Perfection from top to bottom, the woom 1 is the cream-of-the-crop balance bike for young toddlers. From the woom’s small, ergonomic grips, to its low step-through frame and cushioning air tires, woom has thought of it all on the woom 1. The woom 1, however, is a small balance bike. So if your toddler is taller or older than 2, be sure to pay attention to our sizing section below. If your toddler is already too tall for the woom 1, not to worry! woom makes a larger 14-inch balance bike called the woom 1 plus. The size comparison of the two bikes is also included in this review.
woom 1 Balance Bike Overview
BEST FOR: Young toddlers in 18 months clothes through transitioning to 3T – riding on smooth, paved surfaces
SEAT HEIGHT: 10.1″ to 14.37″
WEIGHT: 6.6 lb.
BRAKES: Hand Brake
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
SEALED BEARINGS: Yes
BOLTS: Recessed, flat
TURNING LIMITER: Yes (removable)
- Exceptionally built with attention to fine detail
- Most lightweight balance bike with air tires and a handbrake
- Easy-reach, responsive hand brake
- Air tires for extra traction and cushioning
- Removable turning limiter
- Low-step-through frame allows kids to easily get on and off the bike
- Available in 5 fun colors
- No extended seat post available
- Not as much room for growth as we would like
QUICK NOTE: The majority of images in this review are not of the current woom 1 model (updated in 2021). The differences are minimal and will be pointed out later in this review. The older versions shown in this review, however, are identical in size and performance to the current model, so any size references to our testers remain accurate.
woom 1 Video Review
See the woom 1 in action and learn why we love this little balance bike for the youngest of riders. From its lightweight build to its kid-specific construction, you’ll see why the woom 1 is ranked “Best Overall” on our top 10 balance bikes list.
woom 1 Review – Our Favorite Balance Bike for Tiny Riders
Over the past twelve years, we’ve tested pretty much every balance bike out there. And after testing over 100 balance bikes, the woom 1 is our clear winner for young toddlers.
Balance bikes are simple in theory. Two wheels, a handlebar, a seat and maybe a brake. What else could there be? If you’re looking for a toy, not much. But if you’re looking for a bicycle, balance bikes can be surprisingly complex. All balance bikes are not created equal.
So how does a child learn to balance? And what features of a balance bike make that process easier? Instead of rushing a bike to market, woom spent years researching how a child learns to balance and then designed and built a bike out of components fine-tuned for a child’s body.
The result – the woom 1 – is a perfectly balanced bike that makes the process of learning to balance easy and fun!
And woom bikes just never stops innovating. When we first reviewed the woom 1 in 2015, we thought it was the best balance bike we’d seen. But each year they continue to tweak features and components in their ceaseless effort to make riding a joy for kids.
What size child is the woom 1 best for?
The woom 1 is one of the smallest balance bikes on the market, allowing kids as young as 18 months to start riding. With a seat height range of 10.1″ to 14.37″, it’s generally a good fit for kids in 18 month to 3T pants.
The seat of a balance bike should be set about an inch below your child’s inseam to allow them to sit with knees bent. As a result, the woom 1 is an ideal fit for kids with inseams ranging from about 11″ to 15.5″. While we absolutely adore the woom 1, keep in mind that it is the smallest 12″ balance bike on the market. Kids already in 2T pants may likely be better off starting on a larger 12″ balance bike to allow for more room for growth.
To see just how small the woom 1 is, take a look at the difference in size of the woom 1 versus the Guardian balance bike (which also has 12″ wheels but a minimum seat height of 12.5″).
Our 18-month old tester in 18 month pants can easily sit on the woom 1, but can’t yet touch the ground with his full foot on the larger 12″ Guardian balance bike. The woom 1’s handlebars are also set lower to accommodate a smaller rider.
Is my child ready for a balance bike?
Regardless of their size, the vast majority of toddlers are not developmentally ready to ride a balance bike until they are at least 18 months old. For example, we have had testers as young as 16 months be tall enough to stand over the seat of the woom 1, but weren’t developmentally ready to hold the bike up and comfortably walk with it on their own yet.
How do I teach my child to ride the woom 1?
You don’t! The beauty of a balance bike is that most kids teach themselves. Kids naturally stand over the bike, begin walking on it, and eventually learn to sit and run on the bike. No need to provide instruction (you don’t even need to tell the to sit on the saddle!), with time, they figure it out.
Some kids pick it up quickly, while others take considerable time to figure things out. The main key is to provide LOTS of opportunities to ride – even a couple of minutes here and there help.
Check out this video to see a toddler’s progression as she naturally learns to ride the woom 1 from 18 months to just a little over 2 years old. This video represents a 10-month time span.
In addition to time and patience, limiting or preventing the use of “easier” wheeled products like scooters, tricycles, and bikes with training wheels can help a child progress faster on a balance bike.
