Saracen Freewheel

Saracen Freewheel

Saracen award

Any balance bike is better than no balance bike, but every now and then, we come across a bike that is truly exceptional.  One of the few balance bikes on the market that is tested to CPSC bike and toy requirements, the Saracen Freewheel is solid from top to bottom.  Tested to withstand physical stress from multiple directions (bike standards) as well as for lead and choking hazards (toy requirements), the Saracen is a real bike, not just a toy.  Saracen snow

Built for adventurous older toddlers, the Saracen comes complete with wide handlebars, internally routed brake cables, knobby 12″ air tires and as icing on the cake, a well-loved bell.  Coming in at 10.7 lb., the Saracen is about a half pound lighter than the Ridgeback Scoot (another top pick of ours for this age group) and is also slightly smaller to allow for younger/shorter/lighter riders.  A fan from day one, our 4 year-old tester in 4T clothes, had no problem putting the Saracen to work.  From the pavement to the pump track, the Saracen was nimble enough for quick maneuvering, yet sturdy enough to stay grounded during leaning turns (where many light balance bikes lose traction).

Saracen off road2

Saracen Freewheel in action:

Saracen’s standard knobby tread make it an excellent choice for kids who want to ride on trails as well as paved surfaces.  No too knobby, the tire rides smooth on paved surfaces, but has much better grip than the standard street tires found on most balance bike, including the Scoot.  Built in the same factory (but designed by different UK bike companies), the Scoot and Saracen have the same wide handlebars, grips, bell and rounded bolts.

Saracen features 2

Both bikes also have similar easy-reach, adjustable hand brakes and adjustable, easy-reach brake levers.  When purchased from WeeBikeShop, both come with an upgraded seat clamp and brake lever barrel (red metal pieces on bike).

Saracen details

Several other differences exist between the Scoot and the Saracen.  Better for younger toddlers, in at least 2T pants (but not petite – see below), the Saracen is lighter, has a lower handlebars and a lower minimum seat height.  The Scoot is heavier, taller and is better suited for preschoolers in at least 3T pants.  For kids in at least 5T clothes, or those kids who many need additional years of riding on a balance bike, the Ridgeback Scoot XL is a better fit.

Saracen Comparison

35 lb. 4-year-old in 4T clothes on the Saracen, Scoot and Scoot XL.  He was easily able to fit on all three bikes, but has the most room for growth on the Scoot XL.

Saracen vs. Scoot

With an inseam of 13.5″, out 2yo tester thoroughly enjoyed riding the Saracen, but in the end, it was too wide for her petite build.  In addition to the handlebar bars being too wider than ideal, her shoes often hit the rounded rear axle bolt during her stride.  For average size 2-year-old, the rear-bolts shouldn’t be a problem.

Saracen 2yo

Bottom Line: The ideal bike for older toddlers, in at least 2T (but not petite), ready to roll on various terrains.  With wide handlebars, easy-reach levers and knobby 12″ tires all wrapped up into 10.7 lb., the Freewheel is well equip to tackle the never-changing, adventurous world of the toddler.  Bike comes with an extended seat post.

Availability: The Saracen Freewheel is available at WeeBikeShop for $179.

FTC Disclosure:  All pictures and statements provided belong to Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however a bike was provided by WeeBikeShop, whom we are an affiliate of, to help facilitate this review.  

      • russmo

        My son is almost 2.5 years old, weighs 30 lbs, and wears 2T clothes, occassionally 3T for some pieces. Any advice to help choose between the Yedoo TooToo, Saracen Freewheel, Muno Pro, or Scoot?

        • I would probably go with the Saracen. It is slightly lighter than the Scoot and provides more room for growth than the Too Too. We tested in out an a child in 4T (boy) and in 2T (girl) and they both did great on it (see pics below). The Muna Pro would also be worth considering as it is similiar in weigh to the Saracen, but I believe the handlbars on the Saracen are slightly wider, which is beneficial to many kids.

