12 Best Balance Bikes in 2021 – Is it the Right One for Your Kid?
Leaving out your toddler to ride a big boy or a big girl bike can be an intimidating first step. Not only do you want to keep them safe from getting hurt, but you also need to ensure that they learn to ride a bike first before using an actual bike. The balance bikes for toddlers are a boon in that case. Not only are these a lot safer, but they are also easy to get around on as well.
Fundamentally, riding a bike successfully is all about balance and coordination. And, if your kid lacks both, you do want to start them off with the standard balance bikes to help them build a proper stature and balance before they try on with the standard kid bikes.
Cycling independently on two wheels is not just intimidating, it is work that requires a lot of patience. You need to implement the ways your parents taught you when it came to you riding a bike. All in all, starting with a balance bike seems like a logical step if you don’t want your kids to end up with a lot of scratches all over their bodies.
Here, in this guide, we will be discussing everything there is to know about balance bikes and their significance in a toddler’s life.
What is a Balance Bike?
A balance bike is a bike without the standard pedals. In this, the kids have to kick off their legs on the ground to get the bike moving forward. The bike is designed with the standard frame and the fork and handlebars, but it lacks the drivetrain.
Most of the available balance bikes in the market are integrated with training wheels to make it easier for your kid to ride the bike and get a sense of balance and coordination while they are on it. Since these lack proper wheels and come with just stabilizers, the kids need to keep their feet planted on the ground to drag themselves forward. Doing so helps them understand the concept of balance better.
If you are considering getting a balance bike for your kid, keep in mind that they are ideally manufactured for kids between the ages of 18 months to 7 years old. So, if you are here thinking that the balance bikes for kids are only meant for toddlers in their prime young age, you are mistaken.
Also, lacking the drivetrain in the bike means that the seat height is a lot slower than the ground, making it easier for kids to ride them without any issues.
12 Best Balance Bikes in 2021
Why do Balance Bikes don’t Come with a Drivetrain or Pedals?
When you are trying to teach your kids how to learn to ride a balance bike, chances are that the pedals will end up obstructing the riding experience. In such cases, it wasn’t a surprise that balance bikes come with drivetrains and pedals. The reason why manufacturers remove the drivetrain and the pedals from the best balance bike is to let the child focus on their feet movement while riding.
Also, the majority of the best balance bikes in the market come with stabilizers or training wheels that take care of the balancing and coordination part. Since your child is starting to learn more about balance and movement using a bike, having training wheels in the back gives them the assurance that they would be safe and not tumble over.
The addition of a hand brake in a balance bike is not common. However, be assured that not every balance bikes for toddlers come with a hand brake. However, your child’s feet is the one acting as a brake, so it teaches them how to control the stride of the bike, especially on the rougher roads.
How does one ride a Balance Bike?
Just because you have bought one of the best balance bikes for toddlers doesn’t mean your work here is done. Even if you are giving it to a 5-year old, you need to stand by their side and teach them how to ride a bike so they can master it eventually.
You’d be surprised at how easy it is for kids to learn to ride a kid’s balance bike. While you might have to accompany them during the first few days, you will soon find that the process becomes a lot easier once the kids get a hang of it.
If you are teaching them how to ride them, tell them to “walk” their bike for the first few days and get a hang of the prospects of balance and coordination with the bike. Once your child tames that well, you can get them to sit on the seat height and then get them to ride it around the house and eventually in the neighbourhood too.
Once they understand how to balance and ride the bike without a pedal, their focus will them shift on the seat and handlebars and how they can steer their bike the right way for a comfortable ride. The skill of braking comes in the last once they have gotten a hang of the balance, the steering, and the coordination as a whole.
Most of the balance bikes come with a hand brake, as opposed to any other standard bikes available in the market. The INFANS Kids Balance Bike is a pretty good choice, especially for kids of varying ages, thanks to its adjustable seat height.
Once you have taught your children the basics of riding the best balance bike with all the inputs, the last thing you need to teach them is about speed. Since these are made of foam tires, most of the time, you wouldn’t have to worry about your kid going too fast. However, you still need to keep an eye out on them to ensure they don’t get into too much trouble eventually.
Some kids even put their feet up on the back tire once they are confident enough in their stride with the riding.
How can you Teach Your Kid How to Ride a Balance Bike?
