Your child will always appreciate their first bike. Think back to the days when you rode your first bike with your parents or older sibling. Now picture yourself doing it with yours. It's a great feeling that makes you smile a little bit, doesn't it? If you have a toddler or a preschooler that will become of age this spring and summer, chances are you might be in the market for a bike that works perfectly for their size and age. Finding the perfect strider, or balance, bike for your toddler can be a difficult task. Not only do you have to consider height and weight but you also have to consider the geometry of the bike and the tires it rides on. To make it easier for you, we’ve outlined some of the top balance bikes so your toddler can have all of the fun on the sidewalks this season.
What to Consider When Buying a Balance Bike
As mentioned, finding the right bike comes down to the size of your child. Here’s a quick summary of the most important things to look for to find the perfect balance bike for your toddler, preschooler or kindergartener.
- Size: Most balance bikes will feature a 12” wheel but you can also customize it if need be and put a 14” tire on it for taller preschoolers or kids aged 4 to 6. There are very few bikes that will allow you to use a 16” to 20” tire on it. The bike’s seat height should be set 1″ to 1.5″ less than the child’s inseam (the space between their crotch to the bottom of their leg). To allow room for growth, you should purchase a bike with a minimum seat height that closely matches your child’s inseam.
- Weight: A proper bike should weight more than your child, especially at this tender age. Try and find a bike that isn’t more than 30 per cent of your child’s weight. It doesn’t matter if you think your kid is athletic or not, or feel that he or she will grow into it. Get a bike that is suitable for them. While the price and weight can come down to quality and style, you can’t compromise one for the other. Overall, it’s best to buy something they can grow into but also use at the same time.
- Geometry: It’s always important to consider this when buying a balance bike. Defining the physics of the bike in how it relates to your child will ultimately decide if you made a good purchase. Selecting a bike that has a longer wheelbase (distance between the two wheels) and a good amount of space between the seat and the handlebars should result in a bike that works with your child instead of against them. You need to consider how far their arms are from the handlebars and also how long your child’s legs are to the ground. All of these things are crucial factors in determining the best balance bike for your child.
- Tires: There are a couple types of balance bike tires: foam and air. Foams tires are good because they’ll never go flat but they will lose cushioning and traction over time. Air tires can be more expensive and a little bit heavier but overall, you can always buy a portable pump to give it the air it needs for a comfortable ride.
- Brakes Not every model has brakes but there are a few that you can buy to help your kid stop. The main way to stop will always be with your feet but as your kid ages and gets a little speedier with it, you can get a model with brakes in anticipation of that. Don’t buy one that’s difficult to use. It defeats the purpose. While you might have to spend more for a suitable model with hand brakes, you can find one for under $200 on Amazon.
- Handlebars: Look for a model that might have turning limiters on the handlebars to block it and front wheel from revolving. This can prevent sharp turns that can cause falls and injuries.
1. Editor's Pick: KaZAM v2e Balance Bike
- H: 13” x L: 33” x W: 3.63kg
- Wheel size: 12”
- Puncture resistant, maintenance free EVA tires
This balance bike is a great introduction for a new bicycle for your kids. Not only has it been on the market for a while but it was also on the hit TV show, Shark Tank , and it has been on the market for a while. It has been renowned for its puncture-resistant wheels and its maintenance-free design. This product will help your child to walk, glide and eventually balance at their own pace while avoiding dangerous falls and injured knees. It will teach your toddler — between 18 months to 3 years old — how to balance and glide within a month or two. The KaZam v2e Balance Bike comes in a variety of colours and even has a footrest to give your child a little bit of reprieve and center of gravity while riding.
2. The Strider Balance Bike
- H: 7” x L: 28” x W: 4.54kg
- Wheel size: 12”
- No pedal balance, no braking system
The Strider balance bike is a quality model that should inspire your child to challenge themselves. It has a very sporty design that is lightweight and easy to handle. Mini-grips mean your child’s little mitts can easily take control. With the 12 Sport's durable steel frame and puncture-proof tires, you don't have to worry about damage or maintenance and have a child’s bike they won’t outgrow in a few months. It's a solid option that will give you the biggest bang for your buck if you're not looking to spend on a ton of money on a balance bike.
