Balance bikes are simple in theory. Two-wheels, a handlebar, a seat and maybe a brake, what else could there be? According to the companies that bestow various awards to toy balance bikes, not much, but in the world of cycling, balance bikes can be surprisingly complex. For in between those two wheels, a child must learn to balance, build hand-eye coordination and learn to maneuver the bike through neighborhood obstacles. But how does a child balance? What is the optimal body position to allow them to balance? What features of a bike make it easier to balance? This is what makes the difference between a bike and a toy. When they set out to build a bike, WOOM Bikes from Austria, simply didn’t put together a bike, they MADE a bike out of parts and components fine-tuned for a child’s body. Instead of rushing a bike to the market, WOOM spent years researching how a child learns to balance and then built a bike around their findings. The result, the WOOM1, a perfectly balanced bike that is as easy to balance as it is to ride.
In fact, compared to the many other balance bikes we have tested, the WOOM1 was so easy to balance that our 3-yo tester, put his feet up to glide or took really long strides whenever he got a chance. Whether cruising on the bike trail or flying through the pump track, his feet were up and he was gliding.
Part of WOOM’s winning combination is the WOOM1’s long wheelbase, lightweight frame and, to our surprise, an upright body position for the rider. Upon reviewing many bikes in the past, we found that an upright position of a rider made a bike harder to balance as the overall center of gravity of the rider was raised. WOOM’s research, however, found that by keeping the rider’s body weight centered over the seat of the bike, a more natural environment is created and kids more intuitively able to find and maintain their balance. By sitting upright, the center of gravity of the rider is raised, but when counterbalanced with a longer wheelbase and a drop down frame (which lowers the overall center of gravity of the bike, as well as make the bike more accessible for the kids), the bike is easily balanced.
When compared to the Islabikes Rothan, the upright position of the rider is slight, but noticeable. Both bikes have very similar wheelbases, but the WOOM1 has higher handlebars (shown later in the review) as well as a low step-through frame. (Older version of WOOM1 shown in pictures below, but the geometry of the current WOOM1, as well as the Rothan, are the same.)
In addition to being well designed, the WOOM1 is well built. Starting with a lightweight, durable 6061 aluminum frame and a ChromMoly steel fork, the bike is strong, durable and responsive. The wheels are equally impressive as they are built with alloy rims with rust-free spokes. The new WOOM1 is also lighter coming in at just over 8.0 lb.
The stem and headset are also made out of alloy, to help reduce the weight of the bike without sacrificing maneuverability. The angled stem helps to provide the proper height while the spacers on the top tube allow for some height adjustment for younger kids (changed in the new model, see pics below). To prevent oversteering, the WOOM1 also has an elastic, removable turning limiter. Poorly designed limiters can greatly reduce the maneuverability of a bike or overcorrect, causing crashes. Elastic limiters provide gentle correction, do not limit the maneuverability and are easily removable for older kids.
Braking is also simplified for kids on the WOOM1. While adjustable, the WOOM1 comes standard with a very short reach that 3-yo tester, who is not yet proficient with a hand brake, could easily activate it.
Compared to other brands, the WOOM1 doesn’t offer a great range of seat heights but it is perfectly proportioned for kids with an inseam between 10.8″ to 15.7″. In fact, even though offering an extended seat post would allow more kids to fit on the WOOM1, WOOM chose not to make one available. Wanting to preserve the dialed-in geometry they mastered, they found a longer seat post alters the rider’s geometry which negatively affects the child’s ability to balance and maneuver the bike.
The WOOM1 weighed in at 8.0 lb. (based on our scale), making it light and nimble for our 30 lb. 3-year-old tester and our 20 lb. 2-year-old testers. Due to the low step-through frame, the bike was easier to use than other similarly priced bikes.
In a line up with other high-end European bikes, the WOOM1 is ready to roll with kids in 18-months pants, while the Tadpole and Jumper require kids in 2T pants. It also has the lowest step-through frame, which makes the bike easier for all kids to get on and off the bike.
In addition to amazing bikes (WOOM also sells kids pedal bikes up 24″), they also offer some great accessories. Our favorite is their compact, foldable, wood bike stand. Small and simple, the rack can easily be used by toddlers or hung when and out of the way when not needed.
For your future racer, WOOM’s cycling cap is beyond cute (and is available in youth sizes as well), while their gloves offer much-needed protection for young hands. When kids fall on balance bikes, they usually land hands first and, as a result, we actually recommend getting gloves before elbow and knee pads. Available in four sizes, WOOM’s gloves has a whimsical grip on the inside of the gloves and the soft pad for wiping their noses on the thumb.
The WOOM1 is available in green, red, blue, purple and pink.
Bike Carrier Strap
WOOM also now offers an amazing bike strap! As any parent knows, toddlers and preschoolers can decide at a moment’s notice that they are done riding. Whether across the street or across the neighborhood, carrying a child and a bike home is less than ideal. WOOM’s strap allow you to throw the bike over your shoulder leaving both hands to carry your child (if needs be). Small enough to fit in your pocket during rides and comfortable to use, the strap sells for $15 at us.woombikes.com and Amazon.
Bottom Line: Perfection from top to bottom, the WOOM1 is the cream of the crop for kids in size 18-month to kids transitioning into 3T clothes. The WOOM1 will be too small for kids who are close to transitioning out of 3T clothes as they will outgrow once they are in size 5 clothes.
Where to Purchase: The WOOM1 is available from WOOM US with free shipping as well as on Amazon. WOOM US also offers the Upcycle program, a membership program that allows you to trade in your outgrown WOOM bike in exchange for 40% off the purchase of your next WOOM bike (they offer a 14″ through 24″ bikes). Enrollment in the program requires a one time $59 fee.
FTC Disclosure: Two Wheeling Tots received a WOOM1 and the various accessories shown to help facilitate this review from WOOM US. Two Wheeling Tots is not an affiliate of WOOM US, but is an affiliate of Amazon.