If you are just starting to teach your toddler or small child how to ride a bike, a balance bike could be a very beneficial investment. For those who may not know what a balance bike is, a balance bike is usually much smaller than an average bike and has only two wheels and no pedals. However, these rules are not set in stone and vary between the different bikes and their manufacturers. You can use balance bikes to teach a child as young as 18 months how to balance correctly on the two wheels.
Best Adjustable Wooden Balance Bike
The Wishbone 3 in 1 Original Balance Bike can convert to a baby walker, a push tricycle, a miniature version of the balance bike, and the larger version of the balance bike.
Best Wooden Balance Bike for Toddlers
The Hape Scoot Around Ride On is ideal for toddlers. Unlike many other balance bikes, the Hape Scoot Around features four wheels, helping toddlers get the hang of maneuvering before moving on to learn how to balance.
Best Value For Money
The Hape Scoot Around Ride On is pretty hard to beat for value. It is durable and high-quality. Suitable for a wide age group, the Lionheart is a purchase you’ll be able to hand down to younger siblings as well.
Why Buy A Wooden Balance Bike?
Once your child masters the balance bike, they can move over to a regular bike. A child as young as three can transfer the skills they have learned to a regular bike. With any luck, little parental help will be needed. But why go for a wooden balance bike instead of the traditional metal ones?
Wooden balance bikes are much more environmentally safe, and the higher-end wooden frames can last for many years when taken care of. However, bear in mind that cheaper wooden bikes fall apart much faster. Though the wooden balance bikes aren’t as adjustable as their metal counterparts, the environmental-friendly aspect is a definite plus. Some companies have included more customizable elements to their bikes, as you will see on this list. If you decide to go the wooden balance bike route, definitely invest in a good one.
Why not a tricycle or training wheels?
A lot of people had probably used training wheels and tricycles when they were small. You probably even did. So, what’s the big deal about them? Why are balance bikes considered to be superior?
Balance bikes are much safer than traditional tricycles. How so? The three wheels make the bike much more complicated and awkward for little ones to maneuver. They are also much easier to tip over on uneven or angled surfaces. Balance bikes are designed for the child to focus on balancing. Therefore, they are more prepared for a loss of balance and are less likely to fall. That will make for fewer scrapped knees and injuries.
But what about training wheels? Some people believe that training wheels significantly delay a child’s ability and overall desire to learn how to ride a bike. Keep in mind that balance bikes are designed to teach a child how to ride a bike while balanced. Training wheels are designed to teach a kid how to ride while unbalanced. Bikes with training wheels generally tilt to one side, which creates a false sense of balance.
To ride without the training wheels, a child must “unlearn” how to ride unbalanced and learn how to ride while balanced, which a balance bike would teach them to do. A balance bike teaches your kid what to expect from a traditional bicycle. Training wheels “hold your child’s hand,” so to speak, and don’t teach them anything.
The 10 Best Wooden Balance Bikes
1. Kinderfeets Classic Wooden Balance Bike
The Kinderfeets Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike, Classic Kids Training No-Pedal Balance Bike, is one of the more expensive bikes on our list because of the bike’s high-quality manufacturing and more customizable options. This wooden balance bike is handmade from Birchwood and has EVA airless tires and an adjustable, cushioned seat. The seat is also washable. Unlike some of the other wooden balance bikes on this list, the Kinderfeets Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike comes with foot pegs to prepare your child for pedals in the future and ensure smooth cruising.
Being made from Birchwood, this bike is very environmentally friendly, and it is also ergonomically designed to encourage good posture while still maintaining maximum comfort. That fact may seal the deal with parents, but what the kids will love is just how customizable this bike is. The Kindereets Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike’s finish is made with a chalkboard finish, meaning the kids can draw designs on their bikes. Your order even comes with a box of chalk! Your child can create a new design with every ride!
The Kinderfeets Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike is recommended for children ages two years and older. A Dutch designer in California designed the bike. He originally made this bike for his son because his son’s “dream bike” was not available in any store. Though his son is all grown up now, he credits his father’s balance bike with helping him to learn the skills needed to ride a regular bike.
