12 Best Balance Bikes for Kids of All Ages

Looking for the perfect balance bike for your little one? Look no further! Over the last decade, we’ve meticulously tested over 100 balance bikes with dozens of kids. Our dedication (or obsession🤷‍♀️) with balance bikes is unmatched, and no one has been testing and reviewing them longer than us.

With each balance bike tested, we’ve gained invaluable insights into what truly matters when selecting the ideal bike for your child. Whether you have an eager 2-year-old, a timid 3-year-old, or an anxious kid of any age, the balance bikes we recommend below will offer the best start to their riding journey.

2 year old riding a red balance bike through a puddle

Balance Bikes by Age

Balance bikes vary in size and are not one-size-fits-all. Consider both the child’s age and the bike’s seat height for the best fit (seat height provided in Mini Reviews below).

Ages provided in the chart indicate the child’s approximate age when you buy the bike.

Best for Young Toddlers - 18 months to 2 years old
woom 1 Best Overall $249
Strider Classic Mid Price Pick $109
Retrospec Cub 2 Budget Pick $69
Best for Toddlers - 2 to 3 years old
Guardian Best Overall: Taller Toddlers $149
woom 1 Best Overall: Smaller Toddlers $249
Strider Sport Mid Price Pick $129
GOMO Budget Pick $45
Best for Preschoolers - 3 to 4 years old
woom 1 Plus Best Overall $299
Radio Flyer Glide & Go Budget Pick $69
Ridgeback Scoot Lots of Room for Growth $289
Best for PreK - 4 to 6 years old
Strider 14x Best Overall: Shorter Kids $209
Ridgeback Scoot XL Best Overall: Taller Kids $299
Bixe 16 Best Budget: Taller Kids $120
Specialty Balance Bikes
Dirt Hero Off-Road, MTB use $340+
STACYC Electric balance bike $799

Top Picks Mini Reviews

**Click blue age group to jump down to a specific section**

1. Young Toddlers – 18 mo to 2 years
2. Toddlers – 2 to 3 years
3. Preschoolers – 3 to 4 years
4. Pre-K + – 4 to 6 years
5. Specialty Balance Bikes – 18 mo+

Never heard of a balance bike? Let us introduce you! A balance bike, also known as a strider bike, glider bike, running bike, or toddler push bike, is a pedal-less bicycle with two wheels. Balance bikes are designed to teach children the art of balancing on two wheels, setting them on the path to independent riding.


1. Balance bikes are NOT one-size-fits-all. Measure your child’s inseam and compare it to the seat height of the bike. Look for a bike with a minimum seat height that is equal to, or slightly less than, your child’s inseam.

2. Air tires are better than foam tires. Opt for air tires over foam tires for better cushioning and traction, especially if riding on surfaces other than pavement.

3. Hand brakes are not required, but highly recommended. Kids naturally learn to stop a balance bike with their feet. As they get older they can learn to use a hand brake, which helps them stop faster and saves money on buying new shoes! For older and more aggressive riders, a hand brake becomes more essential.

4. Jump down to our FAQ section at the end of the page to get answers to more frequently asked questions about balance bikes.

Visual learner? See all of our favorite balance bikes put to the test in our video review below.

Balance Bikes for Young Toddlers

18 months or 2 years old is a perfect time to start a toddler on their balance bike journey. Introducing a balance bike early will allow your toddler to learn to ride independently from the very start. With little ones, a lightweight bike is especially key!


Best Overall

young toddler riding woom 1 balance bike at the park

MSRP: $249
FITS KIDS: In 18-months pants to 3T. For a larger option, check out the WOOM 1 Plus.
SEAT HEIGHT: 10″ to 14″
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, quick release seat post, and turning limiter

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 toddlers 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, allows 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 frame makes it easy to get on and off
  • The lightest bike 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

Strider Classic and Strider Sport

Best Mid Priced

toddler riding a green Strider balance bike

MSRP: $109 (Strider Classic) $129 (Strider Sport)
FITS KIDS: 18 months to 4-years-old (Strider Classic only recommended until 3-years-old due to shorter seat post)
SEAT HEIGHT: 11″ to 19″ (Sport), 11″ to 16″ (Classic)
FEATURES: Foam tires, foot rest
FULL REVIEW: Strider Sport

Built on a well-designed frame, the Strider balancing bike is easily adaptable to fit a wide range of age groups. With an extended seat post and adjustable-height 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.

