Hey there toddler parent (or grandparent)! Are you looking for the BEST balance bike for your toddler? You are in the right place!
In the last few years, the market has become absolutely flooded with a plethora of balance bike options. Unfortunately, many of these bikes are complete junk.
We’ve researched and personally tested dozens of balance bikes to help you sort through the weeds, save your hard-earned money, and save you time picking out a bike.
Our favorite balance bike is the Woom 1. It is lightweight, easy for kids to learn to ride on, and holds it’s value well.
Our top pick for budget balance bikes is the Strider Classic. This bike lacks the bells and whistles of more expensive balance bikes, but is durable and gets you into the “Strider club.” Also, thanks to the brand name, the bike is easy to sell when you’re done with it, or to pick up used in the first place.
Looking for more options? Read on for our top balance bike picks, balance bike reviews, AND tips on what you should be looking for in a balance bike so you can make the best choice for your child.
May 2023: Updated to include the new Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero balance bike.
10 Best Toddler Balance Bikes
|Bike||What We Love||Price|
|1||Woom 1||Incredibly lightweight, low standover||$249|
|2||Prevelo Alpha Zero||Internal cable routing, brand name components||$219|
|3||Yedoo TooToo||Fun color schemes||$199|
|4||Pello Ripple||Brand name components||$209|
|5||Frog Tadpole Mini||Fits REALLY small riders||$210|
|6||Guardian Balance Bike||SureStop braking system||$199|
|7||Early Rider Charger||Plus-sized tires||$249|
|8||Belsize 12||Good value, pneumatic air tires||$169|
|9||Hornit Airo||Super lightweight, sleek design||$185|
|10||Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero||Disc brakes, convertible wheel size||$340+|
|Budget Pick!||Strider Classic or Sport||Strider themed races, contests, etc||$99+|
No matter the age, Woom bikes are as nice as they come. The Woom 1, the smallest bike in the Woom line-up, is truly top-notch. If you can afford it, there is no doubt that this bike will perform for your little one.
The upright geometry and long wheelbase make the Woom balance bike stable and easy to cruise on. And at a mere 6.6 pounds, this bike is super light making it the best balance bike for an 18-month-old.
The only bummer is the price. At $149, this is one of the more expensive balance bikes around. The good news is that Woom bikes hold their value well, so you can get a good price for it on the used market, or you can save money on your child’s next bike with the Woom Upcycle program.
Read Our Review: Woom 1
Prevelo Alpha Zero
The Prevelo Alpha Zero is as pretty as it is functional. The sleek brushed-aluminum frame is lightweight and boasts internal routing for the brake cable to keep things clean and tidy.
Speaking of brakes, this little balance bike has an easy-to-pull, easy-to-reach handbrake. That, along with pneumatic (air) tires, quick-release seatpost, and optional custom-color grips, make the Prevelo a top-pick.
Like the Woom, Prevelo has a TradeUp program which makes the cost of your child’s next bike more palatable.
Read Review: Prevelo Alpha Zero
If you want the prettiest balance bike on the market, the Yedoo TooToo is the winner. The bike comes in an array of beautiful color schemes and has a pleasing aesthetic.
Of course, we wouldn’t include a bike on our Top 10 list just for looking good. The Yedoo TooToo also performs. It includes pneumatic (air) tires, a rear v-brake, and reflective dots on the tires.
Our only complaint is that the saddle is a bit bulky which makes it harder for little riders (and those with diapers) to fit. There is also no quick release seatpost collar so you have to actually use a tool to raise or lower the seat.
Read Review: Yedoo TooToo
The Pello Ripple is the smallest bike in Pello’s line of fantastic kids bikes. In addition to being beautiful, the bike comes with brand-name components you’d find on an adult bike. These include Kenda tires, a Cane Creek headset, and a rear Tektro v-brake.
Both the seat height and handlebar height are adjustable, and the seatpost can be adjusted tool-free thanks to the quick-release seatpost collar.