While not bad in and of themselves, other wheeled products act as crutches in various ways and prevent kids from learning how to balance on two wheels. A balance bike can take a bit longer to master, but your child will learn to balance, steer, and maneuver independently on two wheels. Once they master that balance bike, kids can take them just about anywhere – from skate parks to mountain bike single track trails.
Also keep in mind that the goal of a balance bike, is NOT just to quickly transition kids to a pedal bike. It’s to allow them to have hours of endless fun that just isn’t possible on training wheels, a tricycle, or a scooter. Plus, as a parent, it is pure bliss to watch your little toddler confidently fly through the park on their tiny bike 😊.
woom 1 in Action
From handlebar grips to tires, the woom 1 was built to work specifically with the unique needs of the smallest of toddlers. Like a well-trained horse, the woom 1 obediently follows the child’s lead up and down hills, over jumps, and around obstacles.
Unlike other bikes we’ve tested, our testers rarely look down at the woom 1 while riding – as if they almost forget it’s there. They just simply hop on and enjoy the ride. The woom 1 was so easy to balance and maintain high speeds that many of our testers would put their feet up and effortlessly glide whenever they got a chance.
Coming in at 6.6 lb., the woom 1’s feather weight also makes it easier for the smallest of toddlers to maneuver. Whether going up stairs, navigating a pump track, or jumping down a curb, the woom 1 graciously rewards a toddler’s adventurous spirit with confidence and control.
Geometry and a Natural Riding Position
While every single feature on the woom 1 is impressive, its overall frame design in relation to the proportions of a child’s body is what really knocks this bike out of the park. The biggest factor in a child’s ability to learn to ride – and then love to ride – a balance bike is the bike’s geometry and the child’s body position.
woom built the woom 1 with a long wheelbase that gives children plenty of room to maneuver and also sits a child upright where they feel most at ease. woom’s research found that by keeping the rider’s body upright and their weight centered over the seat of the bike, a more natural feeling is created and kids are more intuitively able to find and maintain their balance.
Handlebars with Integrated Stem
The woom 1 was recently updated to include an integrated handlebar and stem. This combination helps to save on weight and guarantees a proper handlebar/stem alignment. The smooth stem (the round black metal cap attached to the handlebars) also greatly eliminates any potential injury from contact with the stem during a crash.
The handlebars are also more narrow (now 43 cm wide) than previously models, which makes them better suited for the smallest of riders.
To keep the woom 1’s steering smooth for years to come, it also comes complete with a fully-integrated 1″ headset with sealed industrial bearings (located beneath the silver cone below the black stem). Often overlooked (and always eliminated for cost savings on budget bikes), woom 1’s quality headset prevents even the tiniest of toddlers from ever having to fight the handlebars on the woom 1. The handlebars smoothly and effortless rotate with the slightest of force.
Ergonomic Grips for Tiny Hands
As a major touchpoint on any bike, woom didn’t overlook the importance of the grips. The woom 1 features ergonomic grips that flare out towards the end of the bar to accommodate the natural contour of a child’s hand as they grip the handlebar. This also prevents hand fatigue.
At 19 mm diameter, these soft, grippy holds are comfortable for even the tiniest hands. Locking into place with an Allen bolt, the grips also stay firmly in place on the bike.
To keep little hands safe, the ends of the grips flare out to provide a solid, protective bumper. The bumper (the large knob at the end of the grip), keep hands safe in the event that a child accidentally bumps into a wall or falls to the side with their hand still on the grip.
Single Hand Brake
While most balance bikes don’t have handbrakes, it’s a feature we prefer every time. Balance bikes are designed so that kids stop the bike with their feet. This is fine and safe in most situations.
However, as kids get older, faster, and more aggressive, stopping with their feet can really take a toll on their shoes! Additionally, once a child masters a balance bike, they can do some pretty cool stuff and ride faster than you’d think. For these kids, a handbrake adds another level of safety to the bike.
The woom 1 comes standard with a very short-reach hand lever that is light to the touch and easy for small hands to activate the mini V-brake.
Be aware that most kids aren’t developmentally coordinated enough to use a handbrake until they are about 2.5 to 3-years-old. This is also around the time a child would start riding aggressively enough to need one. Many kids won’t use the handbrake until they are closer to the end of their balance bike journey, but it’s best to buy a balance bike with a handbrake so it’s there when they finally do need it.
The most current woom 1 now positions the braking mechanism above the bike’s chainstays versus below. (See yellow arrow below.) Brakes placed below the chainstays can be problematic for two reasons – (1) young kids just starting off can hit their heels on the braking mechanism as they walk the bike and (2) the brake can drag when going up or down stairs or curbs.
