10 best balance bikes
Help your child learn to ride with one of these colourful and stable models
Many children find it easier to learn to ride on balance bikes than use stabilisers. Balance bikes look like regular bikes, but they don’t have cranks or pedals.
Children push the bike along with their feet, then learn to push and glide. Theoretically, this means that the first time they ride a regular bike, you won’t have to run along beside them, holding onto their seat.
Go for a bike that’s no more than a third of your child’s weight, and, of course, that’s a suitable size. Many brands, such as Islabikes and Frog, measure bikes on the minimum inside leg measurement rather than age. Note that those from bike manufacturers are often better made, too, than those from toy makers.
Check the seat height and comfort of the handles, and while the primary brake is a child’s feet, a handbrake can be useful, especially for those who like riding fast. Steering locks are great too as these restrict turning so that the handles can’t spin right round.
Islabikes Rothan: £169.99, Islabikes
Age: 2+ years
All our testers loved this bike.
The lightweight bike has an aluminium frame and comes in four bright colours.
The narrow handlebar and grips, the restricted steering and mini-brake made for small hands enables the rider to easily control where and how fast they’re riding.
The rounded bolts also mean they shouldn’t scratch their legs on the side.
A longer seat-post is also available, extending the size to a maximum inside leg measurement of 47cm.
Kiddimoto Kurve: £39.99, Kiddimoto
Age: 3-5 years
This bike is made from birch plywood from sustainable forests.
Nifty features include ergonomic rubber handles, an upright seat with three saddle heights, pneumatic tyres for a smooth ride, and a steering lock that restricts turns to 30 degrees to prevent bars from spinning all the way round.
We loved the range of designs from skull and crossbones to pastel dots. You can also buy matching accessories including a helmet, gloves, bells and horns.
HOY Napier Balance Bike: £110, Evans
Age: 2-4 years
This robust bike has multi-surface Kenda tyres, making it suitable for bumpy ground.
Available in red, blue, yellow or green, its design is inspired by the BMX bikes of Sir Chris Hoy’s early club racing days. “Napier” refers to the Napier school yard where he learned to ride.
Our tester found the saddle comfortable. It has a grab-rail, but no handbrake.
Frog Tadpole: £115, Frog
Age: 2-3 years (there’s a larger one for 3-4 years)
This bike has plenty of child-friendly features including a safety-steering lock to prevent oversteering, a quick-release seat post for easy height adjustment and an easy-to-reach rear handbrake.
We also like the pneumatic tyres that are just like the ones you find on regular bikes.
Available in a range of designs, including a Union Jack and polka dot pattern.
Wiggins Pau: £100, Halfords
Age: 3+ years
We had great expectations about this bike, largely because it is named after Sir Bradley Wiggins – and it did not disappoint.
We liked the grippy pneumatic tyres, pinch-free brake levers, steering limiter and stylish looks. There were also no sharp edges for legs or feet to catch on.
There was a hidden handle grip under the saddle, which made it easy for us to carry it, too, when the children grew tired.
Yvolution Y Velo Junior Balance Bike: £59.99, Yvolution
Age: 18 months-4 years
With a single front wheel and two rear wheels, this bike provides great stability for younger riders. Once they are more confidence, you can then remove one of the wheels.
The wide tyres are suitable for a range of surfaces, including grass, footpaths, pavements – and even indoors. The seat and handlebars are also easily adjustable.
It also comes in red and green.
Micro Balance Bike: £109.95, Micro Scooters
This Swiss-designed and engineered bike has a chopper style and adjustable handlebars for balance and greater control.
It has an adjustable seat and comes with a removable stabiliser wheel.
Available in three colours.
Strider 14X Sport Balance/Pedal Bike: £170, Strider
This bike comes with pedals that you can add on when your child feels confident pushing themselves along. The height of both the handlebars and seat is adjustable.
Early Rider Alley Runner 14in: £130, Early Rider
Age: 2-4 years
With its chunky, pneumatic air tyres and a limiter to improve stability even at speed, this bike is great for trail riding.
The child’s inclined position on the bike helps them push off quickly, too.
The hand-brushed, lacquered aluminium frame and faux-leather riveted saddle make a real design statement.
Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike: £26.24, Amazon
Age: 3-5 years
We loved the Chopper-style looks of this bike, and found the handlebars and seat easy to adjust, depending on the height of the rider.
It doesn’t come fully assembled, but took us less than 10 minutes to put together.
It doesn’t feel as sturdy and responsive as the more expensive bikes in this roundup, but still felt safe – and much better than other cheaper models.
The verdict: best balance bikes
The model from Islabikes came out top for its attention to detail.
At the cheaper end, we liked the Kiddimoto Kurve for its distinctive look.
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