10 best balance bikes to get your kids riding a bike

Steer your child in the right direction with the best push bikes for fun and easy learning

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Whether you’re a keen cyclist yourself, hoping to raise the next Laura Trott or Bradley Wiggins, or simply encouraging your son or daughter through the potentially wobbly rite of passage that is learning to ride a bicycle, there’s one helpful first step: the balance bike.

Essentially a regular child-sized bike with no pedals, it teaches small cyclists the vital art of balance without the distraction of pedalling, and allows them to cover larger distances than they would on a tricycle. Studies have shown that children who’ve used balance bikes are more likely to progress to a pedal bike faster, so they’ll be quicker to find their feet and gain confidence, and you’ll have those gold medals on your wall in no time.

How to buy the best balance bike for your child

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For now, it’s all about choosing the right kit. Experts recommend that a training bike shouldn’t weigh more than 30% of your child (if you can catch them, now is a good time to plonk them on the scales and check). 

Tyre size is the most indicative measurement of the bike’s overall heft — most come equipped with 12-inch wheels, but some manufacturers do make bikes with 14-inch or above for taller tots, or alternatively, to prepare your kids for a lifetime of hearing that classic school blazer line: “you’ll grow into it” — but seat height is the main concern when it comes to finding the perfect fit. The right seat height should allow for a slight bend in the knee — if they’re upright, it’s too high, if they’re crouched over like Gollum, it’s too low.

Finally, depending on how nervous you are and how talented your child is at getting themselves into scrapes, there are a number of safety features you might want to look out for. Some models come with brakes and turning limiters, and both add more to the final cost, but can be helpful when it comes to getting them used to handling a bike. With all that in mind, let’s get down to it...

Our pick of the best balance bikes to buy today

1. Ridgeback Scoot Runner

Superbly sporty and grown-up looking, this is the bad boy of balance bikes

Specifications
Age: 2-4
Frame: Aluminium
Weight: 5kg
Tyre Size: 12”
Brakes: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Includes compact carry handle +Variety of colours 
Reasons to avoid
-Not the cheapest-A little heavy

With its aluminium frame, air tyres, and intuitive lever-adjusted brakes for quick learning, the Ridgeback Scoot Runner ticks all the boxes for confident riding. With the appeal of the ‘adult style’ and range of colours for a personal touch, they’ll be whizzing around to impress their mates in no time. And with all this for just under £100, the Ridgeback Scoot Runner makes our number one spot as the best balance bike for kids in 2017.  

2. Wishbone 3 in 1

A classic convertible model that transforms from wooden baby walker to toddler trike

Specifications
Age: 1-5
Frame: Wooden
Weight: 3.8kg
Tyre Size: 12”
Brakes: No
Reasons to buy
+Good quality+Versatile and adaptable
Reasons to avoid
-Long-Lasting-Expensive

For early learning, the Wishbone 3 in 1 is the perfect all-rounder, and one of the best balance bikes for 2 year olds on the market. It converts from a baby walker to a trike, and finally to a more advanced balance bike for kids on the cusp of pedalling proficiency. Although a little pricey, this model is lightweight, sturdy, versatile, and an all-round classic, and its longevity and quality more than justify the cost. 

3. Flip Balance Bike

A small-scale, lightweight and compact bike for little explorers

Specifications
Age: 2-5:
Frame: Steel
Weight: Approx 3kg
Tyre Size: Small (Non-Standard Size)
Brakes: No
Reasons to buy
+Neatly compact+Adjustable seat 
Reasons to avoid
-Budget buy-Not the comfiest

Coming in at just under £40, the Flip Balance Bike is without a doubt the best budget balance bike on our list, and the ideal purchase for the family that’s always on the go. It’s a sleek and compact push bike available in a variety of colours, with a robust frame and rubber wheels that make for steady turning, good for boosting confidence and control in younger riders. The only thing it doesn’t boast is brakes, so it’s best kept for off-road. 

4. Strider 12 Sport

A sporty little number with puncture-proof tyres, for adventure-seekers and wannabe racers

Specifications
Frame: Steel
Weight: 2.9kg
Tyre Size: 12”
Brakes: No
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Easily adjustable
Reasons to avoid
-More of a ‘boy’s toy’-Not the cheapest

A versatile yet affordable pick, the Strider 12 Sport is a balance bike that is suitable for ages 1-5. This push bike comes in an endless list of colours to cater to boys and girls alike, with super-bright shades that mean you can keep an eye on them even as they storm off ahead. It comes with an adjustable seat to accommodate ages between 18 months and 5 years, and its EVA polymer tyres mean no punctures. A really great mid-range balance bike that’ll stand the test of time. 