Lightweight Aluminum Frame
Starting with a top-quality 6061 aluminum frame (rust-free!) and aluminum fork, the woom 1 is strong yet lightweight, durable, and responsive. Weighing in at just 6.6 pounds, the woom 1 is easier for kids to maneuver and handle than any other balance bike on the US market.
This speaks to woom’s dedication to the details. The Strider balance bike weighs 6.7 pounds and has always been one of the lightest balance bikes on the market. It has foam tires and does not have a handbrake. The woom 1, which has air tires and a handbrake, weighs essentially the same as the Strider!
One more thing about details: Mozart, not Kangaroos… we are dyyyyyying laughing. (See collage below.)
Wheels and Tires
woom 1’s proprietary SOOPA-DOOPA-HOOPS alloy rims are ultralight to help keep down weight, while also being durable and rigid to keep the wheel true. Aluminum rims are preferable to plastic (like you’ll see on most budget bikes) because they are far more durable and much less likely to warp.
Rust free spokes on the rims lead to a smooth rolling sealed hub where bearings are shielded from the dust and dirt that could slow down the tire with time.
And what about air tires? Those 12″ x 1.35″ Schwalbe G-One Speed air tires are just one more thing that keeps the woom 1 rolling smoothly! Many balance bikes on the market feature foam tires with a puncture-proof promise that they’ll never go flat. That’s true, but they also don’t offer any cushioning and much less traction.
Air tires are heavier than foam and also more expensive, but the comfort of the rider makes it easily worth it in our book. When put under stress (ex: when going down a curb or over bumpy terrain), an air tire will compress and absorb some of the impact, while foam tires will not.
woom 1 Air Tire vs. Strider Foam Tire
And while sure, flats and punctures can happen, in all our testing that’s been a very rare occurrence, even with kids’ pedal bikes. If you’re concerned, spend $10 and 15 minutes and apply tire slime sealant to prevent needing to repair and patch flats. Your child’s experience with air tires over foam will be worth it – we promise!
In the event that you do need to add air to the tires, woom has got your back and now features angled valve stems on the woom 1. Due to limited space between the end of the valve stem and the hub (as well as the spokes!) it can be challenging to squeeze the head of a bike pump into the wheel. With angled stems, attaching the head of a pump is quick and easy.
One thing to note about the tires on the woom 1, they are offer plenty of traction for paved surfaces, but are not ideal for all-terrain use. If your little one will be doing a lot of riding on non-paved surfaces, a bike with a multi-use tire will be beneficial.
Just because the woom’s tire is designed for paved surfaces, it doesn’t mean your child can’t ride aggressively on them!
If you are planning on your little one hitting up the local MTB single-track or dirt pump track trails, the Commencal Ramones and Early Rider both offer true knobby tires, but they are also both designed for a slightly larger child than the woom 1.
To prevent sharp turns, the woom 1 has an elastic, removable turning limiter. Poorly designed limiters can greatly reduce the maneuverability of a bike or overcorrect, causing crashes.
Elastic limiters provide gentle correction, do not limit maneuverability, and are easily removable for older kids who don’t need them anymore. In the event of a crash, woom 1’s limiter allows the handlebars to lay flat, protecting kids from additional injury. It also prevents the brake cable from being wrapped around the frame.
Saddle and Bolts
A padded u-shaped saddle, which dips down in the center of the seat, keeps little bums comfortable and also helps prevent them from sliding off the seat. The side of the saddle also features tougher material to prevent the seat from getting scratched when leaned against a wall.
Rounded, flat bolts are an upgraded feature that ensures that little legs won’t get scratched on exposed metal.
woom 1 vs. woom 1 Plus
Larger than the woom 1, the woom 1 Plus was added to the woom line for preschoolers or tall toddlers new to balance bikes, as well as for those young riders who have outgrown their woom 1 and aren’t quite ready to transition to a pedal bike. With a seat height ranging from 15″ to 19″, the Plus is a great fit for kids in size 3T to 5 clothes. As a reference point, the 2-year-old shown below is 37.5″ tall.
|woom 1||woom 1 Plus|
|Weight||6.6 lb.||9.5 lb|
|Seat Height||10.1″ – 14.37″||14.8″ – 18.5″|
woom US offers the UpCycling program, a membership program that allows you to trade in your outgrown woom bike in exchange for 40% off the original bike’s price applied towards the purchase of your next woom bike (they offer for 14″ through 26″ bikes). Enrollment in the program requires a one-time $59 fee.
woom 1 Balance Bike Bottom Line
Since our first test ride with the woom 1 in 2015, it’s been our Best Overall balance bike pick. 9 years of innovation, tweaking, and perfecting later, woom has proven it’s the standard by which all kids’ bikes should be measured. That little woom 1 still reigns king in the world of balance bikes for the tiniest of riders.