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Bikes for 3 Year Olds (Boys and Girls)

Updated on July 27, 2015

What Are Best Bikes for 3 Year Olds?

When buying bikes for 3 year olds you have three main choices of what to buy.

Firstly, there are balance bikes. These have no pedals or chain. Kids use their feet to push the bike along. Once they've built up speed the lift their feet and coast. The advantage is that they teach balance, co-ordination and steering so that they should be able to move onto a proper bike fairly easily.

Secondly, there are pedal bikes with training wheels. Kids can learn to ride and pedal before taking the training wheels away. Once the training wheels are taken away they will need to learn how to balance on the bike in order to ride it.

Thirdly, there are pedal bikes without training wheels. These are a good option for 3 year olds who have already mastered a balance bike and are ready to move to the next step up.

The bike that is best for you 3 year olds is up to you. Training bikes help teach how to pedal but balance bikes are better to learn balance and steering.

My personal preference for this age group is for a balance bike and then to move onto a pedal bike. My youngest son has had a balance bike since he was 2 and he loves it. He is 3 next month and I can see him using his balance bike at least until he is 5 or to when we decide to get a pedal bike. He loves it, he scoots around on it and goes really fast. Lots of people comment on how well he gets around on the bike. My eldest son used a balance bike at age 6 as he was having trouble learning to ride a bike with training wheels. He used the balance bike for a couple of days, then got on a pedal bike and pretty much rode it straight away.

Having said this, there are some great options of bikes with training wheels which have parent handles to help kids to balance while learning to pedal.

Read on for suggestions of the best of these types of bikes and what to look for when choosing each type of bike.

How to Choose the Right Balance Bikes for a 3 Year Olds

There are lots of different balance bikes suitable for 3 year olds. However, its important to make sure you choose one with the right features for your child. Balance bikes get some bad reviews because people have chosen one which was the wrong size or had the wrong features for their child. Here is a brief guide of what to look for:

Seat Height - It is important that the child's feet can touch the ground comfortably when sitting on the balance bike as this is how they will scoot along. Therefore the seat has to be low enough for their feet to touch the ground. The lowest balance bikes have seat heights at 11 inches but some bikes cater for older children going up to 24 inches. Therefore it is important to make sure you buy the bike with the right seat height range for your child. Ideally, the minimum saddle height of a bike should be about an 1″ less than their inseam so they can get on and off the bike easily as well as ride it. Find out how to measure your child's inseam.

Handlebar Height - An adjustable handlebar will help the bike grow with your child. They may be of particular benefit if your child is very tall as you can adjust the handlebar height to have a higher starting poing.

Weight of bike - it's worth considering the weight of your chosen bike. As a parent I have often had to carry a balance bike when my son has decied to eat something or has had enough. So I appreciate a lighter bike. Lighter bikes are easier for younger and smaller kids to maneuver. Having said this as they get older (from age 3) most kids are fine on a heavier bike.

Tires - balance bikes tend to feature either pneumatic air tires or EVA (solid) rubber or foam tires. They both have advantages and disadvantages. Pneumatic tires tend to be better over different uneven terrain and give the feel of a real bike. EVA tires won't get flat which is a bonus for me but do less well on rough terrain. Although the EVA tires on my son's bike go over grass and dirt easily too. Some wheels are plastic too. They are low maintenance (no air to pump or punctures) but they don't provide much traction and give a less smooth ride over bumpy surfaces.

The other good thing about balance bikes is that 3 year olds can get on and ride them straightaway. They will be slow at first but it won't be long until they are cruising along. Check them out below.

Radio Flyer Glide and Go Balance Bike

This radio flyer glide and go balance bike has an adjustable seat range from 14.5 inches to 18 inches so this should last your preschooler until they get to graduate onto a pedal bike.

The seat has a quick release seat post clamp which means you can adjust the seat quickly without any need for tools.

They have foam tires and they have traction tread on them to "hug the road".

It weight 6.8 pounds so is very lightweight.

It also features a bell to ring (popular with kids!).

Check out a video below of the radio flyer glide and go in action.

Schwinn Balance bike

The Schwinn balance bike is excellent value for money at about $55 at the time of writing and it has good reviews too.

It's designed for kids from aged 3. The seat is adjustable and has a range of 14 inches to 16.5 inches.

Unlike many other balance bikes, the Schwinn comes with air filled tires. This is a good choice if you want to ride the bike on uneven and rough terrain. They also give a smoother ride over bumps and cracks on the sidewalk. Air filled tires also give a feel more like a pedal bike.

It's weighs 10.5 pounds so not as lightweight as some other bikes, but bikes with air filled tires do tend to be a bit heavier.

Mini Glider

The seat can adjust down to 12 inches making this the smallest seat height of the bikes featured so far and should be fine for most 3 year olds. It caters for kids aged up to 5 who have an inseam of 18.5 inches according to the mini glider website.

It weighs 8lbs so pretty lightweight.

The bike featured opposite has EVA airless tires.

Which Pedal Bike for a 3 Year Old

Perhaps your 3 year old has mastered a balance bike and is ready to move onto a pedal bike. Or perhaps you prefer a pedal bikes with training wheels. There are lots of great options of these too!

If you are hoping to buy a pedal bike for your 3 year old here are a few things to consider

Size - Buying the bike the right size is so important. A 12 inch bike is a good size for most 3 year olds. But, whatever size you get, make sure their hands can reach the brakes and their feet can push the pedals easily. It's best not to buy a bike they will grow into as it will be hard for them to control the bike and they won't want to ride it. You can always sell a used bike when they've finished.

Weight - A lighter bike is easier for 3 year olds to control. Many bikes available are too heavy for young kids to master so look for the lightest bike you can find. Having said this, even though lighter bikes for kids are better they are quite hard to find. This is because they need to use more expensive materials to build them and steel (which most kids bikes are made of) is cheaper but also heavier.

Schwinn Bike With Training Wheels and Parent Handle

You can get training bikes with removable parent push handles like the Schwinn bike opposite to help steer the bike at first. The push handles are normally easily removed when the child can cycle on his or her own.

The Schwinn bike is height adjustable and also includes a water bottle on the parent handle bar. There's also a protective chain guard for safety.

Royal Baby Kids Bike

The manufacturers of this bike boast how easy it is to assemble as a lot of the bike has already been assembled

It features a water bottle holder and bell.

The seat and handlebars are adjustable for a better fit.

There's a protective chain guard for safety


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