Convertible balance bikes are designed to convert to a small pedal bike once the child masters the balance bike. As a balance bike and a pedal bike, this 2-in-1 idea sounds ideal, but does it deliver on expectations?
We’ve tested all the major options on the market and have summarized our finding below. After helping readers navigate the balacne bike to pedal bike transition for years, we have also included a frequently asked questions about convertible balance bikes below.
5 Best Balance Bikes with Pedals
|Balance Bike with Pedals||Seat Height Range||Balance Bike MSRP||Pedal Kit MSRP|
|Strider 14x||15" - 22"||$150||$60|
|LittleBig||14" - 21"||$193||$55|
|SmarTrike Xtend||15.25″ – 21.25″||$250||Included|
|Go Glider 16"||16" - 25"||$129||$25|
Best Strider Bike with Pedals
MSRP: $149 (balance bike only)
PEDAL KIT: $60, optional
SEAT HEIGHT RANGE: 15″ – 22″
WEIGHT: 12.5 lbs (as a balance bike)
BEST 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.
FULL REVIEW: Strider 14x Convertible Balance Bike
If you’ve heard of the Strider bike with pedals, this is it! The Strider 14x was a long time coming for the brand that made balance bikes a household name. With 14″ air tires (the traditional Strider has 12″ foam), a larger frame, taller handlebars to give the rider more room, and a larger footrest, the Strider 14x is an affordable option for kids starting off their balance bike journey a little later.
We appreciate that the Strider 14x’s pedal kit is optional, so you only need to buy it if you need it. However, the Strider is the only bike on this list that doesn’t have a handbrake. It offers a coaster brake in pedal mode, but no brake at all in balance bike mode. While kids generally use their feet to stop on a balance bike, kids on 14″ balance bikes are larger and can ride faster, making a brake very useful.
- Pedal kit is optional – only buy it if you need it
- Foot rest for doing tricks
- Adding the pedal kit only takes a few minutes
- Adjustable height handlebars for a better fit as kids grow
- No brake offered in balance bike mode
- Coaster brake in pedal mode can make it more difficult to learn to pedal
- Very short crank arms in pedal mode – difficult for kids over age 5 to ride
Best Convertible Balance Bike for Growth
MSRP: $193 (balance bike only)
PEDAL KIT: $55, optional
SEAT HEIGHT RANGE: 14″ – 21″
WEIGHT: 11.2 lbs. (balance bike), 14.6 lbs. (pedal bike)
BRAKES: Dual hand brakes
BEST FITS KIDS: With a minimum seat height of 14″ as a small balance bike and 18″ as a larger balance bike, the bike fit kids in size 2T to size 5 clothes.
FULL REVIEW: LittleBig Convertible Balance Bike
LittleBig Bikes were the first to make a high-quality balance bike with pedals, which is also sold at a very reasonable price. The LittleBig bike is actually three bikes in one. A small balance bike with a minimum seat height of 14″, a larger balance bike with a minimum seat height of 18″, and a pedal bike with a minimum seat height of 18.5″.
After a child has outgrown the small balance bike, the frame of the LittleBig flips to raise the seat height and handlebars to transform it into a larger balance bike. Then when a child is ready for pedals, simply add the pedal kit.
One major benefit of the LittleBig is that it has dual handbrakes in balance bike mode and pedal bike mode. This helps instill proper braking technique from a young age, and makes transitioning to a pedal bike even easier. For US customers, make sure to request that the brakes be set to US standards – left brake on the front wheel, right brake on the rear.
- Great braking system – dual handbrakes and no coaster brake
- High-quality, durable frame and components
- Flippable frame design allows the bike to grow with your child
- Shipping from Ireland, you’ll have to pay customs fees
- Handlebars only have two height settings – in pedal bike mode they are on the low side and can’t be adjusted for kids who prefer to be more upright
Best Convertible Bike on a Budget
PEDAL KIT: Standard, not sold separately
SEAT HEIGHT: 15.25″ – 21.25″
WEIGHT: 14.8 lbs (balance bike), 17.9 lbs (pedal bike)
BRAKES: Front disc brake (in balance bike and pedal bike mode), rear coaster (in pedal bike mode only)
BEST FITS KIDS: Kids from 39″ – 44″ tall, about 3 to 5 years old
FULL REVIEW: SmartTrike Xtend Convertible Balance Bike
The SmartTrike Xtend is one of two balance bikes with pedals to have an extendable frame – it literally gets longer! (Black Mountain is the other.) The SmartTrike is significantly more affordable and is also incredibly easy to adjust – a simple Allen key is all you need to extend that frame! Also boasting adjustable-height handlebars, the Xtend does a great job of growing with your child as they get older to provide a good long-term fit.
For American audiences, the braking system on the Xtend is a little problematic because its single handbrake is on the left hand and front wheel, which teaches kids improper braking technique. (Kids should be taught to brake with the right hand/rear brake first.) It also has a coaster brake in pedal mode, which makes it a bit more difficult to learn to pedal.
