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Best Balance Bikes of 2021

Updated
Steady does it -- check out our favorite balance bikes.

Teaching your child how to ride a bike is one of the joys of parenthood. But it can be challenging to find a good bicycle for that first lesson.

For your child’s first bike, many recommend balance bikes. These have no pedals, and unless you’re a bicycle expert, it’s not easy to recognize how they’ll benefit your child.

Surprisingly, though, they’re a great place to start. They teach your child the most crucial skill before upgrading to a pedal bike — balance (1).

There are a lot of balance bikes to choose from, but we’ve found the eight best ones to help you out.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Yvolution Y Velo Toddler Balance Bike | 9' No-Pedal Learning Bike for Kids Age...
Best Balance Bike Overall
Yvolution Y Velo Junior Bike
  • Fully adjustable
  • Lightweight child-friendly frame
  • Puncture-proof, extra-large wheels
Product Image of the Banana LT Balance Bike - Lightweight for Toddlers, Kids - 2, 3, 4 Year Olds
Best for Toddlers
Banana Bike LT Lightweight Bike
  • Ultra-light frame
  • Adjustable seat
  • Better traction
Product Image of the Purple Pro Balance Bike for Big Kids and Kids with Special Needs - 16' No Pedal...
Best for Older Kids
Bixe Pro Balance Bike
  • Packed with safety features
  • Sturdy frame
  • Breezy set-up
Product Image of the JOYSTAR 12 Inch Balance Bike for Boys 2 3 4 5 Years Old 12' Toddler Push Bike...
Best for Girls
Joystar 12-Inch Kids Balance Bike
  • Vibrant colors
  • Soft handlebar
  • Good-to-have footrest
Product Image of the Strider - 14x Sport Balance Bike, Ages 3 to 7 Years, Awesome Blue - Pedal...
Best Convertible Balance Bike
Strider Balance to Pedal Bike
  • Two-in-one balance bike
  • Fully adjustable
  • Soft grips
Product Image of the Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike No Pedal Bicycle
Best for 4-Year-Olds
Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike
  • Fun for 4-year-olds
  • Safe design
  • Maintenance free
Product Image of the GOMO Balance Bike - Toddler Training Bike for 18 Months, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Year Old...
Best for Boys
Gomo Balance Bike
  • All-terrain bike
  • Great place to start
  • Sturdy construction
Product Image of the Schwinn Skip 2 Toddler Balance Bike, 12-Inch Wheels, Beginner Rider Training,...
Best 12-Inch Balance Bike
Schwinn Skip 2 Balance Bike
  • Durable bike
  • Balance-friendly design
  • Easy to adjust

Why Buy a Balance Bike

Balance bikes are gaining popularity among parents because they eliminate the need for training wheels. They speed up the process and teach the rider to focus on balancing as opposed to pedaling (2).

A correctly sized balance bike can help your child ride without training wheels. They make it fun for small children to learn — it’s easy, and almost every toddler can master it.

Your little one also gets to build leg muscles, coordination, and confidence. All of that will help them transition to a real bike.

Some children may feel intimidated if it’s their first-ever introduction to a bicycle. If that’s the case, take them to a place where the ground is even and paved.

These bikes can take some time getting used to, but it’s all about patience. Soon, your child will gain confidence, and you can encourage them to lift their feet from the ground. A few models come with footrests, which assume the position where the pedals would be.

Advantages of Balance Bikes

  • Boosts confidence.
  • A safer way of learning how to ride.
  • Lots of styles such as BMX, classic, or retro, to choose from.
  • They’re versatile — there’s one for every type of child.
  • There’s a wide price point, suitable for each budget.

Disadvantages of Balance Bikes

  • Balance bikes are easy to outgrow once your child has mastered their balance.
  • They’re not a necessity — kids can learn how to bike without them.

How to Choose a Balance Bike

Child-Friendly Build

One of the most important points to keep in mind is the structure or geometry of the balance bike. It must create a balance where your child can sit in an upright to a somewhat forward-leaning position.

