You've seen them everywhere, online and IRL, and you are ready to make the investment in buying a balance bike for your child. I've been there. With three kids under four, I've done exactly the same research and spent hours comparing bike after bike.
The first thing I can tell you is that balance bikes (or bikes without pedals) are fabulous to help children learn balance and coordination, and you can start them as young as 12 months old (younger if you opt for the rocking add-ons some brands offer). Balance bikes, also known as strider bikes, glider bikes, or running bikes, are powered by the kids' running legs, and eventually, when they have more coordination and trust, they can glide with their feet up.
Balance bikes are not "one size fits all" so I highly recommend that you look at the specs and measurements of each of these to make sure they will be a good fit for your child. We've also included some helmets because no one (kids or adults) should be biking without the proper protection for their noggins.
These are the best balance bikes for toddlers:
For the youngest, this balance bike by Retrospect, is a top choice to start learning about balance and kicking forward. Perfect for children aged 12-24 months, I tested it with my own twins and they got the hang of it surprisingly fast. It comes with double wheels both in the front and back, making it super stable for those early walkers still getting the hang of balance. The wheels are also suitable for both inside outside use since the wheels won't leave any scratches on your floor. Also, personally, I'm here for the vintage look.
Speaking of vintage look... This balance bike from Janod resembles a vintage scooter, and I'm here for it. Perfect for scooting outside, this bike is made of wood, inflatable tires and an adjustable seat to adapt as your child grows. This style is ideal for children ages 3-5 and ships unassembled—so be ready to do some building before you hand it over to your anxious kid.
This very fancy and cool-looking bike will make the toddler in your life the most stylish on the block. The bike comes in white or red, has an adjustable seat that allows the bike to grow with your child (because we know they grow so fast!) The bike is designed in Japan, combining aesthetic, mechanics and professionalism of child safety, while also keeping it super elegant and classic making it stand out from other bikes available in the market. The bike has a rear break for extra safety and the pouch on the front is fully removable.
Loved by millions of kids, you've probably seen a Strider bike (or two) before. It's budget-friendly and it comes with no-flat tires to ensure years of fun for the kids in your family. They are built to last but also come with the lowest seat height in the market, extending its years of use. Other models are compatible with the pedal kit, turning it from a balance bike to their first real bike. You can also purchase a rocking bike kit to get your kids used to sitting on one before hitting the pavement.
The Mobo balance bike is ideal for children ages 2-6 years old and feature an adjustable seat for different heights and footrests for when they go from pedaling the floor to confidently gliding down hills (while you hold your breath through it all). Mobo bikes also come with "never flat" tires, which ensures that the fun will never end, rain or shine.
The woom bike has been called "perfection from top to bottom" by some reviewers, so if perfection is what you are looking for, this is the bike for you. The bike has a smooth and easy ride for beginners and the handlebar placement gives them all the confidence they need to adventure onto the sidewalk. Compared to other balance bikes, the Woom is definitely spendy, which means it makes a great ask for a collective big birthday or holiday gift. The good news is that Woom has a great resale value on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist so if you do decide to invest, chances are you'll recoup a lot of what you spent initially. Other perks include: handle breaks which start the idea of breaking with your hands early and air tires that I think provide a better cushion compared to rubber or foam tires. The best part of this Woom balance bike is that my son was able to seamlessly transition to a pedal bike with no training wheels before he even turned three.
The Pre bike is super light, which will help little ones maneuver this bike with ease. It has an aluminum frame and stable 12" wheels that will give every rider the confidence they need as they learn how to pedal for the first time. Giant is known for their excellent adult bikes, so you can be sure you are getting an incredible quality product.
For the budget-conscious parent, the Banana balance bike is unbeatable (plus it's currently on sale!). Perfect for kids 2-4 years old, the Banana bike is light and has a low center of gravity to help little ones learn how to balance. This bike comes with a full warranty, but it is also made of premium materials (like a cushioned seat and soft handlebars) to make the experience even better for your kid.
Remember to always use helmets when biking! Here are some of our favorites:
Kids' helmets don't need to be ugly, and the Lil' Linus Helmet is proof of that. The new line by the brand is stylish, simple and chic, while making sure that their tiny (or big!) heads are super duper protected. They come with a faux leather strap with a no-pinch magnetic closure.
Nutcase is one of those brands that are beloved by moms, and there's a reason for it. They are affordable helmets that will keep your kids' heads super safe, they look fun and, most importantly, are comfortable on little heads. The Baby Nutty helmet is also designed to grow with them, with the inclusion of additional pads that can swap in and out. The helmet's shape even encourages good bike posture!
Does your kiddo gripe about having to wear a helmet? Try Thousand! Their newly launched kids line interviewed over 100 kids to create a helmet they actually want to wear. Not only is it available in awesome color options, but each comes with a pack of removable, reflective stickers they can use to make it just their style.
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