If you are a grandparent or parent to an infant or preschooler, you must have heard about the omnipresent balance bike! The thing is not rare, and you would have seen them every time you go to the park, playground while walking around the neighbourhood.
In this post, we have mentioned and explained everything that you need to know about a balance bike. This post will be beneficial for all, whether you are new to balance bikes or already have one. For newbies, we will start with a description of balance bikes and why these bikes are getting so popular among the kids and parents. Then you will find everything that you must know when shopping for the best balance bike for your kids.
Meanwhile check some of our recommended balance bike models:
Now go fast and clear-out all the mess and start to read on. And we are sure after reading this post, you will know how to choose a balance bike.
How to Choose a Balance Bike
Why choose a balance bike?
There are several reasons due to which balance bikes are getting so popular among kids and parents.
The first is, they allow young kids to start biking safely. When young kids use a balance bike at the age of 18 months, they can pedal the bikes without training wheels by 3 to 3.5 years. These bikes also help toddlers to develop motor riding skills.
Another major reason is that kids can ride on the balance bikes to further and long distances, unlike a tricycle or cycle with training wheels. Further, they can also use these bikes on uneven surfaces, such as dirt track or BMX track. So, in this way, balance bikes help young kids to develop very extraordinary balancing skills at an early age.
As a final point, for kids of any age, these bikes teach them the art of balancing! Do you remember trying to learn and to ride when you were young. Perhaps, your parents took off your training wheels and then hold your bike and ran with you around the neighborhood. Crashes and tears are part of this learning period. When the kids who learn how to ride on a balance bike switch to a normal pedal bike—they already had developed the riding and balancing skills. So, there are no crashes or tears (or in any case, not many).
How to teach your child to ride a balance bike?
Riding on a Balance bike is painless and does not need much assistance. Usually, kids hop on the bike and ride without any trouble. But, still, there are things that you must check before you begin:
- Look out for an open space that is entirely free from hitches and rough spots.
- Teach your kid to use a safety helmet and find a comfortable one.
- Adjust the seat height in such a way that your child’s feet can reach the ground with straight legs.
- If you have a balance bike with brakes, teach your kid how and when to use them.
- If required, give your little one a gentle push to get started.
- Always keep an eye on your children while they are riding.
Things to Consider When Buying a Balance Bike For Your Kid
If you’re not that familiar with balance bikes, it can be a bit complicated to know what you should consider when choosing a perfect balance bike. Here are a few things that we recommend looking for or must consider when buying a balance bike for your kid.
Balance Bike Tires
The tires of balance bikes are classified into two main categories. The first one is pneumatic or air-filled tires, and the second one is solid tires, usually made up of foam or plastic materials. Which one to go after depends on your preferences and budget. However, if you can afford it, we will advise you to choose a balance bike with pneumatic tires. Pneumatic tires contain tubes and feature the exact design that you will see in the adult bicycles.
Pneumatic tires give a much better grip and allow your kids to ride on the bike on all types of terrains. These tires glide smoothly on gravel, on dirt, and across the grass. However, according to some users, this is not that important for an 18-month old kid who is learning how to ride a balance bike. But, in our opinion, it is important, and soon you will find out how crucial it is. On the other side, another significant advantage of getting a bike that has foam tires is that there will be no puncture problem. And this is a plus for all those people who don’t want to mess around with bike maintenance.
On the other hand, plastic tires are also durable, but they will only work on hard surfaces and are not suitable for uneven and rough surfaces.
Balance Bike Wheel Size
Wheel size is a basic and vital sign of how large a balance bike is. The bikes with smaller wheels will be small in size. For most toddlers, we will advise you to buy the bike with 12″ wheels, and for all preschoolers, we will recommend the bikes that have 14″ wheels. You will also find the balance bikes that have a 16″ wheel. And these balance bikes are well suited for older children.
Balance Bike Seat Height
When shopping for a balance bike, you must pay attention and check the lowest and maximum seat height. Similarly, you should know how to measure your child’s inseam and must measure it. Furthermore, you should ensure that it is equal to the minimum seat height.
A balance bike that is too big will disturb and demotivate your kid. On the other hand, the higher seat height also means that it will grow with your child, and you can use it for many years. For this reason, we will advise you to buy a balance bike with a minimum seat height that is equal to the child’s inseam.
Bike’s Frame material
There are several materials used for the bike frame. And each material has its own advantages and drawbacks. Stainless Steel is the most common material for bike frame, and it is the most strong and durable of all the materials. Another durable material is Aluminum. The main benefit of aluminum is its light-weight and look and feel that it offers. You will also find wooden balance bikes. These bikes are environmentally-friendly and look good. Lastly, these are composite frames that have light-weight, simple to clean, and maintain.
