If you decided to buy your child a balance bike, then you definitely had or are still having trouble figuring out how to choose the best one.
Choosing the best balance bike is not an easy job. There are several things that you have to take into account and many times reading reviews is hardly enough.
Moreover, you have to be sure that the balance bike you decide to purchase is right for your kid and will fit him for a long time.
The 5 Best Balance Bikes (Top Picks):
So What’s a Balance Bike?
The balance bike was specially designed for young children to learn to steer and keep their balance. Unlike a regular bike, a balance bike does not have pedals, a chain, a crank set nor stabilizers.
The child sits on the saddle and puts his or her feet on the ground to scoot along. Feeling the ground under his or her feet gives them a very safe feeling.
Balance bikes are really trendy now. In 2007 many Berlin toddlers were already seen cruising the streets with it. They are very popular in Holland, we have seen some in Switzerland and the UK is following…
Be ready to feel like a bit of a celebrity because your scooting toddler will be quite a cute sight on the street!
Why Training Wheels Don’t Work?
Training wheels don’t help your kids learn the skills necessary to ride a bike. In fact, they can actually hinder your child’s ability and make the whole learning process longer and more stressful than it has to be.
Teaching these important skills is where a balance bike like the Strider bike leave training wheels in the dust. Your son or daughter will build their confidence because they will feel secure with both feet on the ground.
We think you will be surprised how soon they will be lifting their feet and coasting along on just two wheels.
Why are Balance Bikes the Perfect First Bike?
When shopping for a child’s first bike most parents consider a tricycle or a bike with training wheels. Both of these designs will not teach kids the skills needed to use a two wheel bicycle they will learn to become dependent on the bike to hold them up and not gradually improve their own balance. That is why balance bikes work so well your kids will gradually build their balance at their own pace until they are ready to pick up their feet.
Tricycles are Dangerous for Your Kids:
Tricycles are designed poorly and can cause injuries to your children.
Most of the time a tricycle is considered safe because of the speed which kids can operate them (pretty slowly). They may seem fine but imagine if your kid ends up going down a hill really picks up speed as soon as they turn the handlebars they are going to take a dive.
The United States government actually banned production of three wheeled ATVs in 1988 because the three wheel design is so dangerous.
Advantages of the Balance Bike:
If you have never tried any pedal bike, you might be thinking: “Why should I buy something like this? I can get a tricycle or a training bike with side wheels instead.” Well, let me explain why the balancing bike concept became so popular in the last years.
- A balance bike reduces the transition to a regular bike and will give the child a happy cycling experience from a young age. The child will start taking small steps and gradually – at his own pace – take bigger steps. This also means that the child will go faster and his feet will touch the ground less and less, which is already almost like cycling.
- With a balance bike, they learn how to use their balance in a natural way. They won’t need the stabilizers (and the bad habits they might have acquired using them) when they start riding a regular bike since they will have developed a natural balance riding with a balance bike.
- The child will learn in a playful way to coordinate steering, cycling, and stopping. The safe feeling when touching the ground will make cycling a positive experience and will incentivize the child to pursue his efforts. Stopping is also easy, as the child just has to drag his feet to slow himself.
- As the saddle is in such a low position, the fall will not be a scary height.
- It will give the child a sense of distance, speed, and depth.
- Once the child is comfortable with his balance bike, he will have a fast means of transport. It will make your trip to the shops, the nursery and so on a much quicker experience and more fun for both of you. The child will also enjoy the feeling of independence.
- It’s a very clever and fun way for the child to get rid off that extra bit of energy.
- The best balance bikes are usually quite light (around 3 kg). If you are out and about and your child does not want to use his balance bike anymore, it is not so hard to carry it along.
How to Choose the Best Balance Bike?
Choosing a balance bike can be challenging! There are many things to consider including size, material, cost, design, safety etc. This guide will offer some basic information you should consider before choosing your next kid’s balance bike.
The saddle of a good balance bike has a typical shape and allows the legs to move back and forward in a natural way. The saddle should be curved so that it looks like as if the child is glued to the balance bike. It is important for maximum comfort to check that the balance bike is not equipped with the saddle of a regular bike.
The saddle should be low enough for the toddler to place his feet flat on the ground. Touching the ground is the only way he will be able to push the bike forward in a seated position. The touching of the ground also increases the child’s confidence and gives him/her a safe feeling.
The saddle should also be adjustable so that the bike can “grow” as your child does.
If you are using the same bike for more than one child, go for a model with a saddle that can be freely adjusted (without fixed settings). It is easier when you can do the adjustment without the use of tools, as you will have to adjust the saddle for every child.
Balance bikes generally come in three types of material: wood, metal or GFK.
Wooden balance bikes have a natural look, are robust and have that chunky side that kids love. Wooden toys are also in at the moment! They come in a wide price range as they are produced in different countries using different types of wood.
Good quality wood ensures a longer life for the bike. Screws and bolts are usually countersunk so that there are no sharp edges. Wooden bikes are also easy to fix.
Metal bikes are very robust and come in flashy colors and all kind of shapes. Just what a child loves! The saddle of metal bikes is usually freely adjustable and most models have an adjustable handlebar.
However, metal balance bikes can go rusty and they are heavier. They also often do not have the special balance bike saddle.
Balance bikes made of GFK combine the best characteristics of the wooden and the metal bike, as they don’t go rusty, are durable and have a freely adjustable saddle. They are also very sturdy and have no sharp edges. All screws and bolts are usually countersunk into the frame. They are quite light as well.
Restricted Handlebar Movement:
Balance bikes with a restricted handlebar are safer. They prevent the wheel from over turning and causing nasty falls. Young children are so fascinated by the world surrounding them that they sometimes forget to look forward. They pull the steering wheel with sudden movements to avoid obstacles. As they do not have the steering skills yet, restricted handle bar movement allows them to maintain control over the bicycle.
Brake or Not?
The decision is straightforward for children under the age of three: they do not need a brake (unless they live in a hilly area). Children under three normally don’t go fast enough because for them steering, finding their balance and stopping with their feet is already a big enough challenge.
Bigger children go faster and might need a brake.
The brake should be placed on the rear wheel of the balance bike and the child should not have to move his/her hands from the steering wheel to brake. The child should be able to reach the brake with a slightly opened hand.
There are different types of brakes and according to www.sheldonbrown.com drum brakes would be the safest.
Drum brakes consist of two half moon shaped shoes or pads, which are mounted on a plate. They are covered by a drum, a kind of metal pot fitted to the wheel. When the brake lever is squeezed, the brake shoes are pushed outward towards the drum. This friction causes the wheel to stop.
Along with the saddle, the tires are the most important component contributing to the child’s “cycling” comfort.
There are 3 types of tires: pneumatic tires, balloon tires and EVA, PU or foam tires.
Pneumatic tires are the most common. The pressure in these tires is important to increase the cycling comfort.
Balloon tires have a softening effect on bumpy surfaces.
Balance bikes with EVA, PU or Foam Tires are less comfortable but do not need pumping. These tires are more appropriate for short distances.
“Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Balance Bike”
Now You Know the Basics of a Balance Bike!
You can now explore all the great models, colors, and styles out there to find the perfect match to your liking!
Look at our balance bike top picks for detailed information on each model and hear from other parents and families on how it worked for them.
Keep exploring and find out the amazing places balance bicycles can take your child!