Best Balance Bikes for Kids – 2017’s Coolest Models
Also known as glider bikes and run bikes, balance bikes are two-wheeled bikes without pedals that are designed for kids as young as 18 months old. These bikes are used to teach kids pre-cycling skills like riding, coasting and jumping on their bikes without adult assistance and training wheels.
After a quick learning period, kids can easily ride their balance bikes over a wide range of terrain from asphalt to dirt, sand, and rocks, even on short jumps and curbs. Parents don’t have to worry about their kids losing their balance or getting stuck on uneven surfaces either.
This is because balance bikes are designed such that kids can push their bikes with both feet on the ground and glide with their feet up. Even a 3-year old child can easily transition from a balance bike to a regular bike – look, Ma, no training wheels!
Children who started at a young age on a balance bike have already developed the physical and mental skills needed for the quick transition. Indeed, we recommend balance bikes as the first bikes for kids as young as 18 months old.
Balance Bikes for Your Kids - Best Options
The trick is in getting the balance bike according to your child’s age particularly his height. We have seen glider bikes suitable for toddlers starting at 18 months old and for pre-school children up to 5 years old.
- Balance Bikes for Your Kids - Best Options
- 1. Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike
- 2. Schwinn Balance Bike
- 3. Go Glider Kids Lightweight Balance Bike
- 4. Critical Cycles Cub No Pedal Balance Bike for Kids
- 5. Chicco Red Bullet Balance Training Bike
- 6. KaZAM Classic Balance Bike
- 7. KaZAM V2S No Pedal Balance Bike
- 8. Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike
- 9. Chillafish BMXie-RS
- 10. Cruzee UltraLite Balance Bike
- How We Made Our Smart Choices in Choosing the Best Balance Bikes
- Why Balance Bikes Are Better for Teaching Kids Their Bicycling Skills
1. Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike
Suitable for: 18 months to 5 years old
This Strider run bike has a low profile particularly a low seat height that makes it suitable for young riders who are first-timers on bikes. Your child can easily get on the seat, balance well with his feet on the ground, and push off without your assistance. You can watch him zip around the yard while he alternates between pushing with his feet and resting them on the footrest.
You don’t have to buy another balance bike as your child grows, especially in height. You just have to adjust the height of the seat to accommodate his longer legs. Your child will also tell you that the saddle seat has such a comfortable feel and ample support that an hour or two of riding is still fun.
What's Great About It: We like that the seat adjustments can be made without tools, a handy feature for busy parents. The sturdy frame with integrated footrest will likely stand at least 4 years of use, from toddlerhood to preschool years. The lightweight wheels and EVA polymer tires contribute to a comfortable ride, even on rougher terrain.
2. Schwinn Balance Bike
Suitable for: 2 to 5 years old
The Schwinn reputation for beautiful, durable and practical bikes extends to the smallest of its products, too. Parents who bought it praise three distinct features that make it a standout from among balance bikes.
First, the frame has a sturdier and heavier quality about it. Since the balance bike is designed for use by toddlers and pre-schoolers, such quality is greatly appreciated. You don’t want a glider bike falling apart while your kid’s on it.
Second, the pneumatic tires counteract the heavier frame so that speed isn’t compromised. These tires also contribute to better traction (i.e., grip on the surface) and higher efficiency in movement. In other words, your child can go as fast as his legs can push the bike.
Third, the wider footrest integrated into the frame adds to the safety and comfort levels. Your worries about your child’s feet being caught in a sharp object or on the rear wheels are reduced.
What's Great About It: Aside from these three notable features, we like the Schwinn balance bike for its adjustable seat. You can raise or lower it depending on your kid’s height and, thus, his safety and comfort needs.
3. Go Glider Kids Lightweight Balance Bike
Suitable for: 5 to 10 years old
For one reason or another, many older kids have yet to ride even a balance bike. The Go Glider is a great choice because it has the right size, features and style that makes it suitable for older kids. Parents don’t even have to coerce their kids to ride on it since it’s an eye-catcher in itself.