The primary difference between the Strider Classic and the Strider Sport is maximum seat height. The Strider Classic has a seat height range of 11″ to 16″. The Strider Sport comes with a second, longer seat post to extend the seat range to 11″ to 19″. Adding that extra seat post is more expensive, but handy for older toddlers as they grow.


  • 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
  • Adjustable-height handlebars for a better fit as kids grow


  • Foam tires provide minimal traction and no cushioning – not ideal for non-paved surfaces
  • Exposed bolts can potentially scratch legs

Retrospec Cub 2

Best on a Budget

MSRP: $69
FITS KIDS: 18 months transitioning to 3T clothes
SEAT HEIGHT: 11.5″ – 15″
FEATURES: Puncture-proof foam tires, quick release seat post and handlebar height adjustments, long wheelbase
FULL REVIEW: Retrospec Cub

With a low minimum seat height of 11.5″, the Retrospec Cub 2 (not the older model Cub – big difference!) is a great balance bike for young toddlers itching to get started on their balance bike journey before their second birthday.

Built with room for growth, including height-adjustable handlebars, the Cub 2 will quickly and comfortably get your little one cruising the town.

If your little one is a style icon, the Cub 2 is also a top pick as it comes in 8 different fun and modern color designs. For those aggressive riders who are ready to tackle jumps or varied terrains, the Cub 2 is also available in a Plus model which features air tires, a rust-free aluminum frame, and a handbrake.


  • Long wheelbase allows for a great fit at the low and high end of the seat height range
  • Available in 8 different fun and modern colors
  • Tool-free height adjustments on the seat and handlebars
  • Plush padded seat
  • Footrest with grip paper for kids who want it, but tucked out the way for those who don’t


  • Foam tires don’t provide as much traction as air tires (Upgraded Cub Plus has air tires)
  • Quick-release clamps don’t hold as tight as we prefer

Balance Bikes for Toddlers – 2 to 3 years

These bikes are a little bigger that our smallest choices, and are sized to fit toddlers in at least 24 months pants. While toddlers won’t be able to use the handbrake until they are about 2.5, it’s hugely beneficial as they get older and ride more aggressively.

Guardian Balance Bike

Best Overall – Taller Toddlers

2 year old riding Guardian balance bike at the skatepark

MSRP: $149
FITS KIDS: Toddlers in clothes sized 2T to transitioning to 4T
SEAT HEIGHT: 12.5″ to 16″
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, and turning limiter
FULL REVIEW: Guardian Balance Bike

With several fun, colorful designs to choose from as well as air tires and a handbrake, there is a lot to love about the Guardian Balance bike. With a taller minimum and maximum seat height than the woom 1, the Guardian provides exceptional quality, but more room for growth for tall or older toddlers.

The Guardian balance bike also features Guardian’s proprietary SureStop braking system, which allows the rear and front rim brakes to be activated by pulling just one brake lever. During our tests, the Guardian provided plenty of top-notch stopping power to keep our little testers safe, but not significantly more than other high-end balance bikes with quality hand brakes.

As a result, while the Guardian balance bike is a stand-out option, the SureStop brakes shouldn’t play a major role in your purchasing decision if you’re comparing it to a balance bike with a high-quality single handbrake. (But the cute designs, top-notch customer service, and quality build should!)


  • Fun, colorful designs that kids love!
  • High-quality build, backed by Guardian’s solid customer service
  • Air tires for traction and cushioning
  • Easy to reach and easy to pull handbrake
  • Super easy assembly with guided stickers to help
  • Bikes are assembled and packaged in the US!


