Types of Balance Bikes
There are three main types of balance bikes:
- Wood balance bikes
- Steel balance bikes
- Aluminum balance bikes
Wood Balance Bikes
Usually made of birth or pine, wood balance bikes are very durable. Renewable, sustainable woods are typically used to make wood balance bikes, making them an eco-friendly option. Plus, they come in a wide variety of sizes, colors and oh-so cute designs.
Steel Balance Bikes
As the name suggests, this type of balance bike is made of steel. Steel is extremely durable, which means that the material will easily stand up to the wear and tear that the bike is exposed to. Steel also tends to be heavier, which is good and bad when it comes to learning how to balance. The heavier the material, the more grounded the object is to the ground; however, the heavier the material, the greater the chance it will hurt should the child using it fall.
Aluminum Balance Bikes
Aluminum balance bikes are extremely durable, and they are also the lightest weight balance bikes available. Because they are so lightweight, they are extremely streamlined and can whip around with ease; however, their light weight can also be a downside because it means less gravitational pull, which could lead to more falling.
Balance Bike Considerations
You want to make sure your child is as safe as possible while using a balance bike. You also want to make sure that you are purchasing a product that will actually meet his – and your – needs. To ensure that you are ticking off all the boxes, make sure that you consider the following factors before you purchase a balance bike.
Seat Height and Adjustability
The top factor to consider when purchasing a balance bike is the height of the seat. The seats vary widely in height, and you want to make sure that your little rider has the perfect fit. Choosing the wrong size can not only frustrate your child and prevent him from wanting to learning how to properly ride a bike, but it can also be very dangerous. To determine the proper height for the seat, measure your child’s inseam. That measurement should be equal to the height of the seat on the balance bike.
You also want to make sure that the seat height is adjustable. Children grow quickly and you want to be sure that the balance bike will grow with him. If the height of the seat adjusts, he will be able to continue using it as he grows.
The Weight of the Bike
When purchasing a balance bike, you want to make sure that it is no more than 30 percent of your child’s weight. The heavier the bike, the more difficult it will be for your child to operate, which can not only interfere with his ability to learn how to properly use it, but it can also be downright dangerous, as he will have difficulty maneuvering it.
Balance bikes can be outfitted with several different types of tires. When choosing the type of tires for the bike, consider the environment and conditions your child will be riding in.
- EVA Foam – These tires are lightweight and are virtually maintenance free. They can also be used on most terrains and surfaces, both indoors and out. Do note that a foam tire does not offer the same cushioned ride as an air tire.
- Air – This is the standard for balance bikes. Air tired provide a cushioned and comfortable ride and they can ride on a variety of surfaces and terrains; however, air tires are prone to getting flat.
- Solid Rubber – These tires provide a great deal of traction without having to worry about flats. They are best used indoors and on hard, flat surfaces.
- Honeycomb – These tires are fairly new and they are growing in popularity. They are lightweight and offer great traction and comfort without going flat.
- Big Apple – Also known as Fat Boy tires, these tires provide the ultimate in comfort. They are much wider than other types of tires and allows the tire to use air as a natural cushion and suspension.
You want to make sure that your child’s hands are comfortable while riding a balance bike, and handgrips will provide that comfort. Handgrips will also provide protection in the event of an accident, such as a fall or a collision. Look for handgrips that have a protective rubber cushion end, which will absorb the impact of a collision and protect the hand from accidentally being pinched.
Balance bikes can vary significantly in price. Usually, wood bikes are the most expensive, and bikes that offer more features and have more advanced tires are more expensive, too. Make sure you know how much you want to spend before you start shopping so that you can stick to your budget.
Balance Bike Features
There are certain features that balance bikes can offer that will improve your child’s experience, comfort and safety. Do note, however, that these features will likely also drive up the price of the balance bike.
A steering limiter helps to prevent the balance bike from jack knifing, as it keeps the handlebar and front wheel from doing a full 360 degree turn. A steering limiter can make a balance biker safer, especially when going around turns, and it can also limit injuries should a fall occur.
Balance bikes don’t always feature brakes, but the highest quality balance bikes will. Kids tend to use their feet to stop themselves when they are riding a balance bike, but if you want to offer added protection from falls, and you want to improve your child’s accuracy while riding a bike, look for a balance bike that features a brake system.
Again, not all balance bikes are equipped with foot rests, but they can definitely be a nice feature, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rider’s ability to properly use his feet. Foot rests give your child a place to put his feet when he is going down hills, which will help to keep him comfortable and could help to keep him safe.
A warranty is another feature that you may want to be on the lookout for. Should something happen to the balance bike, such as a broken frame, or should not be happy with the bike for some reason, a warranty will cover the cost of replacing the balance bike, or may even refund your money. Do make sure that you read the details of your particular warranty.
Best Balance Bike Brands
Shopping for a balance bike can be very overwhelming, especially when you realize that there are so many different options available. To help you find the best bike for your little one, we tested out brands from some of the top manufacturers, and we also did in-depth research. After testing out the bikes and comparing them, we found that the following balance bike brands are the best of the best because the offer products that will truly meet the needs of all consumers.
Zum balance bikes are made of the highest quality products and offer outstanding safety features, including adjustable seats, padded handgrips and break systems. Their balance bikes also come in an assortment of adorable designs.
Like A Bike
Like A Bike makes balances bikes that are well suited for taller or older toddlers. We like that their seats offer so many adjustable positions and that their bikes are constructed of high-quality wood. We also liked that they had some super cute designs.
Radio Flyer has long been known for producing high quality children’s wagons and bikes. Their balance bikes offer outstanding quality and the famous design that Radio Flyer is so known for. We liked how versatile the tires were and how easy it was for our toddler testers to steer.
The New York Times hailed the Kinder Bike “the best” balance bike. It offers air tires that are attached to metal rims and a very lightweight, yet durable aluminum frame that is offered in four different models. It is very adjustable and can really fit toddlers of all shapes and sizes. You can also get a pedal conversion kit to convert this balance bike into a standard bike once your child has mastered his balance bike and is ready to advanced to the world of a two wheeler bike.