On a balance bike, the seat tubes, steerer tube, and the distance between the saddle post and handlebar should all be structured the same as an adult bicycle.

Another thing to watch out for is the wheelbase. If the distance between the wheels is too great, your child will hunch over. This can place too much weight on the handlebar.

If the gap is too narrow, they will sit awkwardly upright, perhaps even leaning back unnaturally.

It’s not easy to determine whether a bike you see online is appropriate. We recommend looking through user reviews — many parents include photos, which you can use as a reference.

Adjustable Size

Having a bike that allows for size adjustments means that it will grow with your child. When your kid gets their first balance bike, they’re likely to be small toddlers, standing a mere 30 inches tall. Once your little one is ready for an upgrade, they’ve probably grown several inches.

Being able to alter the height of the seat and the handlebar helps tremendously. You’ll save some cash, and your kiddo will get to use the bike they feel comfortable with for longer.

Weight

Balance bikes should never be too heavy, no more than 30 percent of the child’s weight. If the bicycle is too heavy, it becomes a tiring challenge for your little one to haul it around. Pushing, turning, and stopping is difficult and could lead to injuries.

Steel is a common material used for balance bikes — they’re the heaviest and the lowest price. The lightest, and usually more expensive, are those made of aluminum.

Low-Profile Frame

A low-profile frame is beneficial in two areas. For starters, it makes it easier for a young child to step over while getting on or off the bike. Your little one should be able to stand comfortably without having the frame too high up.

A low-profile frame also provides a lower center of gravity. This increases your child’s chance of obtaining balance and keeping it.

Correct Size

Even if the seat allows for alterations, it’s still essential to consider the size. The rider should be able to have both feet flat on the ground while sitting in the saddle.

Most balance bikes come with 12-inch wheels, which is suitable for 2- to 4-year-olds. Some others go as big as 16-inch.

Measuring your child’s inseam is the best way to get an idea of which size to get. You can do this by attaching a piece of paper to a wall using duct tape.

Place a small book between your child’s legs at the crotch area — mark on the paper where the highest point of the book reaches.

Measure and note the distance between the floor and the mark you made. A seat’s height should be approximately 1-inch to 1.5-inch less than your child’s inseam. If the bike’s saddle is adjustable, aim for the lowest seat height to allow for growth.

Footrest

A footrest is an excellent feature. It’s not there so much for resting the feet as to replicate how your child would sit if there were pedals. This can help your child get a feeling of how it will be once they upgrade to a real bike.

Check that the footrest isn’t too bulky. If it’s too big and extends along the bike or to the sides, it will interfere with your child’s stride. Look for one that sits just under the seat, similar to where the pedals would be.


The Best Balance Bikes of 2021

Here are eight of the top balance bikes on the market.

1. Yvolution Y Velo Junior Balance Bike

Best Balance Bike Overall

For the best overall balance bike, we’ve chosen the Y Velo Junior from Yvolution. It has received nothing but praise from parents with young children between the ages of 18 months and 5 years.

This bike is an excellent place to start when your little one is learning how to ride. Both the seat and handlebars are adjustable, meaning it can grow with your child for a couple of years. The bike itself will support up to 45 pounds.

We love how large the wheels are — they enable your child to ride on various surfaces without tipping over. It’s available in multiple vibrant colors, suitable for boys and girls.

Why We Love It

Fully Adjustable

For developing children, adjustability is always a huge plus — they grow like bean sprouts. The Y Velo Junior allows for adjustments to the seat and handlebar.

The minimum height for the seat is 11 inches. As your child grows, you can raise it to the maximum height of 14.17 inches.

The seat also has a unique beam design, allowing your child to glide forward or back, depending on how tall they are.

Lightweight Child-Friendly Frame

We appreciate how lightweight the frame is, weighing a mere 7.7 pounds. It enables the rider to pick the bike up themselves. It has a durable aluminum construction that’s elevated to provide ample clearance for going over uneven terrain.