  • Slightly heavier than the woom 1

Swagtron K3

Best on a Budget

2 year old gliding on Swagtron K3 balance bike at skatepark

MSRP: $59
FITS KIDS: In size 2T to 4T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 12.25″ to 15.25″
FEATURES: Air tires, lightweight frame
FULL REVIEW: Swagtron K3

Note: The Swagtron K3 is currently out of stock, and we are recommending the GOMO balance bike in its place.

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

Balance Bikes for Preschoolers – 3 to 4 years

For riders who are starting their balance bike journey a little later, you’re looking for a longer wheelbase to give them more room to stretch out on the bike. A handbrake is also highly recommended at this age, as older kids can reach much higher speeds.

WOOM 1 Plus

Best Overall

young girl in a pink shirt riding a yellow woom 1 plus balance bike

MSRP: $299
FITS KIDS: Fits kids in 3T to 5 pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 14.8″ to 18.7″
FEATURES: Air tires, dual handbrakes, turning limiter

One of our favorite 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, and DUAL hand brakes (a rare find in balance bikes), the woom 1 Plus is the ultimate confidence-building, larger balance bike.

Keep in mind that with its taller handlebars, the woom 1 Plus is best for timid and casual neighborhood riders. Kids who will likely be tackling pump tracks won’t be able to lean in far enough to get aggressive.


  • 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


  • Taller handlebars less ideal for aggressive and adventurous riders

Banana Bike GT

Budget Pick

banana bike GT balance bike side action shot

MSRP: $69
FITS KIDS: Kids in 2T to 4T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 13″ to 17″
FEATURES: Air tires, long seat post for plenty of room for growth

Note: The Banana Bike is currently out of stock. We are recommending the Radio Flyer Glide & Go Air in its place.

At this budget price point, the Banana Bike GT is missing two key features we typically recommend for older riders: larger 14″ wheels and a handbrake. That said, for $69 you get a solid-quality frame with AIR tires… this little bike really can’t be beat!

With a longer wheelbase so growing kids won’t be cramped, a seat post that boasts 4″ of seat height range, and a handlebar that can be raised up to 2″, the Banana Bike offers plenty of room for growth.

The more affordable Banana Bike LT has foam tires instead of air tires. While the LT is usually about $10 cheaper than the GT, the additional traction and cushioning you’ll get with air tires are worth far more than $10 in our book. The LTF model has foam tires and a foot rest.


  • Surprisingly good design for the price
  • Quick release seat post clamp
  • Air tires at a great price!


  • As with all budget bikes, it’s not as durable as the other bikes we recommend
  • Requires quite a bit of assembly

Ridgeback Scoot

Lots of Room for Growth!

girl riding a red scoot balance bike

MSRP: $289
FITS KIDS: Kids in 3T to 5T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 14″ to 20″
FEATURES: Extra cushioning air tires, hand brake, quality construction
FULL REVIEW: Ridgeback Scoot

The Ridgeback Scoot is a top-quality balance bike featuring all the upgraded components you could ask for: air tires, handbrake, quick release seat post, and kid-shaped saddle. While not cheap, its durable quality is a solid investment and can easily be passed down to other siblings.

A little heavier than other options on our list, the Scoot is less ideal for petite or timid kids, but is a dynamite bike for confident, athletic, or eager little ones.


  • Air tires and hand brake
  • Wide, stable handlebars
  • Long wheelbase for stability and longevity
  • High quality and durable
  • 6″ of seat height adjustability


  • Too big/heavy for petite riders
  • Exposed bolts

Best Balance Bikes for PreK – 4 to 6 years

Is a four year old too old for a balance bike? No way! Is a 6 year old too old for a balance bike? Also no way! Balance bikes are so much fun to ride, and are a far better experience than a pedal bike with training wheels.

Strider 14x

Best Overall Ages 4 to 5

boy riding a yellow strider 14x

MSRP: $209
FITS KIDS: While the manufacturer recommends from ages 3 to 7, based on our testing, we recommend only from ages 4 to 5, or with inseams ranging from 17″ to 20″ in balance bike mode and 16″ to 20″ in pedal bike mode.
SEAT HEIGHT: 15″ to 22″
FULL REVIEW: Strider 14x Convertible Balance Bike

The Strider 14x has gained fame for being a larger 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! Once your child outgrows the pedal bike mode, they will be ready for a 16″ bike.

