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5 Best Toddler Bikes For Your 1 or 2 Year Old

Author: Kristen Bonkoski

Updated:

We gave our son a ride-on toy when he was 1 year old, moved him to a balance bike at 18 months, and then a pedal bike at 2.5 years old. That was 10 years ago and he’s thrived on the bike ever since (thanks in large part to the early start).

Over that decade, our family and the rest of the Rascal Rides team have tested and reviewed dozens of toddler bikes. This article shares our five favorites.

Our top pick is the Woom 1. It is incredibly lightweight, easy for tiny tots to handle, and is durable enough to last through multiple children. Whenever we teach a new toddler to ride, we use the Woom 1 to teach them.

After you’ve picked out a bike, make sure to review our list of the best toddler bike helmets and our guide to biking with young kids.

yedoo too too 18 month old is definitely a toddler bike

Our Top Picks

There are four different types of toddler bikes: balance bikes, tricycles, ride-on toys, and pedal bikes. The one that is most appropriate for your child is dependent on their age and skill level. Here we share our top pick in each category (as well as a budget balance bike option).

BikeType Of Bike
1Woom 1Best Balance Bike
2Wishbone 3-in-1Tricycle
3ScuttlebugRide On Toy
4Cleary GeckoPedal Bike
5Strider ClassicBudget Balance Bike

Woom 1 | Best Balance Bike For Toddlers

woom 1 sizing

Price: $249

Reasons To Buy

✅ Lightweight and easy to handle
✅ High quality parts
✅ Pneumatic (air) tires rather than foam
✅ Rear (hand) brake
✅ Trade up program

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Expensive
❌ Too big for the youngest toddlers

Balance bikes, also known as push bikes or run bikes, are pedal-less bicycles designed for young kids.  As soon as kids can walk and have decent motor skills (generally around 18 months), they can start on a balance bike. 

Balance bikes are our favorite kind of bikes for toddlers because they provide kids with the tools they will need to be successful on a pedal bike later. Indeed, the majority of kids who learn to ride on a balance bike as a toddler will be able to skip training wheels altogether once they switch to a pedal bike. Balance bikes are also excellent for developing gross motor skills and boosting confidence.

Our favorite toddler balance bike is the Woom 1. It is a good fit for toddlers as young as 18 months old thanks to the low stand over height and incredibly low weight. This makes it easy for little ones to handle.

The Woom 1 is more than a toy, it’s a real bicycle. It has pneumatic (air) tires rather than plastic ones, a rear handbrake so kids can start to learn braking skills young, and high-quality components that will last for years.

The bike will hold up if you want to hand it down to a younger sibling, and it has great resale value. Or, you can use Woom’s upCYCLING program. This initiative offers a sustainable and cost-effective solution for families, allowing you to upgrade to the next size bike as your child grows.

The only reasons NOT to buy the Woom 1 is if it’s out of your price range (it’s certainly not cheap), OR if your child is closer to their first birthday than 18 months.

Read Review: Woom 1

Wishbone 3-in-1 | Best Tricycle For Toddlers

small child on the wishbone trike

Price: $279 List

Reasons To Buy

✅ Beautiful and aesthetically pleasing
✅ Durable and environmentally friendly
✅ Pneumatic (air) tires
✅ Grows with your child

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Storage can be an issue
❌ Expensive

Another popular option for toddlers is a tricycle. Tricycles or big-wheels can be great fun for use in the backyard, but they don’t teach real cycling skills. One notable exception is the Wishbone 3-in-1 that converts from a tricycle to a balance bike.

The Wishbone 3-in-1 will last your child for years. Around 12 months, toddlers can start using the bike as a tricycle. Later, it converts to a small balance bike and then to a bigger balance bike.

We also appreciate that it is made of environmentally-responsible materials like birch and post-consumer recycled plastic. They’ve also made the bike so that the parts are repairable and replaceable.

It is made of wood so you don’t want to leave it outside, and it has a larger footprint, so it can be challenging to find space to store inside as well. That (and the higher price tag) are the only drawbacks.

Read Review: Wishbone 3-in-1

Scuttlebug | Best Ride On Toy

Price: $45 List

Reasons To Buy

✅ Foldable for easy transport
✅ Affordable
✅ Rubber wheels won’t mark floors
✅ Lightweight

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Tiny wheels struggle outdoors
❌ Will be outgrown quickly

The very youngest toddlers (starting around 12 months old), can have fun on a ride-on toy. These are usually three- or four-wheeled bikes that help toddlers start to get the hang of scooting around on a bike, but are appropriate for little ones that aren’t quite big enough yet for a balance bike.

