Best Balance Bikes 2021 – Our Top 7 Picks

Teaching a child how to ride a bike definitely isn’t easy. You can’t just hand them the bike and tell them to go do it because then they will be scared of falling and might not want to learn at all. Balance bikes can be a good bridge between a tricycle and a two-pedal bike without the need for training wheels or stabilizers! The best balance bikes are lightweight, easy to maneuver, durable with high-quality bearings that make riding much more enjoyable.

The decision to buy your child a balance bike can be tough. There are many options on the market and it is hard to narrow down what will work best for you. Whether you’re looking for a present, or just want to get prepared early, we have compiled reviews of some of the most popular balance bikes on the market today.

The 7 Best Balance Bikes

Here is our list of the Best Balance Bikes, see the reasons why we ranked them as we did and what makes them great options for your kids. Before devoting our free time to blogging, we were retailers of balance bikes and kid’s bikes since 2009.

1. Woom 1 Balance Bike

The Woom 1 is at the top of our list of favorite balance bikes.  Woom is a newcomer to the balance bike market in the USA (2014) but has roots based in Austria with the first bikes going into production in 2013. Woom has an up-cycle system that allows parents to trade in their Woom and upgrade to the next size up.  As you will notice, there is a number 1 in the photo below as this is their first bike in their sizing system.

woom-bikes

Our first impression of the Woom 1 balance bike is the high attention to detail, low frame geometry, and unique paint and graphics.  Woom 1, 2, and 3 models feature a low center of gravity and a low bottom frame bar to allow for easing dismounting and standing over the frame when not seated. This also helps children ride in an upright position with more control and confidence.  Beyond the Woom 3, children are becoming proficient riders, therefore the Woom 4, 5, and 6 models are transitions to full-size bikes. The Woom 1 features a lightweight alloy frame, steering limiter, easy reach brake lever, ergonomic seat with quick release, and aluminum wheels making this one of the lightest bikes on the market.

See our articles on the remaining models of Woom pedal bikes here.

  • Ideal for Riders: 1-4 Years
  • Seat Height: 10.5″ – 14″
  • Bike Weight: 7.5 lbs
  • Air Tires: Yes
  • Brake: Rear

Woom 1 – 12″ Balance Bike


2. Prevelo Alpha Zero

The Prevelo Alpha Zero is a high-end balance bike for the picky parents who simply want the best bike for their kids.  It was great to get our hands on a Prevelo to get a firsthand feel for what made these bikes so great. We did a hands-on review of this bike, check it out: Prevelo Alpha Zero Review.  Prevelo is a newcomer to the kids’ bike market but is already becoming our favorite.  The Prevelo Alpha Zero redefines what a balance bike should be.  A bike loaded with so many features, it leaves you speechless.

The Prevelo features a 6061 aluminum alloy frame with custom formed tubing.  The custom tubing is evident when you see the design of the bottom main frame tube.  With all the features this bike has it is remarkable how it is still one of the lightest bikes we have tested. The bike weighed in on our scales at 8.5 lbs. The Alpha Zero meets the demands of quality-conscious parents that also demand a very lightweight bike. Weight is everything when it comes to smaller, petite riders. It improves their sense of control and the ride quality improves as well especially when off-road.

Bikes in this quality range will also have quality components; the Alpha Zero features an aluminum handlebar and stem, tektro aluminum v-brake with easy reach the lever, aluminum wheels with Kenda tires, and a quick-release for the child-appropriate sized saddle. Internally routed brake cables, rounded axle bolts are other features we liked about the Alpha Zero. Another great feature is that it comes 99% assembled.  All you need to do is add the handlebar.

  • Ideal for Riders: 1½ years +
  • Seat Height: 11.5″ – 14.6″
  • Bike Weight: 8.5 lbs / 3.8 kg
  • Air Tires: Yes
  • Brake: Rear

Prevelo Alpha Zero


3. KaZAM Bikes

Balance Bike

We have always been hung up on whether you are better off buying a balance bike with foot rests or not.  One of the most notable balance bikes that provide an adequate place to rest a child’s feet while cruising is a Kazam. They have been selling balance bikes as early (or earlier) than 2010.  They started their business on taking a concept that was flourishing outside of the USA and carefully created a patented toddler bike for their 2 1/2-year-old child.  A lot has happened since then; newer models, an expanded product line, and a partner in the legendary shark tank investors Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran.

