RideOnToys’ Complete Kids’ Balance Bike Guide

So your little one is typically inquisitive, asking about those two-wheeled thingamajigs they’ve seen people riding all the time, and you think it’s about time you encouraged your toddler to take up riding – well, a kids’ balance bike is a brilliant introductory way of getting your child involved in the world of cycling.

Balance bikes for kids have been around for years, helping the littlest riders become more confident on two wheels. But they’re battling in a market that includes pedal bikes with stabilisers. Still, the toddler balance bike offer so many unique benefits, and with a humungous variety of brands, designs and features to choose from, there’s still a massive appeal for the popular children’s toy that puts the ‘fun’ in functional.

WHAT IS A BALANCE BIKE?

You’re probably wondering why get a balance bike, instead of your typical bicycle. A kids’ balance bike isn’t an alien concept; in many respects, it looks and feels like your average kids’ bike – except it’s missing it’s chain-powered propulsion system. This means that the bike is missing both a bike chain and the pedals. Instead, children are encouraged to use their feet to drive the vehicle forward or backward.

As the name suggests, the toddler balance bike’s raison d'être is to improve the stability and steering skills of the youngest bike riders. It serves as a crash course bypassing the security of stabilisers to grow a child’s confidence whilst still taking measures to ensure a safe, assured development. The aim is to help children to feel comfortable controlling aspects such as bodyweight, positioning and coasting in their riding repertoire quickly before upgrading to a pedal bike.

WHEN TO START USING A BALANCE BIKE

WHEN TO START USING A BALANCE BIKE

Balance bikes for kids can cater to even the youngest potential riders – as young as 18 months in some cases. The best balance bikes will be suitable for kids of varying ages, sizes and physical capabilities. When deciding which balance bike to buy, it’s a good idea to consider these characteristics first.

Generally, however, kids’ balance bikes are aimed at the 1 – 6-year-old market as they are designed to be an early learning development tool, rather than a long-term transportation vehicle. Though, confidence is also a big part to enjoying the full benefits of a balance bike. The more confident the child is, the more the child will be enthused by the challenges and risks the bike presents.

WHEN TO TRANSITION FROM BALANCE BIKE TO PEDAL BIKE

It’s probably not a surprise for you to learn that there’s no set time to transition from a balance bike for kids to a pedal bike. But there are some key things to consider before making a final decision on whether your kid is adequately prepared for change – and much of it comes down, again, to confidence.

For example – and possibly most significantly – outgrowing the bike is often a big, glowing signal. Kids’ balance bikes are typically only suitable for the early years, and considering children grow at an exponential rate during this period, the likelihood is that the bike will become an awkward fit after no more than three years.

Also, you may want to ask yourself whether the child has mastered the balance bike. Is the child able to manage the steering, propulsion, and balance comfortably and assuredly? If the answer is yes, then it may be time to add a new challenge by upgrading to a pedal bike.

You can even gauge from a child’s enthusiasm when it’s time to move on from the basic balance bike for toddlers onto something more sophisticated that will maintain that child’s passion for cycling. If you find that your child continues to practice on the balance bike despite possessing the skills to ride it with ease, inspire them to continue this trend with a brand spanking new pedal bicycle.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A BALANCE BIKE

Deciding which balance bike is best for your child requires that you think about a combination elements before buying.

Size

Some kids’ balance bikes come fitted with height adjustable seats and handlebars, but there’s more to finding the ideal size than that. For instance, let’s say that the bike doesn’t have these adjustable features, the child must easily access the handles without stretching and be able to place both feet on the ground whilst sat in the seat for effortless scooting.

Conversely, if you find that your child can sit bent-kneed in the seat, then a larger balance bike for kids may be more appropriate. Bring your kid along to the store to test out the options as you would when buying a child new shoes.

Weight

Manoeuvring a big ol’ clunky bike is an unnecessary and unsafe additional challenge that your little one will not appreciate. If the bike is more than 30% of the child’s bodyweight, then you’ve broken the no-go threshold and should consider a lighter alternative. This can mean losing some of the awesome features of the heavier high-quality bikes, but the whole aim of locating the best balance bike for your child is that they can control it.   

It’s also dangerous (and very annoying) to have to lug around the weighty load. For a toddler who will be using the bike often and finding it necessary to carry it occasionally, the weight must be manageable without trading off on the quality of design or performance.

Steering

Many balance bikes for kids have a steering limiter that prevent sharp turns; the kind that cause mishaps that injure young learners. However, limiters can be lifted as the rider improves their turning abilities. There’s a fine balance between establishing a safe riding experience for your child, and inhibiting their progress.

Seat

A cushioned, concave seat that corrects to fit tiny bums and that can be attuned to allow your child to sit on it with both feet touching the ground is a difference-maker. It will definitely come in handy during this time of rapid growth. Not all have boast this feature, but most promise a soft, slip-proof feel wherever ridden.

Wheels

Why get a balance bike with cheap EVA foam tires that don’t offer the advanced level of traction that real pneumatic tyres do? Good wheels can really aid how quickly a child picks up the techniques by producing a cushioned, smooth ride across a myriad of terrains. There are a few types to choose from presenting different advantages including plastic, rubber and wide tyres.

WHAT IS THE BEST BALANCE BIKE?

CHILLAFISH BMXIE BMX STYLE BALANCE BIKE - £60.99

CHILLAFISH BMXIE BMX STYLE BALANCE BIKE

Supercool design with even cooler features that include an adjustable seat and attachable footrest for kids to kick up their feet on, the Chillafish BMXie looks and feels just like the BMXs kids marvel at in the bike parks.

Boasting a real BMX-style bike frame, this kids’ balance bike is an enviable piece of kit that employs some heavy-duty spec. Built from solid oversized tubing and engineered into an ergonomically-beautiful toddler balance bike, you will not be wondering which balance bike to buy for very long once you’ve feasted your eyes on one.

FIRSTBIKE STREET BALANCE BIKE - £79.99

FIRSTBIKE STREET BALANCE BIKE

Looking for balance bikes for kids that bring great performance whilst remaining durable through weather changes and impacts? Then this is the kids’ balance bike for you. Not only does the unique injection-moulded composite design standout with 10 distinctive bright frame colours to choose from, but it can also withstand surface deterioration and is equipped with lots of additions, such as a LowKit™ that allows kids as young as 22 months to ride, and a steering limiter.

EARLY RIDER LITE 12” BIRCH BALANCE BIKE - £96.50

EARLY RIDER LITE 12” BIRCH BALANCE BIKE

Classic craftmanship with some new-fangled spec here. With the Early Rider Birch Balance Bike for kids, you get supreme simplicity at a really lightweight 3.2kgs making it one of the lightest balance bikes on the market. Throw in a pair of 12” pneumatic wheels, weather-resistant birch ply and a dual steering system that can be flipped into either restricted or unrestricted modes, and you’ve got yourself an amazing machine on your hands.