Balance bikes have exploded in popularity within the last decade or so. They are a great alternative for training wheels on regular kids bikes. But, before going any further, let’s find out if balance bike is the right choice for your little one.
Woom set out to build the best and lightest kids bikes on the market and in the Woom 1, they have delivered in both aspects. The stylish balance bike tips the scales at just 6.61lbs thanks to the lightweight aluminum construction, which has been optimized for easier balancing.
In fact, while the Woom 1 is aimed built for anyone from 18 months to four years, it is the younger riders for whom it has been most designed.
Further nods to the youngest riders include geometry specifically aimed at ease of use. A super-low step-through and adjustable seat length make it ideal for those just finding their feet. A single hand-brake should be easy to use with little effort required too. Furthermore, Woom offer the balance bike in five stylish colors so there is plenty of choice for your little ones.
The Strider 12 Sport is the ideal balance bike if you want one to grow with your child and pass down to siblings. Strider have built the 12 Sport with durability at its heart, with a steel frame built to withstand plenty of use and misuse.
The tires are puncture-proof too. Furthermore, the seat and handlebar are adjustable (without tools) to accommodate children up to five years old. The Strider 12 Sport is a long-term investment.
A handlebar pad and mini-grips are ideal for small hands, and the whole package still only weighs in at just 6.7lbs to keep it in line with competitors like the Woom 1. The 12 Sport is Strider’s best-selling balance bike, which is a testament to the value for money it provides. Available in red, green, blue, yellow or pink, there is not much to dislike about it.
REI’s in-house brand, Co-op Cycles, have built a solid reputation for value-for-money, mid-range bikes and they have not forgotten about the youngest riders either as the REV 12 proves. The REV 12 is everything you would expect from Co-op Cycles’ full-size bike packages but in a balance bike instead.
That is to say, it is fuss-free, dependable and good value for money. The REV 12 balance bike (be careful not to mix it up with the pedal bike of the same name) is crafted from an aluminum frame and weighs in at a fraction over 9lbs. Chunky tires ensure your little ones can keep rolling on grass, dirt or pavements.
It is customizable too – available in spring green or pink grapefruit colors, the REV 12 balance bike comes complete with a wide range of stick-on decals for added flair.
Prevelo is focused squarely on producing kids bikes and the Alpha Zero is their stylish entry into the balance bike market. Prevelo’s market may be purely those too young for full-size bikes, but their design shows you can not be too young for some intricate touches to your bike. The Alpha Zero’s internal brake cabling ensures tiny riders can practice the concept of braking, without having to concern yourself about external cables and fiddling little fingers.
Internal cable routing is not the only stylish aspect of the Alpha Zero either, which pairs an aluminum frame with a chromoly steerer for low weight and top control. Three colors are offered – Speed Silver, Power Purple, and Braap Blue.
Intricate kid-friendly features include the small-reach brake levers and the low-profile, rounded hex bolts on the hubs. The Alpha Zero proves how Prevelo is building a big reputation for its small bikes.
There is more to a bike than good looks, of course, but the Yeedoo TooToo boasts an eye-catching array of kid-friendly designs. As well as bright color options, other design options include a ‘Police’ version and an ‘Ambulance’ equivalent so you can feed your child’s imagination as they get to grips with their balance bike too.
The heart of the bike is a lightweight but sturdy steel frame and the TooToo weighs in at just 8lbs in total. Classic steel tubing is paired with aluminum handlebars and Tektro V-Brake, meanwhile to add modern, reliable touches.
Kid-friendly features include an integrated steering limiter, to reduce the likelihood of unwanted sit-downs. Yeedoo have also redesigned their handgrips and upgraded their tires to the kids’ market leaders Kenda.
The Joovy Bicycoo is lightweight, sturdy and fast – so there is not much more a kid can ask for when embracing the joys of cycling and balance bikes. The aluminum frame keeps weight low but without compromising on the bike’s durability.
The Bicycoo boasts further durability thanks to its pneumatic tires, meanwhile, which are wider than the average balance bike for a surer footing and boast longer-lasting rubber.
Up top, a racy but cushioned seatpad provides decent comfort levels. Meanwhile, a single, easy-to-use brake lever ensures the Bicycoo matches the standards set by the top balance bikes. The brake cables are internally routed too, so are safe from the rough and tumble a kid will put the bike through as well as maintaining the super-sleek overall look.
This current Banana LT is the fourth iteration of the brand’s super-light frame. The banana-shaped frame from which the brand acquired its name provides a suitably low step-through for the youngest riders as well as a low center of gravity. The weight is the most impressive point, however, tickling the scales at a feathery light 6.39lbs.
Banana’s reputation has grown with the previous iterations of the LT and the current version showcases their attention to detail. The light-weight banana frame is paired with a new premium seat, for example, blending comfort and durability. Other upgrades include cushioned grips with wide bar ends, a quick-release clamp for the seat for easy adjustment and lightweight, puncture-proof wheels.
Banana have even gone as far as upgrading the headset for smoother steering and more weight shavings. They are true balance bike specialists and the LT is a fine showcase.
Older children can still benefit from a balance bike and the Woom 1 PLUS is a top example of a balance bike geared towards bigger kids. If your little one came late to the joys of two wheels, the Woom 1 PLUS is geared towards three-year-olds and up.
There are several key design differences from the standard Woom 1, including a top tube, bigger tires (14” compared to 12”), rear and front brakes, and a re-designed handlebar.
Braking is still controlled by the child-friendly right-hand brake, though naturally the bigger size and more complex geometry mean the Woom 1 Plus is heavier at 9.48lbs. It is designed to more closely mirror 14” pedal bikes, however, to ensure a smooth transition to full riding. Until then, a ‘surfboard’ to rest feet allows for gliding as they get used to how to balance their bike.
