Have a toddler or preschooler with LOTS of energy? Or maybe you’re a family that enjoys mountain biking or BMX? In either case, the Saracen Freewheel balance bike is probably a good pick for your child. Made by a popular UK mountain bike manufacturer, the Saracen Freewheel is a REAL bike that can handle just about anything an adventurous preschooler can throw at it.
The Saracen is one of the larger 12″ balance bikes out there, and thanks to a long wheelbase, wide handlebars, and top-notch components, it can handle obstacles and other abuse with ease. We highly recommend this bike for kids ages 2.5 to 4–especially ones that are more athletic and inclined to take the bike on off-road adventures.
Review in a Nutshell
- Good for any terrain thanks to wide handlebars and high volume pneumatic (air) tires
- Quick-release seat post
- Rear v-brake with internally routed cables
- Older preschoolers may be better off with 14″ wheels
Price & Where to Buy:
- $199 at TikesBikes.com
Saracen Freewheel Balance Bike Detailed Review
Ideally Suited to Older Toddlers/Preschoolers and Aggressive Riders
Have a little Evil Knievel on your hands? The Saracen Freewheel is the ideal balance bike for your little one. It is larger than many other 12″ balance bikes making it ideally suited for taller kiddos. With a 13″ minimum seatpost height is best suited for little ones between 2.5 and 4 years old. (For smaller toddlers, consider a balance bike the Yeddoo Too Too or Woom 1*).
As I’ll mention again in a moment, the Saracen is designed to perform well off-road, which also makes it perfect for adventurous kids who are more inclined to seek out obstacles and dirt. At 10.7 pounds it is heavier than many other 12″ balance bikes, which means it is best suited for athletic, aggressive riders. If you have a petite or timid child, they’ll be better off with a lighter-weight, smaller bike.
Quick-Release Seatpost Collar Makes Life Easier
This may seem like a minor detail, but we love the fact that the Saracen balance bike comes with a quick-release seatpost collar. So many balance bikes don’t, which means that every time your child grows a 1/4 inch, you have to get out tools to raise their seat. Or if you want to swap the bike between kids of different heights, you have to get out an Allen wrench. Not so with the Saracen, thanks to the custom Wee Bike Shop seatpost collar. Not only does it make raising and lowering the seatpost a cinch, but it also happens to look really cool.
Excels for Off-Road Riding
If you are a family that enjoys mountain biking or riding the local pump track, the Saracen is one of the better balance bikes you can pick. This isn’t surprising since Saracen makes great adult mountain bikes as well. The wide handlebars improve stability and maneuverability over obstacles, and the pneumatic (air) tires maintain good traction on loose dirt and gravel. That said, the Kenda Kontact tires on the newest version of the Saracen are less knobby than older versions of the bike. If you plan on riding primarily on dirt, you may want to swap them out for something even beefier.
Even if you don’t plan on doing any real off-road riding, if you have an adventurous preschooler, they are probably going to find a way to go off-road. The Freewheel Saracen does a great job of handling anything a kiddo can throw at it–wet grass, mud, uneven sidewalks, etc.
Even my 6-year-old, who’s technically too big for the bike, couldn’t resist taking the Saracen out on the pump track and off some jumps.
Rear v-brake Saves Shoes and Provides Good Practice
The Saracen is better suited for older toddlers and preschoolers, which is why we appreciate that it has a rear v-brake. Around 2.5 years old, most kids can start to operate a brake. Beginning kids early like this gives them plenty of practice learning to brake before they have the added complication of pedaling also. Kids who learn to use a handbrake on a balance bike can switch to a pedal bike with hand brakes and no coaster with no problem.
The other reason we like a handbrake for preschoolers is that they can get going FAST. A brake gives kids a way to slow down and stop without dragging their feet and wearing out the soles of their shoes.
The rear brake on the Saracen is a high-quality v-brake. This is both lighter and more efficient than a drum brake, which you’ll find on cheaper balance bikes. The brake cable is routed internally to help keep things tidy. Finally, the brake lever has an adjustable reach and is easy for little hands to operate.
Wheel Size: 12″ vs 14″ balance bikes
While we still highly recommend the Saracen Freewheel for older toddlers and young preschoolers, one thing worth considering before buying the bike is the wheel size. While the Saracen fits preschoolers really well thanks to its long wheelbase, higher seatpost height, and wide handlebars, it has 12″ wheels. For preschoolers, we tend to prefer bikes with 14″ wheels, like the Woom 1 Plus or the Scoot XL. Bigger wheels allow kids to go faster and to roll over obstacles easier.
High-Quality Durable Frame Has No Weight Limit
The frame and fork are high-quality and durable. The frame is made of lightweight 6061 aluminum and the fork is high-tensile steel. The bike is so durable in fact that it has no weight limit. Of course, I took this as my opportunity to do some stunts in the dining room. I’m happy to report that despite some cooler-weather weight gain, I did no damage to the bike.
In more practical terms, the durability of the bike means that it can easily be handed down to a younger sibling or resold later on.
Other Things Worth Mentioning
- The valve stems on the tires are angled. This makes getting a pump onto the valve stem much easier.
- The bike comes with a bell. It makes a nice sound and little kids love it. In fact, our 4-year-old tester was OBSESSED with the bell.
- Both the seat and the handlebars are adjustable so that the bike can grow with your child.
- The Saracen Freewheel balance bike does NOT have a steering limiter. Many balance bikes come with either a built-in limiter or a removable limiter, but the Freewheel has neither. This is nice for athletic kids who already have good handling and steering skills as they have a full range of motion. It’s not as great for younger toddlers and more timid riders.
- The grips have nice large ends to keep little hands from slipping off the handlebars.
- The bike comes in several colors–Turquoise (pictured), Pink/White, and Red/White/Blue.
Comparison Chart: Saracen Freewheel Balance Bike vs the Competition
Not sure how the Saracen stacks up against other options? Here are some of the Saracen’s closest competitors.
|Bike||Wheel Size||MSRP||Seat Height||Suggested Age||Frame Material||Tire Type||Bike weight||Brake?||Multiple colors|
|Woom 1 Plus*||14″||$269||14.8″-18.5″||3-5 years old||Aluminum||Air||9.8 lbs||Yes||Yes|
|Ridgeback Scoot XL||14″||$210||16″-22″||3-6 years old||Aluminum||Air||12.5 lbs||Yes||Yes|
|13″-19″||2-5 years||Aluminum||Air||10.5 lbs||Yes||No|
Bottom-Line: The Perfect Balance Bike for Athletic Preschoolers
The Saracen Freewheel balance bike is ideally suited for older toddlers and preschoolers who have a wild streak. It excels in all types of terrain including dirt, gravel, mud, and grass. We love the wide handlebars, high-volume pneumatic tires, and internally routed rear v-brake. For outdoorsy and adventurous families, the Saracen balance bike is a top pick.