Are you looking for a good quality balance bike for your kid?
In this buying guide, we’ll explain the benefits of balance bikes for kids and give you 5 top recommendations you can buy right now from those available on the UK market.
What is a Balance Bike?
It takes quite a bit of time for kids to get confident enough to ride a bike. Being able to balance, pedal, steer and use the brakes are things that kids have to practice frequently to master.
Unlike adults and older kids who need just a couple of days to learn to ride a bike, younger kids could take weeks and sometimes even months.
The most common way to speed up the learning process while keeping them safe is by using a bike with training wheels.
But some experts say they are not the best.
For one, kids learn to depend on the training wheels and don’t really learn how to balance on their own. Secondly, training wheels teach kids the wrong steering techniques and they have to unlearn them when the training wheels are taken off.
Tricycles are also not so good. They are cumbersome, slow and don’t really teach kids how to ride a bike. In other words, they are just toys for use in the backyard.
A better alternative to training wheels and trikes is a balance bike.
This is a type of bicycle without pedals or a drive train. Essentially it’s a scooter that looks like a bike. Some balance bikes don’t even have brakes.
To ride the bike, your child must be able to comfortably sit on the saddle with their feet firmly planted on the ground.
They ride by pushing off the ground with their feet.
Because they have more control, kids learn to ride faster. The better they get at balancing, the more they keep their feet off the ground.
By the time they are getting onto a real bike, they are ready to pedal away.
Benefits of a Balance Bike
- It helps kids learn to ride a bicycle faster and more efficiently.
- They learn to steer and control the bike properly from early on unlike with a tricycle or training wheels.
- You’ll know when kids are ready to transition to a proper bicycle. With training wheels you have to guess when it’s time to move the stabilisers higher or remove them.
- Kids can learn to ride all on their own. You don’t have to bend down to push them or use a push bar.
What to Consider When Buying a Balance Bike
Make sure it’s sturdy and well-made.
The bike is going to see some rough times as your child learns to ride. It should be able to withstand falls and bumps into objects. You want something that will last long enough until they are ready to use a proper bike.
Size is another important factor. For your kid to learn how to ride, they need to have good control of the bike. Their feet should firmly touch the ground with a slight bend at the knee.
Always check the manufacturer’s recommended age recommendations.
Also make sure the bike’s seat and handlebars can be adjusted as your child grows taller.
Whether you want one with brakes or not is up to you. Some experts say brakes are unnecessary since kids don’t usually use them anyway. Maybe if it’s an older child – around 5 years – you can get a braked balance bike.
Finally, consider which frame material you want. There are two options: metal and wood.
Metal is the most common. Metal balance bikes are cheaper and more durable.
Wooden balance bikes are slightly more expensive but look better and are often just as sturdy.
Since this is not an item they are going to be using for years, you can go with either.
Best Balance Bike For Kids Reviews
1. Best for a 2-year old: Strider Balance Bike 12 Classic
This balance bike is designed for ages 18 months to 3 years. You can adjust the handlebar, the seat as well as the foot rest as they grow taller.
The saddle is small enough for toddlers though a larger one is available (separately) for older kids.
The bike itself is very sturdy and super easy to use.
You’ll have to do some assembling when it arrives but that takes just five minutes. It even comes with a wrench to ensure you don’t need to buy any extra tools or accessories.
When fully assembled the bike feels surprisingly light. The total weight is around 4.5kgs.
Your little one will have an easy time riding it.
The wheels are made from a material called ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). Unlike normal pneumatic tires, these ones don’t puncture. If a nail gets stuck in the tire, just pull it out.
This means you never have to worry about pumping the tires or repairing punctures. It also allows kids to explore different kinds of terrain freely.
What we like about it:
- Adjustable – it grows with your child.
- Sturdy and durable build.
- Lightweight – it’s easy to manoeuvre.
- Easy-maintenance puncture-proof tires.
- 4 colour options.
2. Best for a 3-year old: Chicco Bullet Balance Bike
If you are looking for something that your 3-year old can ride until they are 4 or 5, this is a great choice.
