Best Large Balance Bikes for Older Kids (2024)

Balance bikes have become a popular choice for kids of various ages, including older children who are looking to develop their coordination and balance skills. The balance bikes listed in this post are specifically designed for older kids, providing a fun and effective way to enhance their motor skills and prepare them for riding a traditional bicycle. In this article, we will explore the best balance bikes available for older kids and highlight their features, benefits, and suitability for different age groups.

In addition to a balance bike needing to be larger to fit the child; there are many features that we feel are a must for kids ages 4 and up. The needs of a 3-year-old are quite different than that of a 5-year-old in addition to the difference in height, coordination, and ability.

For general information on Balance Bikes see our Ultimate Balance Bikes Guide.

Benefits of Balance Bikes in Developing Coordination and Balance Skills

Balance bikes play a crucial role in helping children develop essential coordination and balance skills, which are fundamental for riding a bicycle. By using a balance bike, older kids can learn how to control their body movements and maintain equilibrium, allowing them to confidently transition to a pedal bike in the future. Here are some key reasons why balance bikes are beneficial for older kids:

1. Enhancing Motor Skills

Using a balance bike requires a child to actively engage their muscles and practice coordination. As they push off the ground and glide, they develop a sense of balance and learn to steer, brake, and maneuver the bike effectively. These actions contribute to the development of gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and overall body coordination.

2. Building Confidence

Balance bikes provide a safe and gradual learning experience for older kids. By starting with a balance bike, they can gradually gain confidence in their ability to ride and control a bike. As they master balance and coordination, their self-assurance grows, making the transition to a larger bike with pedals much smoother.

3. Improving Balance and Stability

Balance bikes challenge children to maintain their balance and stability while riding. This helps them develop a strong core, improve their posture, and refine their ability to adjust their body position in response to different terrains or obstacles. These skills not only benefit them on a balance bike but also transfer to other physical activities.

4. Fostering Independence and Freedom

Riding a balance bike gives older kids a sense of freedom and independence. They can explore their surroundings, discover new places, and build their sense of adventure. The absence of pedals allows them to focus solely on balance and coordination, enabling a seamless learning process that empowers them to control their own speed and movement.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Balance Bike for Older Kids

When it comes to choosing a balance bike for older kids, there are several important factors to consider. These factors will ensure that the bike is the right fit for your child’s needs and provide a safe and enjoyable riding experience. Let’s delve into the key considerations:

Size and Weight

Finding a balance bike that is the appropriate size and weight for your older child is crucial. Consider the following:

Proper fit for the child’s height and weight

It’s important to choose a balance bike that is suitable for your child’s height and weight. Look for bikes that have a recommended age and height range to ensure a proper fit. This will allow your child to comfortably straddle the bike and reach the handlebars and the ground with ease.

Adjustable features for long-term use

Opt for a balance bike with adjustable features such as seat height, handlebar height, and handlebar angle. These adjustable features will allow you to customize the bike to your child’s specific needs, ensuring a comfortable and ergonomic riding position. As your child grows, you can easily make adjustments to accommodate their changing height and body proportions.

Frame Material

The frame material of a balance bike plays a significant role in its weight, durability, and overall performance. Here’s what you need to know:

Lightweight and durable materials

lightweight-balance-bike

Look for balance bikes with frames made from lightweight yet durable materials such as aluminum or high-quality steel alloys. These materials provide the necessary strength and stability while keeping the overall weight of the bike to a minimum. A lighter bike will be easier for your child to handle and maneuver, enhancing their riding experience.

Comparison of different frame options

Consider the pros and cons of different frame materials to make an informed decision.

  • Aluminum frames are lightweight, rust-resistant, and ideal for maximizing maneuverability.
  • Steel frames, on the other hand, offer excellent durability and are better suited for rough terrains and heavier riders.

Evaluate your child’s needs and riding environment to select the most suitable frame material.

Seat Height and Adjustability

The seat height of a balance bike is a critical factor in ensuring a comfortable and proper riding position for your child. Take the following factors into account:

Importance of adjustable seat height

An adjustable seat height is essential to accommodate your child’s growth and ensure a proper fit throughout their riding journey. The ability to raise or lower the seat allows you to find the ideal height for your child’s leg length. A comfortable and proper leg extension will enable them to maintain balance and propel themselves forward confidently.

Recommended seat height range for older kids

When choosing a balance bike, check the recommended seat height range provided by the manufacturer. This range will help you determine if the bike can accommodate your child’s current height and has room for growth. Ideally, the seat should be set at a height that allows your child to sit comfortably with their feet flat on the ground or on tiptoes for stability.