Puncture-Proof, Extra-Large Wheels

The extra-large wheels are a fantastic feature on the bike. I don’t know about you, but my kiddo is always biking over uneven terrain like grass or gravel. Large wheels help to level out bumps, assisting the rider’s balance.

Your child can ride as long as they like with less maintenance required as puncture-free rubber tires complement the wheels perfectly. Plus, they match the color of the bike, adding to the child-approved appearance.

Ergonomic Handles for a Comfy Grip

Yvolution did it right with the handles. They’re ergonomically designed to fit small hands comfortably.

Keep In Mind

Accessories Aren’t Included

There’s not many bad things to say about this bike. It doesn’t include any child-friendly accessories like a basket.

Additional Specs

Color Green, blue, or red
Recommended age 18 months to 5 years
Adjustable handlebar and seat Yes
Maximum weight 45 pounds
Item weight 7.7 pounds

2. Banana Bike LT Lightweight Balance Bike

Best Balance Bike for Toddlers

With balance bikes, your child must have two feet fully on the ground while seated. For toddlers, many recommend this bike from Banana Bike.

It’s advertised to suit children up to 5 years. However, user reviews deem it best for toddlers aged 3 and under.

The Banana Bike is feather-light, and the LT Version 4 is an upgraded model with a durable seat, safe grips, and EVA wheels.

One of the best features is the adjustable seat. The minimum height of 12.2 inches is suitable for 2-year-olds. The bike has received good reviews from parents, so we’re confident your toddler will love it.

Why We Love It

Ultra-Light Frame

The upgraded version is even lighter than the previous one. Weighing only 6.4 pounds, it’s also one of the lightest on our list today.

The bike has a banana-shaped frame. This creates a low center of gravity, and despite its low weight, it’s durable and made of premium parts.

Adjustable Seat

The adjustable seat is a great feature for growing toddlers. The maximum height of the seat, however, is 15.7 inches, which most parents deem small for a 4-year-old and certainly not high enough for the advertised maximum age of 5.

For toddlers, the Banana Bike is a good pick — it adjusts effortlessly using the quick-release clamp. Your toddler can keep their tootsies firmly on the ground. Another great feature is the updated seat — it’s ultra-comfy yet durable.

Comfortable Grip

Other updated details on the Banana Bike are the cushioned bar-ends. They offer a secure grip, which is comfortable for your toddler’s long rides. The handles are slightly textured, helping your little one to hold on.

Better Traction

The bike is suited with puncture-proof EVA wheels. These are lightweight and textured to provide superb traction. Your toddler can ride over various surfaces without affecting the steering.

If needed, the handlebar includes a locking hex clamp, which inhibits it from turning. This can help minimize swiveling while your toddler is learning.

Keep In Mind

The Bar Ends Can Come Loose

The updated bar ends don’t stay on that well. Following crashes or laying the bike down, parents noted that they tend to fall off, exposing the metal.

Additional Specs

Color Pink
Recommended age 2 to 4 years
Adjustable seat Yes
Maximum weight 55 pounds
Item weight 6.4 pounds

3. Bixe Pro Balance Bike

Best Balance Bike for Older Kids

Balance bikes aren’t exclusively for toddlers and preschoolers. They work wonders for older kids who haven’t learned to ride or want a challenge. They’re also fantastic for kids with special needs who are just reaching an appropriate time to begin biking.

This bike from Bixe receives a lot of praise from parents. It’s a bigger version of the 12-inch bike. This one has 16-inch wheels, which is suitable for children aged 5 to 9.

It’s an effortless set-up as it arrives partially assembled, only requiring a little experience to complete. Then, it’s all about making sure that your child can safely learn to ride.

Why We Love It

Packed with Safety Features

Bixe put safety as a top priority when constructing this balance bike. Every clamp is tamper-proof, reducing the chance of fingers getting stuck or changes being made without adult supervision. The wheels feature safety washers to prevent injuries.