      • Laura

        Hi Natalie,

        I’ve been researching balance bikes for weeks now, trying to find the best option for our boy/girl twins. I’d like to get them the same type of bike but because they are built so differently, I cannot land on one that I think will work well for both of them. They will be 3 in a few weeks (this is their birthday present). My son has a 15.5″ inseam, is about 41″ tall, weighs 36 pounds and is transitioning into 4T clothes now. My daughter has a 13″ inseam, is about 37.5″ tall, weighs 29 pounds and is transitioning into 3T clothes now.

        I’ve been looking at the Charger, Burley MyKick, Saracen, Yedo Too Too, Cruzee, Scoot, Woom1, FirstBike, etc. I’d like to get them a bike from either your exceptional or highly recommended lists, trying to be around the $150ish mark since I have to buy two plus helmets! But because safety is our top priority, if there is a better bike that works well for both, I’d max out at $200 each. I’d also like the bike to have a hand brake, non exposed bolts and a knobby end on the handlebars (why Frog is not listed above). They will mostly be riding on pavement or sidewalk. If I think one works for my son, I then see the weight is too much or the height is too high for my daughter. Or if it works for her, it looks like he’ll outgrow it way before her.

        Do you think there is an option that would work for both of them from the list above or maybe one I haven’t though of? Or do you think they are better off with different models? It’s always easier with them to get them same thing in different colors but I’m not sure that will work this time.

        Thank you so much in advance for your input!

        Laura

        • I can see your dilemma as they are right on the edge between small and medium balance bikes. If your daughter is on the athletic side, I would probably go with the Scoot as it will provide them plenty of room for growth, plus they come in many colors. The Scoot Dimensions would be perfect, because it is lightweight, but they are pricey at $200 each. Generally, I don’t recommend for Scoot for kids under 29lb, but since she is close and it is the just the beginning of the riding season (assuming you are in the the Northern Hemisphere:) ), then she should do fine with the Scoot. If she is timid and you expect the weight of the bike to bother her, then I would go for the Saracen, which is lighter and will still provide room for your son to grow into. I think the others will be too small for your son with time.

          • Laura

            Thanks Natalie! She is on the petite side and definitely more cautious than her brother. She’s also been holding strong at 29lbs for a few months now. We’ve been weighing her frequently because she needs to be 30lbs before her car seat can turn to forward facing. 🙂

            I do really like the Scoot, especially since it comes in different colors, but it may be too heavy for her and unfortunately, I don’t know of any local places for them to test the bikes at. I’m starting to lean towards different models so that they each have the best, safest experience. If we were to get them different bikes. Would you recommend the Saracen over the Yedo Too Too for her and still go with the Scoot for him? Will the Saracen be too high for her with a minimum inseam of 13″? I saw in your “what to look for section” that the minimum should be 1-1.5″ below the inseam. It looks like from the photos below she should be ok with it, as long as her shoes don’t hit the back axle bolt like in the review pictures.

            We are in NJ so yes, we’re in the beginning of the riding season and I expect they’d be using the bikes for at least this year and next, if not the following as well. The goal would be to not have to get them another balance bike before a pedal bike.

            • BigB22

              You’re probably OK turning that car seat forward-facing. You don’t need to stress every ounce!

            • BigB22

              And btw, our son is 26.75 inches tall and 29 lbs, and we went with the Saracen and it seems to fit him well, though we did rotate the handlebars in. Seat is not even on the lowest setting.

            • I would still go with the Saracen as the wider handlebars are better for 3yo’s. For the inseam, you are right in that ideally you should have 1-1.5″ of clearance when they are learning. This is especially important for toddlers who walk the bike and don’t understand how to sit on the seat. For preschoolers, you can generally get away with less as they understand the concept of sit and push, when toddlers may not. So as long as she a firm 13″ and growing, she should be fine on the Saracen.

              • Laura

                Great. Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate it!

              • Laura

                Just noticed the minimum height for the scoot is 14″ so it definitely looks like the Saracen would be the way to go for her! Stinks it only comes in one color but it’s the better fit. Thanks again!

      • BigB22

        Natalie – You finally got the review up! We went away for almost a month and came back and gave our son the Saracen last week and he loves it! Not warm enough to take it outside until this coming weekend, but he has been siting on it peddling around our tiny apartment, ringing the bell.

