FirstBIKE Balance Bike Review

With air tires, a handbrake, and scratch-proof recessed bolts, FirstBIKE balance bikes are best in class for safety. Built with a nylon composite frame, FirstBIKEs are also lightweight, waterproof, and essentially kid-proof!

FirstBIKEs are best for young toddlers (2 to 3 years) just getting started and are not suitable for taller or older preschoolers (4+) as the nylon frame does tend to bend when maxed out. Read the review below for all the details.

toddler riding FirstBIKE street balance bike on the pavement

FirstBIKE Balance Bike

RATING: Highly Recommended

MSRP$129+

BEST FOR: Neighborhood cruising toddlers in size 24 month to 3T clothes.

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

WEIGHT: 8.6 lb.

TIRES: Air

ADDITIONAL SPECS

FRAME: Composite
FOOTREST: No
BOLTS: Recessed
BRAKE: Hand Brake

PROS:

  • Weatherproof composite frame and fork have a lifetime warranty
  • 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
  • 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
  • Can be converted to a sled!

CONS:

  • 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

FirstBIKE Balance Bike Review

Many years ago, FirstBIKE helped to revolutionize the balance bike market in the US. Built with an emphasis on safety and durability, rather than affordability and visual appeal (i.e. tassels and cartoon characters), the FirstBIKE was the shining star in a sea of poorly constructed toddler tricycles.

With its weatherproof composite frame, child-sized handbrake, recessed bolts, turning limiter, sealed bearings, and air tires, the FirstBIKE quickly rose to the top of the toddler bike market. Years later, countless other balance bikes have entered the market, but in many ways, FirstBIKE is still a worthy competitor.

toddler riding the FirstBIKE balance bike

Why? While many other bikes offer the same safety features as FirstBIKE, it is the only one to offer all of them together in five different models.  The perfect combination of safety features, value, and durability, the FirstBIKE is one of our top picks for toddlers aged 24-months to 3 years.

Who is the FirstBIKE best for?

Over the last 10 years, we have had countless toddlers and preschoolers test out the FirstBIKE. For kids 3 or under, the bike consistently brings smiles and eager anticipation for the next ride.

From cruising around the neighborhood or following along during a family bike ride, the FirstBIKE provides a smooth and comfortable ride that quickly helps kids develop their confidence and all-around biking skills.

preschool girl balancing on a FirstBIKE

For those really aggressive riders who are eager to take on any jump or single-track ahead of them, the FirstBIKE likely isn’t a great choice. Although very durable and rigid, the composite frame of the FirstBIKE can flex, which can lead to less than ideal riding conditions for true go-getters.

With a standard seat height of 14″ to 17.5″, the FirstBIKE is ideal for kids with inseams ranging from 15″ to 18″. For smaller toddlers in 24-month or 2T clothes, FirstBIKE sells an add-on Lowering Kit that allows you to lower the minimum seat height to 12″. With the lowering kit, the FirstBIKE balance bike can fit kids with inseams ranging from 13″ to 18″.

Due to the flex of the frame (more about his below), we don’t recommend the FirstBIKE for riders in size 4T/5 clothes.

Five Models – Basic, Cross, Street, Limited, and Fat

The FirstBIKE is available in five different models – Basic, Street, Cross, Limited and Fat.  The Basic is the only model that does not come with a hand brake or air tires.  The solid rubber tires on the Basic don’t have air, but are puncture-free and provide a lot more traction than the standard foam tires found on lower-end balance bikes.  

The Cross, Street, Limited and Fat models all come with the same handbrake, but have different types of air tires that are best suited for different types of riding surfaces and styles:

  • Street: Smooth tread air tires for maximum traction on paved surfaces
  • Cross: Knobby tread air tires for all-terrain riding
  • Limited: Smooth tread Schwalbe Big Apple tires that provide extra cushioning and traction. Especially ideal for kids who like to “jump” off curbs, at skate parks, etc.
  • Fat: Knobby tread air tire with extra cushioning and ultimate traction in sand, gravel, dirt or snow (not shown below)

For the average neighborhood rider, any model will work just fine. Don’t hesitate to put your child’s color preference over the tire style if your child’s favorite color is sold out in your desired model.

young boy riding the FirstBike Street balance bike on the sidewalk

For more advanced riders, tire style should be given preference. For occasional use on compact dirt, the Cross model is your best bet. The extra knobby tires will help provide additional traction.

If your child loves to catch air while going down drops, curbs, or stairs, the extra cushioning provided by the Limited or Fat models is ideal. Riders on paved surfaces are best with the Limited model, while those on all-terrain are best on the Fat model.

FirstBIKE Safety Features

Edge-free Composite Frame

Having reviewed over 100 different balance bikes over the years, our favorite feature of the FirstBIKE is its unique frame. The nylon composite frame’s smooth surface is free of any protrusions or sharp edges that may potentially hurt a child during an inevitable fall.

When kids fall while riding a balance bike, they generally land directly on top of the bike. The flexible frame, smooth edges, and recessed bolts of the FirstBIKE help to minimize and/or prevent injuries as a result of these falls.