Based on our testing, the pedal bike mode of the Strider 14x is a very temporary solution, and a child will need a true 16″ pedal bike pretty quickly. As a result, we don’t generally recommend the optional pedal kit, but do like the Strider 14x as a larger balance bike.


  • Starts as a balance bike and easily converts to a pedal bike
  • Larger frame and wheel 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

Ridgeback Scoot XL

Best Overall Taller Kids – Ages 4+

pre schooler riding yellow Scoot XL balance bike down a ramp at the skatepark

MSRP: $299
FITS KIDS: In size 4T to 7 pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 16″ – 21.5″
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, quality construction
FULL REVIEW: Ridgeback Scoot XL

The Ridgeback Scoot XL is the bigger brother of the Ridgeback Scoot. These two bikes are almost identical, except for their size. The larger, taller frame of the Scoot XL is better scaled for taller kids. The adjustable handlebar height is also a bonus for kids who need to ride the Scoot XL until they are 6 or 7 years old.


  • 14″ wheels – perfect for older kids
  • Wide, stable handlebars
  • Long wheelbase for stability and longevity
  • High quality and durable
  • 6″ of seat height adjustability


  • Too heavy for lighter weight kids
  • Exposed bolts

Bixe 16

Budget Pick

1st grader riding larger Bixe 16 balance bike

MSRP: $120
FITS KIDS: Grade school kids, in size 6 to 8 pants
FEATURES: Air tires, lightweight

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, 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
  • Lightweight
  • Air tires
  • Most affordable 16″ option


  • No hand brake

Specialty Balance Bikes

While all the balance bikes on our list perform exceptionally well for the average balance biker riding around town, the following balance bikes on our “specialty” list perform wonders off the beaten path.

Dirt Hero Off-road Balance Bike

Best for MTB Families – Ages 2 to 5

young boy riding over a feature at the bike park.

MSRP: $340+
FITS KIDS: Toddlers and preschoolers with inseams ranging from 13.5″ to 18.75″
FEATURES: Available with 12″ or 14″ wheels, extra cushioning air tires with knobby tread, lightweight frame, optional hydraulic disc brake, off-road geometry
FULL REVIEW: Dirt Hero Off-road Balance Bike Review

Built for the true off-road balance bike enthusiast, the Dirt Hero balance bike (by Kids Ride Shotgun) lives up to its name and offers an exceptional ride for toddlers and preschooler riding beyond the pavement.

The extra wide tires provide plenty of cushioning and traction for cruising through chunky trails, while the proper off-road geo offers room to lean-in while blasting over features at the bike park. The Dirt Hero is one exceptional rig.

For single-track-loving families, the Dirt Hero is also a phenomenal replacement for a small MTB pedal bike! Small pedal bikes are very inefficient and all but impossible for kids to pedal uphill. Large obstacles like rocks and roots are also a daunting task! On the Dirt Hero, however, our preschool testers didn’t skip a beat and easily mastered basic single-track trails.

The Dirt Hero is also unique in that the same frame is compatible with 12″ and 14″ wheel kits. As a result, you can buy the larger wheels as your child grows or even buy the smaller wheels for a younger sibling when needed. The optional hydraulic disc brake can also be added on when needed.


  • Off-road geometry with plenty of room in the cockpit
  • Very lightweight
  • Grippy and cushioning 2.25″ wide knobby air tires
  • Same frame fits both 12″ and 14″ wheels
  • Optional hydraulic disc brake
  • Removable footrest


  • Pricey!

STACYC Electric Balance Bikes

Best Electric Balance Bike – Ages 3 to 11

MSRP: $799+
FITS KIDS: 4 different sizes available. Smallest fits 3 years and up with inseams at least 14″, largest fits tweens
FEATURES: Lightweight, durable build, three different speed settings, quality mid-drive motor, removable battery, replacement parts widely available
FULL REVIEW: STACYC Electric Balance Bike Review

Whether you’re looking for a fun and engaging bike to motivate your little one to get riding or have a preschooler itching to race in local STACYC events, a STACYC electric balance bike is just what the doctor ordered. STACYC bikes ride just like a traditional balance bike, but instead of relying solely on foot power, kids simply engage the bike’s throttle and they’re off!