The bike is a little heavier than the Woom 1, for example, so this is a better choice for bigger, more athletic toddlers.
Read Review: Pello Ripple
Frog Tadpole Mini
If you have a seriously mini rider, consider the Frog Tadpole Mini which will fit the very smallest toddlers. This bike is one of only a few on the market with 10″ wheels and has an incredibly low minimum seatpost height of 9.5.”
It also has pneumatic (air) Kenda tires and a rear handbrake which quite frankly is a bit unnecessary considering your child will likely outgrow it before they are old enough to learn how to use a handbrake. We only recommend this bike if you are super antsy to get your child riding since you will probably have to buy a larger balance bike before your kiddo is ready for a pedal bike.
If your child is a bit bigger, opt for the regular Frog Tadpole instead–also a great bike.
Read Review: Frog Tadpole Mini
Guardian Balance Bike
Guardian offers some of the safest kids bikes around thanks to their SureStop braking technology. A single brake lever provides appropriate force to both the front and rear wheels to help prevent over the bars braking accidents. This is particularly helpful for young children–like those on balance bikes!
In addition to the smart braking system, we like that the bike has a long wheelbase which helps with stability. Finally, a removable steering limiter is yet another safety feature we appreciate.
The overall fit is a little larger than other balance bikes, so it’s a better fit for older toddlers.
Read Our Review: Guardian Balance Bike
Early Rider Charger 12
If your family likes to ride off-road, the Early Rider Charger 12 is the bike you want. It’s 2-inch wide, plus-sized tires provide plenty of traction as well as comfort. The high volume tires also great for playing in the snow.
We also love the brushed aluminum frame and faux leather saddle. This is one beautiful bike.
That said, we do think the bike is overpriced considering that it doesn’t come with a rear brake. There is routing to add one, but at this pricepoint, it should be included.
The Belsize 12, while not a budget balance bike, offers a lot of bang for your buck. It is lightweight, has high quality components, and offers extras like a removable steering limiter.
We also like the pneumatic (air tires) and higher volume tires that offer get traction in all kinds of terrain. Because of the higher traditional top tube, and consequent higher stand over height this bike is a better fit for older or taller toddlers.
While we like almost everything about the bike, our one complaint is that it does not have a brake–something that older toddlers really benefit from.
Read Our Review: Belsize 12 Balance Bike
At 6.5 pounds, Hornit Airo is one of the lightest bikes around that includes pneumatic air tires and durable spoked, metal wheels. This makes for an enjoyable rider experience (as well as making it easier for mom and dad to carry).
The sleek design is made to minimize opportunity for injury to little riders, and the bike comes in a wide variety of bright beautiful colors. It’s a great pick for kids in 2T pants and up.
While extremely light, be aware that some of the weight savings comes from the exclusion of additional features. The bike does not have a brake, a footrest, or a quick release seatpost collar.
Read Our Review: Hornit Airo
Price: $185 List
Kids Ride Shotgun Dirt Hero
Kids Ride Shotgun (one of our favorite bike seats for mountain biking) also makes the unique Dirt Hero balance bike. With two different wheel size options and an optional rear disc brake, the Dirt Hero caters to mountain bike kids who want to ride off-road.
The bike is suitable for kids aged 2 to 5 years and can accommodate a wide range of heights due to the customizable wheel sizes (12 inch or 14 inch).
Pros of the Dirt Hero include its easy assembly, the ability to grow with the child, pneumatic air tires for better traction, and the optional brake for safety and skill development. The bike’s mountain bike geometry and quality foot pegs are also advantageous.
On the downside, the Dirt Hero is expensive, lacks a quick release seat collar, and the full package with both wheel sizes and the brake can cost around $600. Its higher price point may deter some buyers, especially considering that there are cheaper alternatives.
Read Our Review: KRS Dirt Hero
Strider has managed to so dominate the balance bike market, many people use the word “Strider” and balance bike interchangeably. There are two versions–the Strider Classic and the Strider Sport.
