Chillafish balance bikes come in two very different models – the BMXie and the Charlie.
The Chillafish BMXie2 is a cute and sporty little bike that is designed for toddlers in 2T to 4T pants. Kids will love the “big kid” styling while parents will appreciate the Rubberskin tires that will NEVER go flat! It’s often called the Costco balance bike, as it is often sold there during the Holiday season.
The Chillafish Charlie is a much smaller balance bike best suited for the youngest and smallest toddlers starting their balance bike journey early. It’s also a more budget-friendly option with foam tires and more basic components. Read our review below to see if one of these Chillafish balance bikes are right for your toddler.
The first portion of this review is primarily for the Chillafish BMXie2. If you’re interested in the Chillafish Charlie, click here to jump down to our thoughts on this smaller balance bike.
Chillafish BMXie Overview
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Kids in size 2T to 4T clothes
SEAT HEIGHT: 12.25 – 15.25″
WEIGHT: 8.5 lb.
TIRES: Rubberskin (rubber covered foam)
- Puncture-proof Rubberskin tires
- Excellent durability
- Easy to adjust seat height
- Available in many different color combinations
- Incredibly easy to assemble
- Seat height limited to 3 settings with just 3″ of growth
- Wide rear axle on bike can interfere with child’s stride
- Saddle is not padded
- Integrated footbrake (on some models) and footrest can confuse young riders
Chillafish Balance Bike Video Review
For us, the best way to judge a bike is to see it in action! The following video review covers what we love about the Chillafish BXMie and what we think could use a little improvement.
Chillafish BMXie Balance Bike Full Review – Results of Our Test Rides
With unique puncture-proof Rubberskin tires that have more traction that foam tires, but without the hassle of air tires, the BMXie is a great choice for those who want a maintenance-free bike. The Chillafish BMXie is also often sold at Costco during the holiday season, so don’t be surprised if it looks familiar :).
Like all bikes, however, the BMXie certainly not suitable for everyone. Given the BMXie’s wider frame and limited seat height settings, we found the Chillafish to be best for kids with average to larger size frames and in at least size 2T pants.
Size – Just Three Size Settings
This Chillafish balance bike is a medium-size balance bike and is a best fit for kids in at least 2T pants. The seat height of the BMXie can be adjusted to one of three set seat heights that range from 12.25″ at its lowest setting at 15.25″ at its highest setting.
Due to the unique seat adjust system of the BMXie, the seat heights cannot be set outside of these three settings.
The seat height of the Chillafish BMXie is adjusted by unscrewing the seat post knob located on the seat post. Unscrewing the knob isn’t as fast as a standard quick-adjust seat post adjuster, but it is tool-free so the seat can be adjusted on the go.
Once loosened, simply pull the seat up until you reach the set heights located on the seat post and then screw the adjuster back into locking position. Really easy!
In addition to the Chillafish BMXie’s sporty and fun styling, our favorite feature is the unique puncture-proof Rubberskin tires. Most puncture-proof tires are made of solid foam, so while they will never go flat, they don’t provide nearly the traction as standard air tires.
Chillafish’s Rubberskin tires have a solid foam core but have an outer rubber layer to ensure great traction! Like advertised, we found the Rubberskin tires did provide much more traction than foam tires, but like foam tires, they don’t offer any cushioning like air tires.
Footrest of Newer BMXie2 is Problematic
The Chillafish’s BMXie2 has a footbrake integrated into the footrest. We love brakes on balance bikes. In addition to helping kids stop faster and safer, they also save their shoes from being quickly worn down!
While cool in theory, this integrated design can actually be confusing for kids. If a child rests their feet on the rear portion of the footrest, it simply acts as a footrest. But if a child rests their feet on the front portion, the brake activates. Many children can’t make this placement distinction, and once they try to use the footrest and stop the bike instead, they no longer try to use it.
Additionally, relying on a footbrake instead of a handbrake can be problematic for toddlers. When using a handbrake, kids instinctively have their feet out and ready to catch themselves when they come to a stop. With a footbrake, kids’ feet are busy braking, so they aren’t in a prime position to stabilize themselves as they slow to a stop.
In the end, it’s probably better if your child just doesn’t use the footrest or footbrake. Problem solved!
