Our Pick: Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike
*At the time of publishing, the price was $110.
After testing 13 of the most popular balance bikes on the market, we decided the Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike combines the best of all things: kid-friendly, high-grade design affordability wide availability proper geometry and very little we didnt like. Its one of the top-selling bikes out there and we see why: It was easier to assemble than almost all of our other picks, features a wider range of size adjustability than our other bikes, and hits an affordable price. Rounding it out is strong-yet-light steel tubing that results in a very light overall weight of 6.7 pounds. Combine all this with top-notch customer service and wide availability, and you have the iMac of the balance bike world.
Geometry-wise, Strider 12 Sport is designed from the top down to be a bike for kids. In addition to being light, it features a very low step-through heightthe height of its main, or top, tubeof 8 inches. This made it the third-lowest of our test bikes and well-suited for a 2-year-old. Its also key for short riders who have a much harder time righting a downed bike with a tall top tube.
Do They Need A Bigger Balance Bike
Whilst most balance bikes come with a 12 wheel, there are a few manufacturers making 14 wheel and larger balance bikes for taller and older children who arent ready to move onto a pedal bike. See our article on Big Balance Bikes for Taller Childrenfor a full selection. Another alternative is the new range ofgrowing bikes from Black Mountain. which convert from balance bikes to pedal bikes, and are available in wheel sizes 14 through to 20.
Balance Bike Sizing Chart
Choosing a balance bike that fits your child – When searching for a balance bike for your little rider it’s always important to choose the correct size. Not choosing the right size can frustrate your child and inhibited their ability to learn and it can also be dangerous. Most likely it’s their first bike and we highly recommend that you purchase a bike that fits them now, not one that they will grow into.
1: Measure Your Child’s Inseam
Getting a proper fit on a balance bike requires a key measurement, your child’s inseam measurement. There are two easy ways to accomplish this:
- Select a pair of their best-fitting pants and measure from the crotch to the bottom. The number of inches, to the nearest half-inch, is the inseam length.or
- Have them stand in their stocking feet with their feet slightly apart and back flat to a wall. Measure the length/distance between the floor and their crotch.
2: Review Our Sizing Charts
A general guidleline for understanding balance bike sizing.
3: Bike Weight
A simple rule to follow when selecting a balance bike. A balance bike should weigh no more than 30% of your childs weight. An easy way to determine this is to follow a simple calculation:
x = i.e. 25 x 0.3 = 7.5
Using the above example, if a child weighs 25 lbs and we calculate this by the rule of 30% then their balance bike should weigh no more than 7.5 lbs.
Extra: Helpful Tips & Factors To Consider
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Do You Need Brakes On A Balance Bike
Not all models of balance bike come equipped with brakes. Whilst this can be off-putting to some parents, it should be remembered that a 2 year old is unlikely to have the co-ordination and response times to use brakes if fitted. With balance bikes it is the feet that generate the momentum, and they are also the main tool used for braking.
Brakes will obviously add cost to the bike, but some parents like their child to get the feeling of using a brake before moving onto a pedal bike.
Do Balance Bikes Really Work
While many parents mistakenly believe that training wheels train a child to ride a bike, the truth is that they dont! Balance: The main purpose of a balance bike is to teach a child to balance while seated and moving, which is the hardest part of learning to ride a bike!
When to start your toddler on a balance bike?
Toddlers who start balance biking early often ride pedal bikes without training wheels by age 3. The balance bike introduces children to the concepts of balance and movement and provides a safe foundation for learning to ride a pedal bike.
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Joystar 16 Balance Bike For Big Kids
The Joystar 16 Striker may be Joystars first inception into the small world of 16-inch balance bikes but youd never tell from how well-made it is.
The company has 10, 12, and 14-inch balance bikes for toddlers but the 16-inch is a bold debut into a somewhat underserved market. That is the big kid market who require training on how to balance a bike yet cant fit the smaller-sized balance bikes that dominate the market.
The 16-inch balance bike provides a temporary solution for this training before the child is ready for their first pedal bike.
Lets see whether or not this 16-inch balance bike hits the mark from a performance standpoint.
Adjustable Handlebar And Seatpost Heights
The Joystar Striker really is a one-stop-shop. In addition to the safety and comfort features, it is designed to stay with your child as they grow.
This is thanks to an adjustable seat and handlebar height configuration. The seat height adjusts with a 4-inch range raising from 18 inches to 22 inches off the ground while the handlebar height adjusts from 25.2 to 28.7 inches.
Another thing we love is that the height adjustment is completely tool-free. You can do it anywhere, anytime!