One of the first things you notice about the Kazam is the unique frame geometry with a center frame-integrated footrest.  We have not seen any other balance bike designs like the Kazam and most likely won’t as it is patent protected. The footrest is centered in the natural resting place for a child’s feet and the same location that they will eventually have pedals as they advance to bigger bikes.

Offered in both aluminum and steel; both versions provide for a long-lasting, durable frame that is made to take a beating. The aluminum frame sheds a whopping 2 lbs of weight which is a huge benefit for younger riders that benefit from additional ease in maneuverability due to the weight.  We opted for the Kazam Pro for the lightweight frame, black components, and alloy stem.  The aluminum model boasts a 75 lb weight limit while the steel model is rated at 65 lbs.  One drawback to the Kazam is the lack of a handbrake; which we feel is a necessity. The Pro features a comfort-sized saddle that may be approaching a little on the large size for the youngest riders but isn’t a deal-breaker.

Available in two models, the aluminum pro model weighs in at 8 lbs while the steel version came in at 9.9 lbs.  1.9 lbs may not seem like a lot but it makes a difference with the 2-3-year-olds and children who don’t have as much coordination or strength as 4-5-year-olds. Both bikes have similar frame sizing and geometry and have a seat adjustment range of 14″ to 17″; not the lowest of settings. A toddler bike of this size will generally fit kids ages 3-5 years who are wearing clothes in the 3t to 5t range and up 44″ in height.

  • Ideal for Riders: 3 – 5-Year-olds
  • Seat Height: 14.0″ – 17.0″
  • Bike Weight:  10 lbs
  • Air Tires: Yes
  • Brake: No

4. Ridgeback Scoot Balance Bike

Balance Bike

The Scoot has always been one of our favorites and once you get your hands on one, you will agree. For those of you unfamiliar with Ridgeback; they are the European version of Trek – a highly respected bicycle company.  The Scoot from Ridgeback comes in two sizes; the Scoot with 12″ wheels and the Scoot XL with 14″ wheels.  Both feature an aluminum 6061 frame, alloy rims, rear brake, and semi-slick tires. The Scoot comes in a choice of 4 colors (blue, red, pink, orange) and comes with an additional seat post for taller children.  The Scoot is a real bike and not a toy like other balance bikes in the market.

  • Ideal for Riders: 3-6 Years
  • Seat Height: 14″ – 20″
  • Bike Weight: 11.2 lbs
  • Air Tires: Yes
  • Brake: Rear

Ridgeback Scoot 12″ Balance Bike


5. Yedoo Too Too Balance Bike

Balance Bike

Yedoo is a Czech company that specializes in larger wheeled foot bikes and scooters.  With their success in creating these great scooters, it was only natural to add a balance bike. Their design and manufacturing are focused on quality and safety.  The word “Yedoo” is based on the Czech word “jeduu” which is an expression that is equivalent to the word “wee” that is exclaimed as children glide on their bikes and scooters.

The Too Too is a 12″ balance bike that features a lightweight steel frame, aluminum wheels, rear v-brake with an easy-reach lever, and steering limited to prevent the bike from jackknifing. One feature we truly love is the ergonomic seat which adjusts farther away from the handlebars as the seat is raising.  Makes a lot of sense because as children’s legs and arms grow comparably. An incredibly light bike at 8.2 lbs, yet built with a strong steel frame. For the price, this may the best balance bike available.

  • Ideal for Riders: 1-4 Years
  • Seat Height: 12″ – 18″
  • Bike Weight: 8.2 lbs
  • Air Tires: Yes
  • Brake: Rear

Yedoo Too Too 12″ Balance Bike


6. FirstBIKE Limited Bike with Brake

Balance Bike

Firstbike is truly unique in the materials used to build them.  The bike frame, fork, wheels, seat post, and handlebars are made of a durable composite plastic resin. The frame acts as a shock absorber and limits the shock on a child’s spinal cord.  Not only does the frame improve ride quality, but it also is resilient to fading, cracking, rusting, warping, and even breakage. Another unique feature is the rear drum brake that provides a more gradual stop,  is adjustable, and prevents little fingers from being pinched in the moving parts.  Schwalbe tires, reflective frame accents, sealed bearings, adjustable saddle height, and steering limiter are a handful of features that are standard on the FirstBIKE Limited Bike and Cross.