We bought a Scuttlebug ride-on toy for my son’s first birthday and it was one of the best purchases we’ve ever made. It helped to get him excited about biking and provided years of entertainment — even once he had moved on to a pedal bike.

What I really like about the Scuttlebug is that it’s cheap! A ride-on toy is just that: a toy. The hope is that you’ll use this as a temporary bridge to a balance bike, so you don’t want to spend a fortune on it.

That said, the Scuttlebug is still durable. (My kiddo got a couple years of play on it). The wheels are rubber and don’t mark indoor floors (we used it on our hardwoods). And it folds so you can easily take it with you places.

At 4.2 pounds, it’s lightweight and easy for kids to maneuver. The only drawback is the small wheels which make it difficult to maneuver over obstacles. BUT once kids are old enough for obstacles, it’s probably time to upgrade anyway.

Read Review: Scuttlebug

Cleary Gecko | Best Pedal Bike For Toddlers

Cleary Gecko

Reasons To Buy

✅ Beautiful design and paint
✅ Freewheel option (no coaster brake)
✅ Small brake levers
✅ Lightweight and low stand over

Reasons To Avoid

❌ No quick release on the seat
❌ Lacks a steering limiter

Similar to a tricycle, pedal bikes with training wheels hinder the development of skills at this age. They are heavier than a balance bike which makes them difficult for young ones to handle. They also keep toddlers from developing balance which is critical for success on a pedal bike.

If you do decide to buy a pedal bike, make sure to remove the cranks and/or pedals and teach your child to scoot and glide first — similar to what they would do on a balance bike.

Once a toddler has mastered a balance bike (or a pedal bike without training wheels), you can then switch them to a 12″ pedal bike without training wheels. This can be as young as 2.5 years old depending on your child’s interest and ability level.

If your child is ready for their first real pedal bike, make sure to pick one that is lightweight like the Cleary Gecko. At this age, the biggest hindrance to success is a bike that weighs too much.

First off, the Cleary Gecko is gorgeous. This is a bike that turns heads. But it doesn’t just look good, it rides well too. It has a very low stand over and it’s lightweight making it easy for tiny riders to learn on. In fact, it’s the smallest pedal bike we’ve tested, which makes it our top pick for 2 year olds.

The parts are all top notch and include tiny brake levers that are easy for small hands to operate, a freewheel option instead of a coaster brake, and nice knobby tires that can ride on dirt, gravel, and other obstacles.

There are a few minor cons. There is no quick release seatpost collar for easy height adjustments (you’ll need a tool), and it lacks a steering limiter which helps kids just learning to ride from over-rotating the bars. Still, if you have a precocious toddler who’s ready to pedal, this bike is your best option.

Read Review: Cleary Gecko

Strider Classic | Best Budget Balance Bike For Toddlers

child trail riding on a strider

Price: Price not available (Last updated: 2024-05-01 at 16:12 – More Info)

Reasons To Buy

✅ Accessories allow bike to be used for a long time
✅ Affordable
✅ Durable, can be handed down
✅ Entry to the “Strider club”

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Foam rather than air tires
❌ No hand brake

If you know you want a balance bike for your little one, but don’t want to spend a fortune, the Strider Classic is one of our favorite budget balance bikes for toddlers. That’s because it not only works in balance bike mode for those around 18 months and up, but it also has an optional rocker accessory that allows it to be used for even younger kiddos.

At the other end of the spectrum, as your child grows, you can raise the handlebars and add the optional XL seatpost. The construction is durable and solid so it will last for years and can still be handed down. This makes an already affordable bike even more attractive.

One of the most attractive things about buying a Strider balance bike is entry to the “Strider Club.” Strider offers all sorts of races, events, and other perks that come with owning one of these bikes.

Compared to a higher end balance bike like the Woom1, listed above, the Strider is definitely missing some bells and whistles. The biggest drawbacks are the fact that it has foam tires rather than air tires, and it doesn’t have a hand brake. This might not be that big of a deal when your toddler is tiny, but as they grow they’ll wear through a lot of shoes without a brake.