Toddler falling while riding the FirstBIKE balance bike

The overall quality and durability of the FirstBIKE has also really shined throughout the years. That nylon-composite frame (not plastic!) is rigid and stiff and is essentially unbreakable. With its rust-free construction, the FirstBIKE is also weather-proof as it won’t even flinch if accidentally left outside in a rain storm or snow storm!

In fact, FirstBIKEs are often the balance bike of choice for sea-side lovers whose kids love to ride along the shore. Unlike traditional bikes, the FirstBIKE can easily be hosed off without concern.

Uniquely Shaped Saddle

The U-shaped saddle is another standout feature of the FirstBIKE. The shape helps to prevent kids from sliding off the seat, but also partially wraps around the child which provides a much-needed sense of security for hesitant kids. The gel-like composition of the seat is non-porous which makes for easy clean-ups as the result of potty-training accidents.

The u-shaped seat of the FirstBIKE that is also waterproof

Due to its shape and “stickiness”, the seat is problematic for the youngest toddlers in size 24-month-clothes as they will have trouble getting on and off the bike by themselves.

24-month old on FirstBIKE with Lowering Kit

young toddler riding the FirstBIKE with a lowering kit

Recessed Bolts

Due to the nylon-composite frame of the bike, the axle bolts of the bike are able to be recessed into the frame. As a result, it is essentially impossible for a child to scratch their legs on the rear axle bolt of the bike.

image showing the recessed bolts on the FirstBIKE as compared to standard exposed rear bolts

Easy-reach Handbrake with Bumper Grip

For easy stopping on the go, all models of the FirstBIKE (except the Basic) come with an easy-reach handbrake. The brake is well-dialed-in to provide ample stopping power for little cruisers.

To protect small hands from hitting the ground during a fall or even from hitting a wall due to riding too close, all models of the FirstBIKE come with a protective bumper on the end of the grip. While seemingly minor, we’ve see these grips save a lot of little hands from bumps and bruises.

Young child's hand pulling on the FirstBIKE's brake lever

Other Features

Additional safety features include the turning limiter that prevents kids from turning too sharply and leading to a crash. In addition to preventing jackknifing, the turning limiter also prevents the bike’s brake cable from being twisted which can affect a brake’s effectiveness.

While not a true safety feature, another unique feature on the FirstBIKE is its knob style seat post adjuster. To adjust the seat height, you simply loosen the knob, raise or lower the seat and then retighten to knob.

Dial-adjust FirstBIKE Seat Adjust

dial-adjust seat height knob on the FirstBIKE

FirstBIKE Lowering Kit

While FirstBIKE offers many different accessories, the lowering kit is an essential upgrade for any child in 2T or 24-month clothes. The lowering kit is available for $15 and attaches to the rear axle to lower the rear portion of the frame by about two inches. With the rear portion of the frame lowered, the minimum seat height of the FirstBIKE lowers from 14″ to 12″.

FirstBIKE with Lowering Kit Installed (red arrow pointing to it)

Image showing the difference in the frame position of the FirstBIKE when the lowering kit is installed

Older toddlers who are in 3T clothes, or about the transition into them, will fit the FirstBIKE just fine without the lowering kit.

Issues with Frame Bending

The one major drawback we’ve seen with the FirstBIKE over the years is its poor performance with older, heavier, and/or taller riders in size five clothes and up. The extra weight and stress on the frame and seat post cause significant flexing which negatively affects the handling of the bike.

In attempts to document the flexing, we had our five-year-old tester (who was also our main tester of the bike two years ago) take his old FirstBIKE for a ride.  From the get-go, he complained that the rear tire was wobbling, which made it difficult and uncomfortable for him to ride. The flexing was visually apparent, but hard to capture in stills.

As a result of the flexing, since kids typically ride their balance bikes for two years, we do not recommend the FirstBIKE for kids older than three as they could potentially outgrow the bike before they are ready to transition to a pedal bike. Kids who start riding the FirstBIKE at or before the age of three (or in 3T clothing) should have no issues with flexing before transitioning to a pedal bike and shouldn’t hesitate to buy the FirstBIKE.

Other FirstBIKE Accessories

With its all-weather frame, the FirstBIKE is a great choice for year-round riding.  In addition to being waterproof, a ski set is available for $40 and quickly converts the balance bike into a sled.

Our testers, aged 3 to 6, all loved the ski while their parents loved the worry-free, weather-resistant frame for when the bike was accidentally left outside during a snowstorm.

FirstBike balance bike in the snow with sled

FirstBIKE’s molded nylon baskets are also top notch as they are strong enough to withstand anything your child can fill them with, even large rocks. In fact, we found the basket to be much stronger than the zip-ties used to adhere the basket to the bike. The baskets are available for $15 and can attach to any bike via a zip-tie.

Young child loading up rocks into his FirstBIKE basket

FirstBIKE Balance Bike Bottom Line

An exceptional bike to buy for toddlers 2 to 3 years old. Unmatched in safety features and durability, the FirstBIKE is sure to be well-loved by toddlers and parents alike. Due to the flexing of the frame, we do not recommend the FirstBIKE for taller or heavier kids older than three.

Image showing the safety features of the FirstBIKE balance bike

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, the reviewed product was supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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