From Schwalbe Big Apple tires on colored aluminum rims to matching aluminum handlebars and grips, these Wild Child Bikes balance bike upgrades are top notch! Whether you’re looking for faster wheels, or just want a cool color pop, Wild Child can help you make your child’s balance bike completely unique!
Wild Child Bikes Review – The Coolest Balance Bike Upgrades on the Market!
Wild Child Bikes sells high-end aftermarket balance bike components that transform standard off-the-shelf balance bikes into customized riding machines. Like Extreme Makeover: Balance Bike edition, Wild Child Bikes offers various upgrades – from wheels to headsets – to improve not just the look, but the functionality of the bike as well. From serious Strider racers looking to boost their bike’s performance to parents of younger siblings wanting to freshen up a hand-me-down bike, Wild Child has you covered!
In addition to making their own parts, Wild Child is also the exclusive US distributor for Daddy Lab balance bike parts. Daddy Lab is the king of balance bike upgrades in Asia where balance bike racing is very popular and extremely intense!
To take our Strider Pro to the next level, we used both Wild Child and Daddy Lab parts to create the sweetest little grom bike in all of Texas. Within minutes, plastic parts were replaced with aluminum goodness, foam tires pushed aside by extra-cushioning air tires, and the bling factor increased by a 100 fold!
Before and After Wild Child Upgrades
As it should be, the wheelsets are the most popular upgrade at Wild Child Bikes. All three models of the 12″ Strider balance bike come with the basic EVA foam tires on plastic rims, that certainly do no favors for aggressive riders as they offer no cushioning and much less traction than air tires. As a result, to improve overall riding experience and comfort, upgrading to air tires is the best thing you can do for your little rider. Plus look how sweet these look!
The upgraded pink beauties shown are Wild Child’s Pro V2 wheels with Schwalbe Big Apple tires. Wild Child offers four different tire options on their sweet rims, standard all-terrain air tires, standard knobby air for dirt riding, Schwalbe Black Jack tires for the ultimate grippy ride on all-terrain surfaces, and the Schwalbe Big Apple.
The most expensive of the bunch, the Big Apple, are fatter to provide the ultimate cushioning ride and they also feature a reflective white rim around the tire for increased visibility. Both Schwalbe tires also feature tread up the sides of the tires to allow riders to really lean into turns without losing traction (a must for any aggressive rider!).
Not to be overlooked, the rims offer much more than a pretty face. Available in nine different colors, the rims and hubs are built out of lightweight aluminum (each rim weighs only 276 grams) and features a smooth rolling, sealed cartridge hub that will keep the tires effortless rolling regardless of where you ride.
As a final “we thought of everything”, Wild Child also offers tubes with either standard straight valve stems or bended stems. If you’ve ever tried to squeeze a larger bike pump head in between the spokes of a 12″ tire, you know that the bent valves are absolutely worth the extra $5 upgrade! Bent tube valves allow you to access the valve head without shoving the head of your pump between the spokes.
Stems and Headsets
For increased handling and control, swapping out the headset and handlebars on the balance bike is the next upgrade we would recommend. Most balance bikes have a simple pressure-mounted collar that pinches the steer tube to the handlebars to help keep everything aligned.
Unfortunately, these pressure-mounted collars easily and frequently come loose. As a result, the handlebars and fork essentially have to be realigned after every fall or bump on the bike. Often times, kids don’t take the time to fix their handlebars and ride away with them crooked!
Upgrading a balance bike to include a true headset that is held in place by bolts prevents or greatly minimizes the handlebars from becoming out of alignment with the fork. The upgraded stems also DO NOT work with standard balance bike handlebars, so replacement handlebars will also need to be purchased (more below). The handlebars of the bike will also no longer be able to telescope up to increase in height.
Wild Child offers two different stems, DaddyLab’s quill stem, which is flat and offers no rise and DaddyLab’s reversible road stem that offers two different heights. Which stem is best really depends on your child’s height and racing style. The Road stem helps to raise handlebars for taller riders, but it can also be installed “upside down” for really aggressive or short riders.
The spacers as seen below come in every color to match the handlebars and rims.
Handlebars and Grips
To go with the new stem, Wild Child offers flat or raised handlebars. The raised handlebars increase the height of the bar about 1.75″, which can be very beneficial for older or taller riders. The flat handlebars work great for young riders or older riders who prefer to ride very aggressively (i.e. leaned forward on the bike).
The flat and raised bars are made of anodized aluminum and come in 7 different colors to perfectly match Wild Child’s aluminum rims.
New handlebars also mean new grips! While Wild Child offers several solid colored grips, we opted for the super fun and sporty Ring Grips. Available in 12 different colors, these rings add a little spice to your handlebars as they can be added in any almost limitless color combinations! They’ll fit on most balance and kids’ bikes – with the exception of standard Strider handlebars.
Saddles and Seat Posts
The last upgrade for your king or queen of the road, Wild Child offers upgraded saddles and seat posts. For younger riders, Wild Child Bikes offers their “Rodeo Seat” and for older riders the “Road Seat“. Both saddles offer much more padding than the standard balance bike saddle and are also much more durable. The Rodeo seat is a bit wider and shorter than the standard Strider seat, which makes it great for younger, potty trained riders who are missing out on the extra padding once provided by their diaper.
The Road seat is for true older racers who need a slimmer seat that allows them to shift their bums back farther on the bike as they lean forward during aggressive rides. Like the Rodeo, the Road also offers much more padding.
So How Much is this Going to Cost??
Let’s break it down because this can get pretty expensive pretty fast. If you start with a Strider Pro silver balance bike, your base cost is $150. For all the upgrades you see on that gorgeous bike in a sea of poppies, it will cost you an additional $315. That’s a $465 balance bike. Not cheap, but gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, and the smoothest, fastest ride on the track.
Our upgrades didn’t include a saddle, seat post or colored quill cap and our total was $227 in upgrades for a total of a $377 balance bike. The primary expense lies in the tires and wheels, which together total $135. From a performance standpoint though, that’s the most important upgrade.
Will Wild Child Upgrades Work with My Balance Bike?
If you have a Strider bike, the answer is yes. If you have any other brand of bike, it’s very possible that Wild Child and Daddy Lab will work with your bike as well, but Wild Child advises that you contact them for help. Unfortunately, manufacturers are constantly changing their bike parts and specs so it’s very difficult for Wild Child to make any general statements about a sure fit. If you call them, they’ll talk you through the specifics of pimping out your child’s ride.
Because the upgraded parts will add weight to your bike, it’s best to start with a lightweight bike, ideally with an aluminum frame.
10 Best Balance Bikes – A quick look at our favorite for toddlers to pre-k.
View all Balance Bikes: Comparison Charts and Reviews – Compare by specs and read full reviews.
Kid-Friendly Bike Park or Pump Track Directory – For a list of parks by city and state.