balance bikes

What Is The Best Balance Bike?

If you're in a hurry and just want to find out what the best balance bike is, I'd recommend the Strider Balance Bike.

A balance bike can be a great way to help your child gain invaluable balancing skills. This gross motor skill is critical to many daily activities, from dressing themselves to playing with their friends. If you’ve been looking for the best balance bike for your child, we’ve got some great balance bicycle reviews for you here.

In this article, I am breaking down the best balance bikes, and in the end, I'll choose the winner.

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What Is a Balance Bike?

Not sure what you’re even looking for? A balance bike is a special kind of bike that doesn’t have pedals. It’s designed for a small child to walk their legs along either side of the bike.

Most balance bikes are geared toward children ages 18 months to 3 years old. There are some larger models available that may be suitable for older children aged 3–5 years. This can be a great transitional balance bike for children who aren’t quite ready to move up to a traditional bike.

What Are the Benefits to Using a Balance Bike?

The best balance bike comes with some great benefits for children:

  • Improves gross motor skills: As the name suggests, balance bikes help improve your child’s balance. They also serve to improve coordination skills and body awareness. These are all great ways to help your child develop their gross motor skills.
  • Builds confidence: Conquering a balance bike can help your child feel really capable—like a big kid. This can really improve their self-esteem and leave them ready to push their own boundaries.
  • Helps your child build preliminary bike-riding skills: You can help ease your child into bike riding by getting them started early with a balance bike.

Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Balance Bike

Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind while you’re searching for a new balance bike:

  • The size and age of your child: An older or taller child will need a bigger bike, to be effective. If the bike is too big, a smaller child may not be able to use it.
  • The brake system: Your child is mostly going to operate starting and stopping with their feet. Some balance bikes come equipped with a handbrake, though, which can be great for preparing your child for a true bike.
  • Wheel type: The kind of wheels you go with may depend on where your child is using their balance bike. The wheel options are usually pneumatic or foam. Pneumatic wheels are more like traditional bike wheels and may be a better option for older children.

My Top Balance Bike Picks

Now that you have a little bit of background information about the best balance bikes and what to look for, you’re ready to check some out. Here are some balance bicycle reviews, featuring my favorites on the market.

This balance bike suits a wide age range of children, suitable for kids as young as 18 months old. The seat is adjustable and can grow with your child. This particular model is great for kids up to about 5 years old or up to a 20-inch inseam. 

Not only will you be able to adjust the seat height for your child, but this bike is also suitable for upgrading the parts. You can replace the tires for heavy-duty versions, or add a foot brake as your child becomes a more capable rider.

The Strider balance bike is lightweight and weighs in at less than 7 pounds. It’s easy for small children to move around and to steer. Grips on the handlebars help make it easier for your child to use. The seat is well-padded and comfortable.

It has a frame that’s made from durable steel and built to last. It offers footrests for your more capable riders to rest their feet during use. This is a great way to help introduce the skills they’ll need when they move up to a bike with pedals.

If you’re looking for a balance bike that’s good for smoother terrain, this one might be for you. It comes with foam tires, which means you won’t ever experience flats. They help keep the unit lightweight and easy to navigate. However, it may not be as well-suited for off-road use.

Minor assembly is required with this unit. No instructions are included, but the assembly is pretty straightforward.

PROS
  • Lightweight and easy to navigate
  • Offers great introductory bike-riding skills
  • Allows for customization as your child grows and becomes a better rider
CONS
  • Not good for off-roading
  • No owner’s manual is included

Looking for the best balance bike that’s budget friendly? You may want to consider this Retrospect Cub model. 

This affordable balance bike has a safe design and offers a wide variety of colors to choose from. This bike can help your child learn early bike-riding skills while keeping them safe from the traditional injuries that tend to come along with pedals and tricycles.

The wheels used in this model are foam and air-free. This means you won’t experience any flats. They are heavily textured, though, which can help give your child a little traction even when being used on rougher terrain.

This balance bike is suitable for children ages 20 months through 5 years of age. It meets all current safety standards and is virtually maintenance free. Both the seat and the handlebars are adjustable, to help accommodate your growing child’s needs.

This bike sits low to the ground, so it’s simple to mount, even for small children. It offers a step-through design with plenty of room for your child to easily navigate the frame without tripping over it. The frame is made from sturdy metal, but the bike is still lightweight and easy for children to handle.

There aren’t brakes, gears, or pedals to worry about with this balance bike. This means your child can concentrate on enjoying their playtime and developing those crucial gross motor skills.

The frame is constructed to allow your child to put up their feet when they’re ready to practice gliding. In the meantime, they are able to freely use their feet to move the balance bike without the frame getting in their way.

