The Definitive Guide to Buying a Balance Bike

By Eric Awwy, 22 Dec 2019

Balance bikes are not only the safest but a fun way for kids as young as 18 months to kids as old as 6 years to learn the integral skills in cycling: balancing, control, and confidence. Learning to cycle through balance bikes cuts the learning curve and time altogether.

If you are wondering whether balance bikes are a waste of time, we have highlighted the pros and cons of balance bikes in our previous articles, which will explain to you why balance bikes are an excellent investment for kids if you are indeed on the quest to put more kids on bikes.

For parents who are on the hunt for a good balance bike to buy next, this buyer’s guide has all the information you are looking for, including a checklist to make sure you choose a perfect bike for your little kiddo. Since balance bikes come in sizes, we have covered how to measure and find the perfect bike fit when choosing one.

This guide is divided into three sections for easier navigation, the first section is the definition of a balance bike. The second section is the balance bike sizing guide and the other one is the buyer’s guide. You can easily navigate by clicking the links below:

  1. What is a Balance Bike?
  2. Balance Bike Sizing Guide
  3. Balance Bike Buyer’s Guide

What is a Balance Bike?

Also referred to as a pushbike, no-pedal bike, pedal-free beginner bike, a balance bike refers to a bike whose drivetrain (pedals, chain, crank, chainring, and sprocket) removed. Majorly meant for kids, balance bikes are a superior approach to teach kids how to control, balance, and be confident on bikes.

Since the drivetrain has been removed, kids can focus on walking, scooting, gliding, and running on the bike, before learning to pedal as they graduate to their first pedal bike.

Balance bikes do not have stabilizers or training wheels. Therefore, they are a perfect kids’ bike for developing the valance of your child. Almost all kids who ride balance bikes as their very first bikes develop high levels of confidence since the bike allows them to keep their feet on the ground, which is a critical skill when it comes to riding bikes.

Balance bikes cut the time it takes to train a kid how to ride a bike. Unlike the traditional learning-to-ride journey that was often riddled with more mistakes, injuries, and sometimes lengthy training sessions, balance bikes cut that time and woes bigtime. Note that stabilizers train kids on pedaling as a skill first then focus on balance, control, and confidence later. Doing it the other way round through balance bikes makes it easy for kids to love cycling altogether.

In our experience, when testing the various balance bikes, we review and with our own kids, progression on a balance bike is easier and practical for kids than mastering cycling through a regular pedal bike with training wheels. You will notice that the confidence of the child grows as they are able to balance and control their bike. And as they transition to their first pedal bike, they seamlessly and effortlessly pedal because it is a skill that depends on the two already developed skills.

How to choose the right size of a balance bike

Before looking at the ideal age for a child to ride a balance bike, it is imperative to help you understand how to size your kid for a balance bike.

If you want to head straight into choosing the best balance bike, we have compiled a list of the 7 best convertible toddler balance bikes and 13 best balance bikes for kids in two ultimate and up-to-date reviews. However, if your interest lies in choosing the correct balance bike for your child, regardless of age, continue reading this balance bike sizing and buying guide.

To get the right size of a balance bike, you need to focus on both the wheel size and the saddle height range. Balance bikes are mostly designed for toddlers and preschoolers, who have different heights, which informs why the market has different balance bike sizes from 12” to 18.”

Here is a chart presenting push bikes or balance bikes comparing their wheel sizes versus seat heights, for illustration.

Balance Bike Seat Height Range in inches Size of the Wheel in inches Type of Tire Material Frame Material Best for ages
The Croco Balance Bike

11-17

12

EVA Polymer Wheels

Aluminum

18 months -5 years old kids

Radio Flyer Air Ride Balance Bike

14.2– 18.5

12

Rubber air tires

Steel

18 months -5 years old kids

Banana Bike GT

12.2-17.3

12

Pneumatic/air tires

Aluminum

Toddlers to 5-year-old kids

Woom 1

10-14.4

12

Pneumatic

 

18 months -3-year-old kids (10.5-13 inches inseam)

Bixe 16 pro balance bike

18.25-22.4

16

Air/Pneumatic

Steel

5-9-year-old kids

Strider Sports

11-19

12

Flat-free foam rubber tires

Steel

 

18 months – 4.5 years (12-20 inseam)

Strider 14X

16-23

14

Pneumatic tires

Steel

3-7 years (16-23 inches inseam)

GOMO balance bike

12-17.5

12

Foam tires

Steel

18 months -5 years old kids

Yedoo Too Too

12-18

12

Pneumatic tires

High tensile steel

18 months – 4.5-year-old kids (12.5”-16” inseam)

If you keenly look at the online listings of balance bikes, there are many sizes 12” and 14” balance bikes. However, there are also size 16-inch balance bikes, which are perfect for older kids.

