With a super lightweight frame, air tires, and perfectly placed mid-range handlebars, the Vitus Smoothy is a wicked little balance bike for average to aggressive riders. Read the full review below for all the details on why the Smoothy is our favorite balance bike under $100!
Vitus Smoothy Balance Bike
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Average to aggressive riders in 2T – 4T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 12.75″ – 17.5″
WEIGHT: 7 lbs.
- Lightweight magnesium frame
- Wide, cushioning air tires
- Almost 5″ of seat heigh adjustment
- Wide handlebars for a more stable base
- True headset for smoother steering
- Carrying handle set in frame – genius!
- No handbrake
- Seat height adjustment requires tool
Vitus Balance Bike Review – Results of our Test Rides
For under $100, the Vitus Smoothy is one rad little balance bike. With wide, smooth-rolling air tires, our toddler tester dominated sidewalks, ramps, and off-roading with ease. She seemed to glide down the sidewalk as she squealed, “This is fun!!!!!”
We were particularly impressed when she tackled our DIY wood ramp with more confidence than we’ve seen before. She’s tried that ramp with plenty of balance bikes and struggles with its steep incline each time. With the Vitus Smoothy, she just charged up that ramp, literally picking it up underneath her at the most difficult spot, and easily summited for victory.
A lightweight balance bike combined with high-quality air tires is a winning combination. And under $100??? Thank you, Vitus.
With a seat height range of 12.75″ – 17.5″ the Vitus Smoothy has more room for growth than most budget balance bikes. More growth gives your toddler more time to master that balance bike and helps take the pressure off of “graduating” to a pedal bike.
As you can see in the image below, at its maximum seat height the Smoothy’s saddle is about even with the handlebars, which isn’t ideal for riding. As a result, the realistic usable seat height range is about 4″.
This seat height range is usually a good fit for kids in about 2T to 4T, but remember that inseam is always king! The seat should be set about 0.5″ – 1″ below a child’s inseam to allow enough knee bend for them to run on their bike.
Tires and Wheels
Air tires are not a common feature on balance bikes under $100, so this is a huge bonus for the Smoothy. Air tires provide cushioning and traction that standard foam tires lack, and are well worth a slightly higher investment. For timid to aggressive riders, a more cushioned ride and better traction are always a good thing.
At 2″ wide, the Smoothy’s tires are wider than most, which will make for an even more cushioned ride if your toddler is tackling curb drops where tire compression will come in handy.
The Smoothy’s wheels spin fast and easy, boasting less rolling resistance than some more expensive balance bikes. With less rolling resistance, your child can gain more speed and distance with each running stride, and build up confidence as they quickly see the fruits of their labors.
The magnesium frame of the Vitus Smoothy is unique in a sea of aluminum and steel frames. It’s super lightweight and looks and feels somewhere between metal and plastic.
Coming in at just 7 pounds, it’s one of the lightest balance bikes with air tires on the market. Its weight is actually at that sweet spot that we love – heavy enough to keep kids grounded, but light enough for toddlers to pick up and maneuver with ease.
We also love lightweight bikes because it’s easier for parents to carry when your toddler decides mid-ride that they are done and you will be carrying the bike home for them. This will happen. Often. Prepare yourself!
Vitus does parents a solid by incorporating a handle right into the frame! Woot woot! I have carried a lot of balance bikes in my day, and this little Vitus Smoothy is the easiest to carry of them all. Parent win.
Headset and Handlebars
True threadless headsets on balance bikes are rare, but the Smoothy is one of those lucky unicorns. A true headset keeps the handlebars in place and aligned more tightly. After falls (which will also happen a lot), the handlebars are much less likely to come out of alignment and need to be re-adjusted. True headsets also make for smoother steering.
The Smoothy’s handlebars are 16″ wide, which is slightly wider than most balance bikes. For example the much more expensive Hornit AIRO, which is very similar to the Smoothy, has handlebars that are just 14 1/8″ wide.
The Smoothy’s handlebars provide a more stable base and help prevent twitchy steering, especially for young toddlers who are prone to jerking their handlebars. These wider handlebars helped our aggressive toddler tackle ramps, curbs, and off-roading with grace and control.
The Vitus Smoothy’s handlebars are set at a mid-range position – not super low, and not super high. This places a child in a slightly leaned forward, but not too aggressive position.
When handlebars are set high, they keep a child in an upright position. This is fantastic for timid riders who feel more natural sitting up straight. But for average riders who are likely to become adventurous or aggressive bikers, the Smoothy’s handlebar placement is pretty ideal. It’s low enough to allow kids to lean in to get aggressive, but not too much to throw beginning riders off balance.
Lower handlebars are also necessary if your child will be hitting the skatepark, bike park, or pump track. In order to ascend ramps, rollers, or inclines, a child must be able to lean in and even pick their bike up underneath them if necessary. This headset also has a spacer that you can remove to bring the handlebars even lower if you prefer.
Saddle and Seat Post
The child-sized saddle is lightly padded and covered with a durable material that is not prone to ripping. When I first pulled the bike out of the box, I was a bit worried at the exaggerated scoop shape towards that back. I’ve only seen a few seats like this, which are designed to keep toddlers from scooting too far back on the bike. It did, in fact, do it’s job and was not an issue in the slightest.
As mentioned previously, the seat can be adjusted up and down from 12.75″ – 17.5″. One of the few improvements Vitus could make to this bike is by adding a quick release seat post. To adjust the post, an allen key is required.
Footrests aren’t necessary on a balance bike, but a well-designed footrest certainly can’t hurt. The narrow footrest on the Vitus Smoothy is unobtrusive and doesn’t interfere with a child’s stride. As far as footrests go, it’s one of the best.
Some kids love footrests, others never use them. One word of advice – don’t tell your child to use it. If they want to use it, it will come naturally. If they are trying to use it, confusion is often a result!
One thing to note is that the Vitus Smoothy does not have a handbrake. Coordinated toddlers can generally start using a handbrake with instruction between 2.5 to 3 years old.
We prefer hand brakes as toddlers grow and get more aggressive because they can reach some pretty high speeds that make it difficult to stop with just their feet. That said, most balance bikes don’t have a handbrake and it is very uncommon for balance bikes under $150 to have one.
With a lightweight frame, cushioning air tires, and wide handlebars set at a mid-range height, the Vitus Smoothy is an ideal set-up for average to aggressive riders. While it doesn’t have a handbrake, it’s our new favorite balance bike under $100.