Sturdy Frame

The sturdiness of the frame is outstanding. It’s capable of supporting a child weighing up to 150 pounds. The bike is backed by a warranty, guaranteeing repair or replacement should something fail.

The praise this bike receives from parents of older kids learning how to ride is exceptional. It’s suitable for all kids, whether they’re late learners or have special needs.

Breezy Set-Up

Bixe ships the bike partially assembled but does include a wrench to assist the construction. All you do is slide the handlebar and seat into position, adjust the height, and secure with the wrench. The wheels are air-filled, so they’ll need inflating too.

Keep In Mind

Minor Seat Adjustments Are a Pain

Because the seat clamps are tamper-free, it means you have to use the wrench for every adjustment. A few parents considered this a time-consuming inconvenience and deemed it unnecessary.

Additional Specs

Color Purple, green, or pink
Recommended age 5 to 9 years
Adjustable seat Yes
Maximum weight 150 pounds
Item weight 11 pounds

4. Joystar 12-Inch Kids Balance Bike

Best Balance Bike for Girls

We wanted to include the Joystar balance bike as an option exclusively for girls. It’s adorable, decked out in pink and white with subtle flowers here and there.

The Joystar balance bike has a lot to offer for a beginner. It features a padded handlebar to protect your little one during sudden stops. It’s also constructed with a solid frame, capable of surviving the rigorous learning phase.

Another feature we haven’t seen yet is the footrest. It sits in the middle, simulating where your child would put their feet on a pedal bike.

The bike is suitable for children aged 1.5 to 4 years. It has an adjustable seat, ranging from 12.6 to 16.5 inches.

Why We Love It

Vibrant Colors

We adore this pretty-in-pink theme. It’s vibrant and eye-catching, perfect for little girly-girls.

The pink and white colors complement each other well, making for a popping combo. Your child will be clearly visible while out riding.

Soft Handlebar

The worst part about being a small biker is that hard metal frames can hurt, especially the handlebar.

Joystar thought of that and included soft padding on the middle of the bar. If your little one should come to a sudden stop, it won’t hurt if they accidentally hit the bar.

Lightweight Frame and Durable Tires

The balance bike is based on a steel frame that’s sturdy and lightweight. It weighs approximately 7.5 pounds and is easy to pick up for your little one.

The bike itself is fairly low-maintenance. The tires are 12-inch EVA polymer foam, so they don’t require air. They’re also rust-resistant and will be able to carry your little one for years.

Good-To-Have Footrest

A small footrest sits in the middle of the frame under the seat. This position helps the rider find their center of gravity while cruising along. It’s also the location they will put their feet when they upgrade to pedals.

Keep In Mind

The Handles Are Fragile

Although the handles are soft and comfortable to grip, they’re quite fragile. A few parents were disappointed to see they began showing signs of wear rather quickly.

Additional Specs

Color Pink or red
Recommended age 1.5 to 4 years
Adjustable seat Yes
Maximum weight N/A
Item weight 7.5 pounds

5. Strider 2-in-1 Balance to Pedal Bike

Best Convertible Balance Bike

If you’re searching for a bike your child can use for a long while, we recommend a convertible. A good example is this one from Strider — it includes a pedal kit to convert it once the rider is ready.

The Strider 14x Sport looks like a big-kid bike and can help build your little one’s confidence. It’s suitable for children between the ages of 3 to 7, with an adjustable seat and handlebar.

It’s a sturdy bike, made to last until your child outgrows it. The tires are air-filled rubber, compatible with standard pumps.

The frame weighs 12 pounds without pedals, so it isn’t the lightest on the market.

Why We Love It

Two-In-One Balance Bike

Some parents do argue the need for balance bikes, so if you’re unsure, this is a great choice. Since it’s a convertible, you can attach the pedals if your child doesn’t like the balance, or you feel it’s necessary.

The kit included contains everything you need to make the switch, as well as thorough instructions. With the pedals and chain, there’s also a guard to prevent any potential injuries.