Saddle Not Padded
The saddle of the Chillafish balance bikes are covered in a rubber like material which helps keep little bums from sliding out of place. But unfortunately, they don’t have any padding at all. For riders in diapers (like our 2 year old tester), this won’t be an issue. However, the seat is pretty hard if you don’t have a diaper to act as cushioning.
Concerns with Frame Design
Our one major concern with this Chillafish balance bike is its wide rear frame, particularly around the rear axle. Unlike other balance bikes on which the rear axles are as narrow as possible, the frame of the BMXie sticks out about two inches past the wheels on both sides of the bike. As a result, our testers often hit their foot and even ankles on the frame as they rode the bike, which can lead to an unpleasant experience.
Since the bike frame width was certainly much more of a problem for our testers with narrower body frames, we don’t recommend the bike for petite riders.
Chillafish Charlie Balance Bike
The Chillafish Charlie balance bike was designed to be more affordable and to fit a smaller rider than the BMXie2.
Chillafish Charlie vs. BMXie2
|11" - 14.13"
|12.25" - 15.25"
|Foam with Rubberskin cover
Sizing – Small Enough for 18-Month-Olds
The Chillafish Charlie is one of the smallest balance bikes on the market. In addition to its low minimum seat height (11″), the Charlie also has smaller 10″ wheels. (Most balance bikes have 12″ wheels.)
Compared to these other balance bikes, the Charlie has a very short wheelbase (distance between the axles of the front and rear wheels).
Here you can see that difference between the woom 1 and Charlie. The woom’s wheelbase is 22.5″, while the Charlie’s is just 19″.
Shorter Wheelbase of Chillafish Charlie
The toddler in these images is 35″ tall and has the Charlie’s saddle set to the 2nd of 4 height settings. This short wheelbase will be less ideal for a taller toddler riding the Charlie on the tallest height setting. Less space in the cockpit of the bike limits stability and maneuverability.
Most balance bikes, especially budget bikes, come with foam tires instead of air tires (or the Rubberskin of the BMXie.) Foam tires are affordable and will never go flat.
Chillafish Charlie Foam Tire vs. BMXie2 Rubberskin
However, foam tires don’t offer any cushioning and very little traction. If you will be riding the bike indoors on wood floors, foam tires will result in your child wiping out from time to time.
Adjusting Seat and Handlebar Height
Both the seat and the handlebars can be raised for a better fit as your child grows. The seat height has 4 height settings and a little over 3″ of adjustability. The handlebars have 3 height settings, and just about 1″ of adjustability.
Adjusting the height of either is more time consuming than a balance bike with a quick release collar or a standard bolted collar.
(1) Loosen and remove the nut and bolt
(2) Raise the saddle or handlebars and align the holes
(3) Re-insert and tighten the nut and bolt
Soft Allen Bolt Metal May Be Problematic
The handlebar Allen bolt we received was made of a softer metal that is standard. As a result, when tightening the bolt, it is easy to begin stripping the head of the bolt with the Allen key.
The head of our bolt is already a bit malformed after lowering or raising the handlebar a few times. With time, it may become impossible to remove the bolts and make any more adjustments. (This has happened to several parents who left reviews on Amazon.)
Chillafish has assured us that this was a temporary problem and new Charlie bikes have bolts made with a harder metal. They sent us a replacement bolt, which was a noticeably stronger metal.
If you happen to receive a bike with softer bolts, be sure to reach out to Chillafish’s customer service. How would you know? The older style has a smaller Allen key head on the handlebar bolt than the seat post bolt. The new, upgraded bolts, are both the same size.
Bottom Line on the Chillafish Balance Bike
Fun, sporty, and built with some of our favorite puncture-proof tires on the market, the Chillafish BMXie2 is a stylish and maintenance-free balance bike for everyday neighborhood riders in at least 2T pants. Due to its wider frame, however, the BMIXie is best for kids with larger or wider frames.
The Chillafish Charlie is a solid starter bike for families who don’t want to make a big investment in a balance bike. Because the Charlie is smaller than most balance bikes, it’s a better bang for your buck if your toddler is young (about 18 months) or petite (still wearing 18 months clothes).
If you come across these balance bikes at Costco, check out a few of our favorite balance bikes before you make that final decision.