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.
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.
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.
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?