The Kinderfeets Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike is also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and is an award-winning balance bike. For every bike sold, the company promises to plant a tree as well. The Kinderfeets Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike is available in black, blue, pink, red, black, white, green, and orange.
Reasons to Buy Kinderfeets Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike
2. Hape Scoot Around Kid’s Wooden Ride On Balance Bike
What sets the Hape Scoot Around Kid’s Wooden Ride On Balance Bike apart from other wooden balance bikes comes with four wheels. Most balance bikes only come with two wheels to teach the new rider how to balance themselves properly. However, they designed this model with much younger riders in mind. To be more specific, those toddlers just beginning to test their mobility and develop active motor skills would benefit from this bike.
The Hape Scoot Around Kid’s Wooden Ride On Balance Bike promotes learning to balance your child using their feet to move. The benefit to this is that your toddler is building muscle strength while having fun. Not to mention, your child will get a boost of confidence by being mobile without assistance.
By now, you may be thinking about the safety of your floors at home. Hape has thought of that in advance. The Hape Scoot Around Kid’s Wooden Ride On Balance Bike wheels is rubberized, ensuring no scuffed up floors. This balance bike wasn’t meant for rough terrain and was built for indoor use.
The bike is made from child-safe materials and has a non-toxic finish in a popping fun shade of green. However, Hape warns parents that there are small parts that could become choking hazards. Please do not leave your child unattended.
Reasons to Buy the Hape Scoot Around Kid’s Wooden Ride On Balance Bike
3. Wishbone 3-in-1 Original Wooden Balance Bike
Right off the bat, the Wishbone 3 in 1 Original Wooden Balance Bike is different from the other bikes on this list just by the materials that it is made from. While it is made from Birchwood like the other balance bikes, the Birchwood is sustainably harvested, and the bike also contains eucalyptus wood. Other environmentally friendly materials used to make this balance bike are non-toxic glues and finishes and recycled packaging; this company cares for the environment by not cutting corners.
Another unique element of the Wishbone balance bike is that it can grow with your little one. The bike can convert to a baby walker, to a push tricycle, a miniature version of the balance bike, and finally to the larger version of the balance bike. However, a bike this versatile is one of the most expensive bikes on our list. Think of this bike as an investment. You won’t have to purchase any more mobile toys until your child is ready for a traditional bike.
The Wishbone’s tires are made of rubber and are air-filled. Your order of the Wishbone Balance Bike also comes with an organic canvas drawstring tool bag; this will come in handy when you decide to take the Wishbone on outdoor trips, and you might have to pack a bag.
In addition to everything I have already mentioned, the Wishbone 3 in 1 Original Wooden Balance Bike exceeds the European, United States, and Australian toy safety standards. That’s good news for mom and dad, but did you also know that this bike is a multi-award winner? The Wishbone has claimed the titles of best-in-category–winner of 2009 TIME Magazine Design 100, Dr. Toy Best Green Toy 2011, Dutch Best Baby Toy Award 2009, JPMA Innovation Award 2009, and Babble.com Best Kids Bike 2011. That is a lot of awards for a single toy.
With all this in mind, Wishbone implores parents to monitor younger tykes on this bike. They are small parts involved that could become choking hazards.
Reasons to Buy the Wishbone 3-in-1 Original Wooden Balance Bike
4. Kinderfeets Retro Wooden Balance Bike
Kinderfeets is undoubtedly a popular brand on this list; however, this is our final entry from this company. The Kinderfeets Retro Wooden Balance Bike is described as “retro” and “natural,” probably because it is the oldest looking model on the list. But, don’t those tire spokes look rad?
Despite its natural description, the bike is one of the higher-priced products on the list. But don’t let the name fool you. You can get the bike in other colors besides “wood.” Color choices include “Princess” (this has a cool white and red design with a girl, flowers, and hearts), a red, white, and blue United States flag design, “Cupcake” (a brown, pink, and white polka dot design), a red and white rocket design, and a superhero design.
With all these cool and unique choices, the “natural” bike is one of the flashiest of the balance bikes. With both boys and girls in mind, the bikes with the designs are also surprisingly cheaper than the regular wooden ones.
