In this article:
- Best Balance Bike for…
Learning how to ride a bike is a traditional childhood milestone and a skill that will serve your child their whole life. But you don’t have to wait until your child is big enough to reach the pedals to start teaching them bike riding basics.
Introducing a balance bike in toddlerhood can help prepare your child to develop bike riding skills and instill a love for the activity early on—even without the need for pedaling. Here’s what you need to know about how to choose a balance bike and Truly Mama’s top picks for the best ones.
What is a Balance Bike?
A balance bike is essentially a bike without pedals. The child sits on the bike and holds onto the handlebars, just like with a regular bike, but their feet sit flat on the ground. To move the bike, the child pushes their feet along the ground and balances with their upper body.
It may sound complicated if you’ve never seen a balance bike before, but the process is really quite intuitive for kids, and toddlers as young as 18 months can usually figure out how to use a balance bike.
“Balance bikes are really quite intuitive for kids, and toddlers as young as 18 months can usually figure out how to use a balance bike.”
Benefits of a Balance Bike
There are many benefits to a balance bike, especially for younger children who aren’t ready for a pedal bike:
Balance bikes do not have drivetrains, pedals, or cranks, so they are much lighter than regular bikes.
Easy to steer
They also sit lower to the ground, so they are easier for young kids to steer and propel. Most balance bikes are designed for young toddlers, starting around 18 months up to 3 years; others are more suitable for kids ages five to seven. Some are even adjustable and can grow with your child.
Build balance and coordination
You can think of a balance bike as a precursor to learning how to balance on a pedal bike—the purpose of a balance bike is to help develop your child’s coordination, balance, and confidence so they will feel comfortable transitioning to a bike with pedals. Children typically start out on a balance bike by walking their feet, working up to running and then gliding. Once your child has mastered gliding, they’re showing they can maintain proper balance and may be ready to transition to a bike with pedals.
What to Look for in a Balance Bike
There are several different types of balance bikes. When choosing a balance bike for your child, consider:
Regular bikes are grouped by their wheel or frame size, but balance bikes are sized based on your child’s inseam. To get the right fit, your child’s inseam measurement should be the same or slightly longer than the length of the bike’s seat height to the ground. This ensures your child will be able to put their feet flat on the ground while sitting on the bike. You’ll also want to make sure your child can comfortably reach the handlebars with their torso leaning slightly forward.
Most balance bikes have adjustable seats, but some have a wider range than others. If you want to start your child on a balance bike early, you may be interested in models that will adjust for a wide range of heights and ages. Some balance bikes have smaller ranges meant for toddlers, others are designed for older kids, and some are adjustable for all ages up to about 7 years old.
Purchasing a balance bike can be an investment, so price is definitely an important factor. The most adjustable balance bike options are typically also the most expensive, but this option could save you money in the long run since you won’t need to buy two different models — a toddler balance bike and then a child balance bike.
Some balance bikes don’t have brakes, while others have rear brakes only. For young toddlers, this isn’t really a problem since they typically aren’t moving fast enough to have a need for brakes, but once your child gains confidence and speed, you may want brakes for your child’s safety.
Not all balance bikes come with footrests, but these are a good feature to look for. Footrests will help teach your child how to balance without their feet on the ground, and gives them a spot to put their feet on a downward slope or once they’ve gained speed.
The Best Balance Bikes
Best Balance Bike
Not only is the Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike lightweight and easy for young kids to maneuver, but it’s also the most adjustable option for kids 18 months to five years old. The seat rest can move up or down nine inches, so if you’re looking for a balance bike that can grow with your toddler, this is a great option. This balance bike does not come with brakes, but Strider does offer an add-on foot brake you can purchase separately.
Features we love:
- Tool-free assembly
- Fits children with an inseam of 12 to 20 inches
- Wheel size is 12 inches
- Weighs 6.7 pounds
“My son has been on a balance bike for 2 years, and we just bought another for my 2-year-old daughter. It takes some practice, but in only a few months she is already gliding around like a pro. I love that they have so much freedom and control when on this bike, and they really learn to balance easily without the need for pedaling. I have no doubt that my 4-year-old could pick up a regular bike almost immediately after his experience with this, but he’s still content with this bike for now! The bike is super sturdy, grows with the kids, and withstands the bumps and crashes of learning. I highly recommend this as a first bike for any toddler/preschooler.” — Amazon review
At $110, this balance bike is a bit pricier than some other options, so it may not be the best fit for every family, but you will get a lot of easy-to-love features.
Best Budget Balance Bike
This fun and stylish balance bike will make your toddler feel like they’re cruising right along with the big kids. At $69, this bike is also one of the more affordable balance bike options. The Chillafish’s lightweight frame makes it easy for toddlers to ride and for parents to carry during the inevitable moments when you’ve strayed from home and your toddler decides they’re done riding. The seat rest is also easy to adjust and requires no tools. This bike has a wider width along the rear axle, so while it is designed for kids ages 2 to 5, it may not be the best fit for a child with a smaller frame.