Both bike use the same frame and wheels. The Strider Sport has the addition of a handlebar pad and a longer seatpost that will last from 18 months to 5 years.
We don’t love the fact that the Strider doesn’t have pneumatic (air) tires, and it lacks a brake, BUT it is lightweight and comes in at a reasonable price. It also gives you access to fun events like Strider races, which wins it a place on our list.
Read Review: Strider
Price: $99 (Classic) / $139 (Sport) List
Other Balance Bike Options
- Need a budget option? These are the BEST toddler balance bikes. If you are on a tight budget, look at our list of the 7 Best Balance Bikes Under $100 instead.
- Have an older kid? We’ve hand-picked balance bikes that fit toddlers (18 months to 3 years old). If you have an older preschooler, you’ll be better off checking out our list of the Best Balance Bikes For Preschoolers.
There are so many good balance bikes these days that we couldn’t fit them all on our Top 5 list. These are balance bikes that are also worthy of your consideration.
|Bike||What Makes It Unique||Price|
|Eastern Pusher||Incredibly lightweight||$139|
|FirstBike||Composite frame||$159.99 *|
|Early Rider Lite||Wooden frame||$169|
|Co-Op Rev 12||Use your REI dividend||$139|
|Spawn Tengu 12||Mini mountain bike||$250|
|Norco Runner 12||Bike shop option||$199|
|Specialized Hotwalk||Fat, airless tires||$175|
|Cannondale Trail 12||Lefty fork||$225|
|Islabikes Rothan||No longer sold in US (find one used)||N/A|
The Bentley balance bike is FANCY, which is exactly what you’d expect with that brand name. It has a super lightweight magnesium frame as well as a disc brake. Yes, a disc brake on a balance bike!
It also has a long wheelbase which makes it super stable. That in addition to the high volume air tires, make this a good option for tackling just about any sort of terrain.
If price is no object, this bike is a good choice.
Read Our Review: Bentley Balance Bike
The Eastern Pusher balance bike is a tiny pushbike offered by the popular BMX company. While we don’t recommend many balance bikes on this list that don’t have pneumatic (air) tires, we like the Eastern enough we had to include it.
First off, the bike is crazy lightweight (4.6 lbs). This makes it ideal for more petite riders. Second of all, we found that the tires were non-marking and had good traction on our hardwood floors, which made it the toy of choice during one particularly long winter at our house.
Read Review: Eastern Pusher
With the growing popularity of balance bikes, the market has been flooded with new brands in the last few years. Even with all these new entrants, the FirstBike is the one balance bike that still stands out for its uniqueness.
The composite frame is safe, soft, and durable. For toddlers, you will need the lowering kit that is sold separately, but that makes this an ideal “first bike.”
Read Review: FirstBike
Price: $159.99 (Last updated: 2023-11-20 at 04:19 – More Info)
Early Rider Lite 12
No balance bike list would be complete without an eco-friendly wooden frame. Made of marine-grade birch, the Early Rider Lite is just a beautiful as a nursery decoration as it is fun to ride.
With high-quality parts and a 100-pound weight limit, this bike is sure to last for years (in your garage, not a landfill)!
Read Review: Early Rider Lite
Co-Op REV 12
If you have an REI dividend burning a hole in your pocket, make sure to check out the Co-Op REV 12. This REI brand balance bike offers lots of bang for your buck.
It doesn’t have any bells or whistles (there’s no handbrake for instance), but it’s simple design is durable and it weighs in at only 9 pounds. Get it with a 20% off coupon or your dividend, and this is a great deal.
Read Our Review: Co-Op Cycles REV 12 Review
Spawn Tengu 12
If you are a mountain biking family, chances are you’ve already heard of Spawn. They make amazing kid’s mountain bikes, and the Spawn Tengu 12 is their smallest offering.
