Balance_Bikes_Fatherly
No Pedals To The Metal

Get One Of These Balance Bikes And Your Kid Can Be Riding By Their Second Birthday

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. 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.

Here are the top models to get your kid up to speed … at their own pace.

LittleBig Bike
LittleBig Bike

Pros: It starts as a small balance bicycle (14-inch height for 2-3 years old) which you can then raise by 4 inches (18-inches for 3-5 years old). Finally, attach the crank and pedals and it becomes a traditional kids’ bike (for kids 5-7 years old) that they can ride straight past that local bike shop. It also comes tricked out with a pivotal saddle, riser handlebars, and a forged-alloy BMX-style stem, among other fancy bike accountment that will let them hang with the big boys and girls.

Cons: A bit heavier than your typical balance bike (weighing between 11 and 14.5 lbs, with pedals) and it’s also a bit pricier than your typical balance bike (about $100 more).

Ages: 2 – 7
Weight: 11 lbs
Wheel Base: 12”
Brake: Yes

LittleBig Bikes ($279 with pedal kit, $217 balance only)

Early Rider 12” Alley Runner Balance Bike
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Pros: Two Wheeling Tots says that the Alley Runner “is every bike junkies’ preschool dream come true,” and then starts spouting off about its hand-brushed, lacquered aluminum frame and high-profile air tires (or tyres, as they call them in the U.K.). Your kid may not care they’re sitting on faux-leather, but you will when he’s cruising past the neighbor-boy’s house. And Road.cc says “the classic diamond-shaped frame has a steeply sloping top tube making it fairly easy for kids to climb on and off.” The Alley Runner also only weighs about 7 pounds which is “super-light for a bike like this; more commonly they’re made of cheaper and heavier components. It means that nippers can manhandle and control the bike with relative ease.” Great! What’s a nipper?

Cons: It’s expensive. Like, you should just get a real pedal bike for this money expensive. But if you have the means, it’s highly recommended. Also, there’s no brake and no bell — so if you have the type of child who’s an introvert that likes to bomb hills, you may want to consider adding some early warning system.

Ages: 2 – 5
Weight: 7.2 lbs
Wheel Base: 12”
Brake: No

Early Rider 12” Alley Runner Balance Bike (About $190)

Ridgeback Scoot 12” Balance Bike
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Pros: Outside loves the fact that you can customize everything “from the frame to the handgrips,” and “it’s adjustable — the seat height can be increased by 6 inches, which means kids up to 6-years-old can hop on comfortably.” The big wheelbase and handlebars make the Scoot easier to handle than some narrower bikes. One Amazon reviewer says, “Skip the Strider and get this one.”

Cons: An Amazon reviewer, who probably has strong feelings about IKEA, had an issue with the vague instructions, saying “the directions to assemble consist of one fairly snotty sheet of paper saying something along the lines of, ‘We’ve done most of the assembly. All the purchaser needs to do is put the seat on with a wrench, put the handle bars in using a 6 mm hex wrench, and install the front tire.’”

Ages: 2 – 6
Weight: 12.1 lbs
Wheel Base: 12”
Brake: Yes

Ridgeback Scoot 12” Balance Bike (About $180)

FirstBIKE Cross Bike
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Pros: This one 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. One very thorough Amazon customer cited everything from easy height adjustment “…with the FirstBIKE it’s just one easy twist of the knob,” to easy pump tires, “… any of our bike pumps would work with the FirstBIKE,” to customer service, “… I wrote the manufacturer to complain about the poor instructions and they responded within minutes.” 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.

Cons: Reviewers have said the flexible frame doesn’t work well with kids who are taller/heavier, but one Amazon reviewer didn’t find the weight an issue, saying “I have no complaints about the build or durability, however, the seat won’t stay up! The knob is not enough to keep it from sliding down. My son is almost 4 and 40 pounds.” Hey guy, stop bragging!

Ages: 2 – 5
Weight: 8.6 lbs
Wheel Base: 12”
Brake: Yes

FirstBIKE Cross ($160)

Burley MyKick
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Pros: One of the best features about the MyKick is that it comes out of the box ready to go. Once the rubber meets the road, Two Wheeling Tots says that these hybrid tires have “the durability and traction of pneumatic with the puncture-proof ease of foam.” And Outside says, “Nice touch: The glossy, graphic-free paint job in summer green, cotton candy pink, and fire truck red gives it the streamlined, high-end look of an adult ride.”

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. One Amazon customer says be wary of using it for older kids, “I bought it for my 4-year-old son, and have moved the saddle to the highest point. He will be using it this summer, that’s it.”

Ages: 2 – 6
Weight: 11 lbs
Wheel Base: 12”
Brake: No

Burley MyKick ($119)

Yedoo Too Too
The Best Balance Bikes of 2016
Pros:  It’s one of the lightest bikes on the market, but can support up to 132 lbs (or your average high school freshman). Wee Bike Shops says, “Riders as young as 22 months of age can now securely plant their feet flat on the ground and begin their 2-wheeled journey. Rear V-brakes are standard equipment, so slowing and stopping are easy to manage, even with bare feet.” And another Amazon reviewer said “There are cheaper bikes on the market but I liked the air tires, quality, adjustable size, and weight.”

Cons: Much like national treasure Tom Hanks, nobody has anything bad to say about it.

Ages: 2 – 6
Weight: 8 lbs
Wheel Base: 12”
Brakes: Yes

Yedoo Too Too ($150)

Early Rider Classic
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Pros: Outside says, “Thanks to the flame detailing, customizable seat and grips, and the wheel set up (14-inches in the front, 12-inches in the rear) you’ll have a badass biker in no time.” 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.

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.

Ages: 2 – 5
Weight: 9.3 lbs
Wheel Base: 12” in front, 14” in back
Brake: No

Early Rider Classic ($160)