5. Yvolution Y Velo Junior Balance Bike

With a choice of smaller tyres for a sure start, this is the best budget bike for babies

Specifications
Age: 1-3
Frame: Aluminium
Weight: Approx 5kg
Tyre Size: 9”, 12”
Brakes: No
Reasons to buy
+Budget buy+Adjustable seat 
Reasons to avoid
-A little heavy-Not for frequent outdoor use

For the perfect introduction to life on two wheels, look no further than the Yvolution Y Velo Junior Balance Bike, which comes in at the bargain price of just under £50. With its unique rear wheels and fork brake, this is the best balance bike for absolute beginners, promising stability, safer steering and ease of use. Plus, it’s versatile enough to be used both indoors and outdoors, although parents have noted quicker wear and tear when used predominantly outdoors. 

6. DK Nano Balance Bike

A cool-looking bike to inspire future BMX champions

Specifications
Age: 2-5
Frame: Steel
Weight: 5kg (shipping weight)
Tyre Size: 12”
Brakes: No
Reasons to buy
+Good value+Versatile
Reasons to avoid
-No brakes

With input from BMX racer Caroline Buchanan, the DK Nano Balance Bike combines functionality and aesthetics for a bike that both parents and children will approve of. It comes with all mod cons, including foot rests and grip tape, and the strong metal frame is offered in an endless choice of bright colours for all tastes. With the standard 12 inch wheel and adjustable seat, this is the perfect balance bike for kids 2 years and older to take on their outdoor adventures. 

7. Ace of Play Balance Bike

The lightest bike on the list, for easy manoeuvrability by little legs

Specifications
Age: 3-6
Frame: Aluminium
Weight: 1.9kg
Tyre Size: 12”
Brakes: No
Reasons to buy
+Most lightweight we’ve found+Wide choice of colours
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than some-Less attractive than other bikes 

With its ergonomic aluminium frame weighing in at just under 2kg, the super lightweight yet durable frame of the Ace of Play balance bike makes it a must-have for holidays, and won’t get damaged when stashed in the boot. While some parents have described the aesthetics of the wheels as cheap, the unique EVA tyres mean no punctures, and a longer lasting bike, so they’re a winner in our book. Kids will also benefit from an adjustable seat and handlebars, soft grips, and sealed bearings for a smooth ride. A great investment, and in our opinion, the best balance bike for training 3-6 year olds. 

8. Early Rider Road Runner

Looks and feels like a road bike, with all the assurance of a balance bike

Specifications
Age: 3-5
Frame: Aluminium
Weight: 3.8kg
Tyre Size: 14”
Brakes: No
Reasons to buy
+Unique look and feel+Fantastic quality
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Not very adaptable

It might be pricey, but parents and children alike rave about the Early Rider Road Runner. Its sleek design will make children feel like one of the adults, so if your brood are frequent bikers, this will let your littlest rider feel included in the family fun. The 14” wheels mean this bike most suited to 3-5 year olds, but bear in mind the lack of brakes and road-friendly design — it may not be suitable for those looking for a bit more speed and adventure. 

9. Early Rider Lite

A unique and stylish intro to bikes, this wooden wonder is ideal for the smallest cyclists

Specifications
Age: 2-4
Frame: Wooden
Weight: 3.2kg
Tyre Size: 12”
Brakes: No
Reasons to buy
+Perfect for beginners+For all environments
Reasons to avoid
-Not to everyone’s taste-Expensive for some

Another Early Rider, but for complete beginners aged 2-4, the Early Rider Lite has a classic wooden frame which ticks all the boxes for appearance and function. It’s nimble enough to build confidence with speed, but features a speed limiter which can be switched on at parent’s discretion to avoid any unwanted collisions. It’s on the cheaper (and lighter) end of the scale for wooden bikes, and its weatherproof finish means it’s built to last.

10. Firstbike Cross with Brake

A modern take on the classic balance bike, armed with a full arsenal of safety features

Specifications
Age: 2-5
Frame: Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic
Weight: 3.9kg
Tyre Size: 12”
Brakes: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Packed with safety features+Easy to set up
Reasons to avoid
-Not the cheapest-Not everyone’s favourite style

This award-winning German design is a completely child-friendly balance bike that makes the perfect training companion, particularly for nervous children or parents. You can control the level of learning with safety features such as a speed limiter and intuitive brakes, and it’s easy to set up and adjust, making it a great all-rounder if you’re torn on what style to choose.