Lightweight, with air tires and a true headset, the K3 is an incredible bang for your buck.
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Budget-minded families with a child in 24m to size 4T pants.
SEAT HEIGHT: 12.25" - 15.25"
WEIGHT: 6.5 lb.
|Child's Pants Size||
24-months, 2T, 3T, 4T
12.25" – 15.25"
Pros & Cons
- Air tires at a great price!
- Lightweight aluminum frame - lightest budget bike with air tires
- Beautiful textured, matte finish
- Threadless head set keeps handlebars from twisting out of place
- Soft, padded saddle
- Comes in blue or pink
- Seat height range is limited - just 3"
- Seat height requires a tool to adjust
For just $60, the Swagtron K3 balance bike is an insane bang for your buck. With air tires, a lightweight aluminum frame, and high-quality logo etching, this little balance bike is making a huge splash onto the scene.
With so many cheap balance bike popping up regularly, it’s hard for us to get excited about a bike at this price point. It’s also sometimes hard for us to recommend cheaper balance bikes because they’re often lacking in quality. But Swagtron has paid attention to the important details. We’re excited to recommend the Swagtron K3 as our new favorite balance bike for families on a budget.
The Swagtron K3 has a seat height range of 12.25″ – 15.25″, making it a best fit for kids in about 24 months to 3T pants. With only a 3″ seat height range, it’s best to purchase the K3 when your child is on the lower end of the size range. Most balance bikes have at least 4″ of growth built in, which is one of the very few downsides to the Swagtron K3.
With a wheelbase of just about 22″ (measurement between the front and rear axle of the bike), the Swagtron K3 offers a stable ride and provides plenty of room in the cockpit for kids to lean in and run. The Chicco Red Bullet, which is popular but not recommended by us for several reasons, measures only 18″!
It is incredibly rare to find air tires on a budget balance bike. And the K3 is literally the only budget balance bike to offer air tires for $60 or less. Air tires provide traction and cushioning that make riding with them far more comfortable than a balance bike with foam tires. If your child plans on riding aggressively or on any type of all-terrain surface, air tires are a definite must.
We always recommend air tires over foam tires, but many parents can be deterred by the jump in price to get air tires. The Swagtron K3 makes air tires a reality for many families who don’t want to spend $150+ on a balance bike.
The wheels of the Swagtron K3 are also notable for their super-low rolling resistance. Basically, the wheels roll fast and smooth over a long period of time. This means less resistance for your rider to move forward and a smoother experience overall.
In a casual test, we turned several bikes over on their handlebars and spun their wheels to test how long it took the tire to stop rotating. The K3 performed like a champ, even beating out a few bikes at a much higher price point. From its bearings to its wheels and rims, the components of the Swagtron certainly do a great job of keeping its tires rolling.
The lightweight aluminum alloy frame keeps the pounds down on the K3. Weighing in at just 6.5 lbs, it’s the lightest budget balance bike with air tires on the market. It’s actually about the same weight as the uber-popular Strider bike with foam tires, which weighs 6.7 lbs.! This is a HUGE selling point for the K3.
Additionally, the frame of the K3 doesn’t look like a budget frame. Its texturized matte finish with a water transfer logo is sleek and impressive. Most budget bikes come with cheap stickers on the frame. They’re often not rubbed on well and can bubble and peel off over time. The frame comes in either blue or pink.
Headset and Handlebars
While most budget balance bikes come with cheap headsets that aren’t great at keeping the handlebars aligned, the Swagtron K3 features an upgraded threadless headset that keeps the handlebars more firmly in place after the many falls your child will take on a balance bike! A threadless headset is usually only found on more expensive bikes, so we’re always thrilled to see one on a budget balance bike.
With handlebars that are 15.5″ wide, the Swagtron K3 provides a decently wide base for easier balancing. In addition, when young riders jerk the handlebars from left to right, the resulting movement won’t be quite as drastic with wider handlebars. This of course helps keep them upright rather than falling over.
By comparison, the Banana Bike GT is another popular budget balance bike with air tires. That bike has handlebars that are just 14″ wide.
One feature we’d love to see changed in the future is the Swagtron K3’s seat post collar. It requires tools to adjust the height, rather than a quick-release lever like you can find on the Banana Bike GT. Having to track down an Allen key every time you want to adjust your child’s seat height can be a pain, but given the other many great qualities of the K3, it’s not a reason to not buy this bike.
There are several budget balance bikes that we happily recommend, but for most kids, the Swagtron K3 would be at the top of our list. And while it has a better design and is better quality than any other budget balance bike, keep in mind that balance bikes in the $150+ range are significantly better bikes.
Paying more for a balance bike will get you higher-quality components, a hand brake, a more sophisticated design, and increased durability. It’s important to note that the Swagtron K3 is only rated up to 55 lbs., which is the standard for toys, while higher-end balance bikes are rated to bike standards at over 100 lbs.
Swagtron K3: Our top pick for any young rider, but especially for those planning on riding various terrains as well as jumping off curbs.
Banana Bike GT: If a quick-release seat post is important to you, go with the Banana Bike GT.
Banana Bike LT: With adjustable-height handlebars, the Banana Bike LT is great if you anticipate your child staying on their balance bike for some time. The Banana Bike LT, however, does have foam tires rather than air tires.
GOMO: While the K3 is our favorite budget bike with air tires, the GOMO is our favorite with foam tires. Often found under $60, the GOMO has quick-release adjust handlebars and seat post, and comes in really fun color combinations.
|Features||Swagtron K3||Banana Bike GT||Banana Bike LT||GOMO|
|Bike (link to review)||Swagtron K3||Banana Bike GT||Banana Bike LT||GOMO|
|Seat Height||12.25" - 15.25"||12.5" - 17"||12" - 16.5"||12.5" - 16"|
|Weight||6.5 lb.||8.1 lb.||7.3 lb.||8.5 lb.|
With a lightweight aluminum frame, air tires, a true headset and sweet matte frame, the Swagtron K3 kills the competition in the budget balance bike world. With a smaller seat height range than others, be sure to check your child’s inseam before you buy as it has less room for growth.