The 12-inch balance bikes are best for the age range of 18 months to 5 years, which means that the wheel size does not matter much.

Instead, the seat height range of the balance bike should be the ultimate determinant of the right size balance bike for your kid.

To get a suitable seat height range, it is best to measure the inseam of the child. 

How to Measure a Child’s Inseam for the right size Balance Bike

How to measure a child's inseam for the right bike

Unlike the regular pedal bikes, the only surest way to determine the right balance bike size is through the seat height range. To determine the saddle height range, it is imperative to measure the inseam of the child when they have their shoes on and are standing on a flat surface.

The child's inseam determines how far off the ground the heels of the child will be when they are sitting on the bike. It adds 5% more accuracy when choosing the correct balance bike size.

After measuring the inseam, compare it with the minimum and maximum saddle height of the specific balance bike you are eyeing. If the inseam is less than the minimum saddle height stated then the bike is too big for your child. If the maximum saddle height is smaller than the inseam measurement of your child, the bike is too small for them.

You should subtract 5 cm or 2” from the child’s inseam measurement to get a perfectly fitting balance bike.

Although measuring a child's inseam can be challenging, here are some tricks to help you do it seamlessly. You will need a book, a flat floor, and a wall.

  • Ensure that the child has their shoes on.
  • Make the child stand against a wall at ease (legs slightly apart).
  • Fit the book between their legs in the thigh area.
  • Raise the book bit by bit until it reaches the child's crotch.
  • Ensure the book is leveled with the floor.
  • Measure the distance between the ground and the top of the book. Ordinarily, that distance is the inseam measurement.

Caution: Always measure your child to a bike and not the bike to your child.

Finding the perfect seat height for a balance bike

As we shall later see in the buyer’s guide section, a perfect bike balance fit can be achieved if the seat height is used instead of the wheel size.

For comfort, the seat of a balance bike should always be set about 0.5 inches to 1-inch below the inseam of the child (we just explained above how to measure your child’s inseam). Ensure that you do it perfectly because failure to ensure comfort has dire consequences on the success of introducing kids to a balance bike.

Apart from achieving a good size of a balance bike for any given age, the seat height also allows you to get a bike that your kiddo will grow with. In this case, you should consider the maximum seat height, which should be at least 2-inches above the inseam of the child meant to ride the bike.

Now, with the inseam measurements of your child, you can find an ideal balance bike seat height ad confidently hunt for the balance bike that will perfectly fit your kiddo. And as you begin the search, look at our convertible balance bike review, 13 best balance bikes, and budget balance bikes review pages for close comparison and decision-making.

You might be wondering why we insist on the seat height. We insist on it because it defines the position of the seat when the child sits with the feet firm on the ground and slightly bended knees. If the seat height is too high above the inseam, they will not bend their knees slightly. Instead, the kids will tiptoe, which makes it challenging to run and gain momentum so that they can balance the bike. Besides, it makes stopping the balance bike safely a challenge too as they cannot firmly stop the bike with the two feet firmly on the ground.

And if the seat height is too low than their inseam, they will be uncomfortable with that bike because of the too much-bended knee.

Bending their knees slightly when comfortably seated allows them to glide, run, and walk while sitting on the bike saddle. It makes pushing the bike efficient.

Balance Bike Buyer’s Guide: Things to Consider before Buying a Balance Bike

Now that you have decided to purchase for your kiddo a balance bike, you need to understand what bike is perfect for your child.

Many experts will tell you that balance bikes are not one size fits all. This means that balance bikes come in a variety of sizes and fit for the different age ranges. For example, a 4-year-old kid riding a balance bike meant for a 2-year-old kid would not be comfortable in it. Purchasing the right-size balance bike for your kid determines the extent to which they will love cycling.

Just like any other purchases we make, there is a myriad of factors to consider before eventually making the right choice. In our balance bike buyer’s guide, you will find a checklist of the essential items in their order of superiority and importance so that you select a good balance bike for your little one.

Things to look when choosing a balance bike

Age of the Child/Rider

As per most manufacturers and experts, balance bikes are designed for kids ages between 18 months to around six years. Therefore, balance bikes are a suitable first bike for kids aged between 2 years and 6 years. As long as the child can walk, they can immediately begin learning how to ride a balance bike. The initial step is to always get accustomed, confident, and comfortable with the bike.

As children advance in age, their interest in riding their bikes peaks. Although balance bikes offer a great platform for kids to learn how to cycle, adapted pedal bikes offer more sustainable and suitable long-term platforms for older children.

This means that a balance bike would do little as a training method for kids who have already hit 5 years and are beginning to ride for the very first time in their lives.

Kids hit the growth spurt faster, and at this stage, getting a first pedal bike and detaching its pedal would likely help.

What we are saying is that purchasing balance bikes for bigger kids who would probably transition faster to first pedal bikes is not economical neither is it efficient. Buying a pedal bike for them will save you money, but go for a lighter option and prepare to extend the training period. You can remove the pedals, lower the seat/saddle, and convert the conventional regular pedal bike into a push bike that can help them build balance, control, and confidence. Once the big child has mastered these essential skills, re-attach the pedals and allow them to learn to pedal at their pace.

Price

Considering their functionality, practicality, and awesomeness, balance bikes are not a waste of money. They are worth it because kids can take them to different surfaces and help kids master important aspects of riding a bike. And with the worthiness comes the price considerations.

Typically, balance bikes range between$40 and $1400. The pricier they become the higher end they are, and the lighter they also become. The lower-end balance bikes have more weight, basic geometry, and design, and last for a shorter time due to basic components. The high-end balance bikes, like the Specialized Hotwalk Carbon, are lighter, perfectly designed, durable, and are more appealing, making them mostly the world championship-winning bikes. These are the ultimate balance bike every kid wants to ride.

There are also the mid-range balance bikes that offer the best of both worlds, they are what every average parent should invest in. Lower-priced balance bikes still do the work as the high-end balance bikes do. Some have lower weights but at the expense of durability.

All factors constant; your budget is a huge determining factor when choosing a bike for your kid. Arguably, it defines whether you will get a budget, mid-range or a high-end balance bike. A good price range for a balance bike is between $50 and $250+.

A decent bike will come at around $100, but this is one that will need an upgrade sooner or later. If you love the quality, go for mid-range and high-end balance bikes, they come packed with lucrative and functional quality features.

However, the family needs to come first when choosing a good balance bike. So, always plan well and save for a bike for your kid if you must. If you are looking for the best birthday or holiday gift either for a kid or a cycling family, getting them a durable balance bike could count.

As we finalize on the price, we would like to caution you that spending more does not mean that a product is better, it only means you have more for better.

Size

Like helmets, balance bikes are not one-size-fits-all. Size is the number one factor to consider when purchasing a balance bike. it is flawed to look at a balance bike like a pair of trousers or shoes that you can buy for the kids to grow with. Instead, achieving bike fit immediately defines the success of introducing your kids to cycling. The balance bike has to fit your child right now and not a few months to come.

Too small or too big a balance bike increases discomfort and only causes negative memories of what a bike is and what it is not. And if the kids are not impressed with their fit on their bike, that’s it, they drag their lazy-self back to the couches and screens, which is what we are tactfully fighting them off through cycling.

In terms of size, the most common size for balance bikes is either 12” or 14” which is the measure of the size of the tires. There are also balance bikes for big kids with sizes 14”, 16”, and 20”, respectively. The 20-inch balance bike is the largest balance bike meant for kids aged 10 years and above.

 

Although the size of the tire is a useful measurement, it is not indicative of the seat height or frame size of the bike. Therefore, as you decide on what balance bike to buy consider the minimum and maximum seat height, frame size, and wheel size.

