The 8 Best Balance Bikes of 2021

Get them started early with these top-picks

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Parents have two options for teaching their kids how to ultimately ride a bike, and one of them is with the use of a balance bike. These bikes are designed without pedals and put the emphasis on learning how to balance on and steer a bike first rather than relying on training wheels. Balance bikes are becoming more and more popular, so there are a lot of great models to choose from on the market.

If you’re currently on the hunt for one for your child, here are some of the best options available.

Our Top Picks
With a wide range of height adjustments for the seat and handlebars, this bike grows along with your child.
It’s designed with no-slip handles to ensure a good grip and a padded seat for a comfortable ride.
An adorable bike, this has an old-fashioned design, a front basket, and a little handlebar bell.
This super lightweight balance bike is a great option for kids between two and five years old (depending on their size).
It can be set up as either a tricycle or balance bike, requiring no tools to change it.
Best for 4-Year-Olds:
Schwinn Elm Girls Bike at Amazon
The bike’s frame is sized specifically for kids to provide better stability and maneuverability.
With air-filled rubber tires, these bikes can be ridden off-road or on rough terrain.
This features four wide non-slip wheels, 135-degree limited steering, and a simple ride-on design.

Best Overall: Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike

Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike
Pros
  • Toddler-friendly

  • Adjustable seat/handlebars

Cons
  • Assembly required

  • No training wheels

What makes this bike stand out is that it grows along with a child anywhere from as young as 18-months old to five years old because both the seat and handlebars have a wide range of height adjustments. It also has an ergonomically padded seat and easy-to-grip handlebars.

When they’re gliding, kids have a spot to rest their feet to keep them off the ground and the bike’s frame is made from high-quality steel to make the bike durable and long-lasting. This bike is available in several colors or in a sports model with extra features.

Tire Type: Foam | Seat Height(s): 12-20 inches (inseam) | Adjustable Handlebars: Yes | Product Weight: 6.7 Pounds | Brakes: None | Weight Limit: 50 pounds

Best Budget: Radio Flyer 800X Glide and Go Balance Bike

Radio Flyer 800X Glide and Go
Pros
  • Affordable

  • No-slip handles

Cons
  • Not recommended for children under 2 years old

Little kids between two and a half and five years old can safely cruise around on this balance bike with a steel frame, adjustable seat, and a fun handlebar bell (for a little extra fun). It’s designed with no-slip handles to ensure a good grip and a padded seat for a comfortable ride. The bike also has traction tread tires for safety and a lightweight frame for easy maneuvering.

Tire Type: Traction Tread | Seat Height(s): Adjustable (range not listed) | Adjustable Handlebars: Not Listed | Product Weight: 6.6 pounds | Brakes: None | Weight Limit: 50 pounds

Best Splurge: Banwood First Go! Balance Bike

Banwood Bikes First Go!
Pros
  • Wicker basket included

  • Adjustable seat/handlebars

Cons
  • Costly

Kids between three and five years old can learn to ride a bike in style with this adorable, aesthetically pleasing balance bike. This bike has a stylish old-fashioned design, a sweet front basket to carry snacks and toys, and a little handlebar bell. Both the padded seat and handlebars are adjustable and have a faux leather cover that adds style and ensures they don’t slip. The bike comes with 12-inch air-filled rubber tires and is available in several color options.

Tire Type: Rubber | Seat Height(s): 14.5-17.3 inches | Adjustable Handlebars: 19.68-23.22 inches | Product Weight: 9.9 pounds | Brakes: None | Weight Limit: Not Listed

Best Lightweight: Banana Bike LT Balance Bike

Banana LT Balance Bike
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Padded seat

Cons
  • Not recommended for children under 2 years old

This super lightweight balance bike is a great option for kids between two and five years old (depending on their size). The non-slip grip handlebars allow tiny hands to securely steer while the foam tires never go flat. Thanks to the padded seat, your tot's bum won't be sore while they ride. With various vibrant colors available, your little one will be sure to find one that they adore.

Tire Type: Foam | Seat Height(s): 12.2-15.7 inches | Adjustable Handlebars: Yes | Product Weight: 6.4 pounds | Brakes: None | Weight Limit: 55 pounds

Best for 18-Month-Olds: Chillafish Bunzi FAD 2-in-1 Toddler Balance Bike

Chillafish Bunzi FAD 2-in-1 Toddler Balance Bike and Tricycle
Pros
  • Stylish design

  • Toddler-friendly

Cons
  • May be outgrown quickly

Your tot will love using this bike as a tricycle or as a balance bike and you'll love that no tools are required to make the switch. It’s great for kids between one and three years old who are just starting to get comfortable on a ride-on toy or bike. The anti-skid wheels are safe for indoor and outdoor use and the lightweight bike has a carrying handle so you can easily tote it around the park, to playdates, or just around the neighborhood.