- Solid-quality, durable, extendable magnesium frame
- Handlebars can be raised as kids grow
- Frame and handlebar adjustments just need an Allen key
- Pedal assembly attaches to the bike in just minutes
- Pedal bike mode better than some other convertible balance bikes
- Heavy for a balance bike
- Front-brake-only in balance bike mode can teach children improper braking technique
- Coaster brake in pedal mode can make learning to pedal more difficult
- Seat post height can be difficult to adjust
- Narrow pedals
Best Size Options
MSRP: $410 (for 14″)
PEDAL KIT: Standard on 14″ and 16″, optional on 20″
SEAT HEIGHT RANGE: For the 14″, site states a best fit for kids from 90cm to 109cm tall
WEIGHT: 12.5 lbs. (as a 14″ pedal bike)
BRAKES: Dual Tektro V-brakes
Black Mountain bikes were the first kids’ bikes to offer extendable frames, which made them truly unique in the marketplace. These balance bikes with pedals are also unique because they are offered in three different sizes! The 14″ and 16″ come standard with a pedal kit, while it’s an optional upgrade on the 20″.
Black Mountain bikes don’t come cheap, but they are cream-of-the-crop. Featuring high-end components like Tektro v-pull hand brakes, Kenda small block 8 tires, and a belt drive, a convertible balance bike doesn’t get better than Black Mountain. We haven’t tested one ourselves, so if you’ve seen one, we’d love to hear your opinions!
- Offered in three different sizes – 14″, 16″ and 20″
- Tektro dual handbrakes and no coaster brake
- Extendable frame design to better fit kids as they grow
- Grease free, maintenance free belt drive
- Versatile, Kenda small block 8 tires
- Gearing can be changed from low to high as frame is extended
- Customs fees required for shipment
- Adding the pedal kit is more complicated than others on this list
Best Budget Option for Older Kids
PEDAL KIT: $25, Optional
SEAT HEIGHT RANGE: 16″ – 25″
BEST FITS KIDS: In 5T clothes and up
FULL REVIEW: Glider Bike Review
The Go Glider 16″ is the only 16″ balance bike with pedals that is easily attainable in the US. The overall quality is basic, but it’s also really affordable. If you have a child 5 or older that just hates the idea of pedals, or a child that is developmentally delayed, the Go Glider is your best bet. Their 12″ bike is also compatible with the pedal kit, but the kit is often out of stock.
- Larger 16″ bike is particularly great for kids who are developmentally delayed
- Single hand brake, no coaster brake!
- Adjustable height handlebars
- Footrest can easily be turned to use or to move out of the way
- Pedal kit is optional
- Quality is basic
- Older kids could benefit from the stopping power of two hand brakes
DIY Balance Bike with Pedals
Realistically, any pedal bike can be turned into a balance bike. It’s the ultimate balance bike with pedals! Just unscrew the pedals and take them off the crank arms of your child’s bike.
You’ll need to lower the seat height so your child has a slight bend in their knee. This allows them to comfortably push off the ground with their feet and also stop safely. Once they can confidently balance and maneuver this “balance bike”, put those pedals back on.
This method is best for kids 5 or older on a 16″ bike or larger. This is a temporary solution meant to get a child pedaling on their bike fairly quickly.
We don’t recommend this option for kids in 2T – 4T clothes. 12″ and 14″ pedal bikes are so much heavier than a balance bike – often 6 – 10 pounds heavier! That’s a lot of extra weight for a 25 – 40 pound toddler to manage. Additionally, for a child in 2T pants (and most 3T), there isn’t a pedal bike seat that would even go low enough for them to use it as a balance bike.
Balance Bike with Pedals – What you need to know
Do they perform as well as a separate balance bike and pedal bike?
2-in-1 products are rarely great at both things. Every convertible balance bike we’ve tested is better as a balance bike than a pedal bike.
BALANCE BIKE MODE: Convertible balance bikes perform well as balance bikes. However, they are usually heavier than a standard balance bike. If you have a lightweight, petite, or timid child, these added few pounds can be cumbersome for them as they ride.
PEDAL BIKE MODE: While the balance bike mode can be used for quite some time, the pedal bike mode is a short-term solution. The pedals are generally small and the crank arms are short, making riding the pedal bike unrealistic for long periods of time or distances. As a child gains confidence, they will be uncomfortable on the pedal bike. You will likely need to buy a real pedal bike within a few weeks or months of adding the pedal kit.
Are they a good value?
Most parents buy a balance bike with pedals to save money. Instead of buying a balance bike and then a 14″ pedal bike, they just want to buy one bike.
While you’re saving money, you’re often sacrificing experience. A dedicated balance bike is usually better than a convertible balance bike. A dedicated pedal bike is almost always better than a balance bike with added pedal kit (unless you’re buying a cheap bike at a big box store).
If you’re trying to avoid buying a 14″ pedal bike after a balance bike, we often recommend skipping a 14″ pedal bike anyways. They are very small and kids outgrow them quickly! Many balance bikes have enough seat height adjustability to ride until a child is ready for a 16″ pedal bike. While the balance bike may technically be too small for a time, it’s a cost effective option.
Can you add pedals to any balance bike?
No. You can only add pedals to balance bikes that are designed to accommodate an optional pedal attachment kit. We’ve listed all the bikes we know of on this page.
How hard is it to add the balance bike pedal attachment?
It really depends on the brand. We’ve found the Strider 14x and SmartTrike Xtend to be very straightforward. The process only takes a few minutes.
Attaching the pedals on the LittleBig is more involved, but nothing too complicated for the average parent.
Doesn’t BMW make a balance bike with pedals?
Yes, they do! The BMW balance bike with pedals is actually the very first convertible balance bike that we know of. We’ve never gotten our hands on one, but we’d sure love to.