I didn’t think about getting my eldest son a balance bike until he was 4 and began crazy about bike riding just like his friends. I had no idea about these bikes back then and so I started looking for the best balance bike for a 4 year old. Finally, I got one that grew with him and I later passed on to my second child.
Since then, I know how important it is for your toddler to have a balance bike in order to learn balance and get ready for riding a pedal-bike. But finding the right fit and weight that will help your little one to be comfortable and stride effortlessly is extremely important.
The bike industry is flooded with options at various price ranges that may make you confused about how to find the best fit for your kid. To ease your searching process, here we have come up with the 10 best and safest options that your toddlers will definitely love!
Why Balance Bikes for Your Kids
A balance bike is small and easy to use. There are no cranks or pedals. Your child can walk and run with it while seated. They can easily learn to ‘balance’ the bike, which is the main point of riding a bicycle.
On the other hand, training wheels are not that easy to maneuver for a child since they hold the bike vertically all the time. Using a balance bike will gradually build up confidence in your child to balance a real bike.
Tricycles and training wheels don’t teach a kid to balance a bike. If your kid starts with these bikes, transitioning to a pedal bike will be challenging for them in terms of ‘balance’. Moreover, training wheels mostly lean over at one side. So, your child’s riding position will need to be corrected when they will ride a real bike.
A balance bike is quieter, safer, and sleeker. It’s also a more economical option than a training wheel or tricycle. Hence, it’s always a wise decision to opt for a balance bike to prepare your kid to ride a real bike.
Balance Bike: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
1. Frame Material
Traditional balance bikes come with a wooden frame. It has a distinct charm but it’s heavier than aluminum and steel frames. Wooden bikes also easily get wear and tear when exposed to heat and rain.
Aluminum balance bike is the safest choice for kids due to its lightweight. It’s also durable.
- Steel/chromyl balance bike
Steel frames are the most durable options. However, they are often more costly. They are also heavier compared to aluminum bikes.
Most common balance bikes come with 12″ wheels. For kids aged between 4 to 6, you’ll get a 14″ option too. There are some 16″ and 20″ wheel options available for taller and older kids. You should also measure the inseam which should be of the same length of the minimum seat-height.
A balance bike should weigh less than 30% of the kid’s weight. For a kid under 4, you should choose a bike that weighs under 10 pounds. The lighter the bike, the easier it is to maneuver for your child.
4. Age of your kid
Give or take, your child can use a balance bike at the age of approximately 2. They may start simply by walking around with it and gradually learn to sit on and run it.
Geometry of the bike directly influences its performance, safety, and comfort. With better geometry, the kid will be able to balance and use the bike easily. You should choose a bike with a long wheelbase. There should be a good distance between the handlebars and seat.
Foam tires reduce the weight of a balance bike. Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about flats or punctures with these tires. However, a balance bike with foam tires is not suitable for heavy use.