Think of the Go Glider as a mountain bike without the pedals and drivetrain although it has other similar features. These include the alloy wheels, pneumatic tires, steel spoke, and brake system including a rear and hand brakes, even foot pegs. The saddle seat even has the look and feel of a standard bike seat so the transition is easier than expected.
What's Great About It: We like the slow speed geometry design not only for the beauty of its curves but, more importantly, that it limits the speed at which a child can ride the balance bike. You want your older child to first master the basics of balancing on a bike before speeding off. Your child, in turn, will like that it looks and feels like a standard mountain bike so it isn’t exactly a bike for sissies.
4. Critical Cycles Cub No Pedal Balance Bike for Kids
Suitable for: 20 months to 5 years old
The Cub’s unitary design – the frame, seat and rear wheel fork are welded together – means that it’s one of the sturdiest balance bikes on our list. You can rely on its stability and durability even when used on rougher terrain, such as bare ground, a must for safety reasons. Your kid will just love that it’s so easy to get onto the seat, put his feet on the ground, and push off without falling sideways.
As your child grows from being a toddler to a pre-schooler, you just have to adjust the seat and handlebar to accommodate his changing height and reach, respectively. You can make quick adjustments even without basic tools, too, even when your child is on the seat.
Many balance bikes don’t have footrests but the Cub has wide footrests that provide added safety and comfort for the rider. Your child will have a safe place to rest his feet on instead of pulling them up or letting them dangle.
What's Great About It: Fully rubberized tires, adjustable seat and handlebar, and wide footrest coupled with a sturdy frame and step-through design. What’s there not to love about the Cub balance bike?
5. Chicco Red Bullet Balance Training Bike
Suitable for: 3 years old and up
The Red Bullet is suitable for older toddlers because of its gorilla-type handlebar similar to an adult chopper (i.e., a Harley-Davidson motorbike style). The larger frame also makes it more difficult, if not dangerous, for younger toddlers to even attempt to get on the balance bike.
The 55-pound weight capacity is underlined by its lightweight yet ultra-durable frame, a notable foundation since it’s made of a high-grade metal alloy. The fully-padded seat not only provides a comfortable place for a rider to park his rear in, so to speak, but it’s also fully adjustable.
You, the parent, don’t have to buy separate air pumps as the puncture-resistant tires will just keep on going even on rougher terrain. You should also instruct your kids to use the integrated footrest for his own comfort and safety – or you can let him figure it out on his own.
What's Great About It: Chicco is a chic and cool brand known for its durable and practical kid-friendly products from strollers and car seats to balance bikes. We chose its balance bikes for these reasons, too.
6. KaZAM Classic Balance Bike
Suitable for: 3 to 6 years old
Many contemporary parents still like the classic designs because when it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The KaZam Classic is a good example. The classic design of a balance bike particularly the absence of pedals remains but there are also several contemporary touches.
For one thing, the glider bike’s frame looks like the letter “S” but turned on its side. You will find it such a striking shape but it’s more than the looks – the frame has a sturdier and stronger quality because of it, too. Your kid will likely appreciate both the unique shape and the unusual placement of the footrest.
Instead of the usual rear fork placement, the footrest is on the frame’s inner curve. Your child can then place his feet directly on his front, a more comfortable position in comparison with placing his feet toward the back. You also have the assurance that your child’s rear is comfortable on the padded saddle.
What's Great About It: We like the S-shaped frame obviously, as well as the unique placement of the footrest, the padded seat, and the pneumatic tires. You can also adjust the seat and handlebar, both of which are standard features in the best balance bikes.
7. KaZAM V2S No Pedal Balance Bike
Suitable for: 2 to 4 years old
Think of the V2S as the little brother of the KaZAM Classic Balance Bike. This is a smaller version suitable for younger kids, thus, the 2-4 years old age range.
