After owning many balance bikes over the years – an embarrassing number – the Hornit Airo is BY FAR the lightest out of the group. By a long shot! It’s not even close.
Why does that matter?
A lightweight balance bike makes your little rascals feel more confident. They can pick up the front wheel, turn around easily, and after a tip over they can pick themselves up and get going again on their own. Not to mention, once they get tired of riding mid-way down the trail, the Airo is easy to carry in one hand, parents, which makes this bike one of our faves.
But doesn’t lightweight mean flimsy?
In this case, the magnesium alloy frame is very rigid. All of the components on the bike were carefully considered making it strong, light, and durable.
Unbox, straighten the handlebars, adjust the seat height, and tighten a few screws with the provided hex wrench. No assembly, no headaches, and ready to ride in minutes.
Review in a Nutshell
- Only 6.5lbs… Wow! Lighter than 23 of the top competitors in the balance bike market
- Sleek design made to minimize opportunity for injury to little riders
- Quality wheels and headset
- Adjustable seat height for more mileage to grow with your little rider
- Grip tape footrests help secure little feet
- The price is on the higher side, so be sure that your little one is a committed rider
- The provided hex wrench was missing from our box
- No quick release on the seat tube
- Slick tires roll great on the sidewalk but lack some traction off-road
- No steering limiter
Price & Where To Buy:
- $185 List
- Check Price at Hornit.com*
- $185.00 at Amazon.com* (Last updated: 2023-11-18 at 19:13) – More info
Light as a Feather
As we already mentioned, the Hornit Airo is crazy lightweight. While their are other bikes that can compete on weight alone (the ever popular Strider, for instance, weighs 6.7 lbs), the Hornit is one of the few balance bikes with pneumatic air tires, spoked wheels, and durable components that comes in that low. (Some competition: The Woom 1 comes in at 6.6 pounds).
This makes for a very enjoyable rider experience. As soon as our little guy got on the bike, he immediately grabbed the handlebars, picked the front end off the ground and started doing his version of wheelies. “Pop a wheelie!” he exclaimed.
We could see a spark in his eye as he understood that this bike will be fun. He had full control and wasn’t timid in the slightest.
As we started cruising around our local spot, we could tell his confidence was high. He was grinning, talking a lot, and enjoying himself. Not focused on the mechanics of riding. Even after a little tip over, he popped up and picked the bike up with no issue.
With it being early summer, our little guy got hot and worn-out mid trail. Meaning it’s time for him to walk and mommy to carry the bike. With one hand, the Hornit Airo is easy to carry without worry.
Quality Design and Construction
The bike is beautiful and comes in a host of fun colors with tasteful water slide graphics. Red, Pink, White, Yellow, Turquoise and Blue.
We have the Turquoise for reference. The look is modern, and it looks expensive at first glance but still begs to be ridden.
Hornit used a molded magnesium alloy construction, which means there aren’t any weld marks. Couple that with thoughtfully designed footrests and rounded edges, the Airo is sharp looking and friendly to little riders. Many of our experienced riding friends were impressed by the design and wished they had something similar when they were a kid.
For such a sleek design and construction, we were left scratching our heads a little bit on the center of the frame. They designed a two-piece plastic insert in the middle of the frame.
Outside of offering an option for a little extra color pop, we were a little unsure of the reasoning for it. It’s either a nice way to create a smooth surface for parents to grab and carry the bike, or it’s simply decorative.
Easy Roller – Wheels and Tires
The quality doesn’t stop at the design and construction of the frame. The included wheel set resembles something of a full-sized quality bike, unlike the plastic wheels you’ll find on many inferior balance bikes.
The hubs are made of heat treated 6061 aluminum and are fitted with sealed double bearings. This means your wheels are ready to freely coast for many miles.
Most balance bikes use an air-filled off-road tire or dense EVA foam alternative. Hornit selected air-filled, 12.5” fat street slicks that are easily filled with any standard bike pump.
They roll great for those little ones ripping down sidewalks or hard packed trails. However, they lacked a bit of grip in some off-road scenarios. Luckily, dirt tires should be easily found at any local bike shop if you plan on doing more dirt riding.
One thing to keep in mind, the wheels bolt on. That means, you’ll have to have the correct hex wrench with you should you need to remove the wheel at any time.
