So, your child cannot ride a pedal bike? Perhaps they are too scared, or the bike doesn’t just fit. If so, then a balance bike may be worth considering. But are balance bikes a good idea?
Balance bikes are generally a good idea if you want your kid to quickly transition to a pedal bike, ride independently, go farther, or ride on uneven surfaces. More importantly, balance bikes are a brilliant idea when your kid cannot fit on a regular kids’ pedal bike.
That means that there are situations where balance bikes are not ideal. For example, if your kid is older than seven years or wants to learn to pedal, it makes more sense to get a pedal bike.
On that note, I’ll discuss the situations where balance bikes are applicable and those that aren’t. I’ll also review their pros and cons and highlight the best balance bikes for each year between one and five.
Furthermore, I’ll share how to help your child ride a balance bike.
In a rush? Check out my most recommended balance bikes for kids on the hotlist below:
6 Best Balance Bikes for Kids
- Retrospec Cricket Baby Balance Bike: Best for 1-year-olds
- Chillafish Charlie Balance Bike: Best for 2-year-olds
- Strider 12 Classic: Best for 3-year-olds
- Schwinn Balance Toddler Bike: Best for 4-year-olds
- BIKEBOY Balance Bike 2-in-1: Best for 5-year-olds
- Strider 14X Sport: Best for 7-year-olds
When Are Balance Bikes a Good Idea?
Balance bikes, also known as run bikes or push bikes, are generally a good idea in the following situations:
1. When You Want Your Kid to Quickly Transition to Pedal Bikes
Balance bikes are more effective at developing your kid’s motor skills such as balance, coordination, and turning, which are essential for becoming confident in riding a pedal bike.
Without these motor skills, it’s hard to ride regular pedal bikes. Once kids learn to balance, coast, and steer a balance bike, they can walk into a pedal bike and start pedaling. So, the transition is much smoother.
2. When You Want Your Kid to Ride Independently (Confidently)
Most kids are too scared to ride a bike independently because they are afraid of falling. However, a balance bike makes it easy for them to gain self-confidence as they sit much lower to the ground, allowing the kids to brake by their feet.
Others like the Schwinn Balance Toddler Bike even come with a training wheel, which you can attach to boost your kid’s self-confidence.
3. When You Want Your Kids to Ride Farther
A tricycle cannot go farther as it’s slower and often bulkier. The same goes for a pedal bicycle with training wheels unless you remove the wheels.
A balance bike that is pedal-less and brakeless, in contrast, can go faster and much farther. So, if you want your kid to ride farther but away from the roads, then a balance bike is a good idea.
4. When You Want Your Kid to Ride on Uneven Surfaces
Riding a trike/tricycle or kids’ bicycle with training wheels is never easy on uneven surfaces. It’s ordinarily easy on paved surfaces. That’s, however, not the case with run bikes, as their tires can roll over rough surfaces without being wobbly. They are even safer on such surfaces.
5. When Your Kid Cannot Fit Pedal Bikes
Kids’ bikes usually start from size 12-inch, which is naturally small. But overall, a size 12 kids’ bike is only likely to fit a kid for at least three years. That leaves out those below three years, where run bikes come in.
Balance bikes for toddlers usually fit kids from 12 months. They are more comfortable for kids under three years, hence suitable substitutes for pedal kids’ bikes.
When Are Balance Bikes Not a Good Idea?
Balance bikes might be a good idea in several scenarios, but not all. For example, they aren’t ideal for the following situations:
1. When You Want Your Kid to Learn to Pedal
Since run bikes come pedal-less unless you attach the pedals, they are not the best when you want to teach your kid how to pedal. They are ideal for balancing, steering, and coasting but not pedaling.
If you want your kid to learn to pedal, you should get a kid’s pedal bike instead.
2. When Your Kid is Older than 7 Years
Most run bikes are for kids who are up to 5 years. Very few accommodate those who are up to 7 years. So, once your kid gets to 7 years, it’s unlikely that they’ll fit on a balance bike. The best bike to get them is a pedal bike in such a case.
3. When You Want Your Kid to Grow with the Bike
Kids are likely to outgrow them and require a pedal bike once they can balance and steer a pushbike. That’s unless you get a much bigger balance bike with brakes and pedals like the BIKEBOY Balance Bike 2-in-1.
Your kid can use this bike as a balance bike, and once they are ready to transition to pedal bikes, you can attach brakes and pedals, which it comes with.