Just like its larger counterpart, the V2S has the distinctive S-shaped frame that allows for easy getting on and off the seat. But it has a thinner profile so that younger kids can have an easier time pushing it off the ground and gliding along. Both balance bikes, nonetheless, are made from the same durable metal alloy for the frame, wheel spokes, and handlebar.
The V2S also has its footrest in the center of the frame instead of in its rear part. The central location makes it easier for younger riders to maintain their balance while on the bike.
What's Great About It: We suggest the V2S since it’s a smaller bike suitable for younger riders. The pneumatic tires have puncture-resistant runner tubes, a combo that enhances riding comfort. The fully-padded seat and easy-to-maneuver handlebars are also adjustable to suit kids within the age range.
8. Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike
Suitable for: 2 to 5 years old
Most of the balance bikes on our list are made of metal alloys, plastics, and rubber with no wood in sight. But the Active Skuut stands out because its main material is premium wood! In fact, the entire frame is a single continuous wood material, be it the steering column, or the wheels.
Why wood, you may ask? When used properly, wood offers a strong and sturdy structure that can withstand years of use, not to mention that it has a structural rigidity unlike metal alloys. In fact, the glider bike’s 75-pound capacity is proof of it.
Yes, even the wheels are constructed from premium wood so that the balance bike has the appearance of a soapbox car. The wheels, however, are designed to look like the ones on touring bikes used by professional racers.
What's Great About It: We like the smart combination of wood coupled with pneumatic rubber tires, foam padding on the seats, and plastic on the handle grips. These materials make the Active Skuut not only beautiful to look at but a joy to use – at least, when you ask the kids.
9. Chillafish BMXie-RS
Suitable for: 2 to 5 years old
The BMX design is an icon, even among recreational cyclist, thanks to its ease of use even for X-Games and stunts. Let your child start on his BMX love affair by getting him the BMXie-RS, a balance bike that has similar features as a BMX bike, sans the pedals and drivetrain.
If you’re a BMX fan, you will immediately see the similarities between the two bikes. The balance bike’s lightweight frame, made of fiberglass-reinforced material, has the recognizable BMX design. Even the front fork, handlebar, and saddle seat closely mimic the design, too.
The similarities end where the pedal and drivetrain starts. Instead of these BMX bike parts, the BMXie-R has a foot peg where the rider can place his feet while gliding along.
What's Great About It: We like that it has the distinctive look of the BMX bike so there’s no mistaking its rider’s preferences in bikes. We have to note the comfortable padded seats, the removable plate on the handlebar, and the sturdy yet lightweight frame, too.
10. Cruzee UltraLite Balance Bike
Suitable for: 18 months to 5 years old
A balance bike must be a balance between being lightweight enough for a kid to carry and heavy enough to carry its rider. The UltraLite balance bike has the right balance so we recommend it for younger riders.
You, the parent, will like that it’s just 4.4 pounds in weight – light enough to carry to places and to reduce the risks of injury to your child in case it falls on any part of his body. Your child will like that it’s light enough to push over smooth and rough ground.
But the UltraLite isn’t a lightweight in terms of its features. You will still find the adjustable padded seat and the easy-grip handlebar, as well as the EVA polymer tires and integrated footrest.
What's Great About It: We like that it can be adjusted based on its rider’s height and reach, although the footrest may need adjusting to make it larger. But it’s a minor demerit considering that the UltraLite appears to be a comfortable ride for the kids.
How We Made Our Smart Choices in Choosing the Best Balance Bikes
We kept in mind that balance bikes are kids’ bikes while we were choosing the best among the rest. Our main considerations were then the safety, durability and overall functionality of the balance bikes on our shortlist. We also considered the beauty of their designs but we believed that beauty was a secondary concern.
