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Schwinn Balance Bike Review

toddler riding a green balance bike

Schwinn balance bikes are offered in six unique models with different price points and different features. Read the review below to understand the differences between the Schwinn Elm, Koen, Skip 1, Skip 2, Skip 3, and Skip 4 balance bikes.

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Schwinn Balance Bikes Review

RATING: Recommended

MSRP: $59 – $80

BEST FOR:

SEAT HEIGHT: Varies by Model (see below)

TIRES: Varies by Model (see below)

WEIGHT: Varies by Model (see below)

PROS:

  • Low step-through frame
  • Padded seat
  • Plastic bolt covers
  • Foam tires will never go flat

CONS:

  • Small seat height range
  • Steering is choppy on Elm
  • Foam tires offer minimal traction and no cushioning

Schwinn Balance Bike Review – Results of our Test Rides

Schwinn’s line of six balance bikes offer different features and price points to meet the needs of different families.  The six models are built for the same size child, but with slight differences between them, which is the best for your child?

Models

All six models are available for under $100 and are mainly sold on Amazon.  The seat height and weights of the bikes listed below are based on our own measurements as they are not listed on Amazon or available via Schwinn.

Schwinn Elm girl’s balance bike and Schwinn Koen boy’s balance bike: New for 2020! All of the Skip models will eventually be replaced the Elm and Koen.

Schwinn Koen balance bike ridden by a 2 year old down the sidewalk

Skip 4: Our favorite of the Schwinn balance bikes. With air tires and a quick release for easy seat height adjustments, it’s a good little budget balance bike.

Skip 2 and Skip 3: In theory these are pretty decent budget balance bikes as well, but at this point in time, we cannot recommend the Skip 2 or Skip 3. Because the quick release seat post clamp doesn’t hold the seat post in place, after you set the height, it will sink back down to the lowest point once a child’s sits on it. This essentially makes the Skip 2 and 3 a one-height balance bike, with no way to adjust for, or grow with your child.

Skip 1: Schwinn’s original balance bike. We’ve found its wide footrest to be problematic for many riders. With better Schwinn balance bikes to choose from, we recommend the Skip 4, Koen, or Elm instead.

Same child riding a Schwinn Skip 2, Skip 3, and Skip 4 balance bike.

Schwinn Balance Bikes Compared

ModelMSRPTire TypeSeat HeightWeight
Model

MSRP

Tire TypeSeat HeightWeight
Elm$69Foam14.25" - 16.75"8.4 lb.
Koen$69Foam14.25" - 16.75"8.5 lb.
Skip 4$79Air14.5" - 17"10.5 lb.
Skip 3$69Air15" - 17"9.8 lb.
Skip 2$59Foam15" - 17"7.2 lb.
Skip 1$80Air14" - 16.5"10.5"

2020 Updates Elm and Koen – What You Need to Know

Like the Schwinn Skip models before them, the Elm and Koen are sized for kids in 3T/4T clothes and feature a quick-release on the seat post for fast and easy seat height adjustments. From a growth perspective, they offer 2.5″ of seat height adjustment, which is on the low end for most balance bikes.

Frame Design: The Elm and Koen both feature a step-through frame that makes it easier for kids to get on and off the bike. From a frame-shape perspective, these new 2020 models are an upgrade from the previous Skip series.

Schwinn Elm and Koen balance bikes side by side

Child’s Body Position: The overall combination of frame shape, seat height, and handlebar height has resulted in a slightly more aggressive balance bike than previous models.

As you can see in the image below, our very tall 2.5-year-old tester has her arms fully extended down to reach the handlebars on the Elm. Compare this to our tester on the Skip 4 balance bike. His arms are bent, allowing him to ride in a more upright, casual position.

Skip 4 vs. Elm

Side by side comparison of child's body position on Schwinn Skip 4 and Schwinn Elm balance bikes. The child on the Skip 4 is more upright.

Aggressive positioning is best for confident kids who will enjoy the ability to lean in to sprint for top speeds. Casual, upright positioning is better for most beginning balance bike riders, or if you’re unsure how confident or timid your child will be.

Wheels and Tires: The Koen and Elm both feature foam tires on plastic rims. Foam tires have the advantage of being puncture proof and never going flat. However, they offer no cushioning and minimal traction.

