RoyalBaby Pony Balance Bike
With air tires, a low step-through frame, and a true headset, the Pony is a good option for confident adventurers.
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Sturdy kids ages 24 months old to turning 4 who can handle a heavier balance bike
SEAT HEIGHT: 12" - 15.5"
WEIGHT: 9.2 lb.
|Child's Pants Size||
12" – 15.5"
Black, Blue, Green, Pink
Pros & Cons
- Air tires for great traction and cushioning
- True headset keeps alignment better
- Sealed bearings for smoother rolling tires
- Quick release for easy seat height adjustment
- Carrying strap is stored under the seat
- A bit heavy
- No handbrake
Ranging in price between $75 and $100, the RoyalBaby Pony is one sweet little bike. Built with a low-step-through frame, air tires, a true headset, and a padded saddle with quick release lever, the Pony is certainly impressive for its price point.
While the Pony is on the heavier side, doesn’t have a hand-brake, and has lower-quality components than the high-end bikes we rate as exceptional, it’s one of our favorite sub-$100 bikes, and is a fantastic bang-for-your-buck.
From a performance standpoint, the Pony was a surprise hit! We try to come to every review with no expectations, but even more so with budget-friendly balance bikes which tend to have a lot of flaws.
Our testers absolutely loved the Pony and were quickly running, gliding, putting their feet up, and just rocking the playground.
We were especially interested in how our riders would handle the heavier weight (9.2 lbs.), but it was a non-issue for our experienced riders. Both our 3 and 4-year-old testers weigh about 33 lbs, making the 9.2 lbs. of the Pony about 28% of their body weight. It’s always recommended to keep a bike under 30% of a child’s body weight, so the Pony fit the bill for them.
For a petite rider just starting out on a balance bike, this weight could be limiting.
The RoyalBaby Pony has a seat height range of 12″ – 15.5″. With less than a 4″ of adjustability, the Pony’s range is a bit limited compared to other balance bikes. Our favorite budget balance bike, the GOMO, has a 5″ seat height range, as does the uber-popular Strider Classic.
Because the seat of a balance bike should be set 1″ to 1.5″ below your child’s inseam to allow them to sit with knees bent, the Pony is best for kids with inseams ranging from about 13″ to 17″. (Or starting about 24 months transitioning to 4T.)
If you start your child on the Pony when they have an inseam of 13″ and can set the seat height to its lowest point, 3.5″ of seat height growth should be plenty before they are ready for a pedal bike.
Be aware that like many balance bikes, the RoyalBaby Pony entry on Amazon claims that the bike is for kids 2 to 5 years old. Below you can see a petite-sized 4-year-old (30th percentile) on the bike, vs. her 3-year-old sister. With the seat height maxed out, the 4-year-old can absolutely ride the Pony (she did, and loved it!), but is about to grow out of riding it comfortably.
Our 3-year-old rider wears 3T clothes, has an inseam of 15.5″, and has the bike seat set at approximately 14″. Our 4-year-old rider wears 4T clothes and has an inseam of 18.5″. Ideally she’d have her seat height set at 17″, but the seat height maxes out at 15.5″.
3-year-old and 4-year-old Testers on the RoyalBaby Pony
Many budget balance bikes are not thought through very well, which often result in a bike that’s a bit awkward to ride or difficult to balance. The frame of the Pony and its handlebars work together to put a child in a comfortable, semi-upright position. The low set seat, in comparison to the handlebars, allows the child to sit low enough on the frame to provide great balancing and maneuvering.
The lower handlebars do put smaller kids in a slightly leaned forward stance. This stance is not too aggressive to be uncomfortable and encourages kids to lean in to run, gain speed, and be adventurous.
Budget bikes with air tires aren’t very common because air tires add a significant amount of weight to a bike. It’s not easy (or cheap) to produce a lightweight balance bike with air tires.
At 9.2 lbs, the Pony is on the heavier end for a balance bike, but it’s lighter than the very popular 10.5 lb. Banana Bike GT which is also a budget balance bike with air tires. The budget-friendly GOMO features lighter-weight foam tires and weighs 8.5 lbs.
Very petite, lightweight, or uncoordinated kids can struggle on heavier bikes. If this is the case with your child, you could consider a much lighter-weight budget bike like the Strider Classic, which weighs 6.7 lbs.