Tires and Suspension

One important aspect to pay attention to is the tires and suspension of the balance bike. The type of tires suitable for various terrains can significantly impact your child’s riding experience. Whether your child will be riding on smooth pavement, gravel paths, or off-road trails, having the right tires can make all the difference.

Types of tires suitable for various terrains

Different tire designs offer varying levels of traction and stability. Pneumatic tires, which are air-filled, provide excellent shock absorption and grip on uneven surfaces. They are well-suited for off-road adventures and bumpy terrains, ensuring a smoother ride for your child. On the other hand, foam or solid rubber tires are puncture-proof and require little to no maintenance. They work best on flat surfaces such as sidewalks and paved roads, providing a stable ride.

Suspension options for smoother rides

In addition to the tires, some balance bikes come equipped with suspension systems. Suspension can absorb shocks and vibrations, providing a smoother ride, especially on rough or uneven surfaces. It enhances comfort and minimizes fatigue, allowing your child to ride for longer periods without discomfort. Suspension systems can vary in complexity, ranging from simple spring-based setups to advanced adjustable suspensions.

Brakes

Braking is a crucial skill for any young rider, and it’s essential to consider the availability and functionality of hand brakes when choosing a balance bike for older kids. Introducing your child to braking early on helps develop their control and promotes safe riding habits as they transition to pedal bikes in the future.

Availability and functionality of hand brakes

While many balance bikes do not come with brakes, some models are designed with hand brakes, similar to those found on pedal bikes. Hand brakes provide a more realistic riding experience and allow children to learn and practice braking techniques early on. Having hand brakes on a balance bike can help your child become familiar with the mechanics and coordination required for future pedal biking.

Importance of teaching braking skills

Even if the balance bike you choose does not have hand brakes, it’s essential to teach your child proper braking techniques. They should learn how to use their feet to slow down and stop the bike effectively. By practicing braking skills, they will develop a better understanding of their control and speed, ensuring a safer riding experience.

Accessories and Additional Features

Apart from the primary components of a balance bike, there are several accessories and additional features to consider. These features can enhance your child’s experience, provide added convenience, and contribute to their safety.

Consideration of bells, baskets, and other accessories

Some balance bikes come with additional accessories like bells, baskets, or storage compartments. These accessories can be both functional and fun. A bell can allow your child to signal their presence, fostering awareness and safety. Baskets or storage compartments can be useful for carrying small items or toys during their rides, adding an element of practicality and enjoyment.

Safety features such as reflectors and lights

Safety should always be a top priority when choosing a balance bike for older kids. Look for bikes that have built-in safety features like reflectors or lights. These features increase visibility, especially during low-light conditions or when riding near roads. Reflective elements and lights can alert drivers and pedestrians to your child’s presence, reducing the risk of accidents.


Best Large Balance Bikes for Older Kids


1. Strider 14x Sport & Strider 16 Sport

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Strider is well-known throughout the world with their best-selling Strider 12″ balance bike.  The 14x and 16 Sport are based on the similar low center of gravity frame design the 12 inch uses and adds 14″ and 16″ alloy wheels with air-filled tires and the new easy-ride pedal kit.  The 14x is truly a 2-in-1 balance bike that converts to a pedal bike. 

The only downfall to this bike is that there is not any type of braking system when the bike is in the balance stage. Once the bike is converted to the pedal version the pedal kit includes a coaster brake.  Another great feature of this bike is its weight; a mere 12 lbs!

Weight: 12 pounds


2. Ridgeback Scoot XL

large Balance Bike

Ridgeback Scoot XL Balance Bike

If you have read any of my other blog posts you are going to see a trend.  You are going to see that i recommend the Ridgeback Scoot a lot. That’s because it is such a great bike with such great features and best of all; its available in 2 sizes.  The Scoot XL features 14″ wheels that allow a seat height range of 16″ – 22″, this fits kids ages 4 to 8 years. 

A lightweight aluminum frame, rear v-brake, sealed bearings and a great design make this a perfect balance bike for older kids.  This should be the last balance bike a kid needs prior to transitioning to a 16″ or 18″ pedal bike.

Weight: 12 pounds


3. Bixe Balance Bikes 16inch

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The Bixe 16 is one of the few 16″ balance bikes on the market. It’s a fantastic and inexpensive option for parents who are trying to teach their children how to ride but don’t want to invest in a more expensive 20″ pedal bike.

One downside with this bike is it doesn’t have hand brakes. Instead, the child will have to use their feet for braking which isn’t ideal for a bigger balance bike. Overall though it’s a good budget balance bike for an older child.

