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The Best Balance Bikes for Little Riders

Looking for a wheelie good balance bike? Keep scrolling to discover our pick of the best.
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By Martina Garvey, E-Commerce Editor
Updated September 27, 2023
Balance Bike Hero
Image: FamVeld | Shutterstock
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Struggling to entertain a toddler with an abundance of energy? Or simply looking for a practical way to transport your family from point A to B? It may be time to teach your little one to ride a bike. And a toddler balance bike is a great starter model. A balance bike is simply a two-wheel bicycle without pedals. With this type, little riders can practice steering and propel themselves forwards by pushing their feet against the ground. Balance bikes offer the perfect opportunity for little ones to build up their muscles and coordination skills, all while having a blast. Not only is this a fun way to insert some physical play into their day, it’s also a great bonding opportunity for parents and kids.

Ready to get this show on the road? Here are a few shopping tips and safety considerations to get the wheels turning—plus our picks of the best balance bikes available.

What to Look for in Balance Bikes

Toddlers as young as 18 months are old enough to handle a balance bike or a tricycle. These days the trend is to start kids on balance bikes, eventually graduating to a regular bicycle without training wheels. The idea behind a balance bike is that children learn to properly balance from the outset, eliminating the need for training wheels once they graduate to a big kid bike. Balance bikes come in sizes suitable for 18-month-olds all the way to adults but traditionally are best enjoyed by kids up to age 5.

When selecting a toddler bike, the most important thing is size. If the bike you choose is too big (or too small), it’s going to be hard for your child to ride. Unlike adult bikes, which are sized by seat height and frame, the size of a child’s bike is determined by the wheel diameter, ranging from 12 to 24 inches. To find the proper wheel size for your child, measure their height and inseam. Kids who measure between 2’10″ to 3’4″ (or have an inseam of 14 to 17 inches) require 12-inch wheels.

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Another important aspect to look for is an adjustable bike seat. To properly ride a balance bike, your little one’s feet need to be able to push off of the ground while they’re sitting comfortably on the bike—and to do that, there needs to be a slight bend in your child’s knee. Adjust the seat height of your child’s bike accordingly.

Also worth noting is the weight of the bike. Ideally, a toddler bike shouldn’t be more than 40 percent of their total body weight. Do your best to find the lightest bike within your price range, as it’ll be less cumbersome for your little one to handle.

Toddler Bike Safety

Cycling with your toddler in tow is a wonderful activity for families. But always brush up on bike safety best practices before you hit the road. Below find a few major safety considerations to keep in mind:

  • Always wear a helmet. Invest in a good quality helmet and always strap your child in before they climb aboard their bike. Falls and scrapes are inevitable and a helmet helps protect your child from serious head injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stresses the importance of bike safety saying: “Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home.” Remember that children learn by observing the adults around them, so lead by example and wear a helmet any time you head out on a bike ride.
  • Choose an age-appropriate model. According to the AAP, oversized bikes are especially dangerous. With this in mind, always read the brand’s age and weight guidelines to make sure the bike is suitable for your child’s developmental stage. Your little one shouldn’t have to “grow into” a bike; it should be perfectly sized from the get-go.
  • Obey the rules of the road. Even if you stick to the sidewalk, teach your child to obey all stop signs and other traffic control devices. Remember to ride on the right, facing the same direction as traffic and never take your child for a bike ride at night.

Best Balance Bikes

Don’t be distracted by all the bells and whistles! The best balance bikes are lightweight, easy to steer and perfectly sized for your child’s age and stage. To keep you on track, we’ve asked The Bump community—real parents, just like you—to review the bikes their own children use. Keep reading to see their feedback and browse our favorite toddler balance bikes on the market.