PROS
  • Heavily-textured foam tires do well even on rougher terrain
  • Great step-through design that makes independent use easy for children
  • Adjustable handlebars and seat allow this balance bike to grow with your child
  • Great affordable price point
  • Available in many colors
CONS
  • Weighs in at 9 pounds, which may be a little heavy for very young riders
  • Doesn’t offer traditional bike accessories, like brakes or pneumatic tires

This balance bike is available in different colors and styles. You can choose the wheel style that suits your needs, and even opt for a wooden frame. If you go with the metal frame, you can expect a lightweight, strong balance bike that weighs just under 10 pounds.

This model features 12-inch air-filled tires that are great for smooth and rough surfaces. The seat is cushioned for additional comfort. The seat height is adjustable and can be extended as your child grows. The handlebar height is also adjustable but will take more time and effort to move. If done incorrectly, this can impact the bike’s steering.

The Glide and Go bike is designed for children aged from 2½ to 5 years old and is capable of supporting up to 50 pounds in weight. A handbell is included to make things a little more fun and to give your child the experience of riding a real bike.

In addition to the handbell, this balance bike allows your child to learn how to steer. Like a traditional bike, the front end swivels and offers a full range of motion. However, this model does not have a footrest for children who are ready to glide on their balance bike.

This is a great bike for a smaller or younger child. It’s a little on the heavy side for a small child, but its weight gives it additional stability. At its lowest setting, there are just about 14 inches from the seat to the ground. At its tallest setting, the seat sits 17 inches above the ground.

PROS
  • Realistic bike features like air-filled tires and traditional steering
  • Adjustable seat and handlebars
  • Available in multiple styles and colors
CONS
  • No footrests
  • May not be suitable for taller or older children
  • The tires need frequent inflating

The Banana bike offers a unique shape that’s easy for your child to step through. This makes it simple to navigate, even for younger children. This model is available in green, pink, or blue, to suit your child’s preference. 

This bike has recently been redesigned. The new model features improved bearings, a more comfortable seat, and better handlebars. The seat features a quick release design and is easy to adjust to suit your child’s current height and needs.

It’s great for kids ages 18 months through 4 years. At its lowest setting, the seat is 12.5 inches off the ground, so it’s a good option for a younger or shorter child. At the highest setting, this bike seat will sit less than 16 inches from the ground. Because of this, you may find it just doesn’t offer enough adjustment for an older or taller child.

The bike is lightweight and designed with small children in mind. It’s easy for them to lift and move on their own. The tires are made from EVA foam. They won’t need to be inflated or require ongoing maintenance and are a great option for smooth surface riding.

While the tires are heavily textured, they may not be as well-suited for off-roading or rough terrain. Even when assembled correctly, these wheels may have some side-to-side wobble. This unit does require minimal assembly. While it’s great for younger children, it doesn’t come with a footrest, which can make more advanced gliding difficult.

PROS
  • Great for small children and beginner riders
  • Updated features for better safety and ease of use
  • Available in a choice of colors
  • No-maintenance wheels
CONS
  • Might be too small for taller children
  • Foam tires may not work well on all surfaces
  • No footrests for more experienced riders

The final product in our balance bicycle reviews is the Schwinn bike, which offers some of the same big-kid features you’ll find in their larger models. The tires are pneumatic and filled with air. The sleek look will have your child feeling like they’re riding the latest BMX with their older peers.

This unit’s frame is made of steel. It has a low center of gravity and is easy for your child to step through and onto. The seat and handlebars are adjustable and made to grow with your child.

The front end has a ball bearing system that allows for easy steering. Like its other products, this Schwinn model is made with high-quality materials and components. Both the steering and the riding features work smoothly. Learning how to control and operate their balance bike can be a great stepping stone for future bike-riding skills.

This unit comes with a limited lifetime warranty. While it does require assembly, this is minimal and straightforward. The extra-wide frame around the rear wheels allows your child to rest their feet as needed while riding. Scratches in the frame may need to be covered with paint to help prevent rusting.

This bike is suitable for younger riders aged 2–4 years. The wheels are 12 inches and the bike frame is available in multiple colors. The sturdy steel does make it hardier, but it can be heavy for young children to pick up and move on their own. If you have a young child, you may need to help them maneuver the bike initially.

PROS
  • Heavy-duty balance bike that grows with your child
  • Pneumatic tires that are great on all surfaces
  • Foot-resting space and full steering capabilities
CONS
  • May be too heavy for young children to handle on their own
  • Seat has a plastic component that’s prone to breakage and difficult to replace

Picking up the Best Balance Bike for Your Little One

The best balance bike could be a great addition to your child’s outdoor play activities. It can work to keep your child active and healthy while imparting early gross motor skills.

Although all these balance bicycle reviews are exceptional products, I would choose the Strider Balance Bike as the best balance bike on the list. I love that it’s lightweight and you can adjust and add new features as your child becomes a capable rider.

About the Author Ryan Howard

Ryan is a co-founder of SmartParentAdvice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Cristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.

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