Wheels and Tires
The wheels and tires on the Pony are one of its best features. With sturdy metal rims on metal axles, the wheels on the Pony are much higher-quality and more durable than foam tires on plastic rims. And that pop of color on the rims gives the Pony some extra “cool points” from our testers.
The air-filled rubber tires provide better traction on a variety of surfaces, and much-needed cushioning as your child gains confidence and starts to ride faster and more aggressively.
Air tires on a budget-friendly balance bike are extremely rare, and a super nice feature to have.
No Hand Brake
A child learns to stop a balance bike with their feet. For bikes with a hand brake, the brake is usually a secondary stopping mechanism that is extremely helpful as children grow, ride faster, and get more aggressive.
We would prefer to see a handbrake on the RoyalBaby Pony, but it’s very typical for a budget balance bike not to have a hand brake. A quality hand brake that is easy for a child to use adds significant costs as well as additional weight to a bike.
As a result, most budget balance bikes just don’t have them, or if they do, they are typically very hard for a child to use.
If your child is going to be riding around hills, inclines or has that general need for speed, we highly recommend spending more money on a bike with a quality handbrake, like the Yedoo Too Too. If your child will be sticking mainly to flat, paved surfaces, their little feet will do just fine as brakes.
The Pony’s saddle is nicely padded, and slightly curved in the back. Curved saddles allow a child to lean forward to run aggressively with less chance that their bums slip off the back. The disadvantage of a curved saddle is that as kids grow, they can’t shift themselves back to make more room for their longer limbs.
A little hidden surprise lies under the saddle, which actually opens up! Inside you’ll find a balance bike carrying strap.
As a parent who has ended up carrying my toddler’s balance bike more times that I would have liked, I’m here to tell you that a balance bike carrying strap is awesome! And because the strap is stored under the seat of the Pony, you won’t forget it at home!
Grips, Bolts, and Headset
The grips on the Pony are a firm rubber with end bumpers to protect little hands in the event of a fall (which will happen). While they’re not the softest grips we’ve seen, they’re much better than the hard plastic grips you’ll find on some balance bikes, like the Bixe 12.
The exposed, rounded bolts on the axles are pretty standard for budget balance bikes. While they look great when you first buy the bike, those bolts will eventually get scratched againsts the ground after falls or from kids just throwing their bikes down. The scratched bolts then can scratch little legs.
A true headset on a budget balance bike is pretty unheard of. What even is a headset and why does it matter? On a very basic level, the headset holds the handlebars in place and controls the steering.
Many balance bikes just have the handlebars held in place by a clamp. A true headset will keep handlebars in alignment after a crash (which will happen), and also generally produces smoother steering.
The Sprint Pad is an interesting feature we’ve never encountered before. If you’ve ever seen a balance bike race in Asia, you’d see why a kid might need one of these. For true sprint racing, kids lean waaaaay forward on their balance bike and extend their legs behind them to get the most leverage while running.
For most kids the Sprint Pad will just be a cool color pop, especially since the Pony is a bit heavy to use as a race bike. But after our 3-year-old rider was done with her test ride she said, “I like that thing I put my tummy on. It’s fun!” So there you have it!
RoyalBaby Pony vs Strider Classic vs GOMO
One search on Amazon and you’ll see that there are too many budget balance bikes to choose from. While many are poorly-designed, we’ve found and tested several that are pretty great considering their price. The Pony is one of a select group of balance bikes under $100 that we actually recommend.
But how does it compare to other balance bikes the same size? The Pony is similar in size to the Strider Classic and the Yedoo Too Too. Here’s an easy comparison to help you choose which bike is best for your child.
RoyalBaby Pony Comparison
|RoyalBaby Pony||Yedoo TooToo||Strider Classic|
|Seat Height||12" - 15.5"||12.5" - 16.5"||11" - 16"|
|Weight||9.2 lb.||8.3 lb.||6.7 lb.|
RoyalBaby Pony: The heaviest of the three, but great-quality and a decent weight and price for a budget bike.
Yedoo Too Too: While the Too Too is more expensive, it offers a handbrake and a ton of adorable designs to choose from.
Strider Classic: With the shortest seat height and lightest weight, the Strider Classic is great for small, petite, or timid riders.
The RoyalBaby Pony is a solid-quality bike with a kid-cool design. While a little heavy without a handbrake, it does have air tires, a low-step-through frame, and a true headset. You won’t get a better balance bike at this price.