Thanks to the beefy, knobby tires, quick-release seatpost collar, and Tektro rear v-brake this thing is ready to head off road. Just make sure you can keep up!
Like Spawn above, Norco makes some great mountain bikes for kids. The Norco Runner 12, however, handles better on pavement and hard packed surfaces than singletrack due to it’s semi-slick tires.
Still, the tires are pneumatic (air) and offer a bunch of volume to kelp cushion your child’s ride. It also has a hand brake and a low standover, which means it is a good bike to start on small and grow with.
Like the Trek Kickster, the Specialized Hotwalk is a high-quality balance bike you can find at your local bike shop. It’s also unique in that it has high-volume airless tires. While we usually prefer pneumatic (air) tires, these ones actually do a great job of providing plenty of traction and comfort without ever going flat.
Aside from that, it has a nice low standover height and footrest for cruising. My only big complaint is that it doesn’t have a quick release seatpost collar.
There is also a carbon version of the Specialized Hotwalk that is very cool–and very expensive ($1,000).
Read Review: Specialized Hotwalk
Cannondale Trail 12
If you have a Cannondale, you might be tempted to get the Cannondale Trail 12. Like the older grown-up Cannondale mountain bikes, the Trail 12 has a lefty fork which I think is hilarious.
Humor aside, this is a good quality bike. It has pneumatic air tires and an Ahead headset. Unlike the previous version, it also now comes with a rear hand brake.
Like Woom, Islabikes is another company that has specialized in making fantastic bicycles for all ages of children. While pricey, these bicycles have quite the following and always sell well on Craiglist (something to keep in mind if the price tag makes you bristle). The minimum seat height on this bike is a bit higher than others (11.5”) so if you have a particularly tiny child, keep that in mind.
Note: As of Fall 2018, Islabikes is no longer selling their bikes in the U.S. market. We are leaving the bike on the list in case you are fortunate enough to live in the European market or if you manage to find one used.
Read Review: Islabikes Rothan
Price & Where to Buy:
- No longer sold in the U.S., search for one used
Comparison Chart: Toddler Balance Bikes
So how do all these bikes stack up? Use this handy chart to compare price, weight, seat height, etc. For more information on each category and on what’s important, continue reading below.
|Bike||Wheel Size||MSRP||Suggested Age||Seat Height||Frame Material||Tire Type||Bike weight||Brake?||Multiple colors|
|Frog Tadpole Mini*||10"||$200||18 months - 2 years||9.5" - 15"||Aluminum||Air||7.6 lbs||Yes||Yes|
|Yedoo Too Too||12"||$159||18 months - 4 years||12"-18"||Steel||Air||8.4 lbs||Yes||Yes|
|Woom 1*||12"||$199||18 months - 3 years||10.8"-15.7"||Aluminum|
|Prevelo Alpha Zero*||12"||$199||18 months - 3 years||11.5-14.6"||Aluminum||Air||8.5 lbs||Yes||No|
|Frog Tadpole*||12"||$210||18 months - 3 years||13.3" - 16.5"||Aluminum||Air||9.3 lbs||Yes||Yes|
|Pello Ripple*||12"||$198||18 months - 3 years||11.5-16.5"||Aluminum||Air||8.8 lbs||Yes||Yes|
How to Choose the Best Balance Bike for Your Toddler
Here are the most important things to consider when shopping for a balance bike for your toddler.
Weight is a crucial deciding factor for bikes for kids of all ages but is even more important when we are talking about the 2 and under crowd. Toddlers who are just learning get frustrated easily, and the lighter weight the bike is, the more likely there are to succeed in their efforts (without a temper tantrum). When comparing two bikes of the same price, pick the lighter one.
At 18 months, toddlers do NOT have the coordination required to use a handbrake. At this point, their feet work just fine as a brake.
For that reason, I do not make a handbrake a big deciding factor when choosing balance bikes for toddlers. That said, by 2.5 to 3 years old, kids begin to be able to use the handbrake and it is good practice for children getting ready to transition to a pedal bike.
