Balance bikes make tricycles and training wheels obsolete because they teach kids to balance before they learn to pedal. In retrospect, this makes way more sense, since balancing is the part that leads to falling and falling is what makes learning to ride a bike hard in the first place. And that’s why we love us a great balance bike. A few guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Make sure your child’s feet touch the ground when he or she is seated on the balance bike. And of course, helmets are a must.
Because balance bikes have no pedals, kids can get their feet down before they ever fall; by the time they’re ready for pedals, they’ve already learned to coast upright. You can start them as young as a year-and-a-half and never have to use the formerly popular “chase them frantically down the street as they careen dangerously toward the neighbor’s mailbox” learning technique.
See more: Best Toys for 2-Year-Olds
Here are the top models to get your kid up to speed … at their own pace. Before you know it, they’ll be hooked and asking for a mountain bike.
Best Balance Bikes
This balance bike has adjustable handlebars, so it grows with your kid, and a three-wheel design that's perfect for beginners.
Pros: Ideal for kids 18 months and up, this is literally the perfect starter balance bike. It has a training mode that allows you to adjust the width between the two back wheels, and as your child grows more confident, you change from training to balance mode.
Cons: It’s most definitely a beginner bike, so keep that in mind.
The pneumatic air-filled tires on this balance bike are extra-wide, giving your child a solid foundation from which to start out and making him or her feel more balanced.
Pros: The Joovy Bicycoo is a durable and cool-looking balance balance bike for kids 18 months and older. The frame is made of aluminum, so it’s both solid and lightweight. The seat is height adjustable.
Cons: This bike can be on the larger side for some kids.
The seat and handlebar heights on this lightweight balance bike adjust to accommodate kids ages 18 months to 5 years.
Pros: The Strider is a great, solid, starter balance bike that grows with your child. It’s ideal for kids as young as 18 months old. You can add future upgrades like a foot brake or heavy-duty tires.
Cons: There are some complaints that the seat doesn’t stay in position.
The traction tread tires on this balance bike give kids added confidence and stability. This particular model is has a weight limit of 50 pounds, and is great for kids two and older.
Pros: Not only does it look pretty cool, but the Radio Flyer has an adjustable seat, tires with extra traction, and a ringing bell because, why not?
Cons: The bike is on the smaller side, so it’s more suitable for younger kids.
This balance bike has a composite frame that doesn’t have the same jagged edges as your typical metal bike, which lessens the chance of being stabbed while falling.
Pros: It’s easy to adjust this balance bike’s height, and another bonus is that its tires are compatible with any bike pump. It also includes a brake, just in case you’re the type of father that isn’t cool with your kid rolling through traffic like they’re Popeye Doyle in The French Connection. The balance bike is good for kids ages two to five.
Cons: Reviewers have said the flexible frame doesn’t work well with kids who are taller/heavier.
One of the best features about the MyKick is that it comes out of the box ready to go.
Pros: This balance bike has long lasting, flat-free tires, which eliminates the need for pumping tires, plus an adjustable seat and handlebars to accommodate the needs of growing children. It’s suitable for kids three and older.
Cons: The MyKick doesn’t have a turning restrictor, so the possibility of whipping them around like a top is real. Also, the bolts stick out and can become jagged and stabby.
This super-light balance bike is also a premium running bike that comes equipped with rear V-brakes that make slowing and stopping a breeze.
Pros: It’s one of the lightest bikes on the market, but can support up to 132 lbs (or your average high school freshman). Rear V-brakes are standard equipment, so slowing and stopping are easy to manage. It’s suitable for kids ages two to four.
Cons: Much like national treasure Tom Hanks, nobody has anything bad to say about it.
The Early Rider Classic is the balance bike to get if you're into aesthetics, because it looks cool, and has all the safety features you need, albeit no back brake.
Pros: This bike is also the lightest of most any on the market, mostly because it’s made out of sturdy birch. And the removable turning restrictor means giving them more mobility as your kids get older. Because bikers don’t play by society’s rules. It features pneumatic tires with aluminum rims, and notched fork ends for quick assembly. Suitable for kids ages two to five.
Cons: It’s expensive, even before you start converting pounds to dollars (Early Rider is a U.K. company.) Also, because they’re based in jolly ole England, it might be difficult to get it from (or back to, if there’s anything wrong) a retailer.
If you've got a little off-roader on your hands, get him or her started with this BMX-style balance bike.
Pros: This balance bike has a hi-ten steel frame, BMX gearing, and 16-inch wheels. In other words, it’s the perfect tool for getting down and dirty.
Cons: This balance bike has a single hand-brake, and it’s heavy. So it’s better for more experienced riders.
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