Which Balance Bike is Best? [8 Top Bikes Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]

Whether you call them balance bikes, walking bikes or running bikes, the idea is the same–kids learn balance while riding these pedal-less bikes and thus learn how to ride a “big kid bike” more easily. Kids can use them as soon as they can walk and are big enough to sit on the seat and still have their feet reach the floor. We went the training wheels route with my son, and I soooo wish we had done the balance bike instead. I really think he would have learned to ride a two-wheeler more quickly.

There are a dozen or so models out there in wood, metal and plastic. Which is are best for you, and how much should you pay? I’ve updated this rundown of eight top models with links to the bikes at Amazon (so you can learn more) and Buy-It-Now prices.

Do pay attention to the seat height when you buy. Kids should be able to sit astride the bike and touch the ground on both sides. The seat should be about an inch less than the stride. The lightest bikes are easier to handle for smaller kids, but generally have lower weight limits. Weight limit may not be as important as you think. The primary age of use is about two to four years.

Wooden Bikes

Note: Steering is limited on this style of bike, however that can be a good thing because they can’t turn abruptly (which often leads to falls).

The Skuut Active balance bikes have a generous weight limit of 75 lbs. They feature spokeless rubber wheels and an adjustable saddle. List price: $100 | Buy-It-Now price: $60. 

Top-selling Smart Gear classic balance bikes offer spokeless rubber wheels, an adjustable saddle and a built in carry handle. 60 lb. weight limit. List price: $90 | Buy-It-Now price: $63.

Metal Bikes

The lightweight Strider ST-3 is the bestselling kids’ bike on Amazon, earning 4.5/5 stars from 127 buyers. It features and can hold kids up to 60 lbs. Great for the youngest riders. the ST-3  features adjustable seats and handlebars, a footrest, optional hand brakes and foam tires. A longer seat post is available for bigger kids. Available in eight colors.List price: $110 – $120 | Buy-it-Now price: $75.

Kazam bikes have a footrest built into the frame. They feature quick-release adjustable seats and inflatable tires with steel spokes. Weight limit; 75 lbs. Comes in five colors. List price: $110 | Buy-It-Now price: $95.

Glide Bikes Mini Glider Balance Bike: Features a high weight limit, hand brake, foot pegs, airless tires and “mountain bike geometry.” For kids 2 to 5 and up to 100 lbs. List price : $112 | Buy-It-Now price: $90.

Trikke Bikee Balance Bike:  This 7 lb. bike has been on the market for less than a year. It holds kids up to 60 lbs and features airless tires and a footrest.  List price : $70 | Buy-It-Now price: $65.

Plastic

The popular YBike is a fat little plastic balance bike that’s also a good choice for kids up to three years old. It has two back wheels for added stability and comes in four colors. #4 seller in kids’ bikes on Amazon. List price: $90 | Buy-It-Now price: $59.

PlaSmart’s PlasmaBike. This unique-looking newcomer on the balance bike scene is made by the folks who make PlasmaCar. Its wide wheels help with balance. This lightweight bike is for kids 18 months and up and up to 55 lbs. List price: $80 | Buy-it-Now price: $57.

Want to see the bikes in action? You’ll find lots of balance bike video reviews on YouTube. Just do a quick search to find them.

Note: “Buy It Now” prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the current sale price or “lowest price ever” price (through they may be the same). You may be able to beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great deal.

Do you have any of these? What do you think? How did your child like a balance bike?

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Comments

  1. Sabrina says:

    The Kazam bikes (seconds, by the description) are on Gilt right now for $50. Also, the YBike (sometimes available at Costco) really is pretty dang short; my small 3yo got one for her birthday and at 3.5 hardly has anywhere to put her legs. I’d call it better for 2 than 3 for sure.

  2. Virginia Davis says:

    We have a Kazam and love it. My son (3) got it for Christmas and rides it well, and any kid we have shared it with has picked it up quickly. I think he’ll be ready for a two-wheeler for his 4th birthday in May. He’s quite tall and the seat is all the way up for him, so it wouldn’t go much older for him. Bike seems durable and he enjoys putting his feet on the little foot-rest while he coasts. Fun bike!

  3. Sam says:

    The Kazam bike is one of the best toy purchases I’ve ever made. It can easily stand up to 2 or kids learning to ride and it will be still in great shape for an easy sale on craigslist.

  4. Kate says:

    We have the Strider and love it. It has held up wonderfully after 1.5 years. My son received it on his 3rd birthday and is now ready to ride a bike without training wheels. He still loves getting on that thing and cruising around. Highly recommend the Strider.

  5. Mother Lydia says:

    We have the Specialized Hotwalk and love it, We were able to get an extended seat rest and my son is still using it at 4.5 because he’s not yet ready for a pedal bike.

  6. We got my (18mo) son a Strider for Christmas – Amazon had the red model for $69.99 for a while there.

    He took right to it, and toddles around the house straddling his bike. We haven’t gone outside with it yet – waiting until he’s a little steadier and figures out the dynamics of turning.