Since we cannot use the balance bikes ourselves, we relied on a combination of research tools to find the best balance bikes. We scoured the Internet for reviews written by parents, among others; asked several of our family and friends who have bought balance bikes for their kids; and researched about the must-have features of balance bikes, among others. We then shortened our list based on the three criteria mentioned above.
First, we looked for safety features including but not limited to:
- The type of materials used for the frame, seat and handles. We favoured the metal alloys for the frame since these are proven to be sturdier and stronger. We included a wooden frame balance bike because parents loved it, too.
- The build quality of the frame in relation to the rest of the bike’s parts. We chose bikes that parents said were able to withstand years of regular use by their kids, preferably on most types of terrain.
Second, we checked the durability of the balance bikes. We had an easier time in this aspect because we already considered the safety factors. Basically, we believe that when the quality of the materials and build are top-notch, the durability of the balance bike follows.
Third, we considered the practicality of the features in each bike. These features included the braking systems, adjustable height and handlebar, footrest width and location, and turning limiter. The more useful the features, the more points we give to a balance bike.
Of course, we also realize that the age of the rider must also be considered. We then stated the age range so that parents have a reference point when buying their kids’ balance bikes.
While we’re not brand snobs, we must say that the reputation of the bike manufacturer was also a factor in our choices. We believe that a reliable manufacturer will ensure that every bike leaving its factory meets its stringent safety and quality standards. Parents, grandparents and other buyers of balance bikes can rely on such commitment when buying the balance bikes.
Why Balance Bikes Are Better for Teaching Kids Their Bicycling Skills
In the United States, balance bikes are now the preferred way for teaching children as young as 2 years old the basics of bicycling. The more immediate reasons: Parents don’t have to deal with the common issues related to using tricycles and training wheels, such as a hunched posture while supporting the bike from the saddle. Kids, too, learn to ride the balance bike with little to no assistance from adults.
Even child development experts and bicycling advocates recommend balance bikes because of their numerous benefits over the traditional tricycle with training wheels. As a bicycling expert says it, the most challenging part of learning to ride a bike is balancing on it – and balance bikes are right on the money!
The skills required in effective pedalling and balancing originate from different parts of the brain. When a child learns the balancing skill in isolation, he will have an easier time learning to synchronize the two skills on a regular bike. This is especially useful in children with psychomotor delays, particularly the gross motor skills (i.e., tasks requiring large muscle groups working together).
By mastering the balancing skills part first, a child will have more confidence when pedalling on a regular bike. Plus, pushing and balancing on a balance bike is safer because the rider can easily put his feet on the ground to maintain his balance. When he has mastered the balancing part, his pedalling motions will be more effective, too.
The health benefits of biking also applies to riding on a balance bike. Kids who ride for at least 30 minutes outdoors are developing their physical, mental and social skills – without them knowing about it, obviously. The fact that they are also playing outdoors means they are exercising.
But before buying a balance bike, we suggest the following steps to ensure that you get the best possible bike for your child. We are not talking about the most expensive bike either since price isn’t the main determinant of quality.
- Measure the child’s inseam, or the distance from his crotch to the floor while he’s standing up. The balance bike’s seat height should ideally be at least an inch less than the inseam for optimum balance and comfort.
- Check that the bike will be a safe and comfortable ride for its rider. He should be able to put both of his feet comfortably on the ground for balance. But he should also be able to lift his feet off the ground to glide. Adjust the seat height, if necessary.
- Buy a helmet with a snug fit for each child riding a balance bike. Be sure to instruct each rider about wearing his helmet whenever he’s on his bike, even if it’s just a quick spin around the park.
You, as the responsible parent, should also keep a close eye on your kids when they are gliding on their balance bikes. You can then guide them about safety measures.
Balance bikes are more expensive than many regular bikes. But these are worth every dollar because these prepare young riders for regular bikes without the tears, tantrums and scrapes on the knees and elbows. Besides, your child can use it for at least three years so these provide good value for the money.