Things to consider when choosing the best balance bike for your child
To select the Best Balance Bike, you need to factor in the bike’s weight & size, and ensure it’s in proportion to the child.
So many opinions as to what gives a premium performance are available online, but knowing what will work for your child takes some research.
Don’t use bikes with stabilisers; they are heavy, and the skill of balance is not being learned. Bikes without pedals and stabilisers are a safer way to get your toddler out and about on two wheels. The same bikes work for girls and boys. Balance Bikes have a low step-over frame making them easy to mount.
Get the correct size.
It’s a no-brainer that the child needs to feel comfortable; there are two ways of achieving this. Firstly, ensure the bike is the correct size. Balance bikes are sized according to seat height range, so choose one that is adjustable. If the handlebar reach is also adjustable or the bike has the correct geometry, the bike will last through several years of growth.
A 30 cm inseam leg measurement (check out our guide how to measure this) will fit on a Rookie 12 as that has the lowest seat position. Some bikes claim to cover an age range, but always check out the seat height measurements for yourself. It needs to adjust as the child grows up, so make sure you can clamp it off at any interval and it has a good maximum height range.
Look at the Kidvelo Rookie range below for adjustability and geometry. These small details are really important, as they will work with your child and never against it. Whilst riding a bike you should never feel uncomfortable. Whether you are an adult or child, a bike should fit well or be easily adjusted to do so.
Get the lightest you can afford!
Super-light is a term used a lot by manufacturers, for good reason. Our philosophy is that the lighter the bike, the easier it is to ride and the more fun and comfortable it will be. Consequently, our Kidvelo 12 Rookie is only 2.89 Kg, despite its pneumatic tyres and alloy rims, which add weight. We achieve this by building our frames in extra strong aluminium alloy. No heavy steel here!
Decent quality wheels typically add weight, so any bike lighter than the Rookie 12, will have plastic wheels. Plastic wheels can be good for the first few months, but they don’t stand up to the rigours of a toddler using them long-term. Best balance bikes tend to be the lightest with decent components.
Brakes or not?
The bikes work by simply putting one’s feet onto the ground to go and stop.
Brakes are useful in preparing a child for their first pedal bike. They aren’t strictly necessary for a young child as they will stop with their feet. Our experience has shown us they can be confusing for a little one; not knowing what to pull so they don’t stop quickly enough. Or pulling the front brake first, which can cause an accident.
We also noticed that the reach on some brake levers isn’t adjustable enough. Worryingly, we have witnessed the kids taking their hands off the handlebars to pull the lever. For this reason, the Kidvelo 12″ balance bikes do not have brakes. (Our larger balance bikes do have brakes as we deem older children can understand how to use them).
Do you need a footrest or deck?
Our bikes do come with a footrest, so feet can be placed correctly when they are comfortable balancing. Some bikes won’t have them, and in some cases, the child is ready to move onto a pedal bike at this stage. Nevertheless, the child’s balance will improve the longer they play with their balance bike. Importantly, as they are such fun, we found the kids want to ride them and play for longer. A balance bike is far easier to throw in the car to take to a park, than a pedal bike. So overlap them. Alternatively, if you have a rider coming off a small balance bike then the bigger 14″ Inch Balance Bike with pedals or the large 18″ inch convertible allows the footrest to be swapped for a pedal-kit.
Are pre-schoolers too young to ride a balance bike?
A YouGov Study in 2018 revealed that a fifth of children cannot ride a bike. In fact, a Sustrans survey showed only 2% of children use their bikes to get to school. Government-funded programmes such as Bikeability are improving the situation, with Primary school-aged children getting taught road safety. However, to be ready to join in with this, the child needs to be riding a pedal bike beforehand. Your child can start learning to ride as soon as they can walk a balance bike around so YES! Start early and learn balance. Need some tips on how to ride a balance bike? Build in balance biking as a form of exercise!