10 Best Balance Bikes for Kids of All Ages

A balance bike is a pedal-less bike with two wheels. Kids ride them like regular bikes, but they are powered by a child’s running legs rather than pedals.

Balance bikes are perfect bikes for 2-year-olds (and up!) as they teach kids to balance on two wheels and ride independently. Balance bikes are also called strider bikes, glider bikes, running bikes, or toddler push bikes.

Looking for the best balance bike for your toddler, pre-schooler, or really a kid of any age? We’ve tested over 100 different balance bikes (no joke – you should see our garages!) with a wide variety of ages to help you find the best bike for your child.

2 year old riding a red balance bike through a puddle

Best Balance Bikes by Age

When selecting a balance bike, it is critical to remember that they are not one-size-fits-all. A toddler in 18-months clothes who are just getting started will fit on a different balance bike than a toddler or preschooler in 3T pants. And there are larger balance bikes for grade schoolers as well!

The ages listed below indicate the child’s age when you buy the bike. These age groups are approximate, as a bike’s seat height should also be considered for the best fit (seat heights provided in bike descriptions below).

Balance BikeAwardMSRP
Best for Young Toddlers - 18 months to 2 years old
woom 1Best Overall$199
Strider ClassicBudget Pick$89
Prevelo Alpha ZeroHonorable Mention$199
Best for Toddlers - 2 to 3 years old
Swagtron K3Super Budget Pick$59
Strider SportBudget Pick$109
Best for Preschoolers - 3 to 4 years old
woom 1 PlusBest Overall$269
Banana BikeBudget Pick$69
Ridgeback ScootHonorable Mention$289
Best for PreK - 4 to 6 years old
Ridgeback Scoot XLBest Overall$299
Strider 14xBudget Pick - 4 to 5 yr.$150
Bixe 16Budget Pick - 5 to 6 yr.$109

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


  1. Balance bikes are NOT one-size-fits-all. For the best fit, 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. Many tires on balance bikes are made of solid foam rather than air. Foam tires offer no cushioning and less traction than air tires. If you are planning on riding on any surface other than pavement, air tires are a worthy upgrade.
  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 learn to use a handbrake, which helps them stop faster and saves money on buying shoes! For older kids who can ride faster and more aggressively on a balance bike, a hand brake is much more necessary.
  4. Jump down to our FAQ section at the end of the page to get answers to more frequently asked questions about balance bikes.

Detailed Descriptions of our Top Picks

**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

Best 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 Toddlers

young toddler riding woom 1 balance bike at the park

MSRP: $199

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 Budget – Young Toddlers and Older Toddlers

toddler riding a green Strider balance bike

MSRP: $89 (Strider Classic) $109 (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 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

Prevelo Alpha Zero

Honorable MentionBest for Adventurous Riders

toddler riding silver Prevelo Alpha Zero balance bike

MSRP: $199

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 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 Bikes for Toddlers – 2 to 3 years old

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.

Frog Tadpole

Best Overall – Older Toddlers

young child riding red Frog Tadpole balance bike down hill

MSRP: $215

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

Swagtron K3

Best Budget – Older Toddlers

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

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

FirstBIKE Street

Honorable MentionBudget-Friendly Air Tires and Handbrake

toddler riding FirstBIKE street balance bike on the pavement

MSRP: $160

FITS KIDS: Toddlers in clothes sized 2T to 4T (with lowering kit)

SEAT HEIGHT: 12″ or 14″ – 17.5″ (min 12″ requires a lowering kit)

FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, and turning limiter


The FirstBIKE was built with a child’s safety as a priority. Designed with a composite frame with smooth edges and recessed bolt pockets, there isn’t a sharp or blunt edge on this entire toddler push bike! The FirstBIKE is also waterproof and rust-proof for endless summertime fun riding through sprinklers or puddles. Quality air tires and a handbrake provide solid performance power.

As kids get older and heavier, the downside to the FirstBIKE is that the frame can flex when the seat post is set at its highest position. Most kids who start on the FirstBIKE around age 2 can typically move up to a pedal bike before they experience any issues with flexing. As a result, we don’t recommend the FirstBIKE for really tall toddlers or preschoolers as who are more likely to experience issues with flexing with extended use.


  • Weatherproof composite frame and fork
  • Smooth edges and recessed bolts help minimize and/or prevent injuries as a result of falls
  • Lightweight for easier handling and balancing
  • Child-sized handbrake
  • Air tires for added cushioning
  • U-shaped saddle prevents kids from sliding off the seat and also partially wraps around the child which provides a sense of security for hesitant kids


  • U-shaped seat is difficult for smaller riders to get on and off of
  • Composite frame flexes under the weight of older and heavier riders, which negatively affects the handling of the bike

Best Balance Bikes for Preschoolers – 3 to 4 years Old

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 – Preschoolers

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

MSRP: $269

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.