Read Review: Strider

Honorable Mentions

  • Y Velo Jr – This tiny balance bike has side-by-side rear wheels for additional stability.
  • Yedoo Too Too – One of the smallest balance bikes we’ve tested.
  • Belsize 12 – Excellent bang for your buck offering high end features at a budget price.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Bike For Your Toddler

Indoor Use Vs Outdoor Use

Is the bike going to be used primarily indoors or outdoors? For indoor use, we like ride-on-toys and balance bikes with rubberized or foam wheels.

You want to make sure that they aren’t going to mark up your floors. Avoid plastic wheels that don’t have rubber, as they are too slippery on indoor floors.

toddler on yvelo balance bike
The Y Velo balance bike is one of our favorites for indoor riding.

If your child is going to be biking outdoors, make sure to invest in a real bicycle (balance bike or pedal bike) that has pneumatic (air) tires rather than those with foam or plastic. Plastic is almost never a good choice; foam tires can be okay for very mellow use in the driveway.

If your kiddo is going to be riding on mixed terrain including dirt, gravel, or uneven pavement, make sure to invest in a bike that has pneumatic (air) tires. They get superior traction when compared to plastic or foam tires.

Toy vs Bike

The next thing to consider is whether you want to buy a “toy” or a real bicycle. Many toddler bikes are toys–and that’s okay!!!

But, if you want your child to gain real bike skills or go on adventures outside of your backyard, you need to get them a real bicycle. A “real” bicycle is a balance bike or pedal bike with pneumatic (air) tires, an aluminum or high-grade steel frame, and (maybe) even brakes.

Size and Readiness

When should you start your toddler on a bike? As soon as they can walk!

As previously mentioned, the tiniest toddlers (around 12 months old) may have an interest in bicycles. They are well served by a ride-on-toy.

baby on the wishbone 3 in 1

Around 18 months, I’d recommend trying out a balance bike. At this age, your biggest issue will be finding a balance bike small enough. (You can find our recommendations, in our post on the best toddler balance bikes).

The other thing to take into consideration, is how much the bike can grow with your child. Does the seatpost raise? Are the handlebars adjustable?

woom 1 sizing

If you’re on a budget and don’t want to buy another bike a few months or a year down the road, look for a bike where your child is on the smaller end of the size spectrum so that they have some room to grow.

Toddler bikes (balance bikes and small pedal bikes) are sized by the size of their wheels: 10 inches, 12 inches, or even 14 inches. The bigger the child, the bigger the wheels you’ll want.

An even better indicator of how well a bike will fit your toddler is the minimum seatpost height. Which brings us to our next point….

How To Measure For A Toddler Bike

Make sure to measure your child’s inseam and compare it to the minimum seatpost height of a bike, before making a purchase. Your toddler’s inseam should be AT LEAST as tall as the minimum seatpost height to fit on the bike.

Some toddlers will be rocking and rolling from Day 1 and some may take days, or weeks, or even months to take to a bicycle. That’s okay. Just keep offering it and eventually they will be ready.

rev 12 sizing

Safety Features

We generally look for different safety features when it comes to toddler bikes than we do from a bike for a bigger kid. This is because toddlers crash a lot–they just don’t have the same coordination and strength as preschoolers or grade school kids.

Some of the safety features we look for on a toddler bike are: rounded and/or recessed bolts, grips with flanges at the end, and a steering limiter (keeps little ones from over rotating their bars).

belsize steering limiter

Weight

Toddlers are tiny! They don’t have the much size or muscle to handle a heavy bike.

For this reason, we emphasize lightweight bikes for kids this age. It makes the experience much more enjoyable and safer for them. A light bike is easier to handle and to learn on.

How light is light enough? We like to look for bikes that come in under 10 pounds.

bentley balance bike in action

How To Teach A Toddler To Ride A Bike

With very young kiddos on a pre-bike, just offer the bicycle as you would any other toy. The idea right now is just to introduce them to a bicycle.

You might notice that you set them on the bike and they crawl right off and play with the wheels instead. This is totally normal.

With slightly older toddlers on a balance bike, you’ll want to help them actually learn to balance and scoot on a balance bike. Aim for 10 to 15 minutes a day.

For tips on techniques you can use to encourage your child to ride, check out this article:

Learn More About Biking With Toddlers

About Us

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!