  • Ideal for Riders: 1-4 Years
  • Seat Height: 12″ – 18″
  • Bike Weight: 8.2 lbs
  • Air Tires: Yes
  • Brake: Rear

FirstBIKE Limited Bike with Brake


7. Cruzee Ultralite Balance Bike

Balance Bike

Cruzee made the Top 5 because they are the lightest balance bikes in the world.  Not a lot of high-end components on this model but that is how they keep it at a mere 4.4 lbs in weight.  This particular bike ranks high because being lightweight is a highly sought-after feature for a toddler balance bike. The Cruzee features lightweight 12″ mag wheels with EVA foam tires; and buyers have the choice of either black or white mag wheels.  The next model up from Cruzee, the Ultralight Air; features aluminum spoked rims and air-filled tires. If you look at the hubs you can also see they have slim nuts which are great for helping avoid ankles hitting protruding nuts.  No brakes on this model; so we don’t recommend buying this bike for kids ages 3 and up because with increased speeds at this age; brakes are helpful.  One great option they do have is quick-release handlebars and seat posts for quick adjustments.  The Cruzee is available in 10 cool colors and we just love the high resistance to scratching paint that is done via a process called “Synthetic sapphire”.

  • Ideal for Riders: 1.5-3 Years
  • Seat Height: 12″ – 18″
  • Bike Weight: 4.4 lbs
  • Air Tires: Yes
  • Brake: Rear

Cruzee Ultralight 12″ Balance Bike Available at Cruzee


Things to Consider When Buying a Balance Bike

When it comes down to it, any balance bike can help teach your child to ride, however, you want your child to have the best possible experience. Therefore, you should pay attention to certain criteria to help promote a good experience. These are:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Frame
  • Tire types
  • Brakes
  • Turning limiters
  • Footrests
  • Bearings
  • Materials
  • Hand grips
  • Bolts

Balance Bike Sizes

One size does not fit all when it comes to balance bikes, even though some manufacturers may market balance bikes in such a manner. In fact, size is the most important consideration because the bike must fit your child now, not in six or nine months. Getting one that is too big will make your child feel uncomfortable and he/she won’t want to use it.

Tire Sizes

Tire size and seat height are the two most important factors. Most balance bikes have tires that are either 12 inches or 14 inches in height, although you can find some with tires as small as 10 inches or as large as 16 inches for the smallest and largest learners. Be aware that if you do buy one with 10-inch wheels, your toddler will quickly outgrow it.

How to measure your child for a Balance Bike

prevelo

Measuring your child’s inseam is the key to selecting the right size bike. Measure your child by having him stand against the wall without shoes on. Have your child squeeze a book between his legs and elevate the book slowly until the book reaches his/her crotch. Once you are sure the book is level, measure the distance from the top of the book to the floor. The number you get will be the inseam height. Minimum and maximum seat height is the best indicator of size. Select a bike with a maximum seat height that is at least two inches higher than the inseam measurement to allow for growth. This will allow your child to use the bike for two to three years.

The ideal seat height will be about one-two inches below the inseam so that your child can sit comfortably. Check height often to adjust for growth. Other indicators of proper size are:

  • Your child can stand easily over the bike
  • Your child can walk the bike
  • Your child can easily reach the handlebars while sitting on the seat
  • Your child’s knees will bend slightly when sitting to allow her to push off the ground

Weight of the Balance Bike

Weight is another high-priority factor, especially for younger, smaller children. Generally, the bike should not weigh more than 30 percent of your child’s weight. Adding features will add to the weight of the balance bike, so if your child is small or has trouble with coordination, you may have to opt for a lighter balance bike. Also note that you may have to purchase a second, heavier balance bike if the first one is very light as your child may have difficulty when switching to a regular pedal bicycle that is considerably heavier.

lightweight-balance-bike

Balance Bike Frame

All kids naturally lean forward when riding a bike. A well-designed balance bike will have sufficient room between the seat and the handlebars to allow your child to extend their leg naturally. Pay attention to the position of the seat on the frame. Balance bikes with well-designed frames will have a small gap between the rear tire and the seat when it is in its lowest position.

Tire Types on Balance Bikes

Five types of tires may be found on balance bikes:

  • Pneumatic
  • Foam
  • Rubber
  • Plastic
  • Fat boy style

Pneumatic tires

Pneumatic tires are the most common and provide the most cushioning and traction on the ground. Several tread patterns are available, although standard treads are sufficient for most young riders. If your child will use her balance bike on gravel or other rough surfaces, consider knobby tires. Note that pneumatic tires will add three to four pounds to the bike’s weight. In most cases, air-filled tires can be repaired but in most cases, we recommend replacing the tube or tire whichever is damaged. See image (1)

