Our Top Balance Bike Picks For Toddlers, Pre-Schoolers and Older Kids
What’s the best bike for a toddler?
A balance bike is hands down the best first bike for a toddler or pre-schooler. But with hundreds of balance bikes on the market, finding the perfect bike for your toddler, (or pre-schooler or even grade schooler!) can be a challenge. Not only are balance bikes not one-size-fits-all, there are many different features on balance bikes to consider – things like tire type, weight, size, and brakes. To make it super easy for you, we’ve outlined our top 10 balance bikes, why we love them, and why you will too!
If your child is at least 4-years-old or very tall, check out our list of larger balance bikes – Best Balance Bikes for 4 to 6-Year-Olds.
10 Best Balance Bikes
- woom 1 – Best Overall: Young or Small Toddlers, $199
- Pello Ripple – Best Overall: Older Toddlers, $198
- Strider Sport – Best Universal Fit, $110
- Swagtron K3 – Best Budget Bike: Air Tires, $59
- GOMO – Best Budget Bike: Foam Tires, $69
- Bixe 16″ – Best Budget: Older/Taller Kids, $89
- Yedoo Too Too – Best Color & Design Options, $160
- woom 1 Plus – Best for Timid Older/Taller Kids, $269
- Prevelo Alpha Zero – Best for Adventurous Kids, $199
- Strider 14x – Convertible Balance/Pedal Bike, $190
Best Overall: Young or Small Toddlers
FITS KIDS: In pants sized 18-months to transitioning to 3T. For a larger option, check out the WOOM 1 Plus.
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, and turning limiter
FULL REVIEW: WOOM 1
Perfection from top to bottom, the woom 1 creates a smooth, easy ride for young or small toddlers getting an early start on their balance bike journey. To keep young ones at ease, the woom’s handlebars place the rider in a natural, upright position with their weight centered over their hips. This helps kids feel less hesitant about balancing.
This, combined with a lightweight, extremely low step-through frame, a low minimum seat height, extra-cushioned air tires, and an easy-to-use handbrake, allow the woom 1 to effortlessly take your child from walking along the sidewalk to ripping down trails. As an added bonus, the woom 1 is available in 5 colors!
- Natural upright body position and easy to balance
- 12″ air tires provide great cushioning for added comfort
- Low step through makes it easy to get on and off
- One of the lightest balance bikes with air tires and a hand brake on the market (just 6.6 lbs!)
- High end components
- Compared to other brands, doesn’t offer a great range of seat heights
Best Overall: Older Toddlers
FITS KIDS: In 24 months – 4T pants
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, adjustable height handlebar
FULL REVIEW: Pello Ripple
A versatile little workhorse with best-in-class components, the Ripple comes complete with wide air tires, a Cane Creek headset, a caliper hand brake, and an extended seat post. Its unique design is centered around rotating handlebars that allow you to dial in the perfect fit as your child grows.
- Rotating handlebars for a better fit as kids grow
- Highest quality components and durable frame
- Easy-reach, responsive hand brake
- Wide air tires for extra traction and cushioning
- Low-step-through frame allows kids to easily get on and off the bike
- Heavier than some other high-end balance bikes
Best Universal Fit
FITS KIDS: 18 months to 4-years-old, weighing at least 21 lbs. (Strider Classic only recommended until 3-years-old due to shorter seat post.)
FEATURES: Foam tires, optional foot brake
FULL REVIEW: Strider Sport
Built on a well-designed frame, the Strider is easily adaptable to fit a wide range of age groups. With an optional extended seat post and optional extra-long handlebars, we’ve had the best luck with Strider at accommodating kids of various sizes. For a decent price point, the Strider is a quality bike that fits light kids, heavy kids, tall kids, short kids – you generally can’t go wrong with a Strider.
- Adjustable to to fit ages 18 months to 4 years old!
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Foam tires never go flat and are maintenance free
- Foam tires provide minimal traction and no cushioning – not ideal for non-paved surfaces
- Exposed bolts can potentially scratch legs
Best Budget Bike: Air Tires
FITS KIDS: In 2T months to size 4T pants
FEATURES: Air tires
FULL REVIEW: Swagtron K3
A well-designed frame for the price, the Swagtron K3 has a longer wheelbase, making it more stable than other budget balance bikes. It also has solid-quality air tires, a sleek matte aluminum frame, a true headset, and weighs under 7 lbs.! For a budget balance bike, this is a pretty impressive resume.
While the Swagtron K3 is a deal for budget-minded families, just keep in mind that while we think the design is great, this isn’t a bike that’s going to last you for generations.
For more budget balance bike options, check out our 10 Best Balance Bikes Under $100 list.
- Fantastic design for the price
- Air tires at a great price!
- Lightweight – under 7 lbs.
