Vilano is a manufacturer with a range of bikes, from fixed gear and road to hybrids and mountain bikes, so I was interested in seeing how their balance bikes stack up against the competition. The model that I checked out here is their “Ripper” balance bike which has a couple of difference from their “Rally model.” As far as looks are concerned the Ripper is definitely an attractive looking bike, but let’s see if it delivers in other departments as well.
The package for this bike is listed as just under ten lbs, so I was happy to discover that the bike itself only weighs in at little over seven lbs. This means that it is lightweight enough for little ones to handle themselves and there is less risk of them getting hurt if they do ever manage to fall with the bike on top of them. Some assembly is required to get the bike in running condition, but the instructions were clear enough that I was able to accomplish this in less than thirty minutes.
The bike comes with sticker sheet that has decals you can put on the bike and my daughter really enjoyed this. Anyone who has trouble assembling the bike will also be happy to hear that Vilano has a couple of videos to walk you through the process posted on their website. The bike they use in the videos are not this exact model, but it is close enough that most of the steps apply. The model that I got to test out was pink with yellow flowers which thrilled my daughter. Vilana also has blue and green models available that has black tires and seats as opposed to the white ones on the pink model.
The most noticeable feature about this balance bike is the running board where children can place their feet while riding the bike. The inclusion of the running board actually gives the Ripper a kind of hybrid balance bike/scooter look which is quite eye catching. My daughter had no trouble keeping her balance with her feet on the board while riding. Not all children like the running board design though which is something to keep in mind. Thankfully the foot rest has a low profile and it didn’t look like it got in the way at all. The foot rest is made from hard plastic though which means it can get slippery which is something to look out for. A big plus for the Ripper is the adjustable seat and handlebars.
At the rate that children grow the last thing you want to buy is a balance bike that will be too small for them to use in a couple of months. The seat can be extended up to just over 17.5” inches in height while the handlebars extend up to 21.5” inches which make it a good choice for fast growing children. The handlebars and frame of the Ripper is made from steel and as far as I can tell the construction is very durable.
The Ripper features a padded handlebar which is definitely a must for kids, especially active ones. When it comes to the tires, Vilano opted for the more practical molded plastic wheels with foam tires. The upside is that you won’t have to waste any time repairing flat tires, which is great if you have a child with a penchant for driving over sharp objects, but the downside is that it offers less cushioning and traction. As with all balance bikes using foam tires it is important to teach your child not to drive over surfaces where they are left absorbing all the impact.
Pros & Cons
The Vilana Ripper is a nice entry level balance bike that is easy on the wallet and sturdy enough that you won’t have to start looking for a replacement too soon. Check out below what we liked and disliked about this bike.
Vilano Ripper Balance Bike Pros
- The running board on the Ripper allows children to balance easily and serves as a great footrest
- The frame and handlebars feature a durable steel construction
- Thanks to the adjustable seat and handlebars of the Ripper children won’t outgrow it as fast as non-adjustable balance bikes
- The Ripper has foam tires which means you never have to worry about them getting flat
- Padding on the handlebar safeguards children against injuries
- The Ripper is priced very competitively
- Its low weight makes it a safer balance bike and also easier to carry around by parents if the child becomes tired of riding
Vilano Ripper Balance Bike Cons
- The foam tires has less cushioning and traction than rubber ones
- The hard plastic foot rest can become slippery if it is wet.
When it comes to a first balance bike for children you ideally want something that is not too expensive (just in case they hate the whole concept and it is left gathering dust in the garage), but there is no point being something cheap and flimsy either. The colorful designs of the Ripper is sure to make it a hit with the little ones, but thanks to its sturdy metal frame it is not something that will require frequent replacing.
The adjustable seat and handlebars is also a definite plus for parents of fast growing children. When it comes to an affordable entry level balance bike you can’t go wrong with the Vilano Ripper.