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12 thoughts on “5 Best Toddler Bikes For Your 1 or 2 Year Old”

  1. We started our 1 year old who was an early walker and quite steady on a balance bike. He didn’t really get the you need to hold the bike up concept and fell a few times making him spooked. Now he is almost 2 and we are considering training wheels since he hates the balance bike. He also got a Y-bike as a gift that he rode around the house and that allows you to sit down. Any advice on getting back on the balance bike?

    Reply
  2. Hi kristen!

    An excellent way of writing, in this article you very politely explained that how many types of bicycles are for the kids.
    And things which needs to consider while selecting the right bike for the kids.
    In simple words, you have explained everything to the parents who are in search of bikes for their kids 🙂

    Reply
  3. Hi
    I’ve requested a bike for my 2 year old nearly 3 year old boy as a Christmas present from my parents, they have asked me to choose one for them to buy , he’s had ride on toys and balance bikes and scooters but tends to favour walking next to them pushing them along rather than actually riding them and scooting along , what would you recommend
    Thanks

    Reply
  4. How about expanding on the fact that “balanace bikes” valuable usage lifetime is like maybe a month.
    If you like the idea of not giving a kid the power to go faster or slow down without putting their feet down then get a balance bike. But if you want a bike that will last more than a month and will slow for off braking and accelerating as well as a place for your feet. Balance bikes are a marketing gimmick don’t be sucked in to that load of.

    Maybe think about what would be easiest for you to safely play with them on their bicycle. So maybe one of those sticks that is attached to the bicycle to allow for a person walking behind to hold up the bicycle as their kid practices. You can get up to speed and help them safely slow down without wrecking your weak gym restricted covid back.

    Also the gyroscopic factors that make a bicycle easy to ride really don’t happen until the wheels start to get into motion. So those balance bikes are pretty hard to learn on in that you will have to push your kid fast enough to get momentum and gyroscopic forces to stay up while not letting them stop in case of trouble. Just get a bicycle with or without training wheels and work from there.

    Tip for training: slight hills with a runoff for out of control toddlers and kids is definitely recommended and will be used.

    Get a helmet, slow tip overs like a kid would experience learning to ride a bicycle can definitely leads to head trauma without a helmet which still has its impact resistance. (After a crash or bang some helmets lose their ability to keep you safe. Keep a helmet on their head when around bikes if you don’t want the to have long term brain damage.

    🙂

    Reply
    • I have to disagree with the time factor of balance bikes only lasting a month. I run a private preschool and a few years back a student brought a balance bike for show and tell. I had no idea what the benefits were or were not but I watched the little guy show off to his friends and all the kids wanted to try it. ( we have a gym ) Some kids had their own balance bikes and had a great time with it. Kids who have not tried and did not know exactly what to do with it, still wanted to try it. In the end I was sold and purchased 10 balance bikes for our gym for kids to enjoy. Our kids range in age from three years old to just turning six years old and they all enjoy the balance bikes! Even the kids who already know how to pedal when they are at home love to ride the balance bike and try “ tricks”. Balance bikes are fun and that should be enough for any parent to consider having one for their child. Add to that they do learn balance and it’s a full package deal in my opinion. I say buy a balance bike and just have fun!

      Reply
    • I got a 10” Spider-Man pedal bike and it was great, my now 6 year old pedalled on it without stabilisers a few days after his 3rd birthday but I have to add the only reason he done that was due to using a balance bike for about a year beforehand, my oldest (21) cycled without stabilisers at 2 1/2 (he was pretty early at everything from crawling walking talking etc, not that you’d think it now, think his mentality ceased at 12, goes to show makes no odds how early they develop as babies and toddlers 🙄😂) anyway balance bikes weren’t a thing back then so it all depends on each individual child, sure I’d one who didn’t learn to cycle without stabilisers til he was 7 🤷🏼‍♀️😄 My now 4 year old has absolutely no heed in learning or using his balance bike he’s had for 3 years 😏 Try eBay or Amazon for the 10” bike but if you can keep encouraging him on his balance bike, maybe play games and make him enjoy using it again, they really do help with the whole balance they need for pedal bikes, once he’s whizzing round running then putting both feet up free wheeling on the balance bike you know he’s ready to handle a pedal bike without stabilisers ☺️

      Reply
  5. Hi,

    My 24 month old loves his balance bike & flies on it. But we’re afraid he’s getting too tall for it. What would you suggest we get him next? He has the Luddy balance bike.

    Reply

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