The wheel size and the seat/saddle height range are the two major measurements that determine the size of the balance bike. height variation between toddlers and preschoolers makes it worth considering balance bikes of different sizes.

Note that balance bikes do not have a standard size, unlike regular bikes. You will notice that every model, brand, and bike manufacturer has different sizes. To illustrate this, check out the table below.

Balance Bike

Wheel Size in inches

Seat Height range in inches

Woom 1

12

10-14

Strider Sport

12

11-19

Ridgeback Scoot

12

14-20

Strider 14X

14

15-22

Bixe 16

16

18-22

 

The sizes of balance bikes you find listed on the labels and online listings are based on wheel sizes such as 12”, 14”, or 16”. The wheel size is the inside diameter of the wheel of the bike. But to find a good bike fit for a balance bike rider, use the seat height instead of the wheel size. The reason for this is that bikes with the same 12-inch wheel size can be sized for both an 18-month-old toddler or 4-year-old kiddo. The wheel size, therefore, should only tell the size of the balance bike.

To get the perfect size fit for your kiddo, measure their inseam and determine whether the bike will be suitable for them or not then choose a bike with a good seat height range. We already discussed this in-depth in the previous sections of this article.

Weight

A question that troubles most parents is: how much should a balance bike weigh?

As a general rule of thumb, a kid’s bike should not weigh more than 30% of the child’s weight. To get the right weight of the bike given the weight of the child, you should use this formula: Child’s weight x 0.3= max bike weight in lbs.

A bike weighing 10 lbs. would be slightly heavy for a kid weighing 25 lbs. compared to a kid weighing 35 lbs. Besides, choosing a lighter balance bike comes as an advantage for the parents who will carry the bike for the kids.

Talking of weight, the frame material (which we discuss later) and the wheels contribute to the balance bike's overall weight. For instance, steel frames weigh more than aluminum, wood, composite, or aluminum alloy frames.

The same applies to air tires that are heavier compared to form tires. It is common to find the balance bikes that cost less being marketed as lightweight with foam tires.

High-end and high-quality lightweight balance bikes come with all the great components but cost more bucks. When you are just beginning to train, there is no reason to maintain the brakes.

There comes a time when sacrificing some components is the only option for a parent to get the right weight-fit for a kid.

Frame Material

Kids' balance bikes come in different frame materials. The most common include composite, wooden, and metal alloy frames. Most consumers, especially the eco-friendly type, prefer the wooden frame. However, it is very uncommon for parents to go for wooden balance bikes for fear of safety and for their retro looks. But to our amazement, wooden balance bikes are also great.

Let’s look at the frame materials for balance bikes as they are a price and choice-determining factor.

Wooden Frame Balance Bikes

The wooden frame is fabricated using birch-wood, which is both reusable and renewable. It is a lighter version than metal alloy bikes and strong enough to carry up to 75 pounds in weight.

When choosing the wood type, be sure to check the certification of such bikes. Like metal alloy bikes, there are high-end and low-end wooden balance bikes. The durability and cost set each apart.

We have reviewed the 10 best wooden balance bikes, which we view as being more environmentally friendly. However, the only disadvantage of such wooden bikes is that they are rigid- only a few are adjustable, like bikes made from steel, aluminum, or composite materials.

Metal Alloy Frame Balance Bikes

Metal alloy bikes are primarily made of aluminum and steel alloys. Therefore, you would expect them to weigh slightly more compared to the wooden versions. Most of the balance bikes use aluminum alloy 6061, which is preferred for its lightness, flexibility, endurance, and durability. Thus, it is the primary material for high-end balance bikes.

The less expensive balance bike models use steel alloys. However, they weigh a little and prone to rust. If it is not aluminum, in the description, but metallic, conclude it is steel.

Composite Frame Balance Bikes

The composite bike frames are mostly made of glass fiber, which is reinforced using a nylon composite. These balance bikes are unbelievably lightweight and can carry more weight than you can imagine. When you get your child a balance bike with a composite frame, you forget the woes of rust or the paint chipping off.

Carbon Frame Balance Bikes

Although highly priced, the carbon-frame balance bikes are ultra-lightweight. They are carefully built so that the child will glide with ease, maintain balance with precision, and control the bike with accuracy.