Overall best balance bike

Woom 1
Image: Woom
Buying Options
Woom|$259.00
What We Love
  • Lightweight
  • Air-filled tires
  • Adjustable handbrake position
Things To Consider
  • High price point
  • Assembly required

The balance bike that consistently wins rave reviews is the Woom 1. It offers a smooth ride for young toddlers thanks to air-filled rubber tires and has an easy-to-use handbrake, which can be adjusted to perfectly fit your little one’s grasp. The taller handlebar design puts riders in an upright position with their weight centered over their hips, which makes it easier for many kids to balance. Plus, a cleverly-designed steering limiter prevents your little one from sharp turns that may lead to tumbles. It’s also one of the lightest toddler bikes on the market, with an aluminum frame that weighs in at just under 7 lbs. Available in eight bright colors

Age range: 18 months to 5 years | Weight: 6.6 lbs. | Capacity: 110 lbs. | Wheel size: 12" | Saddle height: 10.4" to 14.4"

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Best balance bike for 1-year-olds

Retrospec Bicycles Cricket Mini 6" Kids' Balance Bike
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Non-slip, scratch-resistant wheels
  • Safe steering limit
  • Suitable for the youngest toddlers
Things To Consider
  • Saddle height is not adjustable
  • Assembly required

At 12-months-old your little one may not be ready to mount a classic two wheel toddler bike. Fortunately, Retrospec has come up with this nifty solution. Part balance bike, part ride-on toy this four-wheeler is the perfect starter model. The low-profile frame makes it easy to hop on and off, and the handlebars are well within reach from the soft, cushy seat. It can be used indoors or outdoors thanks to slip- and scratch-resistant wheels. And a 135 degree steering limit prevents kids from overturning or falling sideways. Although it’s designed for younger tots you’ll get plenty of use out of this bike before needing to upgrade to a larger size. “It was an adorable birthday present that has gotten continuous use for over a year,” says our product reviewer.

Age range: 12 months to 24 months | Weight: 4 lbs. | Capacity: 44 lbs. | Wheel size: 5.75" | Saddle height: N/A

“This balance bike is cute and well made. It has held up well and never damaged our house.” – Alexis, mother of one

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Best balance bike for 2-year-olds

Guardian Balance Bike
Image: Guardian
Buying Options
Guardian|$149.00
What We Love
  • Air-filled tires
  • Adjustable bike seat
  • SureStop Brake System
Things To Consider
  • Some customers reported shipping delays

Looking for a bike for 2 year olds? Try the Guardian Balance Bike out for size. An ultra-light aluminum frame is easy for little kids to handle, while a quick-release adjustable seat leaves plenty of room for growth. The air-filled tires have plenty of grip and the wide wheelbase along with a steering limiter allows for better balance and control. But it’s the bonus safety features that make this toddler bike a true standout. Namely the patented SureStop Brake System, which uses a single lever to stop the bike in its tracks by activating the front and rear brake simultaneously. Genius!

Age range: 18 months to 4 years | Weight: 8.5 lbs. | Capacity: 44 lbs. | Wheel size: 12" | Saddle height: 12.5" to 16"

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Best balance bike for 3-year-olds

Globber Go Bike Air Balance Bike
Image: Maisonette
What We Love
  • Air-filled tires
  • Adjustable seat and handlebar height
  • Reversible steel frame
Things To Consider
  • No steering limiter

Globber is known for toddler scooters—but did you know that the brand makes balance bikes too? Designed for toddlers age 3 and up, this bike has a reversible steel frame. Beginners start with a low frame position before switching to a high position once they’ve mastered basic balance and steering skills. Better yet, the saddle can be adjusted to six different heights (three options per frame position) and the handlebars can be raised or lowered, so this balance bike truly grows with your child. Other features include shock-resistant, air-filled tires and a footrest that can be removed without the need for tools.

Age range: 3 to 6 years | Weight: 8.8 lbs. | Capacity: 44 lbs. | Wheel size: 10" | Saddle height: 13" to 16"

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Best adjustable balance bike

What We Love
  • Built-in footrests
  • Adjustable saddle and handlebars
  • Tool-free assembly
Things To Consider
  • No steering limiter

One of the most popular balance bicycles on the market is the Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike. It’s super-lightweight and the seat has a nine-inch height adjustability range, making it perfectly sized for little kids from 18 months to 5 years. Plus, tool-free saddle and handlebar adjustments mean it’s incredibly easy to assemble and adjust, making it very popular with parents. In fact, all of our product reviewers mentioned that this bike was super-easy to use. As if that wasn’t good enough, the foam rubber tires can withstand tough terrain and toddler shenanigans, so you’ll never have to fix a flat. And grips on either side of the handlebars prevent little hands from slipping.

