In its simplest definition, a balance bike is a bike without pedals. You may also notice that many do not contain any visible brakes and for good reason as explained by Strider Bike. Otherwise known as glider bikes, worldwide the best balance bikes are considered as a safer, more economical alternative to tricycles and training wheels (stabilisers), with the added benefit of getting your toddler, kid or older child onto a real bicycle in a much quicker time frame. In this definitive guide, we will answer all of your questions as to why balance bikes are the best bicycles to learn on, along with recommendations on the best glider bikes for all ages.
What are the advantages of Kids Balance Bikes over Tricycles and Training Wheels?
- Balancing on a bike ensures your toddler, kid or older child doesn’t get into bad habits. It is a well known fact that assisted bikes with extra wheels makes the bike less agile as training wheels hold the bike vertical at all times. This means that your child cannot correctly manoeuvre the bicycle when cornering or turning as it will always remain upright. The movements learnt with assisted bicycles will translate when your child rides a real bike. When it comes to riding a real bicycle, a kids balance bike will increase confidence as all the manoeuvrability skills needed for the balance bike will transfer.
- Isn’t the whole point of riding a bike learning the art of balancing?! Training wheels and Tricycles (while fun) don’t teach your kid how to balance. You will find that transitioning to a real bike will be much more challenging in terms of balance, than learning with a glider bike.
- Often times, both training wheels are not evenly spread on the ground, meaning the bike may lean to one side. This presents two problems, firstly your child will compensate their weight to one side, which will need to be corrected when riding a real bike. Secondly as the training wheels offer a sense of security, moving at faster speeds with only one stabilising wheel on the ground could present hazards, especially if the surface is uneven or wet.
- If the above reasons are not enough to opt for a kids balance bike, we will add a few more. Not only are balance bicycles safer, sleeker and quieter, you will often find that training wheels end up at landfill sites once they have been used. Training wheels also incur an additional cost, making the no pedal bike a more economical alternative.
Best Balance Bikes for Boys and Girls of all ages – Updated 2018
It is a common misconception that balance bikes are only available for young children below the age of 3 or 4. Although the majority of balance bikes in the market cater to these age groups, there are a few options out there that are suitable for older children who still have not learnt how to ride a bicycle. In this article, you can find all the best balance bikes for toddlers, kids and older children.
Top Balance Bikes for Toddlers (18 months – 3 Years Old)
Please note: You will also want to check the next section as bikes from 18 months – 5 years have been included. We are only placing bikes to a max age of three in this category. Toddlers will also be able to use the best balance bikes listed in the kids category.
A toddler is 12 to 36 months old, however you will notice that the bikes listed below cater to the ages of 18-36 months old. If your child is younger than 18 months old you may be interested in this popular baby balance bike. The best toddler balances bikes list below is comprised based on customer reviews, weight and overall quality.
Strider 12 Classic No-Pedal Balance Bike Review
Strider specialises in balance bikes with ten years of development and refinement to bring the best quality glider bikes on the market. It features the lowest seat in the industry and its no surprise that these are the mostly highly rated no pedal balance bikes with 1 million sold worldwide, allowing for a simple transition to a pedal bike.
There are three versions of the 12 model, the first of which is the classic, suitable for toddlers from 18-36 months old (or a 12 to 17 inch inseam). The others are the Sport and Pro versions shown later in the kids section as they are suitable for 18 months – 5 years (they are slightly more expensive than the classic version). We will leave the feature comparison chart below for easy comparisons:
Strider 12 Classic Main Features
Available in colors: Green, Blue, Pink and Red.
Ages: 18-36 months
- Adjustable seat and handle bars, complete with adjustment tool.
- Great balance bike for future upgrades such as heavy duty tires or a foot brake. This bike features brake mounts meaning a rear brake can easily be added.
- The lightweight durable steel frame weighs only 6.7 pounds.
- Lightweight puncture proof tires
- All-weather seat
- Footrests for easy gliding.
- As the bike offers a low center of gravity its easier to control than many other brands.
Top Balance Bikes for Kids (18 months – 5 Years Old)
Strider 12 Pro and Sport Balance Bike Models
As previously mentioned, Strider offer the most well-rounded balance bikes in the market. The main differences between the classic and the Pro and Sport models is the following;
- Pro and Sport suitable for ages 18 months to 5 years.
- Pro and Sport have a 19 inch post seat with an adjustment tool. It’s also padded.
- The Pro features a number plate, aluminium frame (lighter) and a performance footrest as the only advantages over the Sport.