The Retro Wooden Balance Bike has EVA airless tires, an adjustable cushioned seat that you can wash, foot pedals that help with cruising and preparing your tyke for a regular bike. Another element of the Retro Wooden Balance Bike that will make parents happy is that the seat and handlebars encourage good posture. Of course, the manufacturers still keep comfort as an essential quality.
As the norm with Kinderfeet bikes, the Retro Wooden Balance Bike is patented, award-winning, and with every bike Kinderfeets sells, they promise to collaborate with Trees for the Future to plant a tree.
Reasons to Buy Kinderfeets Retro Wooden Balance Bike
5. ZÜM CX Wooden Balance Bike
The ZÜM CX Wooden Balance Bike is an excellent value for those that want a top-quality wooden balance bike without breaking the bank. The ZÜM CX is made from 100% clear top-grade Birchwood and will last for years. Balance bikes designed by ZUM have no pedals and no training wheels.
They are perfect for helping the child develop coordination and balance. The skills learned on the ZÜM CX Wooden Balance Bike will have no problem transferring to a traditional bike once the time is right.
The 100% clear top-grade Birchwood is ideal for an environment-friendly frame. The patented steering wheel ensures no jack knife types of accidents will happen; this is excellent news for parents who worry about safety. The handlebars are made with rubber handgrips to protect your child from getting scrapes on their little hands.
Sealed cartridge bearings are used for silent and smooth-running wheels. The wheels themselves are made from rubber air-inflated tires, which also contributes to a smoother ride. But what sets the ZÜM CX apart from other wooden balance bikes is the adjustable seat.
The ZÜM CX’s seat adjusts from 12 inches to 17 inches. The seat is padded with vinyl for maximum comfort for your little one. In addition to the seat being adjustable, the frame is also reversible to accommodate smaller riders.
This particular balance bike comes in a flashy red and white design and has a non-toxic lacquer finish. Tools are included to ensure easy assembly. Be warned that the weight limit on this bike should be no more than 50 pounds.
Reasons to Buy ZÜM CX Wooden Balance Bike
6. Kinderfeets TinyTot Wooden Balance Bike and Tricycle
Here is our second entry from Kinderfeets. The company has such a cute name too. This model, dubbed the “Tiny Tot”, boasts being safe enough for one-year-olds to ride. This is more than likely possible due to the Tiny Tot having three wheels instead of two because it enables the younger child to start learning how to move their feet easily. Once they have mastered three wheels, you can easily convert the bike to two wheels—no need for you to purchase a new balance bike.
The Kinderfeets Tiny Tot Wooden Balance Bike comes equipped with airless tires, an adjustable, cushioned, and washable seat, and non-toxic hand grips. The Tiny Tot also has footpegs to help children prepare for having pedals in the future. The Tiny Tot is currently the smallest 2-in-1 balance bike on the market. The Dutch design has a low, step-through frame that places children’s feet closer to the ground to feel safer.
Like the previous Kinderfeets entry, the Tiny Tot is also an award-winning balance bike. The bike is also patented and crafted with lacquered bamboo wood. For every bike sold, a tree is planted in collaboration with Trees for the Future. The Kinderfeets TinyTot Wooden Balance Bike and Tricycle, Convertible No-Pedal Balance Trike for Kids, and Push Bike are available in bamboo, blue, green, pink, red, and white.
Reasons to Buy the Kinderfeets TinyTot Wooden Balance Bike and Tricycle
7. BIKESTAR® Original Safety Wooden Balance Bike
The modestly priced Bikestar Wooden Balance Bike model claims to be both lightweight and high quality. The frame is sturdy, Beechwood. One feature that the company boasts about is the extra-large handle on the frame for easy steering. The paint used on the bike is impact-resistant, solvent-free, and water-based.
Another safety feature of this bike is the certified non-toxic safety ‘eco rubber steering wheel handgrips. The handgrips have “end-caps” to prevent the child’s hands from slipping off — the extra wide-base promises for driving comfort and a good suspension.
The company that manufactures the Bikestar line also prides itself on having designs that impress the tykes. However, it doesn’t seem like this bike, in particular, has a lot of design options. Bikestar also has products for bigger riders, such as scooters and skateboards.