- Beautiful matte aluminum frame
- True headset helps keep handlebars from twisting after falls
- Tools required for seat height adjustment
- As with all budget bikes, it’s not as durable as the other bikes we recommend
Best Budget Bike: Foam Tires
FITS KIDS: In clothes size 2T to 4T (13″ – 19″ inseam)
FEATURES: Foam tires, footrest, recessed bolts
FULL REVIEW: GOMO
The GOMO is a great bang for your buck for those on a tighter budget. With a lot of room for adjustments, the GOMO is a great fit for kids ages 2 to 4. Well-built for the price, the GOMO is the best quality balance bike we’ve seen in the sub $80 price range.
With a longer wheelbase than most budget bikes, kids won’t feel cramped and the bike will feel more stable, especially when running at full speed.
- Very well made for the price
- Extended wheelbase gives more room for the rider to move around and grow
- Easy-to-use, tool-free seat post and handlebar clamps
- Adjustable height handlebars keep it a great fit as kids grow
- Tucked away footrest for those who need it
- Available in four different colors
- Foam tires provide less traction and little cushioning
- Plastic rims provide less stability
Best Budget Bike: Older/Taller Kids
FITS KIDS: Grade school kids, in size 6 to 8 pants
FEATURES: Air tires, lightweight
FULL REVIEW: Bixe 16
The Bixe 16 serves a fantastic purpose for kids who are too old or big for a traditional balance bike. If your child is already in kindergarten or 1st grade but is still struggling to learn to ride a bike… Bixe 16 to the rescue! With larger wheels and a larger frame, the Bixe 16 is designed to help ease the transition to a pedal bike for timid kids.
While not the best quality bike on our list, at just $90, it’s a perfect temporary solution to get your kid confident enough on two wheels before you add in the complexity of pedals. It’s also a unique longer-term solution for special needs kids who may prefer to stay on a balance bike.
- One of few 16″ balance bikes available
- Air tires
- Most affordable 16″ option
- No hand brake
Best Color and Design Options
FITS KIDS: Younger or lighter-weight toddlers in clothes sized 24 mo to small 4T, weighing at least 27 lbs.
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, and turning limiter
FULL REVIEW: Yedoo Too Too
Beyond offering a lot of super cute colors and designs, the Too Too is a nimble, lightweight bike that is an exceptional buy. Mid-range in price, but not in features, the Too Too comes with cushioning air tires, a true headset for increased maneuverability, a handbrake, and 6″ of adjustable seat height.
Once your child needs the seat height set to 17″ or 18″, most other balance bikes will be much heavier. And at $160, it’s a more affordable buy for many parents.
- A lightweight balance bike with air tires and a hand brake (just 8.2 lbs!)
- 12″ to 18″ seat height range allows plenty of room for growth
- Padded saddle
- Exposed bolts can potentially scratch legs
Best for Timid Older/Taller Kids
FITS KIDS: Fits kids in 3T to 5 pants
FEATURES: Air tires, dual handbrakes, turning limiter
FULL REVIEW: WOOM 1 PLUS
One of the best balance bikes made bigger, the WOOM 1 Plus has all the benefits of the popular WOOM 1, but for kids ages 3 to 5. It’s the perfect bike for timid kids starting off their balance bike journey as preschoolers versus toddlers.
With comfortable, upright body positioning, large 14″ air tires, a removable “surfboard” footrest and turning limiter, DUAL hand brakes (a rare find in balance bikes), and a maximum seat height over 3″ above the WOOM 1, the WOOM 1 Plus is the ultimate confidence-building, large balance bike.
- Larger frame and 14″ tires provide plenty of room for growth
- Lightweight and nimble
- Removable turning limiter
- Removable footrest
- Dual hand brakes for optimal stopping power
- Footrest too large for small toddlers, but is removable
Best for Adventurous Younger Kids
FITS KIDS: 24 months old to transitioning to 3T clothes
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake
FULL REVIEW: Prevelo Alpha Zero
The Alpha Zero is what every young grom’s (and let’s be honest, their parents’ as well) dreams are made of. No bright and busy graphics or literal bells and whistles, just a perfectly proportioned and precision-built balance bike.
From its high-end components, to a long wheelbase for added stability on jumps, hills, or trail riding, the Alpha Zero provides a smooth and effortless ride that is sure to instill a love of biking in your child at a young age.
- Low minimum seat height and low step-through ideal for young riders
- High-end components, including threadless headset, Kenda tires, and Tektro brakes
- Long wheelbase for added stability on jumps, hills, or trail riding
- Cushioning air tires
- Rounded bolts to prevent potential scratches
- Small seat height range
Best Balance Bike/Pedal Bike in One
FITS KIDS: While the manufacturer recommends from ages 3 to 7, based on our testing, we recommend only from ages 3 to 5, or with inseams ranging from 15″ to 20″ in balance bike mode and 14″ to 20″ in pedal bike mode.
WEIGHT: 12.5 lb.
TIRE SIZE: 14″
FULL REVIEW: Strider 14x Convertible Balance Bike
After years of research, the Strider 14x was born. A great option for preschoolers who have yet to master a balance bike, the Strider 14x is a balance bike that converts to a pedal bike. No need for training wheels, once a child has learned to balance while in balance bike mode, simply put on the pedals and within a couple of minutes they’ll be pedaling away, no help needed! Once your child outgrows the pedal bike mode, they will be ready for a 16″ bike.