Age range: 18 months to 5 years | Weight: 6.7 lbs. | Capacity: 60 lbs. | Wheel size: 12" | Saddle height: 11" to 19"

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Best wooden balance bike

Kinderfeets Classic Balance Bike
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • Ergonomic design
  • Adjustable seat
  • Made using FSC-certified birch wood
Things To Consider
  • No steering limiter
  • Handlebars are not adjustable

This wooden balance bike is not only a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to metal balance bikes, but it’s also a way to help give back: The company partners with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every bike sold. Better yet, this bike is handmade from FSC-certified birch wood and other non-toxic materials. The toddler bike has a low step-through frame and ergonomically designed handlebars that encourage good posture. Meanwhile, built-in foot pegs provide stability and help prep your child for a regular bike. Other features we love include an adjustable (and washable) cushioned seat, robust puncture-proof tires and cushioned handlebar grips.

Age range: 2 to 6 years | Weight: 6.7 lbs. | Capacity: 65 lbs. | Wheel size: 15" | Saddle height: 12" to 15"

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Best affordable balance bike

Radio Flyer 800X Glide and Go
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Affordable price point
  • Comes with a bell
  • Adjustable seat
Things To Consider
  • Vinyl seat may rip
  • Seat height isn’t stated

Looking for an affordable balance bike for beginners? You can’t go wrong with the 800X Glide and Go by Radio Flyer. The lightweight steel frame is easy to handle and long enough to allow for kids to kick off and cruise along. Traction tread tires hug the road to prevent wobbles. And, at 16" long, the wide handlebars offer a stable steering system, which helps with balance. The adjustable seat can easily be raised and lowered using the quick-release clamp, although the saddle height dimensions are not explicitly stated. It’s available in three classic colors: red, pink and gray and each model comes with a bell.

Age range: 2.5 to 5 years | Weight: 8 lbs. | Capacity: 50 lbs. | Wheel size: 12" | Saddle height: N/A

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Best vintage-inspired balance bike

Banwood First Go Balance Bike
Image: Maisonette
What We Love
  • Bell and basket included
  • Vintage-inspired design
  • Adjustable handlebars (19" to 23")
Things To Consider
  • Heavier than other options

Who knew toddler bikes could look so chic? We’re drooling over this balance bike from Banwood, with its faux leather detailing and an adorable wicker basket. The saddle and handlebars are easily adjusted to keep pace with your growing child. Available in a range of vintage-inspired colors including forest green, black and chrome.

Age range: 2.5 to 5 years | Weight: 9.9 lbs. | Capacity: N/A | Wheel size: 12" | Saddle height: 14" to 17"

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Best light-up balance bike

Chillafish Charlie Glow 10" Kids' Light Up Balance Bike
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Light-up wheels
  • Adjustable seat and handlebars
Things To Consider
  • Low saddle height range

Up the ante with this light-up balance bike by Chillafish. It’s incredibly lightweight and has a built-in carry handle, making it easy for parents to transport when your kiddo gets tired of cycling (it happens). And the molded seat and handlebar are easily adjustable in height. Ready for the best part? The puncture-proof tires are linked by light-up spokes powered by riding—the faster you go the harder they glow! Kids won’t be able to contain their excitement once they see this portable light show hit the road.

Age range: 18 months to 5 years | Weight: 5.5 lbs. | Capacity: 77 lbs. | Wheel size: 10" | Saddle height: 11" to 14.6"

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How We Chose the Best Balance Bikes

We get it—the amount of toys out there can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to decide which ones deserve a spot in your playroom (or garage, in the case of bicycles!). But that’s where we come in. To streamline your decision-making process, we do the bulk of the research for you so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We choose products based on quality and durability, value, style and, last but definitely not least, safety. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a dependable and safe product that will meet your and your child’s needs.

To decide which balance bikes are the best options on the market, we leverage our familiarity with leading brands to make sure items are from reliable manufacturers. We read user reviews to get the low-down on how these products work for toddlers, and typically don’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating. And since many of us are also parents, we rely on our writers’ and editors’ experience using these products with their own families.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

Sources

American Academy of Pediatrics, Summer Safety Tips: Staying Safe Outdoors, June 2017

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