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What Age Are Balance Bikes For
Children often use balance bikes from 18 months to 8 years of age. If your child canwalk, they can ride a balance bike. Balance bikes are not only for young children learning to ride a bike but older children who havent learned yet or children with special needs.
Balance bikes are significantly lower to the ground and lighter than standard kids bikes since they dont have a drivetrain This makes propelling and steering the balance bike much simpler for little children to learn how to ride a bike for the first time.
What You Should Know Before You Buy A Strider
- It is a much better fit for a 18mo to 3yo toddler than a 3 to 4yo preschooler
- The Sport model is 100% worth the extra $20 over the Classic model. The Sports padded seat, extra long seat post, and tool free adjust are life savers!
- The overall quality of Striders components isnt as high as similarly priced bikes
- If youre planning on riding on non-paved surfaces, a bike with air tires is a much better option
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Best Balance Bike For 4 Or 5 Year Old Child
The LittleBig balance bike in the Big mode will typically fit kids age 4 or older
Its unique design allows you to flip the rear frame to convert it from a little balance bike into a bigger balance bike with a higher saddle and longer arm reach. So if your child has been riding it since the age of 2 or 3, flipping the frame will keep the familiar feel of the old bike while making it more comfortable to ride.
Yvolution Y Velo Junior Balance Bike Review
Itching to get your young toddler on a balance bike? Many balance bikes are too big and too heavy for the very youngest riders to handle. Thats why we like the Yvolution Y Velo Junior balance bike.
Its unique design includes a double rear wheel to aid toddlers as young as 18 months in learning to balance and ride a bike. It also has a low minimum seat height, reasonable low weight, and safety features that we like for teeny tiny riders.
We also like the bike for indoor riding for toddlers of all ages thanks to non-marking rubber wheels. On the other hand, it is not the ideal bike for outdoor or more agressive riding. It is better used as a learning tool and a toy rather than as a real bike.
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Best Balance Bikes For Young Toddlers
18 months or 2 years old is a perfect time to start a toddler on their balance bike journey. Introducing a balance bike early will allow your toddler to learn to ride independently from the very start. With little ones, a lightweight bike is especially key!
FITS KIDS: In 18-months pants to 3T. For a larger option, check out the WOOM 1 Plus.
SEAT HEIGHT: 10 to 14
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, quick release seat post, and turning limiter
FULL REVIEW: WOOM 1
Perfection from top to bottom, the woom 1 creates a smooth, easy ride for young or small toddlers getting an early start on their balance bike journey. To keep young ones at ease, the wooms handlebars place the rider in a natural, upright position with their weight centered over their hips. This helps toddlers feel less hesitant about balancing.
This, combined with a lightweight, extremely low step-through frame, a low minimum seat height, extra-cushioned air tires, and an easy-to-use handbrake, allows the woom 1 to effortlessly take your child from walking along the sidewalk to ripping down trails. As an added bonus, the woom 1 is available in 5 colors!
MSRP: $89 $109
FITS KIDS: 18 months to 4-years-old
SEAT HEIGHT: 11 to 19 , 11 to 16
FEATURES: Foam tires, foot rest
FULL REVIEW: Strider Sport
FITS KIDS: 24 months old to transitioning to 3T clothes
SEAT HEIGHT: 11.4 to 14.6
FEATURES: Air tires, hand brake, quick release seat post
FULL REVIEW: Prevelo Alpha Zero
FEATURES: Air tires
Balance Bike Care & Maintenance Tips
Balance bikes require regular maintenance just like the adult trikes. Here are some tips for you to keep your childs balance bike clean and tip-top:
- Use any silicone-based lubricant to lubricate the bikes moving parts.
- Check for worn parts or loose screws every often. Repair or replace any part if necessary.
- Make sure all parts are dust-free and clean.
- Ensure that your balance bike is not exposed to direct sunlight for a long time. Store the bike in a cool and dry place.
- Always check if the tire pressure is firm enough. Inflate the tires fully using any regular bike pump.
- Never use direct water for cleaning a balance bike. Use a clean damp cloth and let the bike dry quickly.
- If your childs balance bike has a quick release mechanism, make sure they are tightly secured.
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How To Ride A Balance Bike
Balance bikes are very easy for children to ride, and they usually dont need any instruction. Kids sit on the low seat while clutching the handlebars to ride the balance bike. Then, depending on their confidence and expertise, they may walk, run, stride, or glide ahead.
Even the smallest and most hesitant children may begin riding a balance bike by stepping in front of the saddle, over the frame, and walking normally. Their coordination will improve as they grasp the handlebars and become acclimated to the weight and feel of the bike, and they will be able to advance to riding while sitting.