The company is based in Germany and is one of the largest manufacturers of children’s bikes in Europe. Bikestar’s customer service promises always to put the customer’s needs first.
Reasons to Buy the BIKESTAR® Original Safety Wooden Balance Bike
8. Wild Baby Girls and Boys Training Bike For Toddlers and Kids
This balance bike is made with 100% Birchwood with a non-toxic finish. Equipped with 12 inches durable, airless EVA tires, this model is surprisingly light, weighing only 8 pounds. The bike also features comfortable rubber grips on the handle.
The Wooden Balance Running Bike promises to teach your child about balance, steering, and coordination. Like most balance bikes, this model also promises to be helpful to the transition to a regular bike and build self-confidence. There are no pedals that prompt your child to walk or run with the bike by pushing with their feet. Once they gain control, they will lift their feet and glide; this also helps build muscle strength.
This is yet another model that grows with your child by having an adjustable seat. The height extends from 13 inches to 16 inches. The seat is made with vinyl for maximum comfort. The company promises that this balance bike will be in your family for years to come.
Parents that are worried about safety can also rest easy. The limited steering ratio prevents your tyke from oversteering or turning too sharply. Just remember that the bike has a 60-pound weight limit.
While parents love the bike’s safety features, kids will love the super cool star and stripes design. The bike comes 95% assembled; further is required, though.
Reasons to Buy the Wild Baby Girls and Boys Training Bike For Toddlers and Kids
9. Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike
The Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike in red is a winner! The bike won the Oppenheim Gold Seal, Creative Top Toy of the Year, and numerous other awards. That is quite impressive for a little toy bike and certainly makes this one a contender. What may even be more impressive than the awards is that Diggin (actual company name) plants a tree for every bike of this model sold! It is something to be admired when a big company cares about the environment.
The way the Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike works is that kids should kick themselves off of the ground (as if running) to move the bike. This method of “skuuting” is perfect for learning balance, getting the hang of steering, and learning coordination and independence. Like other balance bikes, the Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike has no training wheels or pedals. Your child should have no problem transferring the skills learned on the Diggin to a traditional bike when the time is right.
The Diggin Company also boasts that the bike is easy to assemble and adjust. You can adjust the seat at the lowest at 13 inches, and the highest is 16.5 inches. Like the previously mentioned ZUM model, the Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike is made with 100% Birchwood and a non-toxic lacquer finish. It has pneumatic rubber tires and a vinyl seat.
The Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike is suggested for children ages 2-5, and its maximum weight limit is 75 pounds. You can also purchase this bike for your child in blue or green. Finally, the awards already mentioned, this bike has also won Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Active Products, The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, The Toy Man Award of Excellence, and education.com A+ Award.
Reasons to Buy the Diggin Active Skuut Wooden Balance Bike
This may seem trivial to those who don’t have children, but parents know that buying a toy for their child is not a matter to sneeze at. Parents want to be sure that the toy is safe and will not cause any accidents. They also want to be sure that the toy will be the best fit for the child and the best value for money.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed after viewing all of these products, here are some tips and tricks to help you pick out a good balance bike.
Tire Size and Seat Height
Size is probably the most crucial factor to consider when purchasing a balance bike. Tire size and seat height should both be considered when determining the right bike for your child. View our guide on how to select the best-sized bike for your child.
Most balance bikes typically have 12-inch tires, while 14″and 16 inch tires are popular for taller kids. 10-inch tires are available for starter balance bikes; however, kids outgrow these quite quickly.
The seat height is the most accurate way to tell if the balance bike will fit your child. A child’s feet must hit and push off the ground while they are sitting on the bike. A proper seat height should also allow for a slight bend at the knee, allowing room for growth.
The first important thing to know about weight is you don’t want the bike to weigh more than 30% of your child’s weight. Keep in mind that the more fancy features on a bike, the heavier it may be.
Balance Bike Geometry
Since balance bikes are all about learning to balance and they favor the act of running and gliding, the child will naturally want to lean forward. Therefore, they will need the room to do so. Poorly designed balance bikes will limit a child’s ability to lean by creating minimal space between the seat and handlebars.
