The vast majority of budget kids’ bikes aren’t actually designed for kids. Instead, the manufacturer simply walks through a warehouse full of parts and picks pieces together to build a bike. After a quick paint job and some decals, a brand new bike is born, without ever testing it out on a child! As a result, most inexpensive bikes are poorly designed and can be difficult for kids to ride.
Our Recommended Budget Balance Bikes at Work
Fortunately, there are a few budget bikes that, while they don’t compete with the higher-end bikes, do a great job for under $100. We tested out all of the bikes below and while they’re not the best of the best, they get the job done. Their seats aren’t as cushioned, their bearings don’t roll as smoothly, and they don’t have the durability to last for generations, but they’re a great buy for those on a tighter budget.
9 Best Budget Balance Bikes Under $100
FEATURES: Very lightweight, aluminum frame, air tires, low-roll-resistance wheels, soft hand grips (these are insane features at this price!!)
BEST FITS: Kids in 2T months to 4T pants.
KEY CONCERN: Limited seat height range (3″), no quick-release seat post (tools required)
COLORS AVAILABLE: Blue, pink
FULL REVIEW: Swagtron K3
FEATURES: Extended wheelbase for more room to ride, upright and natural body position for the rider, adjustable-height handlebars, well-designed footrest, cool design and colors, incredible quality for the price.
BEST FITS: Kids in 2T to 4T pants with 13″ to 19″ inseam
KEY CONCERN: None. This is a fantastic budget bike!
COLORS AVAILABLE: Black/green, red/yellow, blue/yellow, hot pink
FULL REVIEW: GOMO
FEATURES: Long wheelbase, taller handlebars and long seat post great for taller riders, true headset, adjustable-height handlebars, quick release seat post, air tires for under $70!
BEST FITS: Kids in 3T to size 5 pants.
KEY CONCERN: Heavier than the lighter-weight Banana LT with foam tires
COLORS AVAILABLE: Blue, red, yellow
FULL REVIEW: Banana Bike GT/LT
FEATURES: Super lightweight frame (just 4.4 lbs!), brightly colored rims
BEST FITS: Kids in 18 months to size 3T pants.
KEY CONCERN: Grips are hard, seat and handlebars require tools for adjusting
COLORS AVAILABLE: Pink, green, purple, blue
FULL REVIEW: Bixe 12 & 16
FEATURES: Comes with a bell, quick- release seat post, a lightweight frame, and air tires.
BEST FITS: Kids in 3T to size 5 pants.
KEY CONCERN: Seat has very little padding, cheap headset.
COLORS AVAILABLE: Red, pink
FULL REVIEW: Radio Flyer
FEATURES: Small frame is ideal for young toddlers. Wide tires help the youngest of riders learn to balance quickly, while still allowing them to cruise when they get older. Helps timid kids transition to a real balance bike. Adjustable-height handlebars.
BEST FITS: Kids in 18-months to 2T pants.
KEY CONCERN: Minimal room for growth. Kids will likely outgrow the bike close to their 3rd birthday.
COLORS AVAILABLE: Red, blue, pink
FULL REVIEW: Toot Scoot
FEATURES: Lightweight build (the lightest bike on our list). Low center-of-gravity geometry for increased stability. High-quality quick release on seat and handlebars make the Strider the easiest bike on this list to adjust. When extended seat post is purchased, the bike is easily adjustable to fit two siblings of different heights. Foam tires.
BEST FITS: Kids in 18-months to size 3T pants (up to size 5 with extended seat post).
KEY CONCERN: Non-padded seat, must buy extended seat post to raise the seat over 16″.
COLORS AVAILABLE: Green, red, blue, pink
FULL REVIEW: Strider Classic
FEATURES: Air tires, cushioned saddle with balance bike carrying strap in a compartment underneath, quick-release seat post for easy height adjustments, sprint pad, true headset, low step-through frame
BEST FITS: Kids in 24-months to transitioning to 3T pants.
KEY CONCERN: Heavy for petite riders.
COLORS AVAILABLE: Black, blue, pink
FULL REVIEW: RoyalBaby Pony
FEATURES: Lightweight magnesium frame, air tires, true headset, integrated carrying handle, wide handlebars for a more stable base, great quality for the price
BEST FITS: Average to aggressive riders in 2T – 4T pants
KEY CONCERN: No handbrake
COLORS AVAILABLE: Blue, mint, red, silver, white, yellow
FULL REVIEW: Vitus Smoothy Review
In addition to the bikes recommended above, we also tested out several other popular budget balance bikes, such as the Chicco Red Bullet and the Critical Cycles Cub. Both of these bikes have amazing reviews on Amazon, but based on our tests, we do not recommend them. While they are well-priced and many Amazon reviewers have had positive experiences with them, we found major flaws in their designs and believe the bikes listed above offer a superior balance bike experience for a similar price.
Chicco Red Bullet – $49
The Chicco Red Bullet’s main flaw is its extremely short wheelbase. With the two wheels of the bike very close together, the child’s center-of-balance is higher than on other bikes, which makes the bike more difficult to balance. The short bike also prevents kids from leaning into the bike when running, which can hinder their natural stride.
Critical Cycles Cub – $59
The footrest on the Critical Cycles Cub is its downfall. The footrest sticks out too far past the seat and caused our youngest testers to hit the back of their legs on the footrest while walking the bike. Considering footrests are entirely optional (most kids don’t use them and rarely ask for them when a bike doesn’t have one), there’s no need to risk ruining a child’s balance bike experience with a unnecessary and burdensome footrest.
Comparison Chart: Budget Balance Bikes
Quick Release Seat Post
|Air||12.25" - 15.25"||6.5 lb.||$59|
|Foam||12" - 17"||8.5 lb.||X||X||$65|
|Knobby Air||12.5" - 17"||8.1 lb.||X||$69|
|Foam||12" - 16.5"||7.3 lb.||X||X||$59|
|Street Air||14.2" - 18.5"||8.4 lb.||X||X||$69|
|Foam||11.5 - 15.5"||4.4 lb.||X||$69|
|Schwinn Balance Bike||Foam||14.25" - 16.75"||8.5 lb.||X||$69|
|Street Air||12" - 15.5"||9.2 lb.||X||$75|
|Solid Rubber||11" - 14"||7 lb.||X||$75|
|Prince Lionheart Wooden Balance Bike||Rubber||14.8" - 17"||9.9 lb.||$79|
|Foam||11" - 16"||6.4 lb.||X||$89|
|Airless Rubberskin||12.25" - 15.25"||8.5 lb.||X||$69|
|Vitus Smoothy||Air||12.75" - 17.5"||7 lb.||X||$99|