How And Where We Tested
For our testing subjects, we enlisted our friends adventurous little kids, including 2-year-old Elle, 6-year-old Luke, and 7-year-old Fleet here in Charleston, South Carolina. We tried to have another friends son, Asher, who is almost 2, test bikes but he helped us realize balance bikes are not for all little kids . River, who is 3 and a proficient balance biker, took to our fleet with enthusiasm. My 8-year-old son, Fritz, is obviously out of the age and size range for this guide, but at 51 inches tall and 55 pounds , he could still rip around on several of the bikes on their highest settings and had plenty to say about how even the smallest bikes handled.
We tested the bikes around a flat neighborhood over a few weeks. During that time, 2-year-old Elle went from being a bit overwhelmed to quite comfortable striding around. We also did sprint races along my paved driveway and street and visited the James Island County Park, which has several miles of rolling paved and dirt bike trails that wind up and down through moss-draped Lowcountry oak forest and along the edge of Forrest Gumpian salt marsh.
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Choosing The Right Balance Bike For Your Child
Choosing the right balance bike might seem simple in comparison to a pedal bike. After all, there are fewer moving components, they appear easy to operate, they are small, and they cost far less than a full-sized kids pedal bike. But dont be fooled, there are many things to consider ensuring you choose the right balance bike for your child.
Below are the key elements you need to consider when choosing the right balance bike.
1. Bike Size
Bike size is the number one thing to consider when buying a balance bike. Dont think of a balance bike the same way as a pair of shoes, the bike needs to fit your child right now, not in 6 months.
Getting a bike that is too big or too small can make your kid feel uncomfortable and lead to a negative experience. If they arent happy on the bike, they wont want to get on it.
The most common size for balance bikes is either 12, 14 or 18 which relates to the size of the wheels. Although wheel size is a useful measurement, it is not indicative of the frame size or seat height of the bike. As well as looking at the bikes tyre size, be aware of the minimum and maximum seat height.
- Consider a few of the following questions when figuring out if the size of the bike is right.
- Can the child easily stand over the bike?
- Can the child walk the bike while standing over it?
- Can the seat be adjusted as the child grows?
- Can the child easily reach the handlebars when sitting on the seat?
2. Seat Height
You Want Them To Keep Up With Your Family On Bike Rides
Balance bikes are slower than a regular pedal bike, but they arent as slow as you might think. Kids can often ride for miles at decent pace while on their balance bike. The main problem usually isnt speed, but their desire to stop and smell the roses or examine every ant walking across the bike path.
If a balance bike is truly limiting your family bike rides, bring a trailer along. Let your child ride their bike for along as they want and when they are tired , place them and the bike in the trailer.
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Differences In Strider Bike Models
Striders standard 12 balance bike is available in three models: the Classic, Sport, and Pro. All three models have the same size frame and foam tires, but the primary differences are that the Strider Pro and Sport have an extended seat height range, a tool-free seat adjust, and a padded seat. Additionally, the main benefit of the Strider 12 Pro is that the frame is made of aluminum, which results in a lighter bike.
What Is The Balance Bike Constructed From
There are balance bike models on the market made from metal, plastic or wood so there really is something to suit all requirements and budgets. As with all kids bikes you do get what you pay for in terms of quality. More expensive balance bikes tend to have lightweight aluminium frames and come fitted with pneumatic tyres because these are more comfortable than solid plastic tyres, especially if your going over bumpy ground. However, the trade off is that you do run the risk of getting a puncture, although tyres and inner tubes are more robustly made these day, so this doesnt tend to happen very often.
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Why Are There No Pedals On That Bike
How are they supposed to ride a bike with no pedals?
These questions have been asked many times over the past 12 years in promoting Balance Bikes here in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Did you know that once a child has learned to balance on a balance bike, they can easily transition to a traditional pedal bike without the need for training wheels?
How may you ask?
With a balance bike, toddlers only have to focus on balancing and steering. Once they have mastered balancing on two wheels, pedalling and braking will come easily when they transition to a traditional kids bike.
Lets be honest, its not that simple to teach your child to ride a bike safely while still having fun on two wheels.
Only a few children seem to be capable of cycling away independently, but they are the exception. For most children, learning takes days, weeks, or even months because each child learns at his or her own pace.
Learning to ride a bike requires fundamental coordination and balance. Several abilities must be learned to ride a bike safely.
As a child, how did you learn how to ride a bike?
Perhaps your parents helped you, or perhaps you just imitated your friends riding their bikes around the neighbourhood? You most likely learned on a regular pedal bike, maybe with stabilizers . On the other hand, Balance Bikes are now often regarded as being better than stabilizers in terms of developing young childrens balance and confidence in riding a bike for thefirst time.