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10 Best Balance Bikes: 2020

A balance bike is hands down the best first bike for a toddler, pre-schooler, or really a kid of any age! But with hundreds of options on the market, which one is the best balance bike for your toddler, (or pre-schooler or even grade schooler!)?

Not only are balance bikes not one-size-fits-all, they have many different features to consider – things like tire type, weight, size, and brakes.  To make it super easy for you, we’ve outlined our top 10 balance bike picks, why we love them, and why you will too!

toddler riding a balance bike through a puddle

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, 5 and 6-Year-Olds.

10 Best Balance Bikes for Toddlers and Kids

  1. Strider Sport – Best Universal Fit, $110
  2. Ridgeback Scoot – Best Overall: Older Toddlers, $215
  3. woom 1 – Best Overall: Young or Small Toddlers, $199 (*pre-order*)
  4. Swagtron K3 – Best Budget Bike: Air Tires, $59
  5. GOMO – Best Budget Bike: Foam Tires, $69
  6. Bixe 16″ – Best Budget: Older/Taller Kids, $89
  7. Yedoo Too Too – Best Color & Design Options, $160
  8. woom 1 Plus – Best for Timid Older/Taller Kids, $269 (*pre-order*)
  9. Prevelo Alpha Zero – Best for Adventurous Kids, $199 (*pre-order*)
  10. Strider 14x – Convertible Balance/Pedal Bike, $160

Note: Due to manufacturing delays as a result of COVID, some of our top bike choices are not currently available.  As a result, we have updated our top list to reflect bikes that are currently in stock. Our full and accurate list can be found in the detailed descriptions further down the page.


WOOM 1

Best Overall: Young or Small Toddlers


woom 1 balance bike in red. 2019 model.

MSRP: $199

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 REVIEWWOOM 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 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, 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!

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • Compared to other brands, doesn’t offer a great range of seat heights

Pello Ripple

Best Overall: Older Toddlers


MSRP: $198

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 toddler grows.

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • Heavier than some other high-end balance bikes

Strider Sport

Best Universal Fit


MSRP: $110

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.

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

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

Swagtron K3

Best Budget Bike: Air Tires


Swagtron K3 balance bike in pink

MSRP: $59

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.

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • Tools required for seat height adjustment
  • As with all budget bikes, it’s not as durable as the other bikes we recommend

GOMO

Best Budget Bike: Foam Tires


GOMO balance bike in blue and yellow

MSRP: $69

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.

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • Foam tires provide less traction and little cushioning
  • Plastic rims provide less stability

Bixe 16

Best Budget Bike: Older/Taller Kids


MSRP: $89

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.

PROS:

  • One of few 16″ balance bikes available
  • Lightweight
  • Air tires
  • Most affordable 16″ option

CONS:

  • No hand brake

Yedoo Too Too

Best Color and Design Options


MSRP: $160

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.

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • Exposed bolts can potentially scratch legs

WOOM 1 Plus

Best for Timid Older/Taller Kids


MSRP: $269

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.

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • Footrest too large for small toddlers, but is removable

Prevelo Alpha Zero

Best for Adventurous Younger Kids


MSRP: $199

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.

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • Small seat height range

Strider 14x

Best Balance Bike/Pedal Bike in One


MSRP: $190

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.

PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • 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

Bike

MSRP

WeightMin Seat HeightMax Seat HeightTiresHand BrakeFrame Material

Balance Bikes for Young Toddlers

woom 1

$199

6.6 lb.10.04"14.37"AirYesAluminum

Strider Sport

$110

6.7 lb.11"19"FoamNoSteel

Pello Ripple

$198

9 lb.11.25"15.5"AirYesAluminum

Prevelo Alpha Zero

$1998.5 lb.11.4"14.6"AirYesAluminum

Early Rider Lite

$1708.5 lb.11.6"15"AirNoWood

Balance Bikes for Older Toddlers

Yeedoo Too Too

$160

8.2 lb.12"18"AirYesSteel

GOMO

$60

8.5 lb.12"17"FoamNoSteel

Swagtron K3

$59

6.5 lb.12.25"15.25"AirNoAluminum
FirstBIKE

$139

8.6 lb.12.25"17.5"AirYesComposite
Chillafish BMXie

$69

8.5 lb.12.25"15.25"Airless RubberskinFootbrakeReinforced Plastic
Burley MyKick

$129

11.3 lb.12.5"16"RubberNoSteel

Banana Bike GT

$7010.3 lb.12.5"17"AirNoSteel

Vitus Smoothy

$997 lb.12.75"17.5"AirNoMagnesium

Balance Bikes for Kids 3T+

Saracen Freewheel

$180

10.7 lb.13"19"AirYesAluminum

Muna 12"

$120

11 lb.13"18"AirYesSteel

Frog Tadpole

$210

6.5 lb.13.3"9.3"AirYesAluminum
LikeABike Jumper

$349

7.5 lb.13.4"18.5"AirYesAluminum

Specialized Hotwalk

$175

10 lb.13.5"17"Puncture-Proof RubberNoAluminum

Ridgeback Scoot

$215

10.5 lb.14"20"AirYesAluminum
LittleBig Convertible

$187/$240

11.2 lb.14"21"AirYesAluminum

woom 1 Plus

$269

9.5 lb.14.8"18.7"AirYesAluminum

Strider 14x

$190

12.5 lb.15"22"AirNoSteel
Frog Tadpole Plus

$260

15"20"AirYesAluminum

Ridgeback Scoot XL

$225

11.6 lb.16"21.5"AirYesAluminum
Bixe 16

$90

12 lb.18.25"22.4"AirNoSteel
Strider 16

$180

17.7 lb.19.5"24.5"AirYesSteel
Wishbone Recycled 3-in-1

$270

12 lb.9"20"AirNoComposite

How to Choose the Best Balance Bike for a Toddler or Kid

While we have a much more detailed discussion about this in our article Balance Bikes: The Authoritative Sizing and Buying Guide, 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. No matter how old your kid is, the same principles apply.

Size 

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.

diagram of proper seat height for a balance bike. Proper seat height is based on a slight knee bend.

 

Weight

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.

Geometry

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.

A child on a Strider balance bike with good geometry. Same child on a Chicco Red Bullet balance bike with poor geometry.

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.

Tires

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.

 

Brakes

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.

Toddler using his feet to stop a balance bike, and toddler engaging a handbrake on a balance bike.

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

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

Footrests

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.

Balance bike footrests design. Poor foot rests are directly under the seat, while good foot rests are tucked behind the seat.

Frame Materials

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.

A few balance bikes are still made with wood frames. You can check out our list of 5 Best Wooden Balance Bikes here.

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!

Balance Bikes 101: Guide for Parents

CHAPTER ONE: What is a Balance Bike?
CHAPTER TWO: Balance Bikes vs. Training Wheels
CHAPTER THREE: Balance Bike Size and Buying Guide
CHAPTER FOUR: 10 Best Balance Bikes (You are here)
CHAPTER FIVE: How to Ride a Balance Bike
CHAPTER SIX: Fun Places to Ride Your Balance Bike
CHAPTER SEVEN: Balance Bike to Pedal Bike Transition

PREVIOUSCHAPTER THREE: Balance Bike Size and Buying Guide

NEXTCHAPTER FIVE: How to Ride a Balance Bike 

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