However, once you go down the road of carbon bikes for your kids, prepare a reasonable budget because they will find steel and aluminum frames a little heavier, affecting their passion and love for bikes.

Aluminum Frame Balance Bikes

When choosing a balance bike, its durability should be one of the deciding factors. Some of the bike models, mostly high-end balance bike brands, last longer compared to others. It all depends on the quality of the frame material.

A word of caution: When using composite bikes, consider the age and weight of the child. Sometimes, if used by someone beyond the recommended age, the bikes can snap, bend, or flex, bringing safety concerns. However, most kids would have begun riding their first pedal bikes before outgrowing their sensitive composite balance bikes. An example of a composite bike is the FirstBike Cross that comes with a brake.

Footrests

The footrests and the brakes are the loci of control for a balance bike. However, most of the recent balance bikes do not come with either brakes or footrests. Well, some still do. Typically, they are designed with the idea that they are being used to quickly and easily teach the children to ride a bike without using tricycles or training wheels.

Luckily, for anxious parents, there is the option of buying and installing both brakes and footrests. However, why spoil the party for the child? It is more fun riding without these two components than when you have them in your child’s balance bikes.

Is a footrest necessary for a balance bike?

Most of the balance bikes do not have footrests because they have no functionality. In most cases, children hold their feet up when gliding on their balance bikes. It instinctively builds on their mind such that even when riding balance bikes with footrests, they hold it involuntarily.

On equal measure, footrests can be a safety hazard or beneficial; it all depends on the design. If poorly designed, the footrests can affect the striding of your child. In this respect, your child will be hitting their calf any instance they are gliding. A good footrest design should only accommodate the heels of the child and not the toes.

Even though some manufacturers include large footrests, they only make the bikes look aesthetically appealing, but they have no functionality, if any. However, if tucked back under the seat and out of the child’s stride, we might as well compromise our position. But we hold that footrests are not important or mandatory for balance bikes.

Brakes

Another key determining factor when buying a balance bike, although controversial, is brakes. They are an optional component on balance bikes. Given that balance bikes have a lower ride height and most certainly do not attain higher speeds as would pedaled bikes, kids can comfortably rely on their feet to slow and stop the bike while in motion. Therefore, even when you buy a balance bike with a brake, you will end up spending more on cycling shoes for your little kiddo.

In our experience, brakes are not fun for kids between 18 months and 3.5 years. In most cases, they end up being rudimentary components that they most certainly will never use. And if, God forbid, they make a mistake of activating the brakes while on raised or elevated surfaces, they risk falling and getting injured. For kids starting out to cycle, such experiences would only mean abandoning the sport altogether. We believe brakes are attached to balance bikes as a sales boost in the sense that they only make the parents feel that their kids are secure, which is false security if you ask us.

However, if the kid is old enough, having a balance bike brake can be the best thing that ever happened to them, especially if they are little daredevils when on their bike. for kids 4 years to 6 years riding balance bikes with brakes can help develop skills that will lead to perfect handling, control, and confidence as they transition to bigger pedal bikes.

Are brakes necessary for balance bikes?

For younger kids, no, but for older kids, yes!

However, in balance bikes, most stopping and control is all done by the kids’ feet.  However, in some circumstances learning how to break while on a balance bike builds confidence to transition to regular bikes.  Besides, brakes help prevent injuries and reduce the wear and tear of the shoes.

Kids who use the handbrakes prefer using their feet as well. It is a significant step that helps them build balancing, control, and braking skills necessary for regular bikes.

For toddlers who would ride for long on balance bikes, investing in a good handbrake is recommended.

The brake designs differ depending on their brands. The short-reach brakes, which are accurate and reliable, come as a component of high-end bikes. Such brakes are suitable for kids riding balance bikes and have fear.

When choosing the brakes, you can test them using your pinky finger for accuracy. A brake should always be activated by the right hand and should be on the balance bikes' hind-wheels. If you mistake having the front-wheel with brakes, your kid risks toppling over, which can cause injuries.

Types of Bearings

If you have been to balance bike races or watched them online or on TV, you will notice that kids can actually take these balance bikes for a spin. The speeds those kids attain in these competitions is amazing.

A factor that determines how smooth and fast a balance bike rolls is the bearings. The bearings roll the tire around the axle, and the more efficient they are the faster the balance bike.