Due to taller handlebars, the Strider is best for taller 3-year-olds and up. The longer reach between the seat and the handlebars is a bit too much for toddlers, who are much better off on the standard Strider 12″ Sport. Based on our experience, the Strider is ideal for kids in size 5 clothes or less.
- Starts as a balance bike and easily converts to a pedal bike
- Larger frame and tire size fit kids from ages 3 to 5
- Comfortable, upright body positioning promotes confidence for beginners
- Cushioned, ergonomic seat
- No hand brake, coaster brake in pedal mode
- Very short crank arms in pedal mode – difficult for kids over age 5 to ride
Best Balance Bikes Comparison Chart
|Weight||Min Seat Height||Max Seat Height||Tires||Hand Brake||Frame Material|
Ridgeback Scoot XL
Banana Bike GT
Yeedoo Too Too
woom 1 Plus
Prevelo Alpha Zero
|10 lb.||13.5"||17"||Puncture-Proof Rubber||No||Aluminum|
How to Choose the Best Balance Bike
While we have a much more detailed discussion about this in our article Balance Bikes: How to Choose, here’s a quick summary of the most important things to look for to find the perfect balance bike for your toddler, preschooler, or grade schooler.
12″ wheels are the most common tire size for balance bikes, but 14″ tires are available for older or taller preschoolers (or kids ages 4 to 6). There are a few 16″ and 20″ balance bikes on the market for even older kids.
The bike’s seat height should be set 1″ to 1.5″ less than the child’s inseam. To allow room for growth, you should purchase a bike with a minimum seat height that closely matches your child’s inseam.
A bike shouldn’t weigh more than 30% of your child’s weight. More athletic kids are generally less bothered by weight than timid riders, but as a general rule, try to stick to a bike under 10 lbs. for kids under 4.
The weight of a bike can also be a good indication of the overall quality of a bike. Constructing a high-quality lightweight bike is not cheap, but piecing together a low-quality lightweight bike is! A $200 balance bike that weighs 6 lbs. is going to be much better quality and include many more features (such as air tires and a handbrake), than a $80 bike that weighs 6 lbs.
The geometry of a balance bike makes a huge difference in how the bike performs. A bike with good geometry will work with the child to help them learn to balance and maneuver, while a bike with poor geometry will work against them.
While determining whether a bike has good or poor geometry is somewhat subjective, selecting a bike that has a longer wheelbase (distance between the two wheels) and a good amount of space between the seat and the handlebars should result in a bike that works with your child instead of against them.
The 3-year-old above on the left is riding a Strider with good geometry, and on the right a Chicco Red Bullet with poor geometry. The Strider gives the rider more room on the bike and he feels and looks less squished.
On the Red Bullet, notice how much closer his body is to the handlebars. The Red Bullet’s wheelbase is much shorter and the handlebars are swooped back, leaving him little room to move around. This makes the bike less stable, harder to balance, and more difficult to maneuver.
There are two common types of balance bike tires: foam and air. Foam tires will never go flat, but have no cushioning and little traction. Air tires are more expensive and a little heavier, but provide great cushioning and traction for a more comfortable ride for adventurous kids.
When riding a balance bike, the main source of stopping will always be the rider’s feet, but hand brakes can help to prevent injury, save kids’ shoes, and better prepare a child to ride a pedal bike. They’re especially beneficial for older riders who ride faster.
Many balance bikes don’t have hand brakes, but they’re usually found on higher-end balance bikes. If you find a hand brake on a bike under $100, it is likely to be difficult to use.
Turning limiters block the handlebar and front wheel from completing a full revolution. This prevents sharp turns that can cause falls. Not a necessity, but many parents love them.
Elastic, Removable Limiter on the WOOM 1
The majority of balance bikes don’t have footrests because they’re not needed. A properly designed footrest usually doesn’t hurt to have around, but poorly designed footrests are bulky and interfere with a child’s stride.
Most balance bikes are either steel or aluminum. Aluminum is lightweight, strong, rust-proof, and is used in higher-end bikes. Steel frames are common on less expensive models, but create a heavier bike and are prone to rust.
Why trust us?
We’ve tested over 30 balance bikes over the last 9 years and have personally met and consulted with the owners of many top balance bike brands including WOOM, Strider, Kazam and GlideBikes. In fact, we know our stuff so well that Wirecutter, A New-York Times Company, “spent a few hours with the copious research” on our site to create their own top 10 list!
10 Best Balance Bikes Under $100: On a budget? Our short list of budget-friendly balance bike options.
5 Best Ride-On Toys: Is your child still too young for a balance bike? Try out these ride-on toys instead!
Balance Bikes: How to Choose: Everything you need to know to choose the perfect bike for your child
Balance Bikes: Comparison Charts: To view, sort, and read reviews on over 50 balance bikes
How to Teach a Child to Ride a Balance Bike: For help teaching your child to ride their new balance bike