Know these details:
- Comes with a footbrake, but no handbrake
- Seat height: 12.25 to 15.25 inches
- Weight: 7.26 pounds
- Dimensions: 31.5 x 17.3 x 18.5 inches
“We loved the packaging of this cute bike, it is well designed and will be easy to gift wrap, not a common feature for a bike! The cute box contains the bike to assemble but the assembly process is fast and easy to understand, it took me about 5 minutes. Right away you will realize that this is a good quality product, there is a lot of plastic but it’s a good, sturdy bike while being lightweight and easy to just put in the car to reach a park. The frame is reinforced with fiberglass and the tires are thick and when in use, they have a strong grip. The bike comes with stickers for the kids to customize their new ride and even the stickers are of good quality. My girl loved it and she is enjoying her cool bike.” — Wal-Mart review
The Chillafish is adjustable, but not quite as adjustable as the Strider 12. The seat height is limited to three settings with just three inches of growth.
Best All-Terrain Balance Bike
The Ybike looks a bit different than other types of balance bikes. Its bigger wheels offer more stability than other models and the bike’s low height helps keep kids safe should they stumble and fall. It’s a bit more compact than other models, so it’s easier to pick up and carry to and from the park or throw in the back of the car to bring along on a family trip. Plus, if you have the space indoors, your toddler can even ride this bike around on the carpet in the winter or in a larger space, like an unfinished basement or garage.
- Comes in four different colors
- 18-inch wheels
- Weight: 8.3 pounds
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 33 x 17.3 inches
“The yBike instantly became the bestest, most favoritest thing in the whole house for my two year-old to play with. He is already balancing better on the bike itself. It’s sturdy enough to keep him from falling too easily, but challenging enough that he has to put some effort into balancing as he rides.” — Amazon review
One thing to keep in mind with this bike is that it is not adjustable so you won’t be able to adapt the seat height as your child grows.
Best Adaptable Balance Bike
The Ybike Evolve is a great option for gradually introducing your child to the concept of a balance bike. Each stage of the Ybike Evolve encourages your child to develop the motor skills necessary to move on to the next stage, and eventually a regular bike with pedals. This bike’s rubber tiles provide stability and grip and the handlebars are just the right size for little hands.
- Easy assembly
- Wheel size 12 inches
- Weight: 14 pounds
- Dimensions: 30 x 21 x 20 inches
“My two-year one-month-old son loves his bike. We went straight to the double rear wheel balance configuration and it didn’t take him long to figure it out. We have wood and tile floors and this bike is perfect for them. The rubber tires have good grip without scratching and the handlebar grips have a round rubber ball thingy that also protects the floors and walls. The adjustable seat is a must for his growth. It’s also easy to assemble. Pricier than other bikes I researched, but the quality seems good so far. Very sturdy and made with quality materials. We expect it to last through our next child.” — Amazon review
Keep in mind that this bike is a bit heavier than some other types of balance bikes, so it may be more difficult for a young child to pick back up after a fall.
Best for Older Kids
This is another incredibly versatile bike that can grow with your child. The seat height ranges from 15 to 22 inches and the handlebars can be raised about four inches. If you’re looking for a balance bike for your young toddler, this probably isn’t the best fit, but it’s a great option for a preschooler. The price point for this one is a little higher than some other options, but this choice may save you money in the long run since it converts to a pedal bike.
- Durable frame
- Accommodates kids with inseams ranging from 16 to 23 inches
- Weight: 12.5 pounds
- 14-inch wheels
“Got this for my 5-year-old who was struggling on her bike with training wheels… took her to the BMX park and she mastered the balancing part in a day.. after just a couple weeks we put the pedals on and she is riding like a champ. Easy to take the pedals off so she can race her strider with the other balance bikes.” — Amazon review
Because this bike is meant for older kids, it will likely be too big for younger toddlers ages 18 months to three years.
Best Lightweight Balance Bike
This ultra-lightweight balance bike is easy for your toddler to cart around and for you to carry if your child gets tired. Thanks to special anodized aluminum, this frame doesn’t rust, so no need to worry if you forget to bring it inside when it rains. This model is designed for kids ages 18 months to 5 five years, and the adjustable seat height and handlebars means it can grow with your child.
- Comes in many different colors
- Adjustable seat and handlebars
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
- Dimensions: 27.9 x 5.6 x 12.6 inches
“One of our favorite purchases for our daughter. She is 2.5 years old and rides this like a champ. The best part is how easy it is for her to ride and if she falls, gets back up. Super light and perfect. She can even carry it herself when she wants. Highly recommend this one. We tried another brand at first and it was too heavy. She didn’t even want to ride it. She absolutely loves this one. If she falls down, no biggie what-so-ever. She pops back up and ready to go again.” — Amazon review
Keep in mind that if you’re looking for add-ons, the Cruzee may not be the best choice. It doesn’t come with many add-on features, like brakes, footrests or the ability to add pedals.
Frequently Asked Questions
What age is best for a balance bike?
For the most part, balance bikes are designed for children as young as 18 months up to 7-years-old. If your child is walking well and is tall enough to sit on a balance bike with their feet sitting flat on the ground, they are likely old enough to try one out.
What is the best balance bike?
Some balance bikes are adjustable and can grow with your child while others are intended just for toddlers or older kids. When picking out a balance bike, consider the size of the balance bike, your child’s height, safety features like brakes, and whether or not you’d like to eventually add pedals.
Do balance bikes really work?
Balance bikes help develop coordination, balance, and confidence and are a great introduction to bike riding. A balance bike helps teach your child to balance on two wheels while in motion, decreasing the need for training wheels once your child is ready to move on to a standard bike.
The Ollie Swaddle Promotes Better Sleep . . . for Everyone!
Get a better, safer sleep for your infant with the Ollie Swaddle.