As usual, the sealed bearings that come with a rubber seal to prevent water, dust particles, and dirt from entering the axle have a better performance due to less friction. Therefore, any balance bike that comes with a sealed bearing and ticks the other checkboxes on our checklist should make it to the list of most preferred balance bikes as you narrow down your choice further.

In essence, with less friction, the kiddo is guaranteed a smoother ride that requires less efforts. Although sealed bearings are common on the mid-range and higher-end bikes, which have slightly higher price tag, some low-end bikes also incorporate them.

As you select the balance bike though, this is a feature that is an optional extra. It can help discern the bike to take home as that one last factor to drop a choice, especially when in a dilemma.  

Sizes of the Tires

Most of the balance bikes come with 16”, 14”, and 12” tires. These kinds of bikes are a popular option for preschool and grade-school kids.

To the lower extreme, 10” tires can serve the beginner balance bike riders. However, the problem is that the rate of outgrowing the 10-inch tire bikes is higher than the other bikes.

Thus, the latter is not recommended unless you want to clutter your store or garage with bikes.

Types of Tires

We already explored the tire sizes that are good and standard for balance bikes. Now, let us also explore the different tires and their implications on the weight and cost of balance bikes.

Bike tires determine the smoothness of a ride. The tires also control the surface traction when in different terrains. Although most of the balance bikes come with foam and pneumatic or air tires, there is the option of changing to the big apple, hard plastic, and rubber tires.

You must always consider the size of the tire the balance bike can accommodate if you are replacing the tires.

Rubber Tires

The rubber tires, although not so common, are puncture-proof. They are never inflated and provide the most traction. They are maintenance-free and durable and mostly used indoors and on flat hard surfaces. However, in terms of cushioning, they are not reliable despite being better comparable to foam tires.

Pneumatic/Air Tires

The air or pneumatic tires are the most commonly used in balance bikes. They are flexible and have better traction and shock absorption or cushioning capacity. Their durability and ability of maintenance make them a preference of many consumers.

The pneumatic tires come with treads of different shapes. Some are good at taking the road while others, such as those with knobby treads, take various terrains altogether.

It is always advisable to use tire sealants to enjoy long-term air tires without too many flats.

Foam Tires

The EVA foam tires are a cheaper option. This type removes the worry of having flats as they are puncture-proof but at the expense of both traction and cushioning.

They are a good option for paved surfaces. Never let your child ride a balance bike with a foam tire on a smooth surface; it is a safety hazard – they swill risk sliding. Besides, the treads of EVA foam tires are also prone to tear and wear. An example of a pushbike with EVA foam tires is the Albott Sport Balance

Big Apple/ Fat Boy Tires

The Big Apple or fat boy tires have both traction and cushioning. These bike tires are good for a confidence boost for kids to ride and jump in the parks. However, just like other high-quality and valuable things, they come at a higher cost.

Hard Plastic Tires

The hard plastic tires are the lightest kid’s bike tires category. Nevertheless, their wear and tear rate are high due to low quality. These tires are pollutants and have no traction or cushioning.

If you have an aggressive rider, choose air tires because they provide better traction as the tires can flex when kids are making sharp, abrupt turns. Yedoo Too Too and the Woom 1 are examples of balance bikes that come with air tires. Our riders’ experience with the two has been extraordinary.

Headset

Balance bikes come with plastic bushings, cartridge bearing headsets, or the ball bearing headsets. The cartridge bearing and ball bearing headsets offer smoother and unrestricted steering, making it seamless for the kids to turn the bike as they negotiate corners. These types of headsets are also serviceable, which you can do at a local bike shop.

On the other hand, the balance bikes that come with plastic bushings will have a stickier, rigid, and uncomfortable steering experience. They are also not as durable as the others we have talked about.

When choosing a balance bike, consider the type of headset as it defines the durability, serviceability, and comfort when riding the bike.

Turning Limiters

Steering or turning limiters prevent balance bikes from jack-knifing. It helps keep the front wheel and handlebar from going round 360 degrees revolution.

For kids, the limiters prevent abrupt sharp turns. On pedal bikes, they keep the brake cables in position by preventing them from twisting. Some people also believe that limiters prevent kids from learning how to properly steer their bikes while young, which is art required for BMX riders.