Mostly, and especially cheap balance bikes do not come with brakes. This is not a problem for very young toddlers, as they don’t know how to use them correctly. Further, they don’t move very fast yet and can stop the bike easily with their feet.
However, if your children are 3 or 4 years old, a brake is extremely important. The brake also comes in handy when your kids are enjoying a ride on the racing track or in the park, or if you are residing in an area that has mountains or hills. Finally, familiarizing your child with a brake while they are still learning how to ride a balance bike will make the transition to a standard bike much easier.
Generally, most people prefer to have a balance bike that has light-weight as compared to the heavy one. This can come in handy, especially for kids that are one or two years old. In most cases, a light-weight bike is simple to carry, and you can take it to the park or any other place comfortably. So, we will advise you to consider the lightest bike for your kid within your price range.
Having a bike is better than no bike. There are many options in the market, and you buy the good one within your budget with ease. However, we will advise you to choose the one that is durable, safe, and your kids can ride comfortably. You will find premium options as well. Expensive balance bikes have extra bells and whistles and come in special colors to carbon-fiber handlebars and thick tires. Which one to buy depends on your budget and preferences. But never go for the cheap balance bikes as it can be a safety threat for your kid.
Mostly, you will find balance bikes without footrests. This is because footrests are not compulsory in these bikes. When riding on a balance bike, children automatically keep their feet up.
A well-designed footrest is a plus and will not hurt. Footrests are a crutch for most kids as they feel that it is compulsory to use them. However, if not designed correctly, the footrest can also affect the kid’s focus, and kids will spend more time thinking about their feet instead of balancing and steering. Unluckily, below par footrests are most common and affect a child’s ride.
A balance bike’s bearings conclude how fast and how smoothly a tire will spin around the axle. Perfectly sealed bearings feature a durable rubber seal around them that protects the bearing from water, dirt, and dust and does not allow all these to enter into the bearings. As a result, a balance bike with perfectly sealed bearings has less friction when spinning. It means that your kid will have a nice ride with less efforts.
However, keep in mind that balance bikes with sealed bearings are much expensive than the others as they are a premium feature. So, when considering the features for a new balance bike for your kids, sealed bearings might not be a crucial but “nice-to-have” feature for any balance bike.
The geometry of a balance bike contributes to a great extent on how the bike accomplishes. A bike with nice geometry will work with the kids and allow them to learn the art of balancing and movement. Whereas, balance bikes with poor geometry will work in the opposite way and affect your kid’s riding experience. To conclude whether a bike includes a “good geometry” is subjective, but by considering a few key aspects of a balance bike, you can get an idea about the bike’s geometry.
Here are a few factors that you should look out for related to the Geometry on a Balance Bike
Many factors work in combination to make up the geometry of a balance bike. The first is the frame’s design and wheelbase, then the handlebar’s shape and size. The third one is the position of the seat and quality of tires. And the last one is the angle of the front fork.
The turning limiters effectively prevents the handlebar and front wheel from completing a full turn. It stems from sharp turns and also avoids the twisting of brake cable. According to some users, the limiters also keep children from swiveling and learn proper steering while gliding at a slow pace.
While it is not that vital, but it is a safety feature. So, it demands your attention. The handlebar grips have several types. We will recommend having a bike with a rubber grip that has a knobby end as it will protect your kids’ hands if the handlebars run into anything such as a wall or tree. Furthermore, it will also guard the kid’s hand against hitting the floor during accidental falls.
Most balance bikes have rubber grips with added protective bumpers. So, be watchful when buying any balance bike and don’t opt for the one without protective bumpers. Lastly, ensure that the grips are soft and too thick, and kids feel good when holding them.
This applies to any new purchase; ensure to check the period of warranty. You should also check what it covers and what is the process to replace the product if needed.
Most balance bikes feature a warranty for a lifetime on the frame, and you will get a warranty of parts by manufacturers. But always check before you finalize your purchase as every brand has different terms and conditions.
Other (Less Important) Features
While we will advise you to spend most of your time emphasizing on the features listed above, however, there are some other features that you can consider if you really want the best balance bike for your toddler.
These functions and features include a quick release lever on the seat that is handy for quick and easy seat adjustments than a traditional bolt-on clamp method. Internal cable routing in a hand-brake will keep things cleaners and tidy. Similarly, recessed bolts ensure that your kid enjoys a scratch-free ride. And of course, you cannot overlook the minor features such as the bike’s color and a bell. These minor things motivate young kids to develop riding skills.
Hopefully, this effort will help you choose which the best balance bike is for your child as he or she starts this exciting journey of two-wheel independence. Keep in mind that it’s all about building confidence and developing the right balance and coordination while kids are riding. And it is the primary purpose of Balance Bikes. Before you know it, your toddler will start pedalling confidently and acquiring all the health benefits that this activity offers.
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