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Balance bike what? That’s what I would have said before moving next door to the Sporty McSportersons. Who are lovely, really.
My neighbors have two young boys, one just exiting out of the toddler stage and one still mucking about in it. When we moved into the neighborhood, the very first spring — I watched their little guys on what looked like some sort of running bike. A very small bike with no pedals.
Those kids LOVED their balance bikes. Had them out on our crescent every day. Bonus points going to the fact that our crescent has a gentle slope which makes for some really great gliding and balancing practice.
Which is what balance bikes are all about. I’m fully sold on the notion that they do indeed help develop a toddler’s independence, sense of balance and prep them for learning how to ride a bike with pedals when the time comes. Skipping the training wheels altogether. (I watched our said neighbors 5-year-old do it last fall.) After all —what’s the trickiest part about learning how to ride a bike? Pedaling or balancing? Exactly.
The only thing you should be wondering about now is whether or not to go with wood, steel or aluminum. Spokes, or spoke-free. Brakes or no brakes. Foam, rubber, no-air or air tires. You’re going to start to look for ball-bearing specifications. I know, right? Remember that not all balance bikes are one-size-fits-all! This should be one of your biggest considerations, next to price and safety.
Wooden Balance Bikes
I distinctly remember around Christmas-time, coveting a particular convertible wooden balance bike, that also came with a hefty price tag. Little did I know how vast my options were, or the difference in durability when it came to comparing brands.
1. ZÜM-CX Wooden Balance Bike
Made of sustainable harvested birch-wood, with rubber hand-grips and rubber air tires. Adjustable seat going as low as 12 inches and as high as 17 inches. Padded vinyl seat for added comfort. A great choice for tots from 18 months right up to 5 years of age! Several 5 star customer reviews on Amazon.
2. Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Bike
Made with birchwood with 12-inch pneumatic rubber pressurized tires. Adjustable seat heights, recommended for toddlers 2-5 years old. Several 4 star reviews on Amazon. Comes in pink and red.
3. Prince Lionheart Balance Bike
100% birch wood frame with adjustable seat height and solid rubber hand grips and 12″ rubber air tires. 4 stars.
4. Janod Wooden Mint Scooter Balance Bike
Cute style and function! An extremely light low-rider, this one is for toddlers as young as 1 years old. If they can walk (or waddle), they can use this!
5. Early Rider Balance Bike
This one is built for younger toddlers (20 months and up). Made with marine-grade birch, sealed ball-bearings and “fat-boy” tires. Comes in a variety of styles and price-points.
6. LikeABike Midi Balance Bike
This balance bike is ideal for the tall or older toddlers as the seat features 5 adjustable positions from 17.3-22″. It’s made of strong, laminated birch wood with a comfy cotton seat.
7. Wishbone 3-in-1 Original Bike
This is the one that I’ve had my eyes on since Christmas. Since then, with all of recent my research — as you know — I’ve now gone with something else. It’s not that this one isn’t still amazing — it was a matter of price. If my toddlers were younger I might have gone with this to benefit from it’s transformative ways fitting little ones as young as 1 year in the low-rider, 3 wheeler version. So. If you are an active family with a little one just about to turn 1 year, this is the perfect choice in my eyes — you’ll end up spending this amount on ride-on toys and balance bikes if you are into that sort of thing.
Metal, Aluminum or Composite Bikes
Apparently there are some die-hard aluminum bike lovers who scoff at the notion of a wooden bike. As rough as my toddlers are, I have a tough time imagining that they would need an aluminum bike of professional caliber. Apparently though, there is such a thing as toddler BMXing.
8. Radio Flyer Guide & Go Balance Bike
A gorgeous little pre-bike for those who love this brand and great deals! Keep in mind that while the seat is adjustable, it’s still only recommended for toddlers aged 30 months to five years.
9. Strider ST-3 No-Pedal Balance Bike
Specifically made for younger toddlers, the bike’s seat can be adjusted to as low as 11 inches. I was caught between choosing this one and the Kinderfeets bike before I made my final decision.Very well reviewed everywhere I looked, the Strider has a ton of 4.5 star customer reviews on Amazon. Made of ultra-light aluminum, this bike is easy to maneuver with footrest they can rest their feet on as they get more confident and can balance while coasting! Comes in a wide array of bright, glossy colors.
10. KinderBike Laufrad Run Bike
Rated “the best”, by the New York Times, this pre-bike is a great choice for those who aren’t bothered by the spokes, cords and brakes. Featuring air tires on metal rims, a super light-weight aluminum frame that comes in four models, this bike will truly fit any and all toddlers. (Depending on the model you choose). Also? You can get a pedal conversion kit once your child is ready for that. Can’t beat all of those perks at such a low price. Comes in blue, red and green and silver.
11. Joovy Bicycoogt Balance Bike
A modern looking, sporty choice. The frame is made of lightweight aluminum, height adjustable seat and refillable 12″ pneumatic tires for added suspension. This is another balance bike that comes with a break, although there are less spokes for feet or hands to get caught up in.