Hornit includes this wrench, however ours was missing from the box they shipped. It is nice that the bolts are recessed to minimize the opportunity to scrape ankles on them. We kind of wish that there was a nice cover for them to add to the sleek design style.
Cockpit – Handlebars and Seat
Our 3-year-old fit the bike instantly. Feeling right at home with the handlebars and adjustable seat.
The handlebars are a bit wide, which is nice for control, but might be too wide for smaller riders. If you remove the grips, you might be able to cut off an inch or so on each side, but we only suggest doing this if you are experienced. The neoprene neck cover is a nice little touch to cover up some sharp corners with a bit of protection.
You’ll notice the handlebars are very sleek and minimize distraction for little riders. However, that’s because they don’t have brakes. And it doesn’t look like there is an obvious way to add brakes on your own either.
Most balance bikes don’t include brakes, so this isn’t out of the norm, but some bikes in this price range include a rear brake lever. We feel like brakes can be difficult to use for really young riders who are just getting started with balance bikes so not having a brake was not a dealbreaker. Most kids opt for the Fred Flintstone feet brakes naturally which does mean that shoes will be in danger of getting soles worn out quickly.
The handlebars aren’t adjustable. Some other competitors in the balance bike market have height adjustment built into the steering stem, similar to an adjustable seat post. That does open up the opportunity to miss align your front wheel and handlebars pretty easily though.
No Steering Limiter
Let’s talk steering limiters. I know, what the heck is that?! Some balance bikes have a fixed or adjustable insert in the neck of the frame that limits the range of motion for the handlebars to turn.
This is meant to prevent a child from over-steering and potentially jabbing the handlebars into their stomach or chest. Unfortunately, the Airo does not have a steering limiter so it’s something to consider when purchasing.
Seat Height And Saddle Construction
The seat is made from a dense foam and should hold up for a long time. The adjustable seat post is great for dialing in to your little one’s riding style.
With an adjustable saddle height of 11.5” to 17.325” measuring from the ground to the top of the saddle. The recommended inside leg measurements for seat height adjustment is 11.8” to 18.9”.
This makes it best suited for kids in at least a 2T pant. (For smaller kiddos, consider the Woom 1 or Frog Tadpole Mini instead).
If your rider likes to stand up and walk with it, drop the seat really low and out of the way. If he or she likes to sit and paddle with their feet, raise it up to the correct height for them touch the ground with the balls of their feet while sitting.
Note, to adjust the seat you must have the included hex wrench with you. It would be nicer if the bike had a quick release seatpost collar for a tool free adjusment.
Grip Tape Footrest
In our growing fleet of balance bikes, some have grip tape and others don’t. We feel that having grip tape provides that little extra traction for tiny feet.
This is helpful for newer riders that like to be pushed around by Mom or Dad. Another note, grip tape can be a bit rough on fingers. We suggest that you always watch where the kids are putting their little hands.
The Hornit Airo reminds us a lot of the Prevelo Alpha Zero. They are both in the $150-199 price point range and seem to be that upper echelon of balance bikes.
Both bikes have much better construction and finish details than the under $100 bikes. While the Prevelo comes with a rear wheel V-brake which we appreciate, it weighs in at 8.5lbs. That’s 2 pounds heavier than the Hornit Airo, which might not sound like a lot to us, but when your body weight is in the 20-50lbs. range, every little bit counts.
If your rascal rider learned on a toy/beginner bike and is ready to take their riding ability to the next level, the Hornit Airo is the perfect step up. Lightweight, easy rolling, and confidence inspiring. Great for that 2 to 5 age range.
If we were standing in our local bike shop with a few options for balance bikes, it’d be hard to ignore the design, quality, and weight of the Hornit Airo.
More Reviews & Help Finding The Best Balance Bike
- 5 Best Balance Bikes For Your Toddler
- Everything You Need To Know About Balance Bikes
- 5 Best Baby and Toddler Bike Helmets
About The Reviewers
Our Rascal friends, Warren and Therese, met through their mutual love of riding and have injected their passion for bikes into their family unit. Warren grew up riding dirtbikes at a young age, which expanded into mountain biking and BMX racing. Therese rekindled her love for bike riding when she was introduced to dirtbikes and mountain bikes. They share their joy of riding with their two young boys, “Cuatro and Ez.” You can find them out at Wheelie Ranch, building bike lines and dirt tracks or out at their local tracks, bike parks and trails.