The position of the seat on the frame is essential. A good balance bike has a small gap between the rear tire and the seat when in its lowest position. A poorly made bike has a large gap which makes the bike harder to control.
The type of tire will determine the overall smoothness of the ride and whether or not it can hold its own on various surfaces. The five basic balance bike tires are air, foam, rubber, plastic, and big apple.
Air tires provide the most cushion and traction. Air tires are widely considered to be the overall best choice. Keep in mind that air tires generally add about 3 to 4 pounds of weight to a bike.
Foam tires are cheaper, lighter, and will never go flat on you. However, their traction is more limited when compared to air tires. Foam tires also tend to wear much faster. Be prepared to get new tires more often.
Like foam tires, rubber tires are also puncture-proof. However, rubber tires will provide much more traction than foam tires. You may have a more challenging time finding rubber tires since they are less common than foam and air. Rubber tires are considered better than foam tires but still don’t match air tires when it comes to traction.
Plastic tires are the lightest of them all and the lowest of quality. They provide no traction and are only suitable for indoor use.
Big Apple Tires
These tires are also known as “Fat Boy” tires. They are wide-profile air tires that create more traction. These are probably the most expensive out of the bunch.
When it comes to riding a balance bike, the primary way to stop will always be your child’s feet. However, you can use hand brakes to prevent injury and prepare your child for a regular bike. Around the age of three, a child should have enough hand/eye coordination to use a hand brake. Once they get used to the hand brake, the child will coordinate with their feet to stop safely. The skill will not have to be relearned on a regular bike.
Some balance bike companies put turning limiters on the bike to block the handlebar and front wheel from completing a full revolution, preventing sharp turns and keeps the brake cable from getting twisted. Some claim that this makes the bike safer, while others say that it prevents kids from learning proper steering techniques.
There are pros and cons to turning limiters; however, the overall effect on a balance bike is minor. It is ultimately up to you, the parent, and what you think will be best for your child.
As stated before, most balance bikes do not come with footrests. However, some companies include them for the new rider to feel safer. Footrests are not needed on a balance bike at all. But if you insist on having one, make sure that they are appropriately designed and don’t hit the back of the child’s calf while riding.
Footrests may be a better option for younger balance bike riders. Most companies that put footrests on their balance bike gear that particular bike towards younger riders.
The bearings of a bike determine how fast and how smoothly a tire spins around the axle. Sealed bearings have a rubber seal around them that stops water other unwanted materials from getting into the bearings. A bike with sealed bearings will get less friction when spinning. Less friction makes for a smoother ride and allows the child to use less force when controlling the cycle. However, sealed bearings will result in a higher-priced bike. But if a bike has sealed bearings, it will more than likely be a higher quality balance bike.
Many of the bikes on our list have included special hand grips to prevent scrapped hands. A rubber grip will protect your child from when the handlebar runs into a wall, trees, or anything else encountered on the ride. Be sure that your child’s handgrips also have protective bumpers.
In time, if the bolts on your bike become exposed, they can become scratched and can also scratch your child’s legs when riding; this will be very uncomfortable and can even be painful for your child. Covered, rounded, and recessed prevent this from happening. It is a fact that exposed bolts are the most common issue on most balance bikes.
Now that we covered everything from the top balance bikes on the market to the crucial elements of a good balance bike, we hope that you feel more confident about purchasing one for your child. Wood is the most environmentally friendly of the balance bike frames and is sure to make mom and dad happy about that. Your child can learn to be environmentally conscious at an early age. Not to mention, balance bikes, in general, are typically considered to be much safer than tricycles and training wheels.
Aside from frame materials, it is important to remember that the height of the bike is an essential element when choosing the right balance bike for your child. The height of the bike will determine whether the bike will fit your child or not. Other important things to consider (besides price) are the make of the tires, the geometry of the bike, and whether or not to go with footrests. No matter what features you choose, many of the bikes on this list are award-winning and will be an excellent investment for your child. With the skills your child will learn from their balance bike, they will be riding a traditional bike in no time.
Parents, when purchasing a balance bike, please keep in mind the needed safety features, the size of the bike, and the overall weight limit of the rider.