- Pro and Sport models include a handle bar pad and toddler sized grips.
What are the lighest balance bikes available?
If you are looking for a really light weight balance bike, then there are two options for you. Many parents like to choose a very light weight balance bike as its usually the safest option and easiest to manoeuvre. While other brands are indeed light weight, there are two bikes which really take a light frame to the next level. Aluminium frames are what make the bikes so light and often plastic tires are used instead of rubber. However, there is one popular brand that include rubber tires and an aluminium frame, currently one of the lightest balance bikes in the world.
Cruzee UltraLite Balance Bike (4.4 lbs)
Yes, you read that correctly, 4.4 pounds! The Cruzee is suitable for ages 1 1/2 – 5 years old. Yes, it is more expensive than the other lightweight option, but with so many positive reviews you know its the real deal. It comes in 20 different colors, with a lifetime warranty!
This is one of the best balance bikes available, and also one of the safest. The features include a rust-free anodized aluminum frame, a really comfy adjustable seat and flat-free foam rubber tires.
TheCroco LIGHTEST Aluminum Balance Bike
If you are on a budget and looking for one of the world’s lightest aluminium balance bikes then The Croco is for you. It weighs just 4.3 pounds, its available in three colors (blue, green, pink) and features some very positive reviews. It is suitable for ages 1 1/2 – 5 years old.
The Croco balance bike features an aluminium frame, adjustable padded seat, EVA polymer tires (not rubber), soft plastic hand grips with safety ends and foot rests integrated into the frame.
Ybike Motorcycle Balance Bike
This motorcycle design balance bike is highly rated and one of the coolest designs we’ve seen. It’s suitable for ages 2-4. It is a great design that is easy to assemble and has a wonderful padded seat that is very comfortable for the kids. Do note however that the seat for this is not adjustable, so you can’t use it when kids outgrow their current bike. The tires are also not made of rubber. Instead, it is made of plastic which can produce noise when used on certain flooring types.
Radio Flyer Balance Bike with 12 Inch Air Tires
Air tires have one distinct advantage over normal tires: they can better hug the surface of the road and they keep the weight of the bike down. This is why some parents insist on buying only the best balance bikes with air tires. If you are looking for one, this fantastic model from Radio Flyer is suitable for 2 1/2 – 5 year olds and features a cushioned suit and bell.
It also has an adjustable seat! Putting it together is going to take you less than 5 minutes. From the reviews, it is also clear that this Radio Flyer balance bike is sturdy and made to last. Most reviewers have had this bike for years and it is still in solid working condition!
Top Balance Bikes for Older Children (5 – 12 Years Old)
16 Inch Balance Bike Wheel
The easiest way to buy a glide bike for older children (5 years – 12 years old) is to look for 16 inch wheels as these are high enough for a child of that age to ride. We’ve searched high and low and below are some of the best 16 inch balance bikes available.
Go Glider Balance Bike for an Older Child Review
GO Glider is a well reviewed brand that is worth your consideration when it comes to buying a balance bike for a 5 – 10 year old.
This particular model has a lot of useful features that can benefit a child learning how to ride a bicycle.
For one, it is very light so that makes it easy for the child to control while he is learning how to balance. The foot pegs is also a good training mechanism for pedals. This is something that most brands do not have.
To accommodate children of different ages, the seat is fully adjustable with a simple turn. There isn’t many balance bike with adjustable seats in the market so it is fortunate that Go Glider does have it.
Finally, the tires are no pump tires and are full of grip for ease of control. In the unlikely event of the balance bike going too fast, there is even a handbrake mechanism, which is again missing in most balance bikes.
Strider 16 Inch Balance Bike Review
The first version of the Strider 16 inch bike was not the product that the market wanted. Fortunately, the company has since revamped the model and this is version 2, which has more features that are in line with what Go Glider has.
Now, the balance bike has removable foot rests for pedal training. The fact that it is removable is a great feature as it gives options for parents to decide when they want the foot rest to be hold.
The seat and height bar is also adjustable as well so that it can cater to children between the age of 6 to 12 year old. Like Go Glider, this is a great feature that gives more shelf life to the bike.
The tires are actual wheels that have solid grip. The first previous do not have real tires and that make it hard to use. I am glad Strider corrected this flaw.
Tykes Bykes Charger Kids 16 Inch Balance Bike Review
Tykes Bykes is a well known kid brand for producing high quality products. Their 16 inch balance bikes model is one of the first into the market and has achieved favorable reviews.