Tire Type: TPE Wheels | Seat Height(s): NA | Adjustable Handlebars: No | Product Weight: 4.3 pounds | Brakes: None | Weight Limit: 55 pounds

Best for 4-Year-Olds: Schwinn Elm Girls Bike

Schwinn Elm Girls Bike
Pros
  • Cushioned grips

  • Padded seat

Cons
  • Assembly required

Designed to get young kids moving with ease, the Schwinn balance bike features a sturdy fork design that makes handling a breeze for new riders. The kid-specific frame features a steering limiter that, along with the foam tires, creates a smoother ride with fewer accidents and falls. The tool-free adjustable seat allows you to find the perfect height for your little rider. The saddle handle acts as a parental steering feature as well as a transport handle.

Tire Type: Foam | Seat Height(s): Adjustable (range not listed) | Adjustable Handlebars: Not Listed | Product Weight: 24.55 pounds | Brakes: None | Weight Limit: Not Listed

Best for Big Kids: Bixe 16" Pro Balance Bike

Bixe 16" Pro Balance Bike for for Big Kids
Pros
  • Adjustable handlebars

  • Great for off-terrain riding

Cons
  • No hand brake

For big kids between five and nine years old who aren't quite ready for a pedal bike, this ergonomically designed option is perfect. With adjustable handlebars and non-slip grip covers, your kiddo will be able to ride comfortably. The rubber tires are air-filled, which is great for kids who like to ride their bikes off-road or on rough terrain.

Tire Type: Rubber | Seat Height(s): 15-22 inches | Adjustable Handlebars: Yes (range not listed) | Product Weight: 11 pounds | Brakes: None | Weight Limit: 150 pounds

Best for 12-Month-Olds: Retrospec Cricket Baby Walker Balance Bike

Retrospec Cricket Baby Walker Balance Bike
Pros
  • Toddler-friendly

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Seat is not adjustable

Toddlers between 12 and 24 months old can start getting comfortable using a balance bike with this one that has four wide non-slip wheels and 135-degree limited steering. It has a simple ride-on design that will help them get used to using their feet to push themselves forward while also steering the bike (without having to worry about actually balancing). This bike is designed with a comfortable kid-friendly seat and is available in several color options.

Tire Type: Not listed | Seat Height(s): Not adjustable | Adjustable Handlebars: No | Product Weight: 3.97 pounds | Brakes: None | Weight Limit: 44 pounds

Final Verdict

The Strider Balance Bike (view at Amazon) stands out among the rest of the balance bikes because of its longevity. Since the seat and handlebars have such wide adjustment ranges, many kids can use the bike for up to four-and-a-half years (or longer), so many parents won’t have to invest in another balance bike before their child transitions to a regular bike.

What to Look for When Buying a Balance Bike:

Seat Height

According to Two Wheeling Tots, seat height is the most important thing to consider when buying a balance bike for your child because you need to get the sizing right in order for this method of learning to work. They recommend purchasing a bike with a seat that can be set between half an inch to one inch lower than your child’s inseam measurement. 

Tire Type

If your child will do most of their riding around the neighborhood on sidewalks and paved roads, foam tires work fine. However, if you plan on taking your kid off-road onto more natural or bumpy terrain, look for a balance bike with air-filled tires as they’ll be more durable. 

Weight

Two Wheeling Tots suggests that a bike weighs no more than 30% of your child’s weight. Heavier bikes can be difficult for your child to maneuver and control while they are focusing on balancing.

FAQs

What is a balance bike?

A balance bike sometimes called a running or run bike, is a child-size bike with no pedals. It allows kids the opportunity to focus on learning how to steer and balance on their bike first rather than on how to use the pedals to push the bike forward. Once they’ve mastered riding on the balance bike, they can typically transition to a regular bike without training wheels. 

How do you ride a balance bike?

Kids can learn how to ride balance bikes in stages and the process can start as early as 18 months old and last until they’re around six years old (though it may be earlier or later depending on the child). Kids will walk while holding the bike, walk while sitting on the bike, run with the bike, run while sitting on the bike, and eventually learn how to run to get speed while sitting on the bike before lifting their feet and gliding. 

Why Trust Verywell Family?

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer, mom to a 1 and a 4-year-old, and she has personal experience in researching and purchasing balance bikes for her kids. Key considerations she focused on when selecting these products include personal experience, safety features, longevity, and user reviews.

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