Best Under $125
A high-quality, budget-friendly balance bike for kids who weigh more than 30 lbs.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Seat Height: 12.5" - 17.5"
Weight: 11 lb.
Brakes: Hand Brake
Tire Size: 12"
Grips Bumper: Yes
Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy
The TykesBykes “Scamper” has been renamed the “Charger 12”, but they are identical bikes. As they are still in transition, both the “Scamper” and the “Charger 12” are shipping out, but they are the same bike. TykesBykes has also been renamed Stampede Bikes.
The best bang-for-your-buck the Stampede Bikes Charger 12″ packs a lot of punch into it’s $129 MSRP price tag. Built to last by a California based, family-owned company, the Charger 12″ is the perfect bike for ambitious toddlers ready to take on the world. Complete with a hand brake, air tires, plenty of room for adjustment on the handlebars and seat post and backed by top-notch customer service, its hard to go wrong with the Charger 12″. With a seat height ranging from 12.5″ to 17.5″ and weighing 11 lb., the Charger 12″ is best for toddlers ages 2.5yo (or in at least 24 months clothes) who weigh over 30 lb.
Tires & Tread
The vast majority of balance bikes come with 1.25″ wide tires, the Charger 12″ comes with 1.75″. Providing extra traction and cushion, the Charger 12″ is one of the few lower-end bikes that is ready to roll on various terrains. While knobby treads are best for those riding mainly dirt trails, from packed dirt trails to the pavement jungles, our 3.5 year-old tester in 3T clothes didn’t skip a beat on the Charger 12″.
Being on the lighter side (he currently weighs about 33 lb.), our tester normally prefers lighter bikes, but had no complaints about the 11 lb. Charger 12″. The additional stability offered by its wider tires, seat and handlebars was clearly evident in his playful riding.
Wider is generally more stable, especially for taller kids. One of the major differences between the Charger 12″ and other bikes is the width of and height of the its handlebars. Compared to the Yedoo Too Too and the Strider, the Charger’s handlebars are significantly wider. The wider stance makes the steering less twitchy, providing more control for the rider. The higher position of the handlebars additionally makes the Scamper a top-pick for taller toddlers, but may not be the best pick for petite riders.
Compared to the Strider and the Yedoo, the Charger’s taller and wider handlebars is clearly evident with our tester. Almost too tall for our testers, upon comparing pictures, the handlebars of the Charger should have been lowered, as shown below.
For those smaller riders, the Charger’s bent handlebars can easily be adjusted up or down, as well as tilted front to back, to increase or decrease the width of the cockpit (the distance between the seat and the handlebars). While tilting the handlebars forward can help during the learning process, it isn’t recommended for more advanced riders as it can shift the riders weight to far forward on the bike.
When compared side-by-side to other bikes, the Scamper’s larger wheels, low step-down frame and higher handlebars can clearly be seen.
Frame & Components
One of our favorite features about the Charger is the frame. As tough as they come, we previously had one 12″ Stampede Bikes balance bike run over by an SUV twice without the frame getting damaged or bent in anyway (besides scratches). With an 100 lb. weight limit, these bikes are also sure to take anything than a kid can throw at them. On top of that, their matte finish and two-toned paint looks as good as it performs.
Side-by-side, the Charger 12″ stands out in the crowd. With the same $119 MAP (minimum advertised price, sales price is usually higher, but no lower than this) as the Strider Sport, TykesBykes’ air tires and brake make it a clear winner in it’s price range.
While all three bikes vary in weight, saddle shape and brake design, they all come with the standard exposed rear and front axel bolts. While rounded, the bolts can scratch the ankles of children during their strides, especially for those with narrow hips. The wider seat of the Charger, can help prevent scratching by creating wider stance when running, but can also force smaller kids to sit further up on the seat.
Stampede Bikes Line Up
In addition to the Charger 12″, Stampede Bikes offers a 16″ Charger, as well as a XL package for the Charger. All three bikes are built with the same care and concern as the Charger and are a great choice for older kids. As a general rule (every child is different), the Charger 12″ is great for kids ages 1.5 to 4, while the Charger 16″ is better for kids aged 4 to 8.
The Charger 12″ is a great pick, budget-friendly bike for toddlers aged 2.5 years and up or for toddlers who have a minimum inseam of 12″ and weigh more than 30 lb.
By: Natalie Martins
Last Updated: December 26, 2016
FTC Disclosure: FTC Disclosure: All opinions stated are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC. No monetary compensation was received for this review, but TykesBykes did provide a 12" balance bike to facilitate this review. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is not an affiliate of TykesBykes but is an affiliate of Amazon.