To help keep little ones safe, STACYC’s unique design allows parents to adjust the max speed settings on the bike to prevent kids from riding at unsafe speeds. As kids progress on the bike, parents can raise the max speed to one of three levels to keep the fun flowing. Every bike is also equipped with a hand brake that automatically cuts off the motor when engaged.

While pricey, STACYC electric balance bikes stand out from other brands for being lightweight and for having a removable and replaceable battery. As a result, a spent battery can easily be swapped out while on the go (purchase of extra battery required). If you don’t have an extra battery on you, not to worry, the STACYC motor provides no resistance to the bike when turned off and it can easily be ridden as a traditional analog balance bike.


  • Ridiculously fun – kids love them!
  • Adjustable max speed setting for added safety
  • Can be used as a traditional balance bike without resistance from the motor
  • Available in 4 different sizes to properly fit a wide range of ages
  • Very lightweight, especially compared to other electric balance bikes or even small gas motos
  • Batteries are removeable and swappable allowing you to replace spent batteries on the go (purchase of extra battery required)
  • Replacement parts are widely available


  • Pricey!

Other Balance Bikes to Keep on Your Radar!

Yedoo Too Too

High Quality, Fun Color Options

20 month old riding blue and while sailor Yedoo TooToo balance bike

MSRP: $199
FITS KIDS: Toddlers in clothes sized 24 mo to 4T
SEAT HEIGHT: 12.5″ to 16.5″ (or max 19.5″ with optional extended seat post)
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.  The Too Too comes with cushioning air tires, a true headset with height adjustability, a handbrake, and angled tire valves that make pumping those small tires up much easier.


  • A lightweight balance bike with air tires and a hand brake (just 8.2 lbs!)
  • Angled tire valves for easier inflating
  • Wide handlebars for more stability and less twitchy steering than previous models
  • 7″ seat height range with optional extended seat post
  • Narrow, padded saddle perfectly sized for little bums


  • Exposed bolts can potentially scratch legs
  • Steering can be a little twitchy

Prevelo Alpha Zero

Great for Adventurous Riders

toddler riding silver Prevelo Alpha Zero balance bike

MSRP: $239
FITS KIDS: 24 months old to transitioning to 3T clothes
SEAT HEIGHT: 11.4″ to 14.6″
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, quick release seat post
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 ramps, 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 ramps, hills, or trail riding
  • Cushioning air tires
  • Rounded bolts to prevent potential leg scratches


  • Small seat height range

Pello Ripple

Great for Paved or Dirt Trails

young toddler riding a pink pello ripple balance bike

MSRP: $209
FITS KIDS: In 24 months – 4T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 11.25″ to 15.5″
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 toddler 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 toddlers to easily get on and off the bike


  • Heavier than some other high-end balance bikes
  • Wheelbase is pretty long for the youngest riders who will fit on this bike

Frog Tadpole

Fun Colors, Exceptional Quality

young child riding red Frog Tadpole balance bike down hill

MSRP: $290
FITS KIDS: 2T/3T – 4T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 13.3″ – 16.5″
FEATURES: Tektro handbrake, Kenda air tires, quick release seat post
FULL REVIEW: Frog Tadpole

The Frog Tadpole provides a unique combination of top-notch performance, rugged durability, fun playful colors, and design options. With a long wheelbase for added stability, Kenda air tires for added traction, and a Tektro handbrake for faster stopping power, the Frog is a great choice for aggressive kids who will one day want to hit the pump tracks and dirt trails.

The Tadpole also rides smooth and steady over paved surfaces, and is confidence inspiring for beginning riders as well.

The Frog wins the day in the design department, offering 8 different colors and patterns to appeal to a wide range of preferences.


