The Best Balance Bikes Available For Children Ages One to Four Years Old
There are dozens of brands making balance bikes, so it can be hard to know which bike to go for. Here we aim to give you a quick guide to some of the best balance bikes on the market, based on a variety of criteria. This way you can be confident that the balance bike you go for will help your child have fun and develop their cycling skills.
What is a Balance Bike?
First things first, what is a balance bike? A balance bike is a bike for toddlers and young children that does not have pedals. The lack of pedals is the crucial feature that makes it a balance bike! This means that the child propels themselves forward by pushing with their feet.
Also noticeable is the lack of stabilisers. This helps kids learn how to balance on the bike, hence the name. With no stabilisers to rely on, they will quickly adapt to keeping themselves upright and scooting along.
How to Ride a Balance Bike
Balance bikes are a great way to start your child off on their cycling journey. They help them learn to keep the bike upright and lean into corners; essential skills for when they are learning to ride a first pedal bike.
Before mastering life on two wheels though, they may need a bit of help from you to begin with. Here are 3 top tips for getting them started:
Getting on and off
Start by showing your child to lean the bike, then swing their leg over. Let them practise getting on and off themselves, rather than just lifting them.
Ask your child to start walking slowly with the bike. When this becomes easy for them, encourage them to push on the ground using their feet. Remind them to look where they are going, not at their feet (it helps to have a friendly face up ahead to look at!).
Gradually, as they gain confidence, encourage them to lift their feet off the ground for longer and do longer scoots. After many times, they will naturally sit on the saddle and pick up speed.
Steering and Stopping
Once they can scoot, help them to steer by getting them to lean and gently turn the handlebars. To stop, they can either simply put their feet down, or, if your balance bike has a brake, show them how to gently pull the lever to slow themselves down.
Don't worry if they don't get everything straight away; these things take practice. Sooner or later they'll be gliding along independently!
How to Measure For a Balance Bike
The size of the balance bike is the most crucial part. If it is too big or too small it will put your child in an uncomfortable position and which will hinder their progress.
When measuring for a balance bike, you should measure your child’s inside leg length. Balance bikes are generally appropriate for inside leg measurements of 24 to 40 cm. For more information, you can read our guide to measuring inside leg and bike sizes.
Types of Balance Bikes Available
- For children aged 2 - 3 years old
- (Inner leg measurement: 31– 38cm)
- Weighs 4.17kg
- 12” Wheel
Frog Bikes is an award-winning UK company that designs and manufactures lightweight and affordable kids' bikes. They offer 3 premium balance bikes for different sizes.
Their flagship balance bike is the Frog Tadpole. This stylish bike is very popular with parents and at Bike Club we highly recommend it too.
The Tadpole has a child-centric geometry which is comfortable for kids to ride and has safety features such as a locking headset and rear brake lever. The frame is lightweight which is ideal for little ones to control.
It comes with air tyres that perform well on all surfaces, so your child should have no problem keeping up with you on or off-road. Frog's Tadpole balance bike is amongst the best balance bikes for us because of its comfortable geometry, high-quality components and features, and lightweight frame.
- For children aged 1 - 2 years old
- (Inner leg measurement: 23 – 31cm)
- Weighs 3.46kg
- 10" Wheels
If your child isn’t big enough for the regular Tadpole, they offer the Frog Tadpole Mini. Suitable for children as young as 12 months old, it is a more compact version but is just as good at developing their cycling skills.
It has a lightweight frame making it the ideal first bike for your child. Like the normal Tadpole, it has a locking headset to limit handlebar movement and a rear brake for small hands to ensure safety.
The Tadpole Mini is a favourite and an excellent choice for helping your child develop their balancing skills.
- For children aged 3 – 4 years old
- (Inner leg measurement: 36 – 44cm)
- Weighs 4.18 kg
- 14” Wheels
The third and largest Frog balance bike is the Tadpole Plus. This comes with a 14” wheel size and is generally recommended for 3 to 4-year-olds. With larger wheels your child will be able to build considerable speed on the Tadpole Plus, you may have trouble keeping up with them!
In line with the other two Frog balance bikes, it is super lightweight and puts a focus on safety with limited handlebar steering and a rear brake.
All three Frog balance bikes are exceptionally well built, with top-quality components. We highly recommend Frog Tadpole bikes, and our members love them too.
Strider 12 Sport
- For children aged 1.5 – 5 years old
- (Inner leg measurement: 31 – 51cm)
- Weighs 3.0 kg
- 12” Wheels
Strider is an American brand founded in 2007. They aim to provide reliable all-terrain kids bikes that help them cycle with confidence.
So far the Strider 12 Sport has received all 5-star reviews from our members. It’s a great balance bike with a few key features that help it stand out from the crowd.
