What is a Balance bike and how it compares to a pedal bike?

comparison pedal vs balance bike

Balance Bike popularity is growing around the world, so “what is a balance bike?” and “what is the difference between a balance bike and an ordinary bike.”

A lot of people will still not have heard about balance bikes. Far from surprising when you see the vast array of children’s bicycles still fitted with stabilisers available.

  • The obvious first difference is that a balance bike has no pedals.

It is a very simple design, which has removed all the unnecessary parts of a bike that adds additional weight and can confuse a child.

So the pedals are gone, and the crank and chain are not present. All that remains is a strong durable frame, two wheels, and a handlebar with nothing complicated in between them. The child will still be stable as they have four points touching the ground; two wheels and two feet.

By removing things that confuse a child, such as brakes, and pedals, a bike with no pedals is far lighter than traditional bikes and hence allows younger children to manage them safely.

Children start by simply walking the bike along. Often, they won’t find the saddle to sit down on for a few days, so don’t worry! Then, when they do sit down, they will start moving it along quicker and learning balance is intuitive. They are learning to balance and therefore ride a bike without even realising it.

Our lightest bike is 2.9 k.g for good reason. Beware of models that are heavier than 3.5 kg – they are simply too heavy for toddlers.

  • Things to watch out for when buying a balance bike – If a bike doesn’t state its weight – AVOID!

A good quality bike will normally be made of a strong alloy rather than wood, as some cheap wooden balance bikes can warp in the rain or break under strain.

It is important to check that seat height can adjust in any increment, to ensure that it fits your child correctly at all times.

A suitable bike for toddlers and young children will allow you to adjust the seat position and handlebar angle/reach to suit your child as they grow.

We all know how varied leg length and height can be in children so finding the most adjustable one you can find is important for this reason.

Another important feature of the balance bike is a footrest. When you think about how you ride a bike; you take the bumps you go over in your legs not with your feet in the air.

Make sure your balance bike has somewhere to put feet to mimic the pedals for later.

Why not a pedal bike with stabilisers?

A pedal bike with training wheels/stabilisers is not going to help your child learn to ride a bike. They are heavy for a child as they need to be bigger than a balance bike and the additional brakes, drivetrain and cranks all add significant weight. Bikes fitted with support training wheels make the child’s centre of gravity far higher than necessary and are scary when they do fall over.  Pedal Bikes with stabilisers teach a child to pedal a bike whilst rocking precariously from one side to another. It is next to impossible to get both touching the ground simultaneously as pavements are rarely flat smooth surfaces.

As soon as they are removed then you are back to square one and have to learn to balance still.

They still of course provide exercise and fun but compare that to a balance bike.

How does a balance bike work?

Riding a bike requires coordination and includes pedaling, balancing steering, and braking. That is a lot of skills to learn at once for a toddler, so by concentrating on the skill “balance” first, as that is the hardest skill to learn, children gain confidence quicker. Balance bikes are a much better way to learn to ride a bike, as they focus on only balance and steering first; the two most essential skills to master to get cycling.

Lighter Bikes improve confidence. When you are small and light, it’s important the bike is in proportion to what you can comfortably handle.  Balance Bikes need to be super light; then even the smallest child can lift the bike and move it around easily. It improves confidence as the child can walk their balance bike along independently and they relish their newfound sense of freedom.

The toddler sets the speed. With both feet on the floor the child will walk the bike along, at their own speed. As they don’t have to concern themselves with brakes and pedals they learn to control their own speed from Day 1 and as confidence and balance improve they will start getting quicker.

They can stop when they wish to! Balance bikes brake by the child placing their feet back on the floor, which is good instinctive behaviour. After all, if your brakes fail as an adult, that is exactly what you would do. That feeling of being able to control what they are doing is an important one as prevents tantrums. No wonder toddlers strapped into pushchairs throw a wobble now and again; as they have no say in what they are doing and are not getting any exercise. Use a balance bike and the whole experience is much safer and the child (and you) feels happier.

Once the child has learned balance, they focus on their coordination, their turns, and positioning. There are many benefits to using balance bikes!

We guarantee that your child will then make a very quick progression to riding a normal pedal bike. You will never need stabilisers!

For ideas on how to make it fun, we have compiled some simple game ideas too. Some ideas on Top Tips on How To Ride A Balance Bike.


