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There are plenty of milestones that our kids pass on their way to adolescence. Walking. Talking. Potty training. Eating with a fork and spoon. And even though each of these has the ability to drop our jaws and make us jump for joy, none are quite as exhilarating — or quite as frightening — as when our kids first learn how to ride a bike.
At a Glance: The Best Balance Bikes to Buy
We highly recommend looking at the comparison table we have below where we highlighted the features of each product.
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When our hands are free from the back of their seat, and they’re up there all alone, spinning on two wheels, it’s a moment of anxious ecstasy, enough to make both fearful and prideful tears fall from our eyes.
And then it happens. It always does. Out of practice, they cut the wheel, lose momentum, and fall right over. They cry. We scream. The world ends and begins again in a matter of seconds. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
There’s a toy out there for all young riders that offers hope to all apprehensive parents, one that allows their children to practice and make perfect their bike riding abilities before they’ve even had a chance to put their feet on a pair of pedals – either on a bicycle or a kids’ pedal car. Say hello to the Balance Bike for Kids.
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And The Best of The Best Balance Bike Officially Goes To…
Top Pick: Strider ST-4 No-Pedal Balance Bike
.Yes, the Strider ST-4 is the most expensive balance bike for kids you’ll find in this article. (Right. We know. And after all, we said about modestly priced balance bikes being good for everyone in the family! Give us a second to explain.)
What makes this balance bike for toddlers so special is that thanks to its sealed cartridge bearings — which help hold the wheels in place — its powder coat finish and its padded, all-weather, scratch-resistant seat, the ST-4 Strider Balance Bike is sure to stay in the family until everyone in it is too darn big to ride it around. And not only that, it was designed with young riders in mind.
From its smaller-than-standard handlebars — perfect for those little fists and fingers — to its super light but durable EVA polymer tires, to its mini-saddle — ideal for those miniature hips — the Strider Balance Bike puts the emphasis on ease for the early rider.
Also, in terms of add-ons, Strider Balance Bike has all kinds of accessories one can buy to further incentivize the experience of riding on the ST-4 balance bike. A brake mount can be purchased for when your child is comfortable with coasting — so they don’t have to use their feet — and an extra-long seat post is available for riders over 3 1/2 years old. And, inexplicably, the ST-4 was the only kids balance bike we found with a frame-integrated footrest so that the rider doesn’t have to worry about dragging feet. (A no-brainer if you ask us.)
Nearly everything on the Strider Balance Bike is also easily adjustable. You don’t even need any tools! It’s all controlled by a series of anodized quick-release clamps. How’s that for value? (See? We said we would explain ourselves…) .
Best Balance Bike Reviews: The Honorable Mentions
The YBIKE Balance Bike Review
There’s nothing particularly awful about the YBIKE Balance Bike. It’s made from molded plastic, high in quality, and rather durable. Its wide wheels are great for rolling off-road, or along uneven surfaces. It comes equipped with an easy-to-use front fork handlebar, ideal for smooth steering and tight and easy turning.
In terms of safety, it boasts an arcing frame that ensures security, no matter the terrain. And it even won a bunch of awards, including the Parenting Magazine Top Toy of 2011 and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award of 2010. In our contest, it’s a second best balance bike for 2 year old (or 3 year old) . We just thought, considering it’s higher price range, it hardly came equipped with as many goodies as the Strider ST-4.
The Classic Balance Bike Review
And so we come to the first of two wooden ones.
Constructed from renewable birch wood and built from non-toxic materials, the Classic Balance Bike comes with all the usual components. It has a rubberized handlebar for easy gripping. It has a pair of pneumatic tires, made of rubber, connected via a spoke-less disc for added safety — so that your kid can’t get his or her little fingers stuck in the wires. And it also has a rather convenient little handle, placed right at the spine of the frame, in case your kids ever need to carry it. And, speaking of convenience, its padded seat has five easily adjustable notches — from 12.5 to 17.5 inches. But, with all that being said, it’s number 3 for a reason — partly because it isn’t as sturdy as the earlier two.
