One of the biggest challenges for parents when it comes to buying a bike for their children is balancing the desire to buy a good bike with the reality that your child will soon outgrow whatever bicycle you pick.
In this post, we share several options. This includes 2 bikes that convert from a trike to a balance bike, and another 3 that convert from a balance bike to a pedal bike. These convertible balance bikes offer an attractive option to parents who want to buy a bike that can grow with their child for a while.
For parents with slightly older toddlers or preschoolers, we also offer a DIY option. Read on to learn more.
Trike To Balance Bike Options
Both the Wishbone 3-in-1 and the YVolution YVelo Jr are perfect choices for kids who aren’t quite ready for a balance bike, but will be soon.
The very smart Wishbone 3-in-1 bike converts from a three-wheeled trike to a small balance bike to a bigger balance bike, making it the only thing you’ll need until your child is ready for pedals.
It’s durable, well made, and eco-friendly. It is made of environmentally-responsible materials like birch and post-consumer recycled plastic.
Read Our Review: Wishbone 3-in-1
Price: $279.99 (Last updated: 2023-11-30 at 14:07 – More Info)
YVolution YVelo Junior
The Yvolution Yvelo Jr balance bike has a unique design. For very young children it has two rear wheels that make the bike extra stable. Then, once they are a bit older, you can convert it to a single rear wheel.
We love this bike for an indoor toy. The tires are non-marking so you don’t have to worry about your floors.
Read Our Review: Yvolution Yvelo
Price: (Last updated: – More Info)
Balance Bikes With Pedals Options
Balance bikes with pedals can be used first without the pedals to learn to balance, and then later with pedals attached to use as a regular bike (sans training wheels). This is a great choice for parents who don’t want to buy a balance bike now and another pedal bike soon. That said, before going this route you might want to check out our DIY method (detailed below).
The LittleBigBike is a 3-in-1 14″ wheeled bicycle that converts from a little balance bike to a big balance bike to a pedal bike. Unlike it’s closest competitor, the Strider 14x (listed below), the LittleBig offers dual handbrakes which we love.
It also has high-end features like internally routed cables, and nice wide pneumatic tires.
The only thing to be aware of is that while the bike is advertised for kids up to age 7, by age 5 or 6, kids will be far better suited by a 16″ or even 20″ bike.
Read Our Review: LittleBig Bike
Strider makes the best known balance bikes around, but you might not know that they make a popular balance to pedal bike as well. The Strider 14x has 14″ wheels with pneumatic (air) tires, and weighs in at respectable 12.5 lbs.
The only thing we don’t love about the bike is that it has a rear coaster brake and no hand brakes. It also has short crank arms, which means that it’s okay for a starter pedal bike but your child will be limited in their ability to grow and improve on the bike.
Read Review: Strider 14x
Price: $209.99 (Last updated: 2023-12-02 at 00:11 – More Info)
Black Mountain Pinto
The Black Mountain Pinto is unlike anything else out there. It has an extendable frame to grow from a balance bike to a 12″ pedal bike to a 14″ pedal bike. Additionally, the gearing “grows” with your child and gives them a higher gear when they are ready for it.
The other really cool thing about this bike is the belt drive (rather than a chain). While this is something you’ll find on some higher end kids bikes, it’s rare to see in a bike this small. Belt drives are great because they require virtually no maintenance.
The Pinto certainly isn’t a cheap bike BUT it’s a solid investment if you can consider that it’s three bikes in one. The only one (minor) con is that it does take a bit of work to convert, but again, it’s probably worth it.
Read Review: Black Mountain Pinto
DIY Option: A Pedal Bike With Pedals Removed
Our last bike isn’t a specific bicycle recommendation at all, instead it’s a DIY option! If your child is old enough for a pedal bike, but hasn’t already mastered a balance bike, consider buying them a good pedal bike and then just removing the pedals.
You want to make sure you buy a bicycle that has a minimum seatpost that’s at least as long as your child’s inseam so that they can place their feet flat on the ground while sitting on the saddle. Then, remove the pedals.
Encourage them to practice scooting and then coasting on the bike just like you would with a balance bike. Then, once they have the balance thing down, you can put the pedals back on.
We’ve done this with lots of kids and think it’s the best choice IF your child is likely to start pedaling soon anyhow.
Here’s a chart to give you a little more information about each bike.
|Bike||Type of Conversion||Tire Type||Weight||Minimum Seatpost Height||Wheel Size|
|Wishbone 3-in-1||Trike to Balance||Pneumatic||13.8 lbs||11″||12″|
|YVolution Y Velo Jr||Trike to Balance||Plastic||7.94 lbs||11″||10″|
|LittleBig Bike||Balance to Pedal||Pneumatic||14.5 lbs||14″||14″|
|Strider 14x||Balance to Pedal||Pneumatic||15.1 lbs||15″||14″|
|Black Mountain Pinto||Balance to Pedal||Pneumatic||12.5 lbs||15.5″||12″/14″|
Is A Convertible Balance Bike A Good Idea?
It can be. If your primary concern is buying a bike that will last for a while, then a convertible balance might be the way to go. This is especially true for the bikes that convert from 3-wheel trikes to 2-wheel balance bikes.
That said, none of these bikes are perfect, and this is especially true of the balance bike to pedal bike conversions. By trying to be okay at multiple things they don’t excel at any.
The Strider 14x, for example, is a bit heavy for a balance bike and the 14″ wheels may still be too big for smaller balance bike riders. As a pedal bike, it lacks brakes and the geometry (aka low bottom bracket) forces shorter than normal crank arms.
They may be a good short-term solution, but sooner than later you’ll want to upgrade your child to a higher-quality pedal bike. Or simply use the DIY option we mentioned above and get them that good quality pedal bike now.
Learn More About Kids Bikes
Looking for our top picks? We prefer most of the bikes on these lists to those listed above.
- 5 Best Balance Bikes For Toddlers
- 5 Best Balance Bikes For Preschoolers
- 5 Best 12″/14″ First Pedal Bikes
- Best Kids Bikes: How To Choose, Reviews, & More!
The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.
Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.
If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!