What better way to help burn off your toddler’s abundance of energy than with some physical play? Toddler bikes offer the perfect opportunity for little ones to build up their muscles and sense of balance, all while having a blast. From balance bikes to toddler tricycles, there’s a bike out there that’s perfect for your child. Need help choosing? Here are a few toddler bike types and shopping tips to get the wheels turning.
What to look for in Toddler 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 are 2’10” to 3’4″ or have an inseam of 14 to 17 inches require 12-inch wheels.
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.
Best Toddler Balance Bikes
The key to a finding a good balance bike is making sure the seat height can be adjusted. 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 accordingly. When it comes to top-notch balance bikes, here are some of our favorites.
Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike
One of the most popular balance bicycles on the market is the Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike. It’s super-lightweight (a mere 6.7 pounds) and the seat has a nine-inch height adjustability range, making it perfectly sized for little kids from 18 months to 5 years. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to assemble, which makes it very popular with parents.
Buy it: $120, StriderBikes.com
Woom 1 Balance Bike
The balance bike that consistently wins rave reviews is the Woom 1. It offers a smooth, easy ride for young toddlers and has an easy-to-use handbrake. 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. It’s also one of the lightest toddler bikes on the market, weighing in at just under 8 pounds.
Buy it: $269, Amazon.com
LittleBig Balance Bike
For a balance bike that converts to a bike with pedals, invest in a LittleBig. It begins as a balance bike sized just right for 2-year-olds. Once your child has the hang of the balance bike, flip the frame and add the pedal and crank attachment to turn it into a fully functional bicycle. The LittleBig also comes with front and rear brakes so kids can stop safely and smoothly.
Buy it: $240, LittleBigBikes.com
REI Co-op Cycles REV Balance Bike
REI’s Co-op Cycles REV Kids Balance Bike offers the cushioning and traction of rubber tires, which is great for riding indoors (hello, apartment dwellers). The Co-op also has slightly wider handlebars than other toddler bikes, which provides more stability, and outstanding 5-star reviews. Note that the seat is adjustable by five inches, as opposed to some of the larger ranges offered by other balance bikes. It’s also one of the heavier options, weighing in at 9 pounds.
Buy it: $129, REI.com
Banana Bike LT
The Banana Bike LT is priced at just over $60, making it a great budget-friendly option. While it’s perhaps not as durable as other toddler bikes, it’s lightweight and the seat can be lowered to 12.2 inches, ideal for the youngest riders. The tires are puncture-resistant foam, so there’s no need to inflate them, and you don’t have to worry about riding the bike on cracked sidewalks.
Buy it: $63, Amazon.com
Kinderfeets Retro Wooden Balance Bike
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. The Retro has airless tires, an adjustable (and washable) cushioned seat, handlebars that were designed to encourage good posture and foot pedals that help prep your child for a regular bike.
Buy it: $89, Amazon.com
Cruzee Ultralite Balance Bike
Billed as the world’s lightest balance bike, the Cruzee (weighing 4.4 pounds) is another popular choice among toddler bikes. It’s super-easy to maneuver and can grow with your child from 18 months to 5 years, thanks to the wide seat and adjustable handlebars. Plus, it comes in 14 different colors to suit any little rider’s taste.
Best Toddler Tricycles
While balance bikes are trending these days, not every kid manages to master them. For a sturdier toddler bike, choose a toddler tricycle designed to help kids learn to pedal with (or without) the help of Mom or Dad.
Joovy TriCycoo 4.1
It may not look like the toddler tricycle you had as a child, but that’s because the Joovy has four grow-with-me configurations for maximum versatility. It can be used by kids as young as 10 months old with the use of the surround arms ring, harness and parent push bar. As your little one grows, those elements can all be removed one at a time for a smooth transition. This toddler trike bike is one of the easiests to pedal and steer. Bonus: It also has a 3-position adjustable seat, storage compartment and cup holder.
Buy it: $115, Amazon.com
Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike
Radio Flyer’s 4-in-1 Trike is the updated version of the classic Radio Flyer toddler tricycle. The best part about the newer model is that it’s much more versatile and can grow with your child. Use it as a push tricycle starting at 9 months, then remove the push bar once your kiddo can pedal it themselves. There’s an adjustable seat, a removable footrest and even a canopy and parent pouch.
Buy it: $69, Amazon.com
The Angeles Midi is the toddler tricycle most often found at preschools, and there’s a reason for that: It’s the most durable. The Angeles has a heavier weight than most other trikes, but it offers a smooth ride and it’s practically indestructible. The best part? It comes fully assembled, so you won’t have to deal with the headache of figuring out which screw goes into part “D.” Plus, it’ll last you and your kid a good long while, since the Angeles accommodates kids up to 70 pounds.
Buy it: $160, Amazon.com
Fisher-Price PAW Patrol Lights and Sounds Trike
If you’re in the market for a toddler tricycle with more interactive features, this Fisher-Price trike bike has lights, music and a walkie-talkie that makes noise. The secret handlebar storage compartment is sized just right for toddler treasures, and the three-position adjustable seat grows with your kid.
Buy it: $56, Amazon.com
For an upgrade to the original “bike wheel,” choose a Schwinn Roadster. It still has the lowrider style, but this toddler tricycle is crafted out of metal instead of plastic. Plus, it has chrome handlebars, tassels, a bell and even a wooden platform in the back where friends can hitch a ride. The heavier weight of the Roadster means it’s less inclined to tip over around curves, and it’s slightly better balanced.
Buy it: $90, Amazon.com
Little Tikes 5-in-1 Deluxe Ride & Relax
As far as multi-stage toddler bikes go, the Little Tikes 5-in-1 offers it all. Little ones as young as 9 months go from being pushed by a parent to learning to pedal, steer and finally zooming off on their own. The toddler tricycle offers a 3-position adjustable, reclining seat; full canopy, foot rest, storage bucket and bottle holder.
Buy it: $81, Amazon.com
Fisher-Price Grow-with-Me Trike
The Fisher-Price Grow-with-Me Trike is a great budget option, ringing in at only $36. This toddler tricycle doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but the seat is adjustable and it does have removable pedal blocks and slip-resistant pedals. The one drawback is that it doesn’t have a push bar, so you won’t be able to give any assistance when your little one is learning to ride.
Buy it: $36, Amazon.com
Published February 2019
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