It weighs in at an impressive 3 kg and comes in a range of vibrant colours. It has an extra-long height adjustable seat-post unlike other balance bikes, which means your child can ride the bike for longer as they grow.
Unlike most other balance bikes, this Strider balance bike has foam tyres. This has the advantage of making them lightweight and practically puncture-proof, which is one less thing to worry about. However, air tyres tend to offer more traction than foam tyres. Ultimately it comes down to preference.
Puky Balance Bikes
Puky is a German company that has been producing kids bikes and scooters since 1949. They have many balance bikes available, and we’ve picked two of our favourites.
Puky LR M Classic
- For children over 2+ years old
- (Inner leg measurement: 30 – 43cm)
- Weighs 4.17 kg
- 12” Wheels
The first Puky balance bike is the Puky LR M Classic. It has a lightweight low frame that makes mounting and dismounting quick and easy. It also has a footboard unlike many other bikes which means when kids pick up speed they can rest their feet.
One special feature that distinguishes it from other balance bikes is its shatterproof plastic handlebar basket. This lets your child transport their toys and other bric-a-brac they find along the way.
Puky LR M Classic also employs foam tyres as opposed to pneumatic tyres, making them puncture-proof. Finally, coming in a range of retro colours that contrast with the brown saddle and handles, these bikes look the part.
Puky LR Light
- For children over 2.5+ years old
- (Inner leg measurement: 35 – 48cm)
- Weighs 3.6kg
- 12.5” Wheels
Another great little Puky bike is the LR Light. It has a sportier design than the Classic, with no basket and a smaller footrest.
Unlike the Classic it has air tyres, making it better at taking on rough terrains and building a bit more speed. It is also of course lightweight and easy to control. Its modern and sporty design is completed with an appealing blue or orange finish.
- For children aged 1+ years old
- (Inner leg measurement: 32 – 40cm)
- Weighs 3.86 kg
- 12” Wheels
Squish bikes are a colourful range of lightweight bikes from British company Tandem Group Cycles.
The Squish Balance is another excellent choice that is loved by our members. It is a simple balance bike for 1 year olds and older. It comes with a light frame and air tyres, great for letting little ones zoom around effortlessly.
It also has all the helpful features you need, such as a saddle handle, a rear brake, and a steering limiter to stop them from veering off into the bushes.
Questions About Balance Bikes
What age is best for a balance bike?
You can introduce your little one to a balance bike when they are as young as 1 year old (Frog Tadpole Mini). Many places recommend starting between 18 months and 2 years, but there is no harm if they start later than this. The most important point to consider is what bike size best fits your child when starting them out.
Is a tricycle or balance bike better?
A balance bike is better than a tricycle for developing a child’s cycling ability. With a balance bike they will have to make an effort to stay upright, which means they must learn to balance on two wheels. This is a fundamental skill in cycling and cannot be learned from a tricycle.
What are the benefits of a balance bike for a toddler?
Balance bikes offer many benefits for toddlers. The most obvious benefit is that they teach toddlers the fundamental skills of cycling, including staying balanced on the bike in motion.
In addition to this, they help toddlers improve their balance, motor skills, spatial awareness, and strength. Balance bikes are also perfect for getting kids some exercise.
What is the next stage after a balance bike?
After your child has become a balance bike master, you can introduce them to a First Pedal Bike. As the name suggests this is a bike with pedals. Now that they can balance on a bike all they need to learn is how to pedal, and they will soon be riding rings around you!
How do kids stop on a balance bike?
Kids can stop on a balance bike by using their feet. Just as they will use their feet to push off, they can also use them to come to a stop. Some balance bikes do come with a rear brake which is good for kids on the older end of the balance bike age range to practise with.
Is a balance bike or a scooter better for a 2 year old?
Balance bikes and scooters are both great for getting your little one to exercise outside and develop balance and motor skills.
In favour of scooters, most 2-year-olds will feel more comfortable on a scooter as it is easier to ride due to its low centre of gravity. Furthermore, many 2-year-olds may simply have more fun on a scooter than on a bike due to its simplicity.
However, the advantage of balance bikes for 2 year olds is that it develops key skills that are needed for bike riding. The fact that it is harder to ride than a scooter means it will develop coordination, limp strength, and motor skills to a greater degree.
Balance Bikes on Subscription
At Bike Club you can get the top balance bikes on the market at an affordable monthly rate. You can choose from a brand new balance bike or a pre-loved reBike at a cheaper rate. We also have a wide variety of pedal bikes for older children.
When your child outgrows their current bike, you will be able to exchange it for a larger one. We aim to offer parents a sustainable way of getting their kids cycling and also save them money.