Like the footrests and handbrakes, the limiters are more decorative features added to beef up the prices of balance bikes, but they should not be a critical determining factor for your purchase.

The good thing is that there are elastic steering limiters that operate smoothly in an almost unnoticeable manner.

Warranty and other intangibles

Although not so many parents would check this, various balance bike brands such as Woom, Strider, GOMO, Yedo Too-Too, and many others offer a bike warranty.

Check the extent of the warranty. Most of these warranties cover the frame and not the normal wear and tear. Some bikes have lifetime warranty on the frame and might also have manufacturer’s warranty on the components, which you should check before you purchase as it is different for different bikes. You might not see the fault in a frame until you get home.

If there is registration to be made through the manufacturer to validate the warranty, ensure you do it.  A warranty is important especially is you are purchasing a bike that will be used by more than one child. In a way, the balance bike you purchase today can be passed down to a dozen of kids, and generations, taking care of the warranty matters.

Sometimes, such registrations make it easier to coordinate recalls and buy-backs like the Woom UpCycling program.

Handgrips

Comfort defines everything that kids eventually love. While balance bikes seamlessly teach kids balancing and control, they can only do so if the bikes come with comfortable handgrips.

Ensure that the particular balance bike you are selecting has comfortable grips to protect the little hands of your kids in case of an accidental handlebar run-in.

To ensure that the handgrip is protective enough, check the cushioning at the end and the protective rubber or safety bumpers. Such a handgrip will absorb the impact and keep the little hands out of harm’s way. Also, consider the radius of the handgrips.

Do not go for larger radius hand grips as they will be troublesome to hold by the little tots’ hands. We have seen most manufacturers step up with kid-friendly handgrips for balance bikes.

Geometry

A right balance bike geometry is critical as it makes a significant difference in how fast your child learns how to ride a balance bike. It further determines the speed and accuracy with which your child controls, maneuvers, and balances on their bike.

In short, an excellent balance bike geometry raises the odds of your kid loving the bike whole a poor geometry can push them off bikes forever, and the same applies to pedal bikes.

Some of the factors that determine the geometry include the position of the seat, cockpit, angle of the fork, and the wheelbase. You will not find manufacturer’s geometry charts for balance bikes, so you need to be extra careful. Although some bikes such as the LittleBig Bikes, Vitus, and Specialized balance bikes come with the chart. If there is none, look at these components:

Fork Angle

The fork angle determines control and how the kids maneuver the balance bike. If the fork is at an angle, it increases the bike's wheelbase, which distributes the child’s weight on both wheels.

Otherwise, if the fork is upright, it decreases the wheelbase, which forces the weight on the front wheel, making it hard to steer, decreases stability, and makes it easy for the child to somersault on the bike when they hit a pothole or barrier on their way.

Wheel Base

The wheelbase refers to the distance between the tips of the two wheels of the balance bike touching the ground. Longer wheelbases offer stability compared to shorter wheelbases.

Cockpit

Cockpit refers to the distance between the handlebars and the seat. If there is ample space in between, the kids riding the balance bike can comfortably lean forward towards the handlebar to maintain an aggressive position, as seen in balance bikes with raised handlebars.

If the cockpit is shorter, the kids are cramped in one place, which affects their efficiency on the bike, which occurs in balance bikes that have swept-back handlebars.

Position of the Seat/Saddle

A child-friendly balance bike has a small gap between the seat and the rear tire when the saddle is set to the lowest position.

Such positioning lowers the center of gravity, which improves stability and makes it easier to balance the bike, especially at slow speeds.

If poorly designed, a balance bike will have a large gap between the rear tire and the saddle, which increases the chances of tipping over and makes it hard to maneuver or control the balance bike.

Types of Wheel Bolts

As you choose a good balance bike for your kid, you should be sure to check the bolts on the balance bike. While this sounds petty, it is actually a safety aspect.

Different brands of balance bikes come with different bolts. Some have recessed bolts, while some have either the covered or rounded bolts. Bare or exposes bolts are problematic because they can cause injuries to the kids’ legs as they stride or accidentally fall.

