black, and silver. The price is midrange, which may not appeal to some parents. However, considering that it’s extremely lightweight, this balance bike is worth the price.
8. WOOM 1 Balance Bike
Safety First! Equipped with a Handbrake Specifically Designed for Small Hands
Unlike some balance bikes that are simplified to suit new riders, the WOOM 1 is more similar to a standard pedal bike, featuring both handbrakes and air tires. Although handbrakes are not usually recommended for very young riders, the WOOM 1’s handbrakes are custom-made for small hands. Furthermore, air tires are better than foam or plastic tires because they offer a smoother ride.
Parents may balk at the cost of the WOOM 1, but keep in mind that this is a high-quality balance bike specially designed to help children maintain their balance while riding. It’ll also last for a few years (18 months-3.5 years old) before your child outgrows it.
7. Scoot Ridgeback Balance Bike
An Ideal Crossover Between a Balance Bike and Pedal Bike
The Scoot Ridgeback is in the same price range as the WOOM 1 because of its high quality and design, compared to cheaper balance bikes you can find at brick-and-mortar stores. The Scoot Ridgeback also has a handbrake and air tires, so it’s similar to a standard pedal bike.
However, unlike the WOOM 1, the Scoot Ridgeback is for kids ages 3-6. This means that it’s an ideal bike for older children who’ve outgrown their small balance bikes, but aren’t quite ready to make the transition to a pedal bike.
6. Strider 14X Balance-to-Pedal Bike
A Transitional Bike from the Biggest Name in Balance Bikes
Strider is one of the most recognizable brands in the world of balance bikes, and they’ve recently welcomed a new model to their line. The 14X is a balance bike that can be converted into a full-on pedal bike. Older children who are ready to transition to a pedal bike won’t need to worry about adjusting to a brand new bike.
Unlike standard pedal bikes however, the Strider 14X lacks a handbrake, which means that in order to stop, the child will have to pedal backwards. Although the price tag seems unusually steep for a Strider, it’s understandable since you’re basically getting two bikes in one.
5. Go Glider Kids Balance Bike
An Ideal Balance Bike for Late Bloomers
Although most children learn how to ride a bicycle before they start elementary school, some need a little more time. The Go Glider balance bike is the largest on this list, as it’s designed for kids 5-10 years old. This balance bike is designed to move more slowly than standard pedal and balance bikes, which make it ideal for nervous, overly cautious children.
Once the child is more confident, parents can remove the footrests and install the pedals (kit sold separately). This bike is the best way to get your kid off training wheels and onto a two-wheeler.
4. Yvolution Y Velo Twista Balance Bike
A Tricycle that Feels like a Two-Wheeler
Some toddlers may lack the confidence to try a two-wheeled balance bike right away. The Yvolution Y Velo Twista is actually a tricycle that starts with the two back wheels splayed far apart (training mode). Once your child gains more confidence and skill, you can move the back wheels closer together (balance bike mode). No need to worry, the bike is well designed, so you can easily change the mode whenever your toddler is ready.
The Yvolution Velo Junior has rubber wheels instead of air tires, which can mean a bumpier ride. It’s best to use it on smooth driveways, not gravel roads.
3. Critical Cycles Cub Balance Bike
A Balance Bike Your Wallet Will Love
If you don’t feel like spending over $100 on something your child will outgrow in a few years, relax. There are many budget-friendly balance bikes on the market, such as the Cub.
The Cub balance bike is extremely affordable, comes in five different colors, and has footrests. Footrests on a balance bike are useful for when a child gets accustomed to gliding and can put their feet up. However, for a beginner, the footrests may just get in the way. The Cub does not have air tires, nor does it have hand brakes.
2. Kinderfeets Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike
Your Kids Will Enjoy Personalizing Their Bikes
Wooden balance bikes make a return with the Kinderfeets. The Kinderfeets bike is sure to turn heads with its charming, old-fashioned look. It has foam tires and unlike many balance bikes (aluminum and wooden), the Kinderfeets balance bike does not have spokes in the tires, so clothing can’t get caught in them.
The surface is painted over in chalkboard material, which means that kids can decorate their bikes however they want. When they want to draw something different, all you have to do is wipe it clean.
1. Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike
Extra Comfort with a Padded Saddle and Handlebars for Longer Rides
Here it comes again: Striders. Striders are sturdy, easy to use, lightweight, and will grow with your child from toddlerhood to preschool (18 months-5 years).
The Sport model is recommended over the cheaper Classic model because your kid will be using this one for a longer time (the Classic only goes up to 3 years old). It also sports a padded saddle and handlebar cover, making for a more comfortable ride. Another thing it has over the Classic? No tools are needed to make adjustments.
We hope that this guide gave you a better idea on what balance bike to choose for your child. There are many factors and features to consider, which we covered in this list.
After considering all the stuff we’ve talked about here, don’t forget the most important thing–make sure the kid’s having fun.
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