        Is there anything that really shows, in pictures or video, how to adjust to the perfect height? I am having trouble getting him to consistently sit on the seat instead of standing in front of the seat and think the height has something to do with it. He did start sitting more when I rotated the handlebars 90 degrees inward, to make them closer to his chest.

        Thanks!!

        • Good call on the handlebars! I really need to make a video showing all of these tricks. For the seat height, you generally want it about 1-1.5″ below their inseam. There needs to be a slight bend in their knee when they stand over the seat. If their legs are straight, the seat is too high, if they looked squished, then it is too low. Here’s a picture of a 2yo with the proper seat height, notice the slight bend in her knee.

      • jasmine

        Hi, I want to say a huge thank you! Your website is amazingly helpful. We are in search for a balance bike for our 4 year old son. Could you please help us? I really would like to get Saracen, but we need something more affordable. He is an average size child, wearing 4T clothes and inseam 16.5″ (if I measured right) he will ride mostly on sidewalks and pavement and on trails once a week. We also have a 1 year old girlwho will inherit/share the bike next year as she will be almost 2,5 years old. I looked for Radio flyer with air tires but i think a handbrake is a must? Thank you for your help.

        • You’re welcome, glad to help! There are several options you can find under $100, but finding a decent bike under $75 with a hand brake is going to be a challenge. Here are my top two options under $100 the Charger 12 for $89 (http://amzn.to/22JwiwG) and the BikeStar 12 for $84 (http://amzn.to/1SPnVKl) – this is going to be smaller and heavier than the Charger.

      • Thanks again for this awesome website. The Saracen looks perfect, but I wonder if there’s any space for the rider to rest their feet when going downhill? The Commencal Ramones 12 would be perfect for that but has no brakes and is expensive. Any way I could mod this one?

        Thanks!

        • There isn’t a foot rest, but I have found that kids generally don’t need one. In fact, almost all of the bikes I have reviewed have not had footrest and I have never had a kid ask where they are suppose to put their feet. When riding, they simply just lift them up off the ground. I have also noticed that when a bike does have a footrest, it is one more thing for the kids to worry about as they feel they have to use it, but when it is not there, they don’t miss it. Of course, some bikes have them and kids do like them, I have just found that they aren’t necessary.

      • Ellen

        Wow! This is a fantastic website. We are hoping to purchase a balance bike for my son. He is 2.5, has a 14′ inseam (I think I measured right…), and is about 34/35 pounds. He is short but very sturdy! He is mostly in 2T but we are starting to mix in 3T clothes. He is very jealous of his big sister’s bike so we want to get him his own for summer. We leave in WA state and mostly plan to ride around the neighborhood, and paved/dirt trails. After reading all the reviews, I am just super confused about what bike would be best for him — he has enough weight for some of the bigger models but is relatively short so not sure what would be best. Thanks in advance for any advice!

        And…so wish we would have had this information when my Kindergartner was little. She is SO timid and not good at bike riding — a balance bike would have helped her a lot I think. She still really struggles and I’m guessing the transition to no training wheels will be rough. Thank you for this website and wonderful resource for parents!

        • Ellen

          Whoops, he has a 14 INCH inseam, not a 14 foot one. I am still not sure I measured exactly right, but I know I’m not off by that much. Ha!

        • Ahh, so sorry I didn’t respond earlier! I mistakenly missed this comment. For your 2.5 yo old, the Saracen would be a good choice as it would provide him a lot of room for growth, but the handlebars will probably be a little wide for him. If he has a larger frame, that shouldn’t be a problem, but if he is more petite, I would go for the Too Too.

          For your daughter, I would absolutely go with a balance bike for her now. If she is timid, she is going to be be much more comfortable learning on a balance bike than on a bike with training wheels.

      • deepak

        excellent website.. didnt know there were so many options out there. My son started on Strider at 2 and he is too fast on it and eager to do a lot of tricks. So, he is growing out. He is 3.5 now and I dont want to go to pedal yet, but want a bike with air tubes for cushioning and rear brakes so that he learns to use the brake before pedaling. Not worried about budget but want the best so that i can use it for the younger one too 2 yrs down the lane. Confused between Scaracen or Ridgeback 12/14 or islabikes 14, one concern with all choices was lack of foot rest, he likes foot rest slopes. His seam without socks is 16.5 and height 38.5 inches about 30lbs. We are typically on pavement or grass but plan to venture into trails. Would appreciate your recommendation.