Strider’s 14x Sport takes the company’s ethos of building bikes to grow with your child and applies it to the transition between balance bikes and full pedal power. The Strider 14x starts as a balance bike, with an adjustable seat and handlebars to accommodate riders from three to seven years old. Pre-pedals, the durable steel frame comes in at 12lbs for easy control.
Footrests get your child used to the concept of balancing and gliding before easily attachable pedals can take their riding to the next level. The full pedal bike is still packed with child-friendly design features, however, including the full plastic chain cover to prevent dirt and injuries as they get used to a full pedal bike. It also protects the chain from mud, for easier maintenance.
Adventure-focused tires are grippy and built to be durable, while a padded seat and soft handlebar grips serve all-day comfort.
Balance bikes remain the best way to get children used to riding even as they grow older, and the Bixe 16” Pro is specifically designed for older kids. Unlike some bigger balance bikes, Bixe have stripped things back to basics for their larger offering. It makes it ideal for children with additional needs, with a fuss-free design and a super-low step-through.
Further nods in that regard include tamper-proof clamps and safety washers on the wheels. At the heart of the Bixe 16” Pro, meanwhile, is a steel frame built to withstand riders up to 150lbs. It adds up to a total bike weight of 11lbs and is aimed at children aged from five to nine.
Kinderfeets take a totally different approach to their balance bikes, with a range of eye-catching retro-inspired wooden bikes such as the Classic Chalkboard. Made with wood from fast-growing birch trees, the balance bikes are all handmade.
Inspired by traditional Dutch kids toy bikes, the Kinderfeets bikes function as normal balance bikes, it is only the material that is different. Low step-through for ease of mounting, wooden footpegs, and sturdy grips are only some of the features worth noting.
Quality should not be a concern either – the structure is sound and highly functional, with a washable, cushioned seat too. Furthermore, airless, no-maintenance tires keep things rolling. The bike weighs in at 9.43lbs and it is good for the environment too, as Kinderfeets plant a tree for every bike they sell.
The most notable feature, however, is the chalkboard finish, allowing children to decorate their Kinderfeets balance bike however they desire, over and over again.
Even though you can see balance bikes on any playground and bike trail now, many parents are still cautious about them. We consider them the best way for younger kids get prepared for ‘real’ bikes when they grow up. Why it’s the best? Unsurprisingly, because of that ‘balance’ word in their name. The earlier kids learn how to balance (even without pedals in our case) – the better cyclists they become.
Are balance bikes the only way to learn how to ride a bike earlier? Certainly not, trikes (or three-wheel bikes) and training wheels have been around for a while. However, what they both lack is that feel of balance. Not only they slow down the progress of your kid’s learning curve, they’re not fun to ride at all. Instead of all that excitement to feel the balance, they’re just riding on rails.
Despite seeming very simple at first glance, there is a number of ways the balance bikes differ from one another. There is a lot of competition in his market, so even in such a narrow niche manufacturers keep innovations going. Luckily, the best balance bike for your kid is not always the most expensive one.
However, depending on your use scenario and surrounding terrain you may want to see certain features more than the other. Let’s start with the most basic ones and continue to more rare and advanced.
Unfortunately, even respectable bike manufacturers don’t always get the balance bike geometry right, not to mention the ones that don’t specialize in bikes at all. Poor geometry will result in fatigue and general inconvenience. Luckily, it’s easy to tell if your bike has good geometry or not right from the first glance.
What you should be looking at:
These are the small details that can make all the difference. Premium bikes will have more comfortable seats and advanced protection features.
For example, take a look at Islabikes Rothan seat:
A seat like that will keep your child in place even on steep descents while minimizing the risk of sliding forward.
Or Woom 1 handlebars that will protect little hands:
When it comes to tires choice, you have two options: foam and air. The only benefit if the foam tires is that they are puncture-proof. On the opposite, air tires offer better grip in any conditions and can be easily replaced. Imagine finding a replacement tire for a balance bike that has been discontinued by manufacturer for 5 years already – a nightmare.
We would always recommend getting a bike with hand brakes rather than without them. The balance bikes with brakes always have only one, and it’s a rear brake (for safety concerns).
Now, if your kid is about 18-24 they will most likely not use it for several reasons: first, their hands might not be big enough to get hold of the brake handles. Secondly, they most likely be braking with their feet.
However, as they grow up, they will eventually start using handbrakes. It will come natural as at the speed they develop feet will no longer be effective. This will also bring two benefits: first, you will start saving tons of money on new shoes and secondly, they will be prepared to use the handbrakes on their grown-up bikes.
Having a place to put the feet when going downhill, for example, sounds like a great idea, but there’s also a downside to having footrests on your balance bike. And that is, your child will inevitably kick their legs while they’re walking with the bike.
Not many balance bikes have them, and they’re not necessary by any means, but we suggest to consider the terrain you’re willing to use the bike on. That is, if you’re riding downhill, having footrests will make a whole world of difference for your kid. If it’s uphill or just plain terrain – better choose a bike without footrests.
Balance bikes can have metal (steel and aluminium), wooden or fiberglass frames.
We like metal frames the most (especially aluminum ones) for their sturdiness, stability and reliability. Aluminium ones are more lightweight, but also more expensive than steel bikes. They are also rust-free.
Wooden balance bikes are gaining popularity as we speak, however not all of them are great. While the ones from reputable brands are pretty reliable, cheaper models fall apart pretty easily.
As for fiberglass balance bikes, they are pretty new to the market. They are cheaper than aluminium while being same or even smaller weight. However, they have two downsides – most of them are using foam tires. The other – fiberglass is not that sturdy and there’s some flexing which will make you want to recycle the bike after some time.