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  • Kazzi
    6 months ago

    Can't get over the quality of this bike, for the price its phenomenal. All the essential features have been carefully considered and included. I especially like the footrests and reach adjustment the bars and stem enable. Height adjustment is easy and the seat post has measurements too which is really helpful. It's so light a 2-year-old can lift it easily. It was so quick and easy to assemble my 7yo built it with minimal guidance. It's a really good looking bike with good quality robust components. I absolutely love it!

  • Liz Chambers
    5 months ago

    What a fabulous little bike. Bought for my niece as a Christmas present. She is 16 months and absolutely loves it. The bike arrived well packaged, instructions were clear and an absolute bargain for the quality. Thank you so much!

  • Hayley
    4 months ago

    My 3 year old loves his Kidvelo Rookie 12. This is his 1st bike and he's taken to it like a duck to water. He is so confident with it and obviously feels safe. The bike is very fairly priced, it was delivered quickly, its lightweight, easy to put together, and the quality is fantastic. My little one loves the chunky wheels and the bell too. I would definitely recommend this bike to anyone who is looking for their child's first bike.

  • Susan Abbott
    3 months ago

    I have recently purchased the Kidvelo Rookie 12 bike for my 3 year old granddaughter. The first thing to note is the website was very easy to use, delivery was quick and within an advised 1 hour time slot.

    The bike was packaged well and was simple to assemble, completed in under 10 minutes with all the tools required provided in the box. The first thing my granddaughter noticed was how bright the colour was, she loved it. After adjusting the seat height to suit she felt comfortable on the bike and couldn’t wait to get started. We took her to the local park and she where she just understood naturally how to use the bike and required limited guidance. Seeing her on the bike after just a few trips out I believe she will get much enjoyment out of using it and set her up perfectly for moving onto the next step.

  • James Kennedy
    1 month ago

    I don’t normally leave reviews, but I’m so impressed with our recent purchase of a Kidvelo bike that I thought this product was worthy of one. The first thing we noticed was the build quality of the product. It’s well made and really sturdy when put together. The black wheels and tyres look great and my little one loves the bright pink colour! I only wish I’d have known about this bike sooner as I would have bought one for my son, who seems to enjoy going on his little sisters bike more than his own! Thanks to all at Kidvelo for making a little girl really happy!

  • Ellie Gentleman
    1 month ago

    Highly recommended Kidvelo Bikes Uk.
    We have the Rookie12 for our little boy. The bike feels super sturdy but lightweight for me to carry around where ever we are going! Super easy to put together my little man even got involved helping me put it together.
    My little one likes the extra features of the foot rest for going down little hills this also really helps with his balance for when he’s ready for the next size bike up.
    As a parent all the extra features with the handle bars and seat as they grow with him so I’m not having a buy a new one weekly is brilliant! “he don’t stop growing “😀
    Also the communication with Kidvelo Bikes Uk was Fantastic and all my questions answered.

  • Nick Jeggo
    3 weeks ago

    A Revelation!
    I work as a cycle instructor delivering Bikeability, Learn to Ride and led rides in the Town Park. I'm also the British Cycling Go-Ride lead at my cycling club. The club has been using a Rookie 12 to help keep younger siblings happy while brothers and sisters attend our sessions.
    The bike has been amazing, a revelation in fact. First of all, it's incredibly light, something that everyone comments upon. In fact, when the bike arrived we wondered if the box was empty!
    The steering has proper bearings, as do the hubs, so everything runs really freely. The MTB type handlebar stem is adjustable and the handlebars are shaped so that the reach can be tailored to the rider. The tyres are proper 12" pneumatic with Schrader (car type) valves and the relatively smooth tread pattern means there's the perfect combination of low rolling resistance and grip. There's a choice of 4 colours, but we have the bright green. You certainly can't miss it!
    I've come across lots of balance bikes, but this one stands way above anything else I've seen. You may find some of the features on other bikes, but the rookie 12 has them all in a brilliantly designed combination.
    Buy quality, your kids will thank you for it!

  • SheLovesBarney
    2 week ago

    I bought a Kidvelo Rookie 12 for my cousin. It’s incredibly light and the quality is fantastic. Delivery was free and the bike arrived the next day. Well packaged and easy to assemble. I totally recommend this bike for kids just starting out.

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