  • Built with high-end components for top-notch durability and performance
  • Quality Tektro handbrake
  • Saddle can be adjusted forward or backward to accommodate torso length
  • Long wheelbase for added stability
  • Comfortable padded saddle
  • Available in a wide range of colors and designs


  • Smaller seat height range
  • Pricey

Balance Bike FAQ’s

We’ve tested and reviewed balance bikes for the past 13 years, and have had hundreds of parents ask us questions about them. Here are the answers to what we believe are the most important questions for those just starting on their balance bike journey.

What is the best age for a balance bike?

Group of four young girls on balance bikes at the skatepark

To get the most use out of a balance bike, the best age to start a child is between 18 months and 2.5 years. Starting them young will not only allow them to happily ride their bike independently for all of their toddler years, it will also allow them to move up to a pedal bike by age 3 or 4.

That said, there are balance bikes made for all sizes of toddlers, pre-schoolers, and grade schoolers, so it’s basically never too late to start. Remember… a balance bike will almost always be a better option than a tricycle or training wheels. If your child is at an age when you would consider either of these options, consider a balance bike instead!

Unlike tricycles and training wheels, toddlers can hop on a balance bike and start walking and scooting around from day one. They never come with push bars for adults to assist the child, as there is no use for them; one of the greatest advantages of a balance bike is that very young kids can ride them all on their own.

How many years do kids ride them?

Two brothers on the same Strider balance bike. One is 18 months, the other is 5.

Kids generally ride balance bikes for 1 to 2.5 years, depending on the age they start, their athletic ability, and their developmental readiness.

A child that starts at 18-months-old may take several months to sit and run confidently on their balance bike, but then spend the next year or two dominating the world on those two wheels.

Your average 2-year-old or 2.5-year-old will grasp the process more quickly, but may still spend another year or two enjoying the ride.

Remember… while a balance bike certainly prepares a child for a pedal bike, that’s not their only purpose. They are a ton of fun. There should be no rush to put a child on a pedal bike just because they are 3 or 4, or even 5 years old!

Less coordinated kids generally stay on a balance bike longer because it’s a simple little machine that’s easy and fun for them to maneuver. Don’t force the complexity of pedals onto a child that isn’t ready and who is still enjoying their balance bike!

What are the main benefits of a balance bike?

There are five main benefits of balance bikes over other types of bikes for toddlers. Balance bikes…

  1. Fit kids much better than tricycles or bikes with training wheels
  2. Move easily and safely over uneven surfaces
  3. Are light and easy to ride – kids can ride much farther
  4. Provide years of fun and independent riding before a child transitions to a pedal bike
  5. Eliminate the need for training wheels – balance bike graduates usually learn to ride a pedal bike in about 5 to 10 minutes, DRAMA FREE.

How do they compare to training wheels?

Training wheels significantly delay a child’s ability and desire to ride a bike. Balance bikes teach toddlers and kids how to ride while balanced, whereas training wheels teach how to ride while unbalanced.  

Bikes with training wheels tilt to one side, creating a false sense of balance.  In order to ride without the training wheels, a child must “unlearn” how to ride unbalanced and then learn how to ride while balanced.

Toddler riding a balance bike that fits great. Same toddler riding a 12" bike with training wheels that is very tall and fits awkwardly.

On a balance bike, proper balancing techniques are learned from day one.  One other thing to consider is that balance bikes are just more fun and much easier to ride than a bike with training wheels.

You can learn more about the pitfalls of training wheels on our page: Training Wheels: 10 Common Questions Parents Ask.

Are they better than a tricycle?

Balance bikes are much safer and more practical than tricycles.  With three wheels, tricycles are slow, awkward to maneuver, and easily tip on uneven or angled surfaces.  On a balance bike, children are focused on balancing, rather than pedaling.  As a result, they are more prepared for an unexpected loss in balance and are much less likely to fall.

Toddler riding a balance bike, different toddler riding a tricycle with his mom's help

Toddlers can also walk or run for several miles on a balance bike, but can rarely make it to the end of a block on a tricycle.  Tricycles are simply too inefficient for kids to ride long distances, which is why they often come with handles for parents to push.

