A balance bike is a pedal-less bike with two wheels. Kids ride them like regular bikes, but they are powered by a child’s running legs rather than pedals.
Balance bikes are perfect bikes for 2-year-olds (and up!) as they teach kids to balance on two wheels and ride independently. Balance bikes are also called strider bikes, glider bikes, running bikes, or toddler push bikes.
Looking for the best balance bike for your toddler, pre-schooler, or really a kid of any age? We’ve tested over 100 different balance bikes (no joke – you should see our garages!) with a wide variety of ages to help you find the best bike for your child.
Best Balance Bikes by Age
When selecting a balance bike, it is critical to remember that they are not one-size-fits-all. A toddler in 18-months clothes who are just getting started will fit on a different balance bike than a toddler or preschooler in 3T pants. And there are larger balance bikes for grade schoolers as well!
The ages listed below indicate the child’s age when you buy the bike. These age groups are approximate, as a bike’s seat height should also be considered for the best fit (seat heights provided in bike descriptions below).
LANCE BIKES BUYING TIPS
- Balance bikes are NOT one-size-fits-all. For the best fit, measure your child’s inseam and compare it to the seat height of the bike. Look for a bike with a minimum seat height that is equal to or slightly less than your child’s inseam.
- Air tires are better than foam tires. Many tires on balance bikes are made of solid foam rather than air. Foam tires offer no cushioning and less traction than air tires. If you are planning on riding on any surface other than pavement, air tires are a worthy upgrade.
- Hand brakes are not required, but highly recommended. Kids naturally learn to stop a balance bike with their feet. As they get older they learn to use a handbrake, which helps them stop faster and saves money on buying shoes! For older kids who can ride faster and more aggressively on a balance bike, a hand brake is much more necessary.
- Jump down to our FAQ section at the end of the page to get answers to more frequently asked questions about balance bikes.
Best Balance Bikes for Young Toddlers
18 months or 2 years old is a perfect time to start a toddler on their balance bike journey. Introducing a balance bike early will allow your toddler to learn to ride independently from the very start. With little ones, a lightweight bike is especially key!
Strider Classic and Strider Sport
Best Budget – Young Toddlers and Older Toddlers
MSRP: $99 (Strider Classic) $119 (Strider Sport)
FITS KIDS: 18 months to 4-years-old (Strider Classic only recommended until 3-years-old due to shorter seat post.)
SEAT HEIGHT: 11″ to 19″ (Sport), 11″ to 16″ (Classic)
FEATURES: Foam tires, foot rest
Built on a well-designed frame, the Strider is easily adaptable to fit a wide range of age groups. With an extended seat post and adjustable-height handlebars, we’ve had the best luck with Strider at accommodating kids of various sizes. For a decent price point, the Strider is a quality bike that fits light kids, heavy kids, tall kids, short kids – you generally can’t go wrong with a Strider.
The primary difference between the Strider Classic and the Strider Sport is maximum seat height. The Strider Classic has a seat height range of 11″ to 16″. The Strider Sport comes with a second, longer seat post to extend the seat range to 11″ to 19″. Adding that extra seat post is more expensive, but handy for older toddlers as they grow.
- Adjustable to to fit ages 18 months to 4 years old!
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Foam tires never go flat and are maintenance free
- Adjustable height handlebars for a better fit as kids grow
- Foam tires provide minimal traction and no cushioning – not ideal for non-paved surfaces
- Exposed bolts can potentially
Best on a Budget – Older Toddlers
FITS KIDS: In size 2T to 4T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 12.25″ to 15.25″
FEATURES: Air tires
A well-designed frame for the price, the Swagtron K3 has a longer wheelbase, making it more stable than other budget balance bikes. It also has solid-quality air tires, a sleek matte aluminum frame, a true headset, and weighs under 7 lbs.! For a budget balance bike, this is a pretty impressive resume.
While the Swagtron K3 is a deal for budget-minded families, just keep in mind that while we think the design is great, this isn’t a bike that’s going to last you for generations.
