Balance Bikes Guide: An Introduction
A balance bike, also known as a run bike, is a training bike designed to help children learn balance and steering. It doesn’t have pedals, stabiliser wheels, or a crank-set and chain system. You can convert a normal bicycle by removing the pedals and related parts, or you can buy one specifically built for this purpose. For very small children, it can be difficult to find a pedal bike in their size, so a purpose-built balance bike is a good solution.
The first balance bike was introduced in 1817 by Germany’s Karl Drais, which was called a velocipede. Balance bikes can have no brakes, or they may have hand-activated rear rim brakes. Balance bikes must be small enough so the rider can walk the bike with both feet flat on the ground while sitting in the bike saddle. First, the rider will walk the bike while standing over the saddle, and then he will progress to walking the bike while sitting on the saddle. Finally, the rider will get more comfortable and be able to run with the bike and then cruise while balancing on the wheels.
You can teach a child as young as 18 months to cruise a balance bike. Balance bikes teach riders to learn their balance first and then learn pedalling. This is in contrast with a normal bike that has stabiliser wheels, where riders learn to pedal first and then learn balance. There are different opinions as to which sequence is easier to learn, many people feel stabiliser wheels can encourage the rider to learn bad habits, such as not using proper balance and instead relying on the stabiliser wheels.
Whether you want a boys balance bike, a girls balance bike, or a more neutral toddler balance bike, Price Inspector will help you find the perfect bike for your child. We also make sure you get the best price. Our Inspectors compare prices around the UK to bring you the cheapest prices possible.
There are many popular brands for balance bikes, including:
- Hodura balance bikes are strong, well-made bikes made of steel or wood. There is a wide selection to choose from, including the Hodura Princess balance bike. This pink bike is made with high-grade steel and features pneumatic tyres, a rear brake, adjustable seat and handle bars, mudguard, and padded seat. Their popular Joey balance bike is a wood balance bike that is easy for your child to manoeuvre. It is very light-weight at only 4.5kg, and it comes with an adjustable seat and foam grip handles. The bikes come in boys’ and girls’ models, in either blue or pink.
- The Islabike balance bike line, also known as Isla balance bikes, are built to the same exacting standards are their bikes for older children. Their Rothan balance bike features a light-weight aluminum frame, and it has narrow axles to give more room for scooting legs. It has a steering limiter to keep the handle bars from spinning too far away from your child, while small handle bars let little hands get a secure grip. Islabikes have an exclusive ultra-short brake lever designed for safe stopping with even the littlest hands.
- A John Crane balance bike is an ideal first bike. Made of wood, it has front-wheel steering, pneumatic tyres, a padded seat that adjusts for height, and easy grip handle bars. It even has a carrying handle for your convenience. The seat can adjust from 34cm to 38cm.
- A popular Kettler balance bike is the Ketter Sprint balance bike. The affordable metal Sprint bike compares favourably to more expensive bikes, with one of the only drawbacks being that the wheel covers can make it hard to inflate the tyres.
- The KTM balance bike is an orange motocross style balance bike from Extreme Tweeks. This bike is well-known in the world of motocross, and now they bring their name to the youngest children. It has a front and rear plate that you can customise with your own racing numbers, which are sold separately.
- The Little Tikes balance bike is a colourful wooden balance bike that has soft handle bar grips and an adjustable seat. The wood frame and rubber tyres promote your child’s balance and coordination. It is recommended for children ages 3 and older.
- The most popular Like a Bike model is the Mountain. It’s made of laminated birch and comes with rubber handle grips. The wood design and pneumatic tyres are designed for either indoor or outdoor use. You can choose from five different seat colours.
- Skuut, pronounced Scoot, has an even weight distribution, which makes it easy to carry when your child gets tired. It is one of the more popular wooden balance bikes on the market.
- Ratz Fratz Balance Bikes have no mechanical parts so they are maintenance free. Because they weigh less than half as much as a traditional bike, kids and parents can easily carry them around. These bikes feature a lightweight metal frame, weighing just 5.2kg, and have a rear brake. The seat height adjusts from 41 to 47cm, and the handle bars adjust from 56 to 60cm.
- The Zoom model by Ridgeback balance bike comes with a soft, cushioned saddle and two seat posts to give you a side height range, from 34 to 51cm. There’s even a quick-release level that lets you set the height quickly. Zoom has a lightweight alloy frame and rims, weighing just 5kg. This is an outstanding beginner bike with full bearings, safety tabs, and domed wheel nuts.
- The Steady Eddie balance bike is a beautiful wooden bike that’s built to last. It even comes with two seat covers to further extend its life, one pink and one blue. This lets you easily pass the bike along to a younger sibling when the time comes.
- The Strider balance bike gives additional control and balance to your child with its low, flat handle bar design. This lets children reach forward instead of upward, which gives better leverage and maneouvrability. The integrated foot rests give your child a comfortable resting place for their feet while coasting.
Balance bikes make a great gift for any little girl or boy. They’re easy to ride, loads of fun, and teach balance and coordination for children who aren’t quite ready for a pedal bike.
When considering which balance bike you want to buy, there are a few tips to keep in mind. First, decide whether you want a wooden or metal balance bike. While there are many popular, well-made wooden bikes, metal offers many advantages.
- Metal frames are stronger, so they can allow a curved shape. This can provide a larger opening between the seat and front wheel, which gives your child more leg room.
- Metal allows for a tube-design and clamp, so the handle bars and seat heights can offer a wider adjustment range. It also lets the steering column be fully enclosed to prevent pinched fingers.
- Metal balance bikes allow the inclusion of more extras like hand brakes or kickstands.
- Generally, metal balance bikes are more durable, especially for the joint between the steering column and handle bars.
- One advantage of a wooden balance bike is that they are more gender-neutral, allowing you to pass them along more easily to younger siblings. They can also easily be repainted using any paint you have around, including house paint. Wooden balance bikes have recently experienced a resurgence in popularity, with the introduction of popular models such as Like a Bike and Scuut.
- Consider the height of the balance bike and your child’s inseam measurement. Your child should be able to sit comfortably in the saddle and walk the bike flat footed. If your child is too short, your child won’t be able to control the balance bike.
- Look at your child’s age. Balance bikes are generally meant for children between the ages of 2 and 5 or 6, depending on the child’s size at both ends of the age range.
- Decide whether you want additional features such as hand brakes. The simplest, least expensive balance bikes do not have brakes, and your child can learn balance without brakes. They are, however, a good option both for added safety and so your child can learn both balance and braking before moving to conventional bike.
- Don’t forget to get a bike helmet and pads. Even though these bikes are low to the ground, your child can still get a head injury or skinned knees and elbows on a balance bike.
- As with adult bikes, lighter-weight bikes are usually more expensive, while
steel balance bikes are cheaper. You’ll want to balance the convenience of a light-weight alloy with your budget, especially as your child will outgrow his bike in a couple of years.