    The bike itself it solid but lightweight. The Customer Service from Strider Sports is fantastic though. I called their CS to ask questions before purchasing (through Amazon) and the founder of the company (inventor of the Strider Bike) called me personally to answer my questions!

    Check out your local chapter of Think First for information and training on injury prevention – and FREE safety equipment! My local chapter provides free helmets to kids several times a year! http://thinkfirst.org

  7. Alison says:

    We made our own balance bike by removing the pedals from my son’s bike. When he’s ready for pedals, we’ll just have to buy a new chain (we had to cut it in order to get the pedals off), and it will be good to go!

  8. trish says:

    We got a Mini Glider for our nearly 2 yo and are very happy with it. This one and the Strider are two of the lowest seat options for toddlers.

  9. Nicole says:

    We have a Strider and love it

  10. Ghanimatrix says:

    We got my son a Strider for his 2nd birthday. It took maybe 2 months for him to get the hang of it and he LOVES it. Now he is just over 3.5 years, and it’s getting too small (he’s a tall kid). But he is getting a regular bike for his 4th birthday, no training wheels needed, and his little brother will inherit the Strider. We may need to get that longer seat post – I didn’t even know that was an option, thanks for the tip.

  11. Angie says:

    We got my older son a Strider bike when he turned 2, and it was great quality but he never showed much interest in it. He preferred a trike he got later. My second son got a SuperMopi when he was 2, and it was much cheaper but more stable, and he rides that indoors and out! He loves it, and he also does not care for the Strider bike.

  12. Natalie says:

    I agree that, besides the LikeaBike Jumper those are the best balance bikes on amazon, but there are a lot more bikes out there than the ones you have listed. Plus, the problem with most balance bike reviews is that people rarely have two bikes to compare, therefore the reviews generally tend to be all positive since all balance bikes generally do a get job at what they are intended kids to do, teach them to balance. As an example, I loved my son’s Strider and my daughters Kettlers balance bikes until I saw the Kinderbike, only then did I realize what a huge difference a brand can make and how cheaply constructed our Strider was. Since I’ve discovered how the perfect bike for one kid is not the best bike for another and am in the process of creating a website that has complete and independent reviews of all the bikes and the brands. Feel free to take a look at http://www.twowheelingtots.com.

  13. Haylee says:

    We have a Boot Scoot (the smaller version) for our 3.5 yr old super tall girl and she loves it!! She started on it last year and has improved so much she’ll fly down hills and turn at the bottom with all the confidence in the world. We got ours as a factory second–their customer service was super helpful and friendly as I was trying to decide between the sizes, etc.–and our bike showed up as a factory second with one very small chipped paint spot on the handlebar–we had to search for it! They’re sometimes on Zulily for $50 (just were a week or so ago).

  14. LC says:

    Not sure why, he’s not that short, but my 2yo can’t reach the ground in the Strider, even with the seat at its lowest setting. It was good for our 3-4 year old though, so we can’t wait until it can get used again.

  15. Valerie C. says:

    Walmart.com has a balance bike called wee-ride. It is about $30 and it has worked great for my little guy. He got it when he was 2 and now he is almost 3 and is good enough to start figuring out his new pedal bike. I tell all of my neighbors about the Walmart bike because the price is low to buy one and try it.

  16. Anitra says:

    We have a Y-Bike, actually got it when my oldest was about 18 months and she took right to it. Now at 3.5, she can really get going on it, but only if she takes great care to keep her feet up – she’s really too big for it. Good news is that it can support a LOT of weight (my husband has sat on it as a joke) and take a lot of abuse (in addition to having a little more stability).

    We’re actually debating where to go next – our 1 year old is just sizing into the Y-Bike, and the 3.5 year old is less than thrilled with a tricycle. Debating whether to do a full-on bike with pedals (and probably training wheels), or to go for a larger balance bike (maybe a smallish “regular” bike where we can remove the pedals).

  17. Holly says:

    What do you think of the TreeHaus Wooden Balance Bike? I first saw it on an Amazon Local deal, but then discovered that Tuesday Morning stores currently have them in stock for the same price ($29.99). Seems like a good price, but I just don’t know anything about the brand… http://shop.tuesdaymorning.com

  18. Julie says:

    We have a Colby cruiser for our son who just turned four. We love it. Great bike! We got it on babyhalfoff for a great deal. They have this brand on quite a bit.

  19. Kelly says:

    We’ve tested a few different balance bikes over the years. (A wooden one from Target, 2 Striders, Playskool Glide 2 Ride, and the Trek Float.) The wooden one was too heavy, and my son complained that the seat (which was lightly padded & vinyl covered) made his backside hurt. The Glide 2 Ride was just way too heavy, and the casing around the crank was too bulky. The Striders were lots of fun–lightweight, tighter steering when they’re new, they look “cool” to little kids, you can take them anywhere, etc. Unfortunately, we did have some issues with quality. On one, the wheel (bearings, hub, something?) broke. The seats were pretty cheap, too. After just a couple of spills, we had to cover one in electrical tape. Overall, I would still recommend a Strider, but just wish that mine had lasted long enough to resell!