So, if you plan on your child using this bike for several years, consider buying one with a handbrake.
The younger and smaller your child, the more important the minimum seat height. If you put a child on a bike that is too big for them, they are inevitably going to crash, get hurt, and become quickly frustrated.
Before buying a bike, measure their inseam and choose a bike with a minimum seat height no larger than their inseam. At this age, kids need to be able to put their feet flat on the ground when seated.
Plan on spending a minimum of $100 for a high-quality balance bike. If that is outside of your budget, check out our list of the best budget balance bikes.
You might also consider searching on Craigslist or asking friends about buying a used bike. A decent used balance bike is generally a better choice than an inferior cheap balance bike.
If price isn’t an issue (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!), then go straight for the Woom 1 or Prevelo Alpha Zero. You won’t be sorry.
You have two options when it comes to balance bike tires: foam/plastic or pneumatic (air). The foam or plastic tires are nice in that they never go flat (woohoo!), but my preference is always the pneumatic (air) tires.
Why? Because they offer superior traction when riding on grass, dirt, and gravel. While this may not be that important at 18 months when your toddler is likely to be riding on the driveway or even the kitchen, you’ll be surprised how quickly they become more adventurous and daring.
While most balance bikes come with 12 inch wheels, you’ll also find some with 10 inch or 14 inch wheels. Most toddlers will do best with 12 inch wheels, but if they are very young or small, a bike with 10 inch wheels may provide the best fit. (We started our son on a 10 inch Haro, for instance).
On the other side of the spectrum, taller toddlers may want 14 inch wheels. (If this is the case for you, check out our list of balance bikes for older preschoolers instead).
The larger a bike’s wheels are, the easier it will be to roll up and over obstacles. They also make for a larger, heavier bike, so don’t move up wheel sizes until your child is truly ready to do so.
We really like steering limiters for young toddlers just learning to ride. A steering limiter keeps your child from over rotating their bars and crashing.
If your kiddo already knows how to ride, you can probably skip the steering limiter. But if your just starting your toddler on two wheels, this feature can be nice to have.
Our favorite steering limiters are removable not built in. This allows you to remove it to give your child the full range of movement once they are a little more aggressive.
Even within the narrow “toddler” category, there are different things you should be looking for based on how old the child is that you’re shopping for.
18 months – The best balance bike for an 18 month-old is going to have a VERY low minimum seat height and a VERY light weight. A brake at the age is totally unnecessary, but is nice to have if you plan on keeping the bike around for a while. The same can be said for tires. At 18 months old, foam tires can be nice for riding inside the house, but by 2 or 3 air tires are the better bet.
2 years old – By 2 years old, you can skip the 10″ wheels and go right for a 12″ balance bike. Pick a bike that will last a year or two, until your toddler is ready to switch to their first pedal bike.
3 years old – If your child (or grandchild) is already in a 3T pant, consider buying a balance bike off our list of best balance bikes for pre-schoolers instead. If they are on the smaller side, stick with a bike on this list but make sure that it has a brake, a high maximum seatpost height, and pneumatic (air) tires. By 3, kids are pretty aggressive on the balance bike.
A Word On Electric Balance Bikes
While most kids don’t need an electric balance bike, it is an option. These little bikes are intended to teach your child to balance AND use a throttle. They are particularly attractive to families who want to introduce their kids to moto riding.
Learn More: 9 Best Kids Electric Bikes For Toddlers To Teens
How We Test Balance Bikes
Because we can’t ride the balance bikes ourselves (well, we do do that sometimes but just to be silly), we have to spend hours watching little tykes ride these bikes. These are our kids, the neighbors kids, kids at the pump track.
While most toddlers will be riding their bikes in the driveway or cul de sac, we also try to test balance bikes under a variety of conditions. We take them off-road on grass as well as on unpaved trail and pump tracks. Basically, we do our best to use and abuse them.
More Reading To Help You Out
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!