Balance Bike Pros and Cons
Let’s now go through the merits and demerits of getting a balance bike for your kid.
Pros of Balance Bikes
Run bikes generally come with the following merits:
1. Easy to ride
Balance bikes are not complicated. They don’t require pedaling or any extra skill other than balancing, coasting, and foot braking. So, they are easy to ride.
2. Lighter and Comfortable
Since run bikes naturally lack pedals and gears, they weigh much less, thus more comfortable for the young kid to push around. They even feature a footrest where the kid can place their feet.
3. Fits Younger Kids Easier
Balance bikes are the only bikes that can perfectly fit kids younger than three years. Kids as young as 12 months can ride them.
4. Perfect for Uneven Surfaces
Run bikes are not as awkward as training wheels and tricycles on uneven surfaces. They allow kids to roll easily on uneven outdoors.
5. Better Balance
Kids are likely to learn to balance independently with balance bikes more than any other kids’ bikes. These bikes genuinely live up to the name run bikes.
6. They Can Go Faster and Farther
Balance bikes allow your kid to ride faster and over a longer distance, much more than they can go with trikes or training wheels.
7. They Can Be Converted into Pedal Bikes
A balance bike like the Strider 14X Sport is easily converted into a pedal kids’ bike using a pedal conversion kit. Consequently, your kid can also ride it as a pedal kids’ bike.
8. Available for Different Ages
Balance bikes come in different sizes to suit toddlers and kids of varying ages. Here are some options for kids under one year to 7 years:
- Retrospec Cricket Baby Balance Bike: Best balance bike for 1 year old
- Chillafish Charlie Balance Bike: Best balance bike for 2 year old
- Strider 12 Classic: Best balance bike for 3 year old
- Schwinn Balance Toddler Bike: Best balance bike for 4 year old
- BIKEBOY Balance Bike 2-in-1: Best balance bike for 5 year old
- Strider 14X Sport: Best balance bike for 7 year old
Relevant: Are Strider Balance Bikes Worth It?
Cons of Balance Bikes
As good as run bikes are, they suffer the following demerits:
1. Can Be Unsafe
Given that these bikes don’t have mechanical brakes and depend on foot braking, they are not the safest on the road as they are likely to go uncontrollably faster.
2. Shoe Wear
Since your kid brakes with the feet, there is excessive friction between the shoes and the ground. As a result, the shoes are likely to wear out much faster.
3. Not Good for Learning to Pedal
Run bikes focus on balance and, to an extent, coasting and steering and not pedaling. If you want your kid to learn to pedal, you should get a pedal bike.
4. Kids Are Likely to Outgrow Them Fast
Run bikes rarely accommodate kids older than five years, and only a few accept kids up to 7 years. So, your kid may outgrow the bike much faster.
Tips for Helping Your Kid to Learn to Ride a Balance Bike
You can help your child enjoy riding a balance bike by following these tips:
- Ride alongside your child to motivate them
- Gear up the kid properly, preferably with a helmet, elbow guard, and knee protectors
- Accessorize the bike with a bell, basket, lights, and anything you can find
- Ensure the balance bike fits the child properly
- Try bringing it indoors for the child to ride there too
- Make it a routine – encourage your kid to ride often
People Also Ask
1. Are Balance Bikes Worth It?
Balance bikes are worth it to improve your kid’s motor development skills like balancing, steering, and coasting. These bikes make the transition to regular kids’ bikes seamless and funnier than trikes or training wheels.
2. Are Balance Bikes Waste of Money?
Balance bikes make it easy for your kid to balance, coast, and steer, and the motor skills are necessary for riding pedal bikes. That makes these bikes worth the money. The only problem is that kids are likely to outgrow them faster.
3. Are Balance Bikes Bad for Babies?
Balance bikes are not bad for babies as long as they can fit. Quite the contrary; they make it easy for babies to enjoy cycling and learn to balance at a young age. Just ensure you supervise them up close to avoid any injuries.
4. Are Balance Bikes Dangerous?
Balance bikes can be dangerous if the child rides without the right gear, especially a helmet. So, ensure you get your kid the correct helmet and other safety gear and watch over them. While at it, keep the child away from the main road or any other high-traffic spot.
Are Balance Bikes a Good Idea? Closing Thought:
Generally, balance bikes are a good idea for kids who cannot fit regular kids’ bikes, are too scared to ride, or take time to learn to pedal. Nonetheless, it may be a good idea to overlook them if your kid is older than seven years or if you want a bike that your kid can grow with for a couple of years.