3. Joovy Bicycoo Balance Bike
- H: 19.7” x L: 35.6” x W: 5.44kg
- Wheel size: 12”
- Comes with hand brake
With its thick wheels, this is a great balance bike that will help your child gain stability almost immediately. What’s more, they’re made of rubber instead of plastic, which means it will last longer than other models. The seat is adjustable and its heavy-duty aluminum frame, which will give your child even more support. At the same time, it’s lightweight as well. The frame is not heavy enough to cause damaging injuries should the child fall down and the bike on top of them. The wheels on this bike have a superior suspension to help your child get a smooth ride through all the terrains they will take the bike through.
4. Early Rider Lite Run Balance Bike
- H: 14” x L: 27” x W: 3.50kg
- Wheel size: 10”
- Wood-based model
If you’re looking for a super-lightweight model to get your kid started, The Early Rider Lite Run balance bike will help them gather some experience. It weighs just seven pounds and can be used for a child up to 100 pounds. Its weight combined with a low adjustable seat setting gives children as young as twenty months an opportunity to learn to ride. They’ll likely be ready to ride a bike with pedals by then but every child is different as well; do what makes them feel comfortable. The Early Rider has pneumatic tires with aluminum rims and the frame itself is FSC-certified birch; it’s also water and weather proof. The ultra-light pedal-free design encourages mobility and rapid development of balance, strength and motor skills, even in the youngest of children.
5. Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike
- H: 8” x L: 24.5” x W: 500 grams
- Wheel size: 10”
- Seat adjust up to 15” in height
Don’t let this model fool you. While it is lightweight, the Chicco Red Bullet is a taller bike than many other strider-bike models and it’s recommended that you buy if for a child who is over the age of three. It can help a child to acquire the necessary balance on two wheels and so facilitates the move to a real bicycle with pedals. Made from steel and yet ultralight, it has height adjustable handlebars and saddle to suit the build of the child.
Balance Bike FAQs
When you’re considering a good balance bike for your toddler or preschooler, there are a lot of factors to consider. There are also a series of questions that you need to ask yourself before making that special purchase. A good balance bike is one of those milestone purchases that you and your child will relish for years to come. Before you buy, ask yourself the following questions before opening your wallet.
What are the Benefits of Buying a Balance Bike?
A balance bike is the perfect tool to help your child learn balance and to assist them in learning what it feels like to ride a bike. There will be a lot of learning curves of course, but you can get them started by teaching them to use their legs. Despite the scraped knees and bruised elbows, these bikes are confidence-builders; you’ll be able to give them the tools to transition to pedal bike when the time comes.
What’s the Difference Between a Balance Bike and a Tricycle?
A tricycle has pedals and three wheels — one at the front with pedals and two at the back. Depending on the age of your child, they might be ready to try a tricycle right away but if your child is between the ages of 18 months to two-and-a-half, you might want to consider a balance bike to teach them how to better use their feet when cruising. With a tricycle, you get the full comfort from the get-go.
What Age is Good to Start with a Balance Bike?
You can start as young at 12 months with some models but you also have to consider the size of the bike. At that age, most kids are just starting to get their legs under them so you’ll need to assess their readiness before buying or trying. Usually, the average age is about two years old.
Start Shopping for a Balance Bike Today!
Looking for the right bike for your toddler can be a difficult task but it doesn't have to be. Despite all of the pages you'll flip through to find the right bike, it gets a lot easier if you know what you're looking for. Understanding your child's measurements comparative to the size of the bike is imperative when making that purchase. You not only have to make sure that you’re buying a bike that’s the right height and weight but you also need to make sure that your child is ready to ride it. This is something you can’t force but it’s a product that can help build the confidence your child needs to get to the next level. You can check out our sidebar; we've handpicked a number of bike models that are on sale at places such as Walmart Canada, Canadian Tire and Amazon.
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