Weight: 12 pounds


Must-Have Features on Balance Bikes for Older Kids

When shopping for a balance bike for older kids, there are certain features that are a must.  Features that were previously okay for your toddler may not be the best for your child as they grow older.  Bikes in this age range need to have the following features: hand brakes, air-filled pneumatic tires, size-appropriate wheels that are 14 or 16 inches in diameter.  We will also discuss further how the bike’s weight, geometry and frame material come into play.

Hand Brakes

Hand brakes on bikes for kids this age are non-negotiable.  Children at this age are stronger and more daring which means they ride faster and need help stopping quickly.  Toddlers are still able to use their feet to slow down because they aren’t moving quite as fast and their smaller bodies are easier to stop when in motion. By the time children approach 3 years of age, they have enough coordination to use a brake and need a brake to stop. Our favorite brakes are the v-style brakes with child easy-reach levers for effortless and effective braking. 

Air-filled Tires

On toddler bikes, we are okay with EVA foam tires because they are lightweight and are not required to perform as much as on bikes for older kids. By the time your 4 or 5-year-old is using a larger balance bike, the improvements to ride and traction that is provide by air-filled tires come into play.  There are no EVA foam tires that can perform or provide the same amount of traction as an air-filled tire.

Size Appropriate Wheels

Balance bikes for 4 and 5-year-old kids generally are 14″ and 16″ size wheels.  That’s not to say that a bike with 12″ wheels won’t work; it just means the child may outgrow it quickly or they may not be in the preferred rider position.  Pay close attention to larger wheeled balance bikes and how they correlate to the seat height.

FAQs about Balance Bikes for Older Kids

In this section, we will address some frequently asked questions about balance bikes for older kids. If you’re wondering about the suitability of balance bikes for children of different ages, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s explore some common queries and provide answers to help you make an informed decision for your child.

Is 7 too old for a balance bike?

Many parents wonder if their 7-year-old child is too old for a balance bike. While balance bikes are typically designed for younger children, there are options available for older kids as well. The suitability of a balance bike for a 7-year-old largely depends on the child’s size, motor skills, and comfort level. Some larger balance bikes or those specifically designed for older kids can accommodate children up to 8 or 9 years old. It’s important to consider the child’s individual needs and abilities when choosing a balance bike.

Can an 8-year-old use a balance bike?

Yes, an 8-year-old can use a balance bike, especially if they haven’t yet learned to ride a traditional bike. Balance bikes can be a great tool for older kids who are still developing their balance, coordination, and confidence on two wheels. Look for balance bikes that are suitable for taller or bigger kids, as they will provide the necessary support and stability. With practice and determination, an 8-year-old can learn to ride a balance bike and transition to a pedal bike in due time.

What age is a 12″ balance bike for?

A 12″ balance bike is typically designed for children in the age range of 2 to 4 years old. These bikes have a seat height and frame size that are suitable for younger riders. However, it’s important to note that every child is different, and their readiness to use a balance bike can vary. Some 2-year-olds might be comfortable on a 12″ balance bike, while others may need more time to develop their motor skills. Always consider your child’s height, leg length, and physical capabilities when selecting the right size balance bike for them.

What age do you stop using a balance bike?

The age at which children stop using a balance bike can vary. Most children transition from a balance bike to a pedal bike between the ages of 4 and 6. However, this can depend on the child’s individual progress and readiness. Some children may need more time to build their confidence and develop the necessary skills before transitioning to a pedal bike. It’s essential to observe your child’s comfort level and ability to maintain balance and control. When they demonstrate proficiency in balancing and steering, it may be a good time to introduce a pedal bike.

How to teach an older kid to ride a balance bike?

Teaching an older kid to ride a balance bike follows a similar approach as teaching a younger child. Here are some tips to help you guide your older child through the learning process:

  1. Start with a suitable balance bike: Choose a balance bike that is appropriate for your child’s size and age. Look for models designed for older kids or those with adjustable features to accommodate their height.
  2. Find a safe learning environment: Begin in a flat, open area free from traffic or obstacles. A smooth pavement or a level, grassy area can provide a good learning surface.
  3. Demonstrate proper technique: Show your child how to straddle the bike, hold the handlebars, and keep their feet flat on the ground. Emphasize the importance of looking straight ahead and maintaining balance.
  4. Encourage scooting and gliding: Encourage your child to push off with their feet and glide while lifting their feet off the ground. This motion helps them develop balance.

For more info on balance bikes see our other guides: