You recognize the benefits of getting your child a balance bike, but don’t want to spend a fortune either. If that sounds like you, consider the Schwinn Koen or Schwinn Elm balance bikes. (More on the difference in a moment).
These are some of the better sub-$100 balance bikes we’ve tested. We put the Schwinn Koen through nearly two months of HEAVY use and abuse, and unlike most “budget” balance bikes, it held up admirably well.
In addition to the obvious durability, other things we liked about the bike are that it’s lightweight, has a quick-release seatpost collar, and a handle on the saddle . The only minor drawbacks to the Koenn and Elm balance bikes is that they have (like all balance bikes in this price range), a quill-headset rather than a threadless headset, and foam tires rather than pneumatic (air) tires.
Review In A Nutshell
- Better durability than most “budget” balance bikes
- Quick-release seatpost collar
- Handle on saddle
- Steering limiter
- Quill-style headset tends to rattle loose
- Foam tires lack the traction of pneumatic (air) tires
- 12″ wheels
- Minimum seatpost height: 14.25″
- Weight: 8.5 lbs
Price: $69.99 (Last updated: 2020-08-14 at 22:16 – More Info)
Schwinn Koen Video Review
What’s The Difference Between the “Koen” and “Elm” Balance Bikes?
Virtually nothing. The Koen is marketed for boys, and the Elm is marketed for girls. In reality, pick whichever asthetic you like best and go for it.
We’re not huge fans of gender segmenting for kids bikes, so we chose the Koen for this review. It’s red, looks good, and can be used for kids of any gender.
One Of The Better “Budget” Balance Bikes
The Schwinn balance bike isn’t one of the best balance bikes that we’ve reviewed, but it is one of the best affordable balance bikes we’ve reviewed. Unlike many “cheap” balance bikes, the Schwinn Koen stood up to all the abuse we threw at it.
My too-big-for-a-balance-bike 7-year old has spent the last 6 weeks of our coronavirus stay-at-home order thoroughly entertained by the Koen–jumping it off curbs and riding it down the stairs inside our house. If it was going to break easily, it probably would have by now.
That said, don’t kid yourself into thinking this bike is on the same level of higher-end balance bikes. It doesn’t have the pneumatic air tires of the Yedoo Too Too or the super low weight of the Woom 1, for example. But in terms of durability, the Schwinn balance bike does alright.
Fits Kids Between 2.5 and 4 Years Old
The Schwinn Koen is a good choice for kids between APPROXIMATELY 2.5 and 4 years old. Toddlers younger than that will do better on a balance bike with a shorter minimum seatpost height.
The minimum seatpost height is 14.25″ which means your child should have an inseam length AT LEAST that long. Measure them!
The maximum seatpost height is 16.75″. This means that there is only 2.5″ of adjustability–much less than most of our favorite balance bikes. This means that the bike won’t provide as much growth as other bikes.
If you’re just using the Schwinn Koen as a bridge to a first pedal bike, then it will work well. If, on the other hand, you have a preschooler and would like the bike to last a while, then opt for a bigger balance bike.
Lightweight Build Makes It Fun And Easy To Ride
At 8.5 pounds, the Schwinn Koen isn’t THE lightest balance bike around, but it’s pretty darn light. This means that young children will have an easier (and more enjoyable) time handling the bike.
Especially for younger and more petite toddlers, a low weight is critical for their success on a balance bike.
Quick-Release Seatpost Collar Allows For Easy Seat Height Adjustments
As far as I’m concerned a quick-release seatpost collar is one of THE most important features on a balance bike. It allows you to quickly raise (or lower) the seat without any tools.
This is important because toddlers grow seemingly overnight, and balance bikes often get swapped between siblings, friends, and neighbor kids with different length legs.
Happily, the Schwinn Koen balance bike DOES have a quick-release seatpost collar, and we used it frequently to let different kids ride it.
Handle On Saddle Is Ideal For Teaching Toddlers To Ride…And For Carrying And Storage
The first balance bike we ever owned was the Haro PreWheelz, and since my son was just learning to ride when we had it, I really appreciated the handle on the rear of the seat that allowed me to hold onto the bike and help stabilize it.
The Schwinn Koen has the same nifty rear of the saddle handle that the Haro had. When my 2.5 year old nephew was riding the Schwinn, I found myself frequently using the handle for a different reason: to slow him down when he was going too fast and to hold him nearby when he wanted to escape.
Finally, the handle is also handy for carrying the balance bike and for hanging storage.
Foam Tires Won’t Go Flat But Don’t Provide Much Traction
The Schwinn Koen has foam tires and plastic wheels. Foam tires are great in terms of maintenance–you’ll never have to worry about them going flat.
That said, foam tires also don’t work very well for providing traction. For this reason, we much prefer pneumatic (air) tires, which do a better job when riding on uneven sidewalks or on dirt or gravel.
Still, if you don’t want to worry about maintenance and you’re on a budget, then the foam tires on the Schwinn Koen will get the job done.
No Handbrake, Plan On Replacing Some Shoes
Like other balance bikes in the price range, the Schwinn Koen lacks a handbrake (or any sort of brake for that matter). While a hand brake isn’t NECESSARY on a balance bike, it is nice to have.
For starters, a hand brake provides your child practice learning to brake in a low-pressure environment at a young age. By the time they switch to a pedal bike, they’ll already have some experience with a hand brake.
Secondly, without a handbrake, kiddos will drag their toes to slow down and stop. This was very apparent when my 2.5 year old nephew was testing the bike for me. It works, BUT plan on your child wearing out several pairs of shoes in the process.
Real Wheel Axle Bolts Are Covered For Safety
Most balance bikes have rounded axle bolts to help keep kids from getting scratched or otherwise injured, but the Schwinn Koen goes a step further. It has nice smooth, round plastic bolt covers that provide a little extra safety and peace of mind.
Besides the bike being repeatedly dropped on thrown on it’s side, these covers miraculously held up and didn’t crack or fall off.
Quill-Style Headset Tends To Rattle Loose
Really the only major drawback of the bike, that I found, was that the quill-style headset has a tendency to rattle loose. (I’ve found this to be true of most balance bikes with quill-style headsets).
This is easily fixed by re-tightening it…but requires you to check it from time to time…
Steering Limiter Keeps Kids From Over-Rotating Their Bars..But It’s Not Removable
We like that the Schwinn Koen balance bike has a steering limiter. This keeps young kids who are just learning from over-rotating the handlebars–and subsequently crashing.
The only (minor) bummer, is that unlike the Woom 1 (for example) that has a removable steering limiter, the limiter on the Schwinn Koen is fixed. This means that even once your child has mastered steering, they’re stuck with the limiter.
In any case, it’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s worth mentioning.
Bottom-Line: A Top Pick For Parents Looking For A Budget Option
If money is no object or you highly value quality, then choose a higher-end balance bike with all the bells and whistles. If your’re on a budget, however, the Schwinn Koen or Schwinn Elm are good picks.
The Schwinn balance bikes are durable, lightweight, and a killer deal at well under $100.
Learn More About Balance Bikes
Make sure you’re informed before picking a bike. These product guides and articles can help!
- 5 Best Balance Bikes For Toddlers
- 7 Best Budget Balance Bikes Under $100
- 7 Reasons Your Toddler Needs A Balance Bike
FTC Disclosure: Schwinn provided a Koen balance bike to us to facilitate this review. We did not receive any monetary compensation, and all opinions are our own.