You can read more about the debate between balance bikes and tricycles on our page: Balance Bikes vs Tricycles.

How do you ride one?

Young child walking tentatively on a balance bike

There are four stages to learning how to ride a balance bike. While some kids need a little instruction, most kids intuitively move through these stage on their own. So you don’t really “teach” a child to ride a balance bike. These stages simply help parents to understand what this process should look like.

  1. Stand and walk
  2. Sit and walk
  3. Sit and run
  4. Run, glide, and explore!

Perhaps the most important take away is that kids move through these stages at very different rates. Depending on age, athletic ability, temperament, and desire, the amount of time a child takes to “master” a balance bike varies greatly. For a much more detailed look at these stages, check out our article How To Ride a Balance Bike.

Where do kids put their feet?

Balance bikes do not require a footrest. Kids naturally pick up their feet as they are gliding. In all our years of testing, we have rarely had a child ask where to put their feet on the bike, but A LOT of parents ask that question :-).

Young child riding his balance bike through a puddle

Can I use a regular bike as a balance bike?

For kids ages 5 and up, removing the pedals of a regular bike is a good and affordable option, but is unpractical for toddlers and preschoolers. Pedal bikes are much heavier than balance bikes, making them more difficult to learn to balance.  

It’s important to remember that balance bikes are more than simply the means to an end.  While balance bikes DO prepare kids to ride a bike, they also offer toddlers years of fun and independence BEFORE they are tall enough to fit on the smallest pedal bike.  

If you are considering taking the pedals off of a bike to use it as a balance bike, it’s best to do with older kids on 16″, 20″ or 24″ bikes. When a child is still small enough to fit on a 12″ or 14″ bike, even investing in a cheap balance bike would be a much better option. We discuss how to use a pedal bike as a balance bike here.

Crank arm with pedal attached, then crank arm with pedal removed.

My child won’t ride his balance bike… what’s wrong?

Every child has a will of their own, and sometimes they just refuse to do what you want! It often takes younger toddlers several months to be consistently interested.

For example, at 18 months, our toddler walked with her balance bike for about 2 weeks. And then for 5.5 months she wouldn’t touch it! Miraculously one day, she just picked it up and started going. We haven’t been able to stop her since!

If your child doesn’t seem interested, keep the bike around so they can see it and use it when they feel the time is right. Resist the temptation to pressure them. We’ve seen time and again that kids will be interested when they want to be interested.

It can also be helpful to take your child somewhere that they can see other kids riding balance bikes. When they see other kids doing it, they realize that it’s not that hard and they want to be in on the fun!

Toddler riding his balance bike at a pump track and on a dirt trail

Kids who have tricycles, scooters, or bikes with training wheels can be more resistant to ride a balance bike. Why? Balance bikes require a little more effort to learn but offer far greater rewards in return.  If you think this might be the problem, remove these other distractions and only offer up the balance bike as a possibility.

Best case scenario, we encourage parents to not introduce a tricycle, training wheels, or scooter until after a child has mastered a balance bike.

Can you add pedals to a balance bike?

You cannot add pedals to just any balance bike, but there are a few balance bikes that are designed to convert to pedal bikes. The Strider 14x and LittleBig bikes are the two most common examples. These convertible balance bikes have optional pedal kits that can be installed when your child has mastered their balance bike and is ready to tackle pedals. These pedal kits only work with these bikes.

What should I look for when buying a balance bike?

While balance bikes seem simple, there are actually quite a few features you need to consider to find the perfect balance bike for your child.

For example, what size is the best fit? (Remember, they are not one-size-fits-all!!) Do you need air tires or foam tires? How much does weight matter? Is one brand better than another? We cover all these features and more in our Balance Bike Sizing and Buying Guide.

9 Best Balance Bikes for Older Kids: 3 – 6 year olds: Want more options for older riders? We’ve tested the best!

Balance Bike Sizing and Buying Guide: A more detailed discussion on how balance bike sizes work, and how to get the best fit.


FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, some of the reviewed products were supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this article. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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