        • Glad to help. With his size, he would be much better on a larger balance bike than his Strider. The Islabikes is certainly going to be too small for him considering he already knows how to ride. Air tires on the Strider is an option, but you won’t get the hand brake which will better prepare him for transitioning to a pedal bike. The Saracen and the Scoot would both be great options, but as you mentioned, they don’t have a footrest. I have never had a testers complain about not having a footrest before, so I don’t think they are requires, BUT if your son is already used to using one, he might miss it. Unfortunately, there aren’t any larger balance bike that have a good footrest. Kids his age tend to get more adventurous on their bikes, so footrests can be problematic as they can get in the way during crashes. I think your best would be the Saracen, as it is longer and wider than the Strider, but not as heavy as the Scoot. I think with time your son will get used to not having a footrest, or you could put a small amount of grip tape on the frame if he really wanted a place for his foot.

          • deepak

            Thank you very much for the Suggestion. But looks like Saracen is our of stock in Amazon and weebikeshop. (Given my son is 30 lbs and slim,) Would scoot be the next best choice or wait until he is 4 and get scoot or scoot XL?

            • Ugh, well that’s not going to work then. My next choice would be the Scoot 12″. The Scoot is very similar to the Saracen and are available for $180 at WeeBikeShop. The “Rockstar” coupon code will also get you 10% off, which bring it down to the price of the Saracen. Given his age and weight, I wouldn’t go with the XL anytime soon as he is better off on the smaller, lighter 12″ Scoot.

              • deepak

                I noticed that there are two bikes from Ridgeback, Scott $179 and Dimensions 12 $299. Are they the same bike in terms of geometry but Dimensions 12 is lighter version? Wondering if Dimensions 12 is worth the extra money.
                Thank you very much once again for your time and effort towards my queries and towards building the excellent website.

              • Yes, they are essentially the same frame design, but the Dimensions has several significant upgrades. You can see the differences on my comparison of the Scoot XL vs. the Dimensions 14 here: http://www.twowheelingtots.com/ridgeback-dimensions-balance-bike-review-14/. The substantial price increase is mainly due to the lighter rims and tires (which are wider and offer more cushioning), the hubs on the Dimensions are also sealed and spin much smoother and longer than those on the Ridgeback. Lastly, the headset on the Dimensions is an upgrade as well. Whether it is worth the upgrades really depends on you. The Scoot is an awesome bike (one of our favorite bike we have ever tested) and the Dimensions takes the Scoot to a completely different level. If it was in my budget, I would go for the Dimensions, if not, I would happily order the Scoot.

              • deepak

                Natalie, Thank you very much for the details and guidance. Very helpful, I will get a ridgeback for my Son. Once again great website.

      • john

        I have 29 months old toddler autistic boy but active though and never have tried any bikes.. I was looking for the Saracen bike for him so he can try it now and will last for maybe 2 more years but it seems it is out of stock on amazon and weebikeshop. Any other websites i can look in to where i can buy this? any stores sell this? Or something very close to the saraceen? thanks

        • If the Saracen is out on Amazon, it will be out everywhere else. WeeBikeShop is the US Distributor for the bike, so I wouldn’t hesitate to call them to ask when they expect a new shipment. The closest bike to the Saracen is the Scoot, but if your son isn’t over 30 lb., it may be too heavy for him. The Too Too is also one I would consider as it is lightweight, and also have air tires and a hand brake. As for a balance bike, I have personally seen them be amazing for Autistic kids. They do take some time to learn, but they are a much more comfortable and natural way to learn to ride versus a bike with training wheels.

      • mac

        WeeBikeShop shows this has a 17″ max height and this site shows the max height is 19″. Do you know which one it is? My child currently has a 16″ inseam so I want to make sure this will last until we move up to a pedal bike. Thanks!

        • I believe the 17″ max is with the standard seat post, but the Saracen we got also comes with an extended seat post which extends it to 19″. Perhaps the new shipments of Saracen’s don’t come with the extended seat post? I would double check with WeeBikeShop (Saracen’s US Distributor) before you order. I will do the same to make sure the 19″ is correct.