Fully Adjustable

You can lower or lift both the handlebar and seat. The seat has a minimum 16-inch height and a maximum of 23 inches.

The seat is easy to adjust using the clamp system. You simply open it up and lift the saddle before tightening the clamp again. However, the handlebar requires a wrench.

Soft Grips

To ensure hours of comfortable riding, Strider has fitted the handles with soft materials. This also secures the rider’s grip, giving your child some extra confidence.

Keep In Mind

No Brakes

There are no brakes on the bike, which many parents feel should be included. It’s not ideal when transitioning to pedals.

Additional Specs

Color Awesome blue or fantastic green
Recommended age 3 to 7 years
Adjustable seat Yes
Maximum weight N/A
Item weight 12 pounds

6. Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike

Best Balance Bike for 4-Year-Olds

For 4-year-olds, we recommend this balance bike from Retrospec. It’s a safe bike with some flair for fun-loving kids. It comes in 17 color combinations, excellent for both boys and girls.

The bike is CPSC compliant, featuring air-free tires and a safe design, which minimizes the chance of injuries. It features a footrest in the middle of the frame and is a great bike to learn on.

The banana-shaped design promotes balance with its low-lying frame. The handlebars and seat are both adjustable to support your growing child.

Why We Love It

Fun for 4-Year-Olds

Kids this age love color and the fun-factor on this bike is in full gear. The Cub is available in multiple color options, meaning there’s something for every kid. All the combos are vibrant and eye-catching for a preschooler.

Safe Design

The no-pedal design is safe because your child always has their feet close to the ground. Retrospec adds to it a little further, ensuring the design of the frame optimizes safety.

It’s a high-tensile steel frame, providing outstanding durability. The low-profile helps your little one get on and off quickly. Also, the small footrest helps them keep a centered balance while cruising.

Maintenance Free

The materials used require minimal maintenance. High-tensile steel is long-lasting and able to withstand tumbles. The no-air tires are puncture-proof and capable of riding over various terrains.

Keep In Mind

Steering Is a Bit Stiff

A few reviewers pointed out the steering seems stiff, even after months of use. It’s not easy for small riders to make sharp turns without having to use some strength.

Additional Specs

Color 17 color combinations
Recommended age 1.5 to 5 years
Adjustable seat Yes
Maximum weight N/A
Item weight 9 pounds

7. Gomo Balance Bike

Best Balance Bike for Boys

When junior wants to learn how to ride a bicycle, this product from Gomo is worth a look. It’s an all-terrain balance bike, perfect for thrill-seeking boys.

The bike features a turn limiter to ensure your little stuntman won’t get into too much trouble. This helps him master his balance without severe swiveling. It’s also suited with through-wheel axles as well as an extra padded seat to reduce bumps.

The Gomo is sturdily built. It can carry up to 60 pounds and allows for adjustments for the growing child. It’s suitable for children between the ages of 1.5 to 5 years.

Why We Love It

All-Terrain Bike

Because of the sturdiness of the Gomo balance bike, it’s capable of going off-road. The through-wheel axles prevent the wheels from dislodging, even when the road is bumpy.

The seat features extra padding to avoid jarring when your little one hits a bump in the road.

To keep the rider comfortable, there are easy-grips on the handles, providing a secure hold. The 12-inch wheels are puncture-proof and can easily glide over gravel and other uneven surfaces.

Great Place to Start

Gomo wants to ensure your little boy masters the art of balance before giving him full reign with the steering. The turn limiter keeps him from swiveling out of control while riding along the path. Then he can put his feet on the footrest once he has built up speed.

Sturdy Construction

Safety aside, the thing we appreciate the most about this balance bike is its sturdiness. It’s a lightweight, yet highly durable frame, and it’s backed by a two-year warranty. The bike weighs a staggeringly light 6.4 pounds, fantastic for getting back up quickly.