While we have discussed the basics about learning to ride a balance bike, you need to understand that kids always need structure when it comes to retaining new information. So, opting for a strategic way to teach them how to ride the best balance bike can help them understand things a lot better.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Getting the right gear
The first step in the way is to get your hands on a good-quality balance bike with training wheels. There are quite a few popular brands like Strider 14x. However, it is up to you to do your research and then find the right balance bike that suits your kid’s needs.
Aside from the bike, you also need to be mindful of the safety features. So, get your hands on helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads too, if needed. Even though the risks of tumbling out of a balance bike are pretty thin, you can never be too safe with your kid’s safety.
2. Focus on the bike setup
Once you have your bike sorted and bought, the next thing to focus on is the setup of the bike. From the seat height to the seat post, you need to ensure that the bike is comfortably adjusted to the height of your kid.
In case you are confused with the adjustability parts, you can always check the instructions on the package of the Strider balance bike and then adjust things accordingly.
3. Find a suitable location
Since your toddler or kid is learning how to control a bike and maybe eventually ride it with ease, you want to be particular about the location you teach them in. Concrete surfaces are ideal, especially because they are smooth and flat and won’t impose any kind of construction while you are riding the bike.
Also, you need to focus on finding a location that has a minimal amount of traffic and rushing vehicles because that can end up in a total disaster.
What are the Benefits of a Balance Bike?
Despite what many might think or say, balance bikes for toddlers are a boon. No doubt brands are still manufacturing them in bulk. Not only do they serve as the first stepping stone to learning about riding a bike, but it also teaches them the basics they need to know when it comes to road safety and riding.
Following are some of the benefits of investing in a kids balance bike:
1. Offer more control
If your kid wants to learn riding a bike, instead of introducing them directly to a pedal bike, the reason why balance bikes are superior is because of the control it provides. The training wheels help them focus on learning how to ride a bike instead of having to worry about balancing or coordination from the get-go.
Also, since kids still have their feet on the ground when they are learning to ride a balance bike, it becomes easier for them to have control without toppling over and hurting them badly. This introduces positive reinforcements about the process, ensuring that you wouldn’t have to worry about your kid only remembering the bad fall they took while starting their bike riding experience.
The ACEGER Balance Bike for Kids is a steal for such cases. It comes with a pretty design and a carrier basket, giving your kids the feeling that they are riding a pedal bike.
2. Learn one skill at a time
Learning how to ride a bike is not a joke and it can’t be achieved by a small kid within a day. So, when you are introducing them to a pedal bike right off the bat for learning, you are thrusting too much at them in one go. Not only do they have to learn how to master how they have to balance and maintain coordination, but they also have to learn how to pedal and steer at the same time.
With a balance bike, you take away the burden off their shoulders. Since they come with training wheels in the back, it allows them to focus on one thing at a time. You can take one day to teach them about balancing a bike and then teach them about steering the bike the next day.
Not only does this make the process easier on your kid, but it helps with retention too. So, you wouldn’t have to prolong the teaching. And, before you know it, you will find them zooming on the streets with their bikes.
3. Instills better confidence
One of the most common reasons why kids are often averted to the idea of learning to ride a bike is because they are afraid of falling and hurting themselves. When you have seen multiple other kids fall off their bikes and scrape their knees and arms, only to have that repeat once again, it does become a lot frustrating.
A balance bike helps get rid of that issue. Since they offer more stability and balance to the kids, they can focus on learning how to ride a bike instead of having to worry about the lingering fear and frustration that is there in the back of their minds.
4. Imposes developmental benefits
Lastly, you can thank your balance bikes for instilling better and faster developmental benefits in your kids. Studies have found that investing in one of the best balance bikes can help your kids with developing better motor planning and spatial awareness around them.
Just ensure that you are getting the right kind of bike for them, like the Albott Kids Balance Bike that comes with durable foam tires, a comfortable seat and handlebars, and a hand brake for safety purposes.
How to Measure the right Child’s Inseam for a Balance Bike?
Measuring your child’s inseam for the correct seat height adjustability of the balance bike can be a challenging task. Don’t worry though because we have sorted out all the steps that can help you out with that.
Here’s what you need to follow:
- Make your child wear their regular shoes and make them stand against the wall, keeping their feet a little apart from each other.
- Take a hardcover book and place the same between their thighs, against their crotch area.