        • All Saracen Freewheel balance bikes come with a 2nd longer seatpost, so the range is extended to 19″
          There will also be an optional Minimizer seatpost available that makes it possible to lower the seat an additional 1″ (down to 12″) This new post will also work with the Scoot and Scoot XL. lowering their minimum seat heights to 13″ and 15″ respectively.

          • Mike McConnell

            Ivan – I just purchased a Saracen freewheel through weebikeshop / balance bike land, and I did not receive a second seat post. Can you confirm as to whether I was supposed to receive one or if the new one is longer? Thanks.

            • Hi Mike,
              These seatposts are purchased separately by WeeBikeShop but they need a special hole drilled in one end, one that we do ourselves. We’re in the process of getting these drilled and they will all be dispatched separately to yourself and others very soon. Thanks for your patience.

              • Mike McConnell

                Thank you for the fast reply! That’s awesome to hear that we will be getting them, I know there was the shipping issue with the freighter. My daughter will love this bike for her birthday present and I just got it assembled and am totally impressed with the build quality. Thank you for your fast response.

      • Naomi

        Hi Natalie, I have seen discussion on here about the maximum seat height and the discrepancy on websites being because there are two seat posts available. I am in the Uk and looking to buy from Evans Cycles. Do you know if the extender seatpost will come as standard with purchace of the bike in the UK? If not is there any way I can purchase it separately (again from a UK stockists)?
        Many thanks
        Naomi

        • Sorry, but I have no idea! I’m not sure if the US imported of the Saracen puts the extended seat post in or if it comes standard like that from the factory.

        • The Saracen Freewheel does not come with a 2nd seat post from the factory. However, any after-market seat post measuring 27.2mm diameter and about 300mm long can be used to increase the seat range. It needs to have the industry standard 7/8″ flare at the top. The only caveat is that a 5mm hole needs to be drilled through the top of the post for the thru-bolt of the saddle. The Saracen is now discontinued, the last remaining stock in the US will soon be gone, although there is a company working to revive the design and re-brand it for the US in 2017. Future production runs will include a 2nd longer seat post direct from the factory.

      • Masha Merkulova

        Hello! What a wonderful website- so much great information– thank you!
        I’m torn between a few bikes so I thought I’d ask for your recommendation.
        My 2,5 year old weighs 38 lbs and has inseam of about 15′. He wears mostly 4T pants that are slightly rolled up for length ( but fits well in the waist).
        I’m looking at the Scoot vs Saraceen. Something well made, safe, easy to use.
        Thanks so much!

        • Both options would be great. My son easily rode both of them and when he was in 4T this summer.

      • Katie Kinney Stegeman

        Hi – love your website but feeling lost with so many options. Looking to buy our 3 yr old a balance bike for Christmas. She is small for her age at 27.5 lbs. and wears 3T pants. Torn between the seracen, ridgeback dimension 12, and the scoot. All of which are heavier than 30% of her body weight. Not sure what to do? Would love your expert recommendation. We don’t mind spending a little more to get a quality bike, mostly concerned with getting something that will fit her well and that she will be able to handle. She will probably ride on our concrete (with lots of cracks) street OR at a paved park. We’d also like it to last long enough for her little sister (1 this month) to use down the road.
        Thanks – Katie

        • All three of those bikes are awesome, so you really can’t go wrong with any of them. The one downside to any of these three is that they are larger bikes, so they will take a while for your 1yo to grow into. Most younger siblings want to ride much younger than their older siblings. Kids as young as 18 months hop on balance bikes are begin walking and eventually running around. A smaller bike, like the Too Too, would fit your 3yo now and would allow your 1yo to ride in as soon as she is in 24mo pants, versus 2T-3T like the other models. The downside of the Too Too is your 3yo will outgrow it much sooner than the others. So what to pick? I would go with the Ridgeback Dimensions first, as it is by far the best bike this size, followed by the Saracen and the Scoot. If your 3yo is still riding the bike when you 1yo once to learn to ride, I would then pick up a used Strider for cheap and have her ride it until your 3yo moved up to a pedal bike. Hope that helps!