The covered and rounded bolts have some protection in cases of falls but can interfere with powering the bike. The recessed bolts are the best at protecting children from injuries and do not cause interference with moving.

For small-framed toddler balance bikes, always opt for the covered, recessed, or rounded bolts. Typically, the recessed bolts are superior at ensuring no scratches. You could save the paints on your corridor if your child rides or concludes their rides indoors.

There is no point of buying a balance bike and restricting riding it in the house. Children will want to ride their bikes everywhere and anywhere. Therefore, choosing the balance bike with a safe bolt is a wise decision, albeit a subtle one. The right choice of the bolt brings peace–win-win for the parents and the kid.

Appearance

Even when a balance bike ticks all the above components of our checklist, you need to consider one more thing—the looks of the balance bike. Kids have different preferences, interests, and tastes. Some will lean to a specific color yet some will fall in love instantly with a given design.

Therefore, purchase a bike that addresses the interests, tastes, and happiness of your child. For instance, you can select a bike that bears their favorite carton character, one that has the same color as dad’s or mom’s bike, or one whose frame can be customized.

The good thing is that there are bike manufacturers that allow kids to customize their balance bikes using decals of different shapes, sizes, and patterns.

When your kiddo feels rad on their bike, rest assured, they will never let the bike rest as long as they are in the riding mood. Get a balance bike option that tickles your child’s inner interest to ride often.

FAQs

Here are some common questions that parents keep asking. If you have read the guide to and still have questions like these, these answers can help.

Can you add pedals to any balance bike?

Not at all. For you to add pedals to a balance bike, it must have a manufacturer's design to allow the attachment of an optional pedal attachment kit. There are bikes that come with this option such as Go Glider, Black Mountain Epok Series, SmartTrike Xtend, Strider 14X, and LittleBig Bikes.

Is 3 years too old for a balance bike?

No. the age of 3 years is the optimum age for using balance bikes. Most of the kids aged 3 years will do better on a balance bike compared to bikes with training wheels. At this age, kids can balance, control, and coordinate their balance bike better.

What age is a 12-inch balance bike suited for?

12-inch balance bikes are suitable for kids aged 18 months to 4 years. However, to find the perfect bike size, you must check the seat height range.

Can 5- and 6-year-olds use balance bikes?

Yes, kids between 5 and 6 years old can use bigger balance bikes: 14” and 16” balance bikes. You can get them bikes like the Strider 14X Sport, Joystar 16” balance bike, or the Bixe 16 pro.

Can you attach training wheels to a balance bike?

Although it is technically possible to add training wheels or stabilizers to a balance bike, it is not a good idea. It will slow the progress of learning how to balance a bike, which is the essence of getting a balance bike in the first place. It will reduce speed, efficiency, and flexibility. Choose one; either a balance bike or a bike with stabilizers. The balance bikes are good as we have stated above.

Can 7-year-olds ride balance bikes?

Balance bikes are a perfect way to teach kids between 18 months and 6 years how to control, coordinate, and balance a bike. It makes learning a bike seamless, easy, and quicker. For the kids that are older than 6 years, getting a pedal bike and removing the pedals might work as perfectly as a balance bike would. Once they are comfortable, confident, and ready you can put back the pedals and they will pedal the bikes unaided. It works, we have tried it many times.

Are there 20” balance bikes?

Yes, you can find the Strider 20 sport, which is the biggest balance bike designed for kids aged 10 years and above with an inseam of 28-34 inches. It is the largest balance bike in the market.

Parting Shot!

Even though marketers mislead buyers that balance bikes are not one-size-fits-all, they come in different sizes for kids of different ages. By purchasing the right size balance bike for your child, you can either entice them to love bikes or make them hate biking forever.

Every parent needs to train their children to ride bikes using balance bikes. But why balance bikes? You may ask. Here are the reasons balance bikes are preferable.

When choosing a good balance bike, consider the size, weight, frame material, weight, and features such as grip, seat height, footrests, brakes, and bolts- pretty much everything we’ve discussed in this comprehensive buying guide.

Whether you go for a budget or high-end balance bike, our guide sets you up to make an excellent purchase of any balance bike in the market.

Sharing is caring. Therefore, if you have friends who are likely to benefit from this information, why not throw them the link to this article.

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