The Prince Lionheart Balance Bike Review
This one definitely wins for the coolest name. Prince Lionheart. Sounds so dignified. As far as features go though, it’s pretty barebones. It boasts a 100% birch wood frame, 12-inch rubber tires, its seat is easily adjustable and its rubberized handlebars are made for easy gripping.
Other than that though, there isn’t much else to say — except that, even with the simplest of essentials, the Prince Lionheart Balance Bike still better at educating any wannabe bike rider than a pair of hobble-dy wobble-dy training wheels.
What’s a Balance Bike?
A kids’ balance bike is a bike with no pedals, no crankset, and no bike chain. Built for young children — 2 to 5-year-olds — it’s small enough for your little guy or gal to plant both feet firmly on the ground, sit comfortably in their seat and propel themselves either through walking, scooting, or coasting on two wheels, depending on their confidence.
Already big in Europe, their worldwide popularity is steadily growing, mainly due to the fact that they offer better preliminary practice for soon-to-be bike riders. Here’s how they work…
Best Balance Bikes: No Pedals. No Problems.
Training Wheels or a Balance Bike? What’s the difference? The difference is that a growing consensus is claiming that training wheels are actually counterintuitive to learning how to balance on a bike. The idea is that training wheels take the fear out of falling over, a necessary component in the learning process.
Also, they often prevent the bike from tipping, even just a little bit, which doesn’t allow your little one to understand how to counter-steer — i.e. turn the wheel in the opposite direction to regain their balance — another major factor in fall-free riding.
All those extra wheels are really doing is teaching your son or daughter how to pedal better, which, when compared to the difficulty of mastering wheeled equilibrium, is about easy as putting one foot in front of the other. With a balance bike, however, your child has the ability to master the four most demanding aspects of riding a bike: balance, counterbalance, steering, and counter-steering, all at a gradual pace. (A pace that, thanks to the absolute control of a balance bike, is one that your child can ultimately set for themselves.)
Balance Bike Reviews: Five Criteria to Consider
In the spirit of competition, and in an effort to assist you in your pursuit of balance bike proficiency, we’ve compiled a listed review of all the best balance bikes available on the market today. But, before we can officially crown a champion, we have to first take a look at some of the criteria that should be considered when purchasing the best balance bike.
- 1. Price: Price is important. Most parents spend enough money on their kids as is, so it’s best to be economical when it comes to any extra-curricular toys or activities. It’s also often the difference between a poor product — one that might only last for a little bit of time — and one that might stick around for years to come. A modestly priced balance bike for kids is best for everyone in the family.
- 2. Size/Adjustability: Speaking of sticking around, the size/weight limits of a balance bike for kids can be a huge hindrance if your child is rapidly approaching that 3 1/2 to 5-year-old age range. (You don’t want to purchase something that they’re bound to grow out of by the end of the month.) That’s why it’s important for the best balance bike to have a heavier weight limit and seats and handles that can easily adjust as your little one continues to grow.
- 3. Safety: It’s every parent’s passion, especially once their kids are old enough to scoot around on their own. Any wheeled vehicle, including any best balance bike, should be easy to control and easy to ride, as well as have an abundance of safety features in place to protect precious cargo from getting too badly injured if they should ever take a nasty fall.
- 4. Materials Used: Wood. Metal. Plastic. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Wood is cheap, elegant and rather light in weight but it can chip, splinter, break, and rot. Plastic is also cheap, and rather durable, but if it’s hollow, it, too, can easily crack or break with tough use. And metal. If metal is left unvarnished, no matter how hearty it is, it can rust and erode rather easily. The materials used on the tires — plastic or rubber — are also vital to the product’s use and longevity. We took all this into account while crowning the king of the best balance bikes.
- 5. Extras/Add-ons: Everyone likes a little something special, especially when it adds to the overall experience and enjoyment of the balance bike for kids. It’s like free dessert after dinner, you just can’t pass it up.
Best Balance Bike: In Conclusion
A parent could spend days, months, even years, educating themselves on all of the intricacies involved with kids’ balance bikes — what they can do, what they can’t do, which is the best balance bike, which is the worst, why they’re typically better than training wheels — but sometimes you have to just read some friendly balance bike reviews…. and make a simple decision. We know what ours would be. What about you?