- Fantastic design for the price
- Air tires at a great price!
- Lightweight – under 7 lbs.
- Beautiful matte aluminum frame
- True headset helps keep handlebars from twisting after falls
- Tools required for seat height adjustment
- As with all budget bikes, it’s not as durable as the other bikes we recommend
A good baby walker needs good baby shoes B ＤＵＣＫ
B.Duck fashion shoes, as a product brand of B.Duck, are perfectly integrated with B.Duck’s fashionable, cute and smart features, showing B.Duck’s exclusive trend in clothing. The “Be Play” trendy play spirit is in line with children’s playful nature, and the cute and funny image is deeply loved by parents and children
B.Duck Boys Kids’ Sneakers Mesh Sports Shoes Breathable Lightweight Running Shoes for Kids Fashion Athletic Casual Shoes
Applicable gender: boy
Function: Wear-resistant, shock-absorbing, lightweight
Applicable season: autumn
Applicable age: 3-6 years old, 6-12 years old
Applicable people: young children, middle-aged children
Lining condition: none
Applicable scene: outdoor, sports, daily, campus
Upper: Low Top
Product selling point: cartoon tide brand fashion sports
Surface material: fabric + synthetic leather
Year of listing: 2022
made in China
Balance Bike FAQ’s
We’ve tested and reviewed balance bikes for the past 10 years, and have had hundreds of parents ask us questions about them. Here are the answers to what we believe are the most important questions for those just starting on their balance bike journey.
What is the best age for a balance bike?
To get the most use out of a balance bike, the best age to start a child is between 18 months and 2.5 years. Starting them young will not only allow them to happily ride their bike independently for all of their toddlers years, it will also allow them to move up to a pedal bike by age 3 or 4.
That said, there are balance bikes made for all sizes of toddlers, pre-schoolers, and grade schoolers, so it’s basically never too late to start. Remember… a balance bike will almost always be a better option than a tricycle or training wheels. If your child is at an age when you would consider either of these options, consider a balance bike instead!
Unlike tricycles and training wheels, toddlers can hop on a balance bike and start walking and scooting around from day one. They never come with push bars for adults to assist the child, as there is no use for them; one of the greatest advantages of a balance bike is that very young kids can ride them all on their own.
How many years do kids ride them?
Kids generally ride balance bikes for 1 to 2.5 years, depending on the age they start, their athletic ability, and their developmental readiness.
A child that starts at 18-months-old may take several months to sit and run confidently on their balance bike, but then spend the next year or two dominating the world on those two wheels.
Your average 2 year old or 2.5 year old will grasp the process more quickly, but may still spend another year or two enjoying the ride.
Remember… while a balance bike certainly prepares a child for a pedal bike, that’s not their only purpose. They are a ton of fun. There should be no rush to put a child on a pedal bike just because they are 3 or 4, or even 5 years old!
Less coordinated kids generally stay on a balance bike longer because it’s a simple little machine that’s easy and fun for them to maneuver. Don’t force the complexity of pedals onto a child that isn’t ready and who is still enjoying their balance bike!
What are the main benefits of a balance bike?
There are five main benefits of balance bikes over other types of bikes for toddlers. Balance bikes…
- Fit kids much better than tricycles or training wheels
- Move easily and safely over uneven surfaces
- Are light and easy to ride – kids can ride much farther
- Provide years of fun and independent riding before a child transitions to a pedal bike
- Eliminate the need for training wheels – balance bike graduates usually learn to ride a pedal bike in about 5 to 10 minutes, DRAMA FREE.
How do they compare to training wheels?
Training wheels significantly delay a child’s ability and desire to ride a bike. Balance bikes teach toddlers and kids how to ride while balanced, whereas training wheels teach how to ride while unbalanced.
Bikes with training wheels tilt to one side, creating a false sense of balance. In order to ride without the training wheels, a child must “unlearn” how to ride unbalanced and then learn how to ride while balanced.