Skip the Training Wheels and Start Your Kid on a Balance Bike

A child on a balance bike
Rades / Shutterstock

Most Americans learn to ride training wheels and, through a process of bumps and bruises, make their way to real bikes. But your child doesn’t have to tear their knees and elbows to learn to ride a bike. A simple balance bike can save them from this problem and strengthen their coordination faster than bikes with training wheels.

What are balance bikes and why are they better than training wheels?

As you already know, the drive wheels add an extra set of wheels to prevent children from falling flat on the face. In this way, children can learn to kick and eventually switch to a real bicycle.

But pedaling is the least important part of riding a bike. You can be an expert when it comes to pushing the pedals, but without a sense of balance you could crash and burn. Training wheels can help build a child’s confidence, but they don’t provide the sense of balance or coordination a child needs to ride a bike safely around the block.

And that’s where balance bikes come in. Balance bikes are short two-wheeled bikes without pedals. Instead, they are flush with the ground and powered entirely by your child’s feet. As your child grows up comfortably by “walking” on a balance bike, he will naturally try to propel himself hovering. If they lose their balance while sliding, they can safely brake with their feet (instead of breaking their ass) and repeat the process until they gain a sense of reliable balance.

In addition to a sense of coordination, balance bikes teach children how to ride a bike well. Like an ordinary bicycle, balance bikes require children skinny taking turns, even if they just use the balance bike to waddle. It is the total opposite experience that your child will get with training wheels, which cannot lean.

The best overall option

What should I know before buying a balance bike?

A toddler on a balance bike.
DONOT6_STUDIO / Shutterstock

There are a few things to consider before buying a balance bike. The first thing is, of course, the size of the bike. Most balance bikes are designed for ages 2 to 5, although brands like Strider sell options for older children. Generally, the 10 or 12 inch wheels will work for small or young children, while the 14 or 16 inch wheels will work for older and older children.

Whatever bike size you need, we suggest you choose one with a height-adjustable seat and a height-adjustable handlebar. This ensures that your child can use their bike for a long time and adds to the transfer potential of your purchase.

You should also consider the tires you want your child to use. Some budget balance bikes are made with hard plastic wheels, which do not have enough traction for use in the real world (but are well suited for sticky sidewalks or carpets). The mid-range options have foam tires, which work like real tires but wear out over time, and the more expensive options have real rubber tires that are equivalent to what you would find on a real bike .

The extra bells and whistles are less important than the size, setting or tires of a balance bike. Some balance bikes have manual brakes, which are a good option for children who practice in hilly areas or trails near traffic. And some big balance bikes, like this 14 inch Strider option, have removable pedal systems that you can install quickly once your child is ready to start pedaling.

Ideal for older children

Buy a balance bike

A child sliding on a balance bike.
Stockphoto / Shutterstock memory

Once you know what you’re looking for, buying a balance bike is a fairly simple process. We strongly suggest that you buy a balance bike with an adjustable seat and handlebars, and if your budget allows, a little more for a bike with foam or rubber tires. Additional bells and whistles, such as manual brakes or additional equipment, can help you get more out of a balance bike, but they’re not worth highlighting if you’re on a tight budget.

As you can probably see from the content of this article, Strider makes some of our favorite balance bikes. The Strider is a fantastic mid-range option, with durable foam tires, adjustable seats and handlebars, steel or aluminum frame options, and additional pedaling hardware for the larger 14-inch models. You can find Strider’s 12 inch and 14 inch balance bikes on the company website.

If you are looking to save some extra money, we strongly suggest that you choose a brand like Radio flyer or Banana GT. There aren’t too many 14 or 16 inch balance bikes with a “budget” price, but just under $ 100, the Bixe balance bike is a solid option.

When it comes to premium bikes, we suggest you stay with big brands like Specialized, Cannondale, and hiking. These companies sell high quality, fully adjustable balance bikes in a variety of colors and sizes. Bikes from these brands are made with premium rubber wheels and balanced frames, and they often have better resale value or longer life than the cheaper options.

Best budget balance bike

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