Foam tires

Foam tires are lighter, less expensive, and will never have a flat, however, they provide limited traction and cushioning. Tread is minimal and can wear away quickly. Foam tires are sufficient for paved surfaces but can pose problems when riding on bumpy terrain or on very smooth surfaces such as some indoor floors. They also have a lower profile and are more commonly found on smaller bikes. See image (5)

balance bike tires

Rubber tires

Rubber tires are also puncture-proof and exhibit slightly higher quality than foam, however, they don’t match pneumatic tires in traction or cushioning. Firstbike uses this style of tire on their entry-level model. See image (4)

Plastic tires

Plastic tires are the lightest of all and also have the lowest quality. They are suitable only for indoor use as they have virtually no traction. See image (2)

Big Apple or Fat Boy

Big Apple or Fat Boy tires are wide-profile pneumatic tires with additional traction and cushioning and are ideal if your child wants to start doing tricks. They are also more expensive. See image (3)

Brakes

Your child’s feet will be the main source of stopping. Somewhere between ages three and four, kids have enough hand-eye coordination to begin using hand brakes, which can provide an extra level of protection. If you purchase a kid’s bike with hand brakes, don’t encourage your child to use hand brakes before that age. Lower-end bikes do not have hand brakes, but if this is an important feature for you, try to test the brakes in person by using only one finger. If you can easily operate it in this manner, your child will also be able to do so. Brakes should always be constructed with a short-reach lever operated with the right hand and stop the motion of the rear tire.

Turning Limiters

Turning limiters, which do exactly as the name implies, are controversial. Proponents believe that they make balance bikes safer by not allowing sharp turns, while detractors say it will delay progression to a pedal bike. Poorly designed limiters will greatly affect the turning radius of the bike. Look for limiters that are flexible and may be removed.

steering-limiters

Footrests on Balance Bikes

You really don’t need footrests on a balance bike. Kids naturally hold their feet up to glide, however, some parents feel the need to include them. Those that are poorly designed can interfere with your child’s stride. Look for footrests that are designed for your child’s heels, not the toes, and have a non-slip surface. We like the Glide Bikes Ezee Glider foot rests below because they can be removed and replaced with an optional pedal assembly to convert your balance bike to a pedal bike. Below are a few balance bikes with footrests.

balance bike footrests

Bearings

Bearings can determine how smooth the ride will be. Look for sealed bearings that produce less friction when the wheels are spinning. Wheels will spin easier with these types of bearings as water, dirt and dust won’t be able to enter them. You’ll only find sealed bearings on high-end balance bikes such as the Dimensions 14. Although the ride will be smoother, sealed bearings can add considerably to the price tag and they are not essential in the overall scheme of teaching your child to ride.

Balance Bike Materials

Metal alloys, composites, and wood are all common materials for kids balance bikes. Steel and aluminum alloys factor considerably in overall weight. High-end kids’ bikes are usually made of strong, lightweight aluminum that is also rust-proof. Steel alloy frames are common on lower-end bikes and are usually heavier.

wood-metal-balance-bikes

Only FirstBIKE manufactures models with composite frames made of glass fiber reinforced nylon. These are lightweight and will never rust, however, they are prone to flexing when used by older, heavier children.

If you’re in the market for an environmentally friendly wooden bike, make sure you choose a higher-end model as less expensive ones tend to fall apart quickly. Most wood balance bikes generally are constructed using 8-10″ ply baltic birch plywood. The Likeabike is shown above.

Handlebar Grips

strider-grips

You may not have thought of this, but the handlebar grips are one of the most important safety features on kids’ bikes as they influence how well your child will handle and control his or her bike. The grips shouldn’t be too thick so your child can hold onto them easily. They also should have protective bumpers to provide extra protection for collisions with walls, bushes, and the like. Bumpers will also prevent your child’s hands from hitting the ground if a fall occurs.

Bolts

Exposed bolts are common on balance bikes, but as the bike ages, they can become rough and can pose a safety issue during falls. They can also scratch the legs of smaller riders during use and can interfere with riding. Covered and rounded bolts provide more protection, but the best option is to find a model with recessed bolts. FirstBIKE and Cruzee manufacture models use recessed bolts.

A Final Word

Remember that your child will ride the bike, not you, so get his or her input on color, decorations, etc. Children won’t ride if they feel the bike is ugly.

Be sure to check the warranty, including length, coverage, and what you may have to replace on your own. Most kids’ bikes have a lifetime warranty on the frame and a manufacturer’s warranty for parts. The warranty may be particularly important if you have multiple children who will use the same bike.