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Best Balance Bikes for Toddlers
Are you searching for a balance bike for your toddler?
Recently I took my tween daughter out to look for a new bike for her. I had my toddler with me, and while she was searching for the perfect bike, the toddler and I stumbled upon the balance bike -- a great new addition to the range of bicycles available. A balance bike looks like a regular bike, but it doesn't have pedals. According to the sales people (and all the reviews I've found) a good balance bike will eliminate the need for training wheels. Even better, this gets rid of all the falling down when the training wheels come off. After the struggle my daughter went through dealing with taking off the training wheels (both physically and emotionally), I'm a convert to anything that will make that easier. Balance bikes are designed to be used by toddlers, usually between the ages of 2 and 5, before they transition to a real bike.
Strider PREbike Running Bike
As of the writing of this article, the Strider PREbike Running Bike is the best-selling balance bike on Amazon, and with good reason. It's lightweight, has the lowest seat height at 11 inches, and is incredibly durable. There is also an ingenious footrest that toddlers put their feet on while gliding.
According to Amazon, this balance bike is designed for ages 1-5, but it would have to be a pretty tall 1 year old who can fit on an 11 inch seat. It weighs less than 7 lbs, so it's very lightweight. Its highest seat level is 16 inches, but there is also an Extra Long seatrest you can purchase for an older toddler, so you can get even more years out of it. The tires are puncture-proof (made of EVA polymer) and for all terrains. It also has an adjustable handbar (from 20-22 inches). It even has an optional foot brake.
Skuut's Balance Bike's lowest seat height is 13 inches, and it tops out at 16.5 inches. It's recommended for ages 2-5, and is made of birchwood. The pressurized tires are made of rubber. If the wooden aesthetic is what you're looking for, you can't do any better than the Skuut. However, some of the reviews on Amazon have complained about quality control. It's hard to tell if this is a common occurrence but it clearly has happened.
The Skuut is the original wooden balance bike, and is the one my toddler gravitated to in the showroom. It was also the one I gravitated to, because it just looks so modern and fun. It currently costs about $100.
****Skuut plants a tree for every balance bike sold!****
Smart Gear Balance Bike
The biggest advantage of the Smart Gear Classic Balance Bike is the all-terrain tires they use, on the wooden frame. The Skuut's tires are pressurized rubber, but these tires mean business! If your hesitation about wooden balance bikes is the lack of a good gripping tire, then this is the bike for you.
The height range of the Smart Gear balance bike seat is from 12.5 to 17.5 inches, so it goes a little higher than many of the other bikes. This bike is slightly less expensive than some of the other bikes, at about $50. This is a bargain compared to some of the other balance bikes on the market.
Kazam Balance Bike
The Kazam Balance Bike is designed for older toddlers, ages 3-6. The seat is slightly higher, reaching from 14 to 17.5 inches, so it's definitely not for the youngest or smallest toddlers. That said, if the size works for your child, this is a great bike. The foot plate is really clever, and seems to work well too. The tires are smooth and air-inflated.
Because it's slightly heavier and larger than most of the other balance bikes, it's important to remember that unless your 2.5 year old is incredibly tall, you should wait to get this for a 3 year old. The biggest complaint people have seems to be the seat because it's not a traditional banana seat. Some kids love it, but others do not. The Kazam bike is about $100.
Glide Bike Mini Glider
At right around $100, the 12 inch Glide Bikes Mini Glider also gets great reviews. This foot rest is two pegs that stick out on both sides for feet to rest on, and they can be pushed up as well. It's one of the most lightweight balance bikes at 7 pounds. The seat height ranges from 11.5 to 16.5 inches. There is also an optional extended seat post that goes to 18 inches. The age range is from 3-5, but could be used by a taller almost-3 year old.
One of the most interesting features is that this bike has a hand brake. A lot of the balance bikes don't include this feature, and reviews are mixed as to whether it's necessary. If an easy hand brake is important to you, then this is a great choice. Also the tires are solid and do not need air. The Mini Glider is also at the $100 price point.
YBIKE Balance Bike
Okay, let's face it. The appeal of the YBIKE Balance Bike is that it looks like a motorcycle. That's pretty cool. It gets great reviews on Amazon, but keep in mind it's mostly designed for younger kids. The suggested age range is from 1.5 to 3.5. There are double wheels in the back, adding to the stability, but possibly not teaching toddlers quite as much as other other balance bikes.
The most cited negative feature is that the seat height is fixed. You cannot adjust the seat. It is set at 35 cm (almost 14 inches). The cost for the YBIKE is about $60.