Update: Currently Unavailable (listing here)
One of the top reviews stated that this balance bike helped the child more than training wheels. Such a review is not unexpected as we have discussed about this in our balance bike vs training wheel article.
Quality wise, this is a well built bike although the set up instructions could be better. Fortunately, assembling the balance sheet is easy enough so the poor instructions do not matter all that much.
DIY Balance Bike – Make Your Own From Home
If you don’t want to spend the money or you already have an existing normal bike for the child, you can DIY your own balance bike by simply removing the pedals, chains and stabilizers. Once these components are gone, the bike essentially becomes a balance bike that can only be pushed forward by the child’s legs.
One thing to note is that the bike must not be too tall so that the child cannot easily stand up and balance the bike, if it is then injury risk is greatly increased. The child should be able to sit on the saddle, feet touching the ground with a slight bend in the knee. If the seat is too high, it will defeat its purpose as a balance bike. It is meant to be a glide bike with very little chances of the child falling off.
What is the Best Wooden Balance Bike?
Wooden balance bikes offer a retro looking alternative to the aluminium and steel frames. Lets take a look at some of our favorites.
ZÜM CX Wooden Balance Bike
If you are looking a cheap wooden balance bike that is also high quality, check out this model from ZUM. It takes no effort to put together and comes with no pedals or brakes for easy handling for your kid.
This balance bike is also seat adjustable like the previous model. Best of all, it is much cheaper than what an average balance bike will cost. If you are on a budget, this is a great model to get.
KinderfeetsClassic Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bicycle
Kinderfeets’s cool looking balance bike comes with rubber tires and eco friendly materials for parents who care about the environment. The rubber tires are almost puncture proof and very durable. Best of all, it is bigger than most tires which give kids a sense of security and safety.
Another useful feature is that the seat is not only padded for comfort but is also height adjustable. You can adjust it all the way down such that it is only above the back wheel and use it for a 2 year old. You can also raise the seat back once your kid reaches 4 years old. This height adjustable balance bike ensures the longevity of this product in your home as you can use it when your kid grows up from 2 to 4.
Parents who are concerned about the handle bars can also relax as it is designed such that they can only be turned about 20-25 degrees on either side. This means they wouldn’t turn completely and dump the kid on the ground. There are pads inside so that there is no wood hitting wood as well as no finger pinching.
Balance Bikes FAQ
How do balance bikes work?
While sitting on the saddle, the child will move their legs to push off from the ground, moving the bicycle in a forward motion. The idea is that when enough speed is built up it can be used to learn how to ride and balance. With no pedals, the feet are used to stop and stay upright on the bike. Some bikes will include brakes and foot rests to enable easier gliding.
How high should the seat be?
The child should be able to sit comfortably on the seat with their feat flat to the ground and a slight bend to the knees. However this does depend on the type of riding. For tricks and obstacles you may want to lower the saddle so there is a bit more bend in the knee. For longer rides, a higher seat would probably be more suitable.
What is the average age for a child to ride a bike unassisted?
Typically, children learn to ride a bike between the ages of three and eight. The average age is 5 years old. However, with the popularity of no pedal bikes, this is becoming increasingly earlier.
Can you get a 3 wheel balance bike?
These are called Tricycles. They are readily available online and in stores.
Can you easily get a convertible balance bike?
Yes, there is one highly trusted brand named Strider which offer a 2-in-1 model. This means that once your child has learnt how to ride, it transforms into a pedal bike. Its well reviewed and is suitable for 3-7 year olds. It definitely helps to save time and space, as there’s no need for 2 separate bikes. It features in two colors; blue and green.
Are there balance bikes for babys?
The youngest balance bikes appear to be designed for those 18 months and older. However, you do have other options in terms of baby balance bikes for those 10-20 months old. A very young child would not be able to manoeuvre a two-wheel balance bike, so a four wheel alternative has been created and it comes very well reviewed. It features in a variety of colors; blue, orange, pink, pink duck, white, yellow and yellow duck.
What is the best balance bike for a 2 and 3 year old?
Our favorite balance bike for 2 and 3 year olds would be the Strider 12 Classic. If you need the balance bike past the age of three, you should look at the Sport or Pro models as these models have a seat suitable for upto 5 years old.
What is the best balance bike for a 4 year old?
What is the best balance bike for a 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 year olds?
Our favourite balance bike for 5 – 10 year olds is the Go Glider 16 inch balance bike. Its light weight, great value and very well reviewed.
We hope that you enjoyed our definitive guide on the best balance bikes for toddlers, kids and older children. What is your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments below.