- Raise the book gradually until it reaches your child’s crotch and then measures the distance from the ground. That is your child’s inseam.
Having the inseam measurement makes it easier for you to then put down the information about the seat height adjustments so your kids can have a comfortable ride on the bike.
How to Set the right Seat Height for a Balance Bike?
If you are completely new to this charade, not knowing about the seat height adjustability is normal. Don’t worry though, we got you.
You need to ensure that the seat height is 0.5-1″ shorter than the child’s inseam that you have measured. Aside from the inseam, you need to invest in bikes that grow with the child. The Albott Balance Bike is a good example of just that because it grows with your child.
The reason why maintaining the proper height adjustments for the seat post is that it ensures proper balance. You want the seat and handlebars to be in a position that enables your child to put their feet on the ground without any issues. If their feet are still dangling off the side, chances are that you haven’t set it to the minimum seat height.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Balance Bike for Your Kids [Ultimate Guide]
Buying a balance bike is quite critical. Not only do you need to be mindful of the design and functions, but there are also a lot of other factors that you should consider. Following a few of the most important ones.
1. Frame material
It isn’t even a question but if you aren’t investing in a steel frame or aluminum frame for your balance bike, there is no point buying one. These two are the most durable options, not to mention that they are pretty amazing concerning resistant rusting and lasting for a longer period.
If you are looking for a lightweight balance bike for kids, opt for the aluminum frame since it is lighter than the standard stainless steel frame. The SOPHM5 Bicycle is made with aluminum, which means that it is a lot more durable as opposed to standard steel.
However, if you are particular about a steel frame, the Joolihome Balance Bike is a good alternative to look into.
2. Foam tires or Air tires
Another important consideration that you need to be mindful of is the type of tires. While foam tires are a lot more traditional, air-filled tires help your kids get the hang of things better. Compared to the standard foam tires which are a lot cheaper, air-filled tires provide better traction when you are riding them on the road.
Air-filled tires are also extremely versatile, meaning that you wouldn’t have to worry about ruining or damaging them on rougher terrains.
The concept of a hand brake in a balance bike is not mandatory. This means that some bikes come with brakes, bells, and whistles and some don’t. However, we’d always recommend that you get your hands on the ones with a hand brake to prevent risks of injuries.
4. Saddle quality
Another factor that you need to keep a check on is the saddle quality. Optimal cushioning in the saddle is important, mainly because it decides whether they have a comfortable ride or not. Avoid the bikes that don’t come with cushioned saddles if you don’t want your kid to end up complaining about back pain.
Do Balance Bikes Work?
Despite the kind of reputation they have created for themselves, people are still skeptical about the effectiveness of using a balance bike, thinking that it wouldn’t work ideally. That isn’t the case though. The good thing about balancing bikes is that you can use them on children as young as 18 months.
Also, since balance bikes are low to the ground, it enables the kids to learn to ride a bike a lot quicker than the standard pedal bikes. Aside from balance and coordination, balance bikes are also pretty great in teaching your kids to learn about steering.
1. Are balance bikes better than traditional bikes?
If it comes to teaching toddlers or kids how to learn to ride a balance, we’d highly recommend looking into getting the best budget balance bike. They are versatile, multipurpose, and can help your kids learn the basics of riding a bike one after the other. Compared to pedal bikes, balance bikes have been found a lot more beneficial for kids of growing age.
2. Are balance bikes safe?
Yes, they are completely safe for kids starting at the age of 18 months. The majority of them are integrated with training wheels, which means that your kid wouldn’t have to fear tumbling out of the bikes when they are riding them. They are also a lot lower to the ground, allowing your kid to put their feet on the ground for balance.
3. Do balance bikes need brakes?
Not necessarily. Most of the balance bikes do come with a hand brake, however, since they don’t come with pedals and the kid has to keep their feet on the ground to steer them forward, you can skip out on the brakes and rely on the feet to maintain balance and coordination.
4. How much do balance bikes cost?
This is a subjective question because there are cheaper balance bikes that cost between $80-$100 and there are the expensive ones that can cost you over $200 or $300.
We hope this guide gives you all the basic information that you need to know about balance bikes and their significance in learning how to ride a bike. If you are planning on buying your kid a good one, invest in reliable brands like Schwinn and Strider. Always ensure that you assess all the good and bad before deciding which one would be the ideal option for your child.