  • 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

Banana Bike GT

Budget Pick – Preschoolers

2 year old riding Banana Bike GT balance bike on playground

MSRP: $69

FITS KIDS: Kids in tall 2T to 4T pants

SEAT HEIGHT: 12.5″ to 17″

FEATURES: Air tires, long seat post for plenty of room for growth, true headset so handlebars stay aligned better


At this budget price point, the Banana Bike GT is missing two key features for older riders: larger 14″ wheels and a handbrake. That said, for $69, this little bike really can’t be beat!

It does feature a longer wheelbase so growing kids won’t be cramped, and its seat post boasts 4.5″ of seat height range. This is plenty of room for growth! If you’re looking for a budget bike, or think your child will only be on a balance bike for a short time, the Banana Bike GT is a solid option.


  • Surprisingly good design for the price
  • True headset – handlebars less likely to twist out of alignment
  • 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

Honorable Mention – Lots of room for growth

girl riding a red scoot balance bike

MSRP: $215

FITS KIDS: Kids in 3T to 5T pants

SEAT HEIGHT: 14″ to 20″

FEATURES: 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.

Ridgeback Scoot XL

Best Overall – Pre-K

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

MSRP: $225

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 better compensates 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″ tires – 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

Strider 14x

Budget Pick – Ages 4 to 5 years old

boy riding a yellow strider 14x

MSRP: $190

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

Bixe 16

Budget Pick – Ages 5 to 6 years old

1st grader riding larger Bixe 16 balance bike

MSRP: $89

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

Out-of-Stock Balance Bikes to Keep on Your Radar!

Pello Ripple

Best Overall – Older Toddlers

young toddler riding a pink pello ripple balance bike

MSRP: $198

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

Yedoo Too Too

Honorable Mention – Best Designs and Colors

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

MSRP: $160

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.  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 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
  • 7″ seat height range with optional extended seat post
  • Narrow, padded saddle perfectly sized for little bums


  • Exposed bolts can potentially scratch legs

Balance Bike Comparison Chart

BikeMSRPWt. (lb.)Seat HeightTire TypeHand Brake
Young Toddlers - 18 mo. to 2 years
woom 1$1996.610 - 14"AirYes
Strider Sport$1106.711 - 19"FoamNo
Hornit AIRO$1856.411.2 - 16.5"AirNo
Prevelo Alpha Zero$1998.511.4 - 14.6"AirYes
Bixe 12$694.611.5 - 15.5"FoamNo
Early Rider Lite$1708.511.6 - 15"AirNo
Older Toddlers - 2 to 3 years
Pello Ripple$198911.3 - 15.5"AirYes
Yeedoo Too Too$1608.212 - 18"AirYes
GOMO$608.512 - 17"FoamNo
Swagtron K3$596.512.3 - 15.3"AirNo
FirstBIKE$1398.612.3 - 17.5"AirYes
Chillafish BMXie$698.512.3 - 15.3"RubberYes
Burley MyKick$12911.312.5 - 16"RubberNo
Banana Bike GT$708.112.5 - 17"AirNo
Glide Bikes Mini$8911.712.5 - 15.6"AirYes
Kazam Select $8910.912.5 - 15.6"AirNo
Vitus Smoothy$99712.8 - 17.5"AirNo
Preschoolers - 3 to 4 years
Saracen$18010.713 - 19"AirYes
Muna 12"$1201113 - 18"AirYes
Frog Tadpole$2106.513.3 - 19.3"AirYes
LikeABike Jumper$3497.513.4 - 18.5"AirYes
Spesh Hotwalk$1751013.5 - 17"RubberNo
Kazam Bike$798.413.8 - 16"Foam/airNo
Ridgeback Scoot$21510.514 - 20"AirYes
LittleBig$187+11.214 - 21"AirYes
PreK - 4 to 6 years
woom 1 Plus$2699.514.8 - 18.7"AirYes
Strider 14x$19012.515 - 22"AirNo
Frog Tadpole Plus$26015 - 20"AirYes
SmarTrike Xtend$25014.815.3 - 21.3"AirYes
Scoot XL$22511.616 - 21.5"AirYes
Bixe 16$901218.3 - 22.4"AirNo
Strider 16$18017.719.5 - 24.5"AirYes

Balance Bike FAQ’s

We’ve tested and reviewed balance bikes for the past 10 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 toddlers 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 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.


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