    I know that the overall experience is different from kid to kid, too. My older son took off on his two-wheeler (with pedals, NEVER w/training wheels) at age 4. Now at age 6, he’s on his second mountain bike w/gears. His little brother, now 5, CAN ride the Trek Float with the pedals, but is still fearful and overly cautious when he rides. He goes back and forth between pedals and no pedals. (With the Trek Float, the whole crank is removeable, so that’s what we do.)

    As a caution, I do not recommend just removing pedals from a regular bike. The cranks can really hurt your kid’s ankles as they foot-propel their bike.

    For the length of time that your kid will be on a balance bike, I think that just about any of the ones mentioned here will work. The balance bike was definitely the way to go for my kids. My older son would have used training wheels ’til he got his driver’s license if we had ever let him use them. 🙂

  20. Natalie says:

    Balance bikes are hands down the best first bike for kids. The problem with them is that they are most certainly not one size fits all! The Strider is a teeny bike and I wouldn’t recommend it for any kids older than 3 (even though my son loved his). The Kazam on the other hand is a great fit for kids over 3, but is too big and too heavy for two year olds. My kids have ridden over 10 different types and balance bikes and I can honestly say that $30 can make a big different in the quality and ride-ability of a balance bike. So before you buy, be sure to find out if the bike of your choice will fit your child. Two Wheeling Tots (google it) has great comparison guides to help determine the best fit.

  21. Shelly says:

    We have both the TreeHaus Wooden balance bike and the Strider bike. My youngest son (3), prefers his wooden bike over the strider. However, his older brother who just turned 5 really abused the wooden bike last summer. The bike actually broke in half, but my husband was able to fix it. We’ve had to put the bolts back into it a couple of times now. We got ours at Tues. Morning and you can’t go wrong for the price. It just doesn’t seem too durable to hold up well after one summer of hard riding. After seeing how much my 5 yr. old liked the wooden one, we thought it was worth investing in the Strider for the 3 yr old.

  22. Heather says:

    We bought our son a Strider for his 2nd birthday. I chose that brand because it was lightweight (only 7 lbs) and low to the ground. He took to it immediately. Now, at 3 years, he’s so fast on it that our daughter rides her bike next to him to keep him safe. We can’t keep up otherwise! It’s lightweight enough that he can carry it up and down the stairs by himself. I think he’ll outgrow it by next summer, when he turns 4, but that will be the perfect timing for a big boy bike with pedals. And then our younger son will be able to use the Strider instead. Honestly one of the best purchases we’ve ever made. Oh, and because it’s so small and lightweight, we allow our son to use it in our house. He uses it daily inside and it’s never damaged anything, including our walls.

  23. Lindsey says:

    I highly recommend checking out the FirstBike balance bikes, they are lighter than most (made of a composite material), actually have fenders plus a steering limiter. Two wheeling tots did a complete review a while back: http://www.twowheelingtots.com/firstbike/

  24. Tiffany says:

    Our children have been riding balance bikes for over 5 years and I’ve found the most important features to look at are:

    1. Correct sizing: Measure the inseam of your child. Also, do the seat and handlebars grow with your child? While some children get on a pedal bike at 3 or 4, they still want to ride their balance bike. If your child starts riding a balance bike at age 3 or 4, you may consider getting a 16 inch balance bike. You will get more years out of it.

    2. Features: We’ve found a child going from a balance bike with a hand brake to a pedal bike with hand brake is a lot easier transition than having a balance bike with a foot brake. It will also save you several pairs of tennis shoes with holes in the toes. Also, 1-5 year old children are not going to notice a considerable difference in the types of tires. We’ve had both foam tires and air tires on bikes lasting 4 years with lots of dirt trail riding. In our experience, adults may notice the difference on their own bikes, but kids don’t.

    3. Price: There is a bike at every price point. The least or most expensive bike may not be the best one for your child. Our favorite bike happens to be about $100. Do some research, talk to other parents and take these other things into consideration when purchasing!

  25. Terri says:

    I just wanted to toss my hat in with the Strider camp. I have four kids and we own two of them. These things (bikes w/o pedals) are amazing. My daughter went from her Strider to a pedal bike without training wheels in between. It took her one afternoon to learn to pedal. This particular bike is very, very light which translates to the kids feeling in control of the bike which I think gives them confidence. My 3 year old boy is killing it on his, going down hills with ease and will not need training wheels either. These bikes are amazing.

  26. Mandy says:

    We bought my oldest daughter a boot scoot bike for her 3rd bday. Loved the bike. It has real rubber tires on it which we loved because we let her ride it in the house all winter long. She was on a two-wheel bike without training wheels at 4 1/2. My middle daugter(20 months younger than oldest) loved to ride the boot scoot but was too short for it. After researching the strider bike has a much shorter seat on it and it was perfect for her at age 2. She is now 3 1/2 and riding without training wheels! Only thing I did not like about the strider bike are the tires. They Re a hard plastic and when we let them in the house with them, they did not “grip” the floor and when she would turn the bike would slide out from under her. Other than that, I loved both of the bike! They held up great and so glad that we got them!