Best Balance Bikes: Learn to Ride In Style
Learn to balance more efficiently with these fun and unique balance bikes
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BY Scott Roepel / LAST UPDATED ON October 5, 2019
A balance bike is designed to teach children how to ride a bicycle without training wheels and pedals. They use their feet to push along the bike. They are lightweight, compact, and easy to move. If you’re a parent who likes biking, a balance bike allows you to ride next to your kid while he or she scoots alongside you. Here are the best balance bikes to consider for your active child.
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Benefits of Balance Bikes
- Balance. The main benefit of balance bikes is that they teach children to balance on two wheels, which is the first step of learning to ride a pedal bike. Once they master riding a balance bike, children can learn how to use a hand brake and skip training wheels altogether.
- Confidence. Another great thing about balance bikes is that they boost children's confidence. Because they learn to balance on two wheels all on their own, children feel more confident about cycling without support.
- Safety. Balance bikes are very safe and allow children to learn how to balance without tipping over. They are much more stable than tricycles and other similar options. Because balance bikes don't have pedals, kids can focus on keeping the balance and avoid countless falls.
- Outdoor play. Balance bikes also promote outdoor play. They keep children occupied for hours, allowing them to cycle in the backyard and learn new things. With them, children are less interested in digital distractions and spend more time being physically active.
Types of Balance Bikes
Balance bikes differ according to the material used for frame construction. The first ones were made of wood and mostly used as toys. These days, they are designed to provide safety and stability, teaching children to balance before getting on a pedal bike.
The main benefit of this type is the extra stability they provide because of the heavy frame. Parents also love how modern wooden balance bikes look. However, they are more challenging to carry and prone to weather damage.
This type refers to balance bikes with aluminum or steel frames. Both materials provide excellent durability because they are sturdy and don't wear out quickly. They also ensure comfort and stability during every ride. However, steel frames are heavier and sturdier than aluminum ones. The former type is lightweight and easier to carry around.
Although made of plastic, these are also incredibly durable. The main benefit is the lightweight design. Plastic frames are sturdy yet lightweight, making balance bikes easy to transport and store. Also, they are easy to assemble and even children can lift them on their own.
Strider was founded in 2007 and is located in Rapid City, South Dakota. The company designs first-class bikes for children of all ages. It strives to provide comfortable rides with all-terrain bikes that can suit a wide range of preferences. The Strider Sport Balance Bike is our top pick when it comes to balance bikes.
Retrospec is a popular company based in Los Angeles. Because it has an innovative team passionate about outdoor adventures, Retrospec prides itself with an impressive collection of outdoor gear. It produces everything from children's bikes to foam rollers and goggles. The Retrospec Cub Kids Balance is one of the company's most popular products on the market.
Schwinn was founded in 1895 in Chicago. It all started when German-born mechanical engineer Ignaz Schwinn traveled to the United States to pursue his dreams. After the first series of Schwinn bicycles, the company quickly gained immense popularity and has remained well-rated among customers ever since. The Schwinn Balance Bike is one of the top solutions for children who are still learning to cycle.
Balance Bikes Pricing
- $40-$70: At this price point, you can find small balance bikes for toddlers and lightweight ones for older children. Budget-friendly products might be more prone to damage and less durable, but they are still stable, safe, and beneficial.
- $70 and up: For some extra cash, you can get balance bikes that are suitable for children of different ages and built to last. They mostly have adjustable seats for growing children, sturdier frames, and puncture-proof wheels.
The first thing to consider is the overall weight of the balance bike. It should not be more than 30 percent of your child's weight. For example, if your child weighs 30 pounds, a balance bike can weigh 9 pounds or less. It's a safety concern, so surebe to calculate the weight correctly. Also, lightweight balance bikes are easier to master, handle, and carry.
You’ll also want to consider the seat height before the purchase. It's essential to choose the correct size of a balance bike, so a child can learn how to balance correctly. A bike that’s the wrong size can be dangerous to ride and might frustrate little ones who are trying to learn a new skill.
To get a proper bike that ensures safety and ease of use, measure your child's inseam. Pick a balance bike that has a seat in the same height, so your child can reach the ground and slightly bend the knees. A seat should be one inch lower than the child's inseam, and preferably, have an adjustable feature. This way, you can move the seat up as your child grows.
Balance bikes come with wheels in a wide range of sizes. Wheels can have from 10 to 14 inches and more. There are even some types that measure up to 20 inches, and they are designed for older children.
A 12-inch balance bike is the most common, suiting children who are 24 to 36 months old. If you want to teach your toddler how to balance, the one that measures 10 inches would be a better fit. On the other hand, wheels that measure 14 inches are perfect for older children.
Balance bike tires come in five different types, so you can choose a perfect one according to your preferences. EVA tires have a hard rubber foam, which means they are puncture-proof, durable, and lightweight. On the other hand, air tires are quite heavy and prone to damage. They do, however, allow for excellent traction and absorb bumps better than foam.
Big Apple tires are wide and large, providing more cushioning and comfort. They are very efficient and durable. Rubber Honeycomb tires are the most versatile ones. They provide great traction and prove to be very durable. Solid rubber tires also offer excellent traction but have no cushioning, which means they are less comfortable.
- Footrest. Footrests on balance bikes are handy but not necessary. Children who are learning to balance instinctively know when and how to lift their feet. They don't need footrests, especially because they get in the way during rides. Still, if you think your child should have a footrest, make sure to pick the one that is properly positioned.
- Assembly. Balance bikes should be easy to assemble. They should come with clear instructions and all the necessary tools and accessories, so all parents can put them together in a matter of minutes. Quality balance bikes come with all you need for assembly and don’t require professional help.
Best Balance Bikes Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Always ensure your child wears a helmet when riding a bike. They should also wear elbow and knee pads for extra safety.
- Keep a close eye on your child when he or she is riding the balance bike. While it may be considered a training bike, it can still be dangerous and a child can get hurt.
- Balance bikes come in a variety of colors and styles. You can more than likely find one that is your child’s favorite color to make them happier.
Q: How do I know what size bike I need?
A: Measure your child’s height and match it to the bike manufacturer’s guide to see what it recommends. For the best results, measure your child’s inseam. Measure from the ground to the seam of his or her pants to get the exact height for the bike.
Q: How do I take care of a balance bike?
A: Make sure you properly maintain the balance bike to keep it safe for your child. Check the adjustable seat and handlebars, and wipe away any debris. Routinely check to make sure all of the bolts are tightened. Also, for tires with air pressure, make sure they have enough air in them.
Q: Do balance bikes have to be assembled?
A: You may have to do some sort of assembly when it arrives. However, many come pre-assembled or have the handlebars already constructed. If you have trouble, you can consult the internet for guidance or take the bike to the nearest bike shop.
To help teach your child how to ride and balance on a bike, consider the comfortable and sturdy Strider Sport Balance Bike.
Or you may like the budget-friendly Retrospec Cub Kids Balance, which comes in different colors and offers excellent control for growing children.