Keep In Mind

The Wheels Are Slippery

When riding on smooth surfaces, a few parents noted the wheels are quite slippery. It’s not a huge issue since it’s a balance bike, but many noted it to be something to watch out for.

Additional Specs

Color Black, pink, or red
Recommended age 1.5 to 5 years
Adjustable seat Yes
Maximum weight 60 pounds
Item weight 6.4 pounds

8. Schwinn Skip Toddler 12-Inch Balance Bike

Best 12-Inch Balance Bike

This size of bike is perfect for children between 2 to 4 years, and the Schwinn Skip 2 is a great pick. It’s a BMX-inspired balance bike, sporting a grayish coat with vibrant red rims and handles.

It’s constructed from durable steel and designed with a low center of gravity to help your child balance. The 12-inch wheels are made of soft-riding EVA foam, adding some suspension to level out bumps.

You can adjust the seat effortlessly using the quick-release collar. The bike is fun for both boys and girls, and it’s available in ten colors. Schwinn also includes a limited lifetime warranty.

Why We Love It

Durable Bike

The steel frame and EVA foam tires make the bike durable. It’s meant to grow with your child, and it has a “big-kid” look to it, which is appealing for young children.

Balance-Friendly Design

A lot of parents praise how great the design of the Schwinn Skip 2 is. The low-profile frame promotes a low center of gravity, helping your little one find their balance. The outstanding reviews suggest this bike is worth consideration.

Easy to Adjust

Adjusting the seat couldn’t be easier. It features a quick-release system, allowing you to alter the height without tools. Some parents even said they only used one hand.

Keep In Mind

Difficult to Assemble

The assembly is less than straightforward. A few parents said it took at least an hour. Some of the nuts are hard to turn, and a few of the parts weren’t good quality, making them fragile while assembling.

No Padding on the Handles

There isn’t any padding on the handles — only a thin layer of rubber or plastic material. The handles are quite hard to hold on to and don’t promote a secure grip.

Additional Specs

Color Gray and red or teal
Recommended age 2 to 4 years
Adjustable seat Yes
Maximum weight N/A
Item weight 14 pounds

Balance Bike Comparison Chart

Product Best Color Recommended age Adjustable handlebar and seat Maximum weight Item weight
Yvolution Y Velo Junior Bike Overall 3 colors 18 mos – 65 yrs Yes 45 lbs 7.7 lbs
Banana Bike LT Lightweight Bike Toddlers Pink 2 – 4 yrs Yes 55 lbs 6.4 lbs
Bixe Pro Balance Bike Older Kids 3 colors 5 – 9 yrs Yes 150 lbs 11 lbs
Joystar 12-Inch Kids Balance Bike Girls Pink or red 1.5 – 4 yrs Yes N/A 7.5 lbs
Strider Balance to Pedal Bike Convertible Bike Blue or green 3 – 7 yrs Yes N/A 12 lbs
Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike 4-Year-Olds 17 colors 1.5 – 5 yrs Yes N/A 9 lbs
Gomo Balance Bike Boys 3 colors 1.5 – 5 yrs Yes 60 lbs 6.4 lbs
Schwinn Skip Toddler Balance Bike 12-Inch Bike 3 colors 2 – 4 yrs Yes N/A 14 lbs

Are They Worth It?

Only you can decide whether your child needs a balance bike. However, the best balance bikes can speed up the learning process in a fun and safe way. Your child will gain confidence, build leg muscles, and learn to balance while skipping the training wheels.

It’s essential to find the right balance bike. It must be geometrically correct for a child, lightweight, and have the right-sized, low-profile frame. Your little one should always be able to have both feet fully on the ground while seated.

Headshot of Shannon Serpette

Edited by

Shannon Serpette

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and editor, who regularly contributes to various newspapers, magazines, and websites. Shannon has been featured on Insider, Fatherly, SheKnows, and other high profile publications. As a mother of two, she loves to write about parenting issues and is dedicated to educating other parents at every stage of their child's development.