If your child will be doing adventurous riding over curbs or on dirt trails, the air tires on the Skip 4 will be a better option.

Side by side comparison of foam tire on Schwinn Elm balance bike and air tire on Schwinn Skip 4 balance bike

Bolts: Almost all budget balance bike have rounded or exposed bolts on the axles. These bolts get dented and scraped over time and often end up scraping a child’s legs if they are wearing shorts. The 2020 Elm and Koen have a simple solve to this problem. The axles are capped with a screw-on plastic dome that protects the bolt underneath!

Schwinn Skip Balance Bikes – What You Need to Know

Frame Size and Wheels

The first major difference between the three bikes is their frames. The Skip 2 and 3 have exactly the same frame (just painted differently) while the Skip 4 has a slightly larger frame with a longer wheelbase (distance between the wheels).  Although different in size, all three bikes are sized to fit kids in 3T to 4T clothes.  The longer wheelbase of the Skip 4, however, makes the bike easier to balance and provides more room between the seat and the handlebars for taller riders.

The second major difference is the tire type.  The Skip 2 has foam tires while the 3 and 4 have air tires.  The air tires on the Skip 4 are also wider than those on the Skip 3.  Air tires provide more traction and cushioning than foam tires, but they also increase the weight of the bike and can go flat.  Based on our experience, unless the possibility of a flat tire is a really big deal to you, the added weight of air tires is worth the additional traction and comfort they provide.

Schwinn Skip Balance Bike Line Differences

Size

The Skip 4 has a seat height range of 14.5″ to 17″, while the Skip 2 and Skip 3 have a range of 15″ to 17″.  Although it has a larger frame, the Skip 4’s saddle is shorter allowing it to have a lower minimum seat height of 14.5″. All three bikes, however, have a very limited range of seat heights and provide little room for growth.

Our 2.5-year-old tester in 3T clothes fit great on all three bikes, but still in the walking stage of learning to ride, the slightly lower seat height of the Skip 4 made it more comfortable for him to maneuver around.

The Skip 4 has 1.5″ of adjustable handlebar height, which you can set high or low depending on if your rider wants a more beginning, upright stance, or wants to lean in for more adventurous, aggressive riding. For our beginner tester, we raised the Skip 4’s handlebars by 1.5″, which allowed him to maintain an upright position even with the longer wheelbase of the bike placing the handlebars slightly farther out from the seat.  The handlebars on the Skip 2 and 3 are not adjustable.

2-year-old on Schwinn Skip Balance Bikes

The older Schwinn model has the lowest minimum and maximum seat height of the four, but its large footrest interferes with a child’s stride (a toddler’s legs hit the footrest while walking the bike), making it less ideal for average to petite framed toddlers.

There is no footrest on the Skip 2, Skip 3, or Skip 4.  We usually prefer balance bikes without footrests because most kids don’t need them and many footrests are poorly designed.

Footrest on Original Schwinn Balance Bike is Problematic

Large, obtrusive footrest on Schwinn original balance bike - kids' legs hit the footrest while riding/walking/running.

Seat Post Clamps and Bolts

The seat post clamp is different on the Skip 2 and Skip 3 versus the Skip 4.  The clamp included on the Skip 2 and 3 is very poor quality and we could not get it to tighten down enough to keep the seat from sliding down when in use, making the bikes unusable for taller kids, and unable to grow with your child.  The Skip 4’s seat post clamp was not an issue and firmly held the seat post in place.

Like most bikes under $100, all of the Schwinn models have exposed bolts, which have the potential to scratch a child’s leg while riding.

Upclose shot of poor-quality seat post clamp on Skip 2 balance bike, and exposed bolts on all Schwinn balance bike models can scratch a child's leg.

Bottom Line

Of the four Schwinn Balance bikes, the Skip 4 is our hands-down favorite.  From the longer frame to the adjustable handlebars and wider tires, it offers a pretty decent and budget-friendly ride for kids aged 2 to 4.  For really timid riders, the lightweight Skip 2 or the slightly heavier Skip 3 would work well around the neighborhood, but the problematic seat post clamp is still a heavy concern.  As for the old Schwinn balance bike, we believe you’re better off buying one of the new Skip versions which don’t include a footrest.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review.  The product reviewed was purchased by Two Wheeling Tots and not supplied by the manufacturer. 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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