When choosing between balance bikes to buy, it’s easy to get confused, especially considering how many there are in the market nowadays. Should we just focus on the most popular ones? It is a good idea, after all they are popular for a reason. However, different kids have different needs, so, we shouldn’t generalise. As brands try to make it easier for us, by classifying bikes by kid’s age, it becomes clear this is not enough.

To help a little in this matter, we created this go-to choosing guide, highlighting the most important factors that should play a part in our decision.

Choosing between balance bikes:

What features should we look at?

 Infographic on how to choose and what features should we look at, when picking up the right balance bike: frame material, tires, size, weight, limited turning, footrest, transformability, brakes and concealed bolts

 

Size

A balance bike shouldn’t be bought in a bigger size so it could be used longer. It is a kind of bicycle used to gain confidence. A tool for kids to learn to steer and balance, therefore they must feel safe in it. It must give them re-assurance that they can reach the floor when needed.

kids-inseam-300_ choosing between balance bikes

Inseam length

The first thing to look at, when determining the size of the bike, is how old the kids are. And, better than age, we woud say size, or clothing size.

As a simple rule, kids must be able to plant their feet flat on the ground while seating on the seat.  Inseam lenght from floor to their crotch is the measurement to use. The seat height should be a little below the measured inseam length.

Most balance bikes’ seat height can be adjusted, something that is obviously preferable. Smaller bikes start at 11 inches (28 cm), and bigger ones at around 14 inches (35.5 cm).

Lightness (weight).

Generally speaking, bikes shouldn’t weight more than 30% of the kids’ weight, so that they can handle it better and carry it around. A bike will be picked up to avoid certain obstacles, but also lightness is a factor when considering kids falling or small accidents. The factor that determines lightness is the frame material, mostly, but also the number of included features.

firstbike-00_ choosing between balance bikes

First Bike is ultra light.

Frame material.

Typically we can choose from wooden or metallic bikes (steel, aluminium,…). This is probably the first decision we will make when choosing between balance bikes.

  • Wooden ones are heavier and more environmentally friendly. Usually their design is more exciting and different. For instance, the Brum brum, with soft, elegant curved lines; or Kiddimoto Hero, designed to look like MotoGP bikes.
  • On the other hand, metallic ones are more traditionally looking balance bikes, and usually (not always, though) they are lighter. They can rust, and paint could get chipped.
  • Additionally, we can find other materials, such as ultra light nylon composite (First Bike) or 100% recycled plastic (Wishbone).
Wooden Brum brum bike_ choosing between balance bikes

Wooden Brum brum bike.

kiddimoto-marc-marquez-hero-cool-biking-kids_ choosing between balance bikes

Wooden Kiddimoto Heroes – Marc Marquez. Buy it here (affiliate link).

public-bikes-cool-biking-kids_ choosing between balance bikes

Steel framed Public bikes Mini C. Buy it here (affiliate link).

Strider-Pro_ choosing between balance bikes

Aluminium Strider Pro. Buy it here (affiliate link).

first-bike-cool-biking-kids_ choosing between balance bikes

Nylon Composite First Bike. Buy it here (affiliate link).

Wishbone_recycled-cool-biking-kids_ choosing between balance bikes

Plastic Wishbone. Buy it here (affiliate link).

Brakes.

Normally kids using balance bikes will instinctively brake with their feet. Kids who start biking might find it difficult, adding braking on top of maintaining balance and steering. Therefore, brakes are not really necessary for kids under 3 years old.

When choosing between balance bikes, this should not be a decisive factor.

If the selected bike offers brakes, it is convenient to teach the kids balance and steer first, then show them they can also break.

There can be hand or foot brakes. Choosing a bike that offers hand break, we should consider short reach for younger kids (with smaller hands) over standard reach. Regarding foot brake, it is less common. Strider bikes offer foot mounted brake as a separate kit for all their models.

Different kinds of brakes in balance bikes - Cool biking kids_ choosing between balance bikes


Short reach hand brake Woom (left)  |  Rear foot brake sold separately for all Strider models (right)

 

Tires.

The most popular tire sizes for balance bikes are 12 and 16 inches. 12 inch is the size in the starter bikes, and 16 inch is for bigger kids.

Tires can be aired or solid.

Aired tires provide a much smoother ride, and are generally better built. The traction they provide is also better. They can go flat, but fixing them is cheaper than replacing a solid wheel.

Solid tires can be foam or rubber. They can’t go flat, but they absorve less impacts, and they ride less smoothly.

Foot rests found in Balance bikes - Cool biking kids_ choosing between balance bikes

EVA foam solid tire in the Strider (left) | Aired tire in the Early rider (right)

Foot rests.

Some bikes include foot rests, or footboards. This is normally used when going downhill. It is not a really important feature, as, generally, kids tend to lift their feet from the ground, in those cases. Sometimes, depending on their position, foot rests can get in the way.

footrestsbb_ choosing between balance bikes

Kazam’s footboard (left) | Strider food rest sold separately (center) | Mini Glider foot rest (right)

Limited turning.

Limited turning is a security measure that some bikes have to not allow kids to steer violently. Therefore, they should describe bigger arcs in their turns, making it safer. It is a feature advised especially for less confident children.

 

___Other features worth considering.

Transformability.

Some bikes can be transformed from trike to balance bike (Wishbone), or from ride-on to balance bike (Spherovelo). This way the lifespan of the bike can be extended.

Wishbone 3 in 1 trike and balance bike_ choosing between balance bikes

The Wishbone can convert from a trike to two different sized balance bikes

Concealed bolts.

It’s preferable that bolts are recessed or concealed, to avoid scratches when falling.

 

Now that you know a bit more on choosing between balance bikes, check out our selection!

Best metal balance bikes

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