Despite the larger size of the bike, it is really light. It weighs just 2.7kg when fully assembled. Kids will have an easy time riding it around the yard and even up steep areas.
The seat and handlebars can be adjusted as your kid grows taller.
The wheels are solid so you don’t have to worry about punctures. Kids can ride on different kinds of surfaces from pavement to gravel without damaging the wheels.
There are no brakes so make sure your child uses it in a safe area. Also make sure they are wearing thick-soled shoes that will not wear out quickly (their shoes act as the brakes).
The maximum weight recommendation is 25kg and the maximum age limit is 5 years.
What we like about it:
- Ultralight – makes it easy to use and allows kids to learn to ride in less time.
- Adjustable seat and handlebar to keep up with your child’s height.
- Sturdy and durable design.
3. Best for a 4-year old: RideStar Childrens Balance Bike
This balance bike has a cool BMX style that your 4-year old will love.
It’s made from a lightweight yet sturdy steel frame. The bike weighs just 3.4kg, making it easy for kids to ride around the backyard.
The adjustable seat and handlebars allow easy use by kids from 3 years to around 5 years. But you’ll probably not need it for that long.
Because it’s so easy to ride, your kid will probably be ready for a bike with pedals in a few weeks.
The wheels are solid so no pumping needed. They are puncture-proof and are designed to pick up loose gravel and even small nails without getting damaged.
The seat is thickly padded for comfort and the handlebars have a soft grip cover for extended play time.
What we like about it:
- Light and easy to ride.
- Adjustable seat and handlebars.
- Puncture-proof wheels for all-terrain riding.
- Lightweight but durable design.
4. Best Wooden Balance Bike: Kidzmotion Jiggy Wooden Balance Bike
If you want something more stylish, get this wooden balance bike by Kidzmotion. It also makes for a great birthday or Christmas gift.
The birch plywood frame looks really cool especially with the blue and red colours. It is very hardy too though you should not leave it outside for extended periods.
Despite being wooden, it’s not as heavy as you might expect. It weighs almost 5kgs, which is light enough for most 3-5 year olds to handle.
The lightweight design is also handy when you need to help your kid carry the bike.
It comes almost pre-assembled. You just have to screw in the wheels and handlebars. The necessary Allen keys are included for easy assembly.
Remember to also adjust the seat to fit your child’s height.
The bike is meant for riding by 2-5 years olds. It comes with dampened steering to help kids maintain a straight line, a skill that will come in handy when riding a real bike.
What we like about it:
- Cool design.
- Sturdy and durable.
- Adjustable seat.
5. Best Girls Balance Bike: Chicco Pink Arrow Balance Bike
If you are looking for a pink balance bike for a girl, this one is great. It’s basically a pink version of the red bullet bike we recommended for 3-year olds. Other than the colour change all the other features are the same.
It has adjustable seats and a handlebar that easily keep up with her as she grows. It’s made from ultralight metal and weighs just 3.6kgs. This makes it easy for kids to steer it with their feet even when going up a slope.
The wheels are solid and puncture-proof and the saddle is padded for comfort. The handlebars are soft and provide a strong grip.
What we like about it:
- Lightweight but durable.
- Easy to use.
- Adjustable seats and handlebars.
Here are some other balance bikes to consider:
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is a balance bike better than a bike with training wheels?
When it comes to teaching kids how to balance on a bike, a balance bike is definitely the better choice over a bike with stabilisers.
Stabilisers, or training wheels, are good for helping the kids learn how to pedal, but won’t teach proper balance and control.
2. What’s the best age for a balance bike?
Ideally, get a balance bike as the first bike for your toddler when they are 1-2 years old. This will give them an early start on proper bike balancing and control.
You can also get a balance bike for a 3, 4 or 5 year old.
3. Which kind of wheels does a balance bike have?
Most balance bikes have puncture-proof EVA wheels, instead of the normal pneumatic wheels found in proper bikes.
EVA wheels are great for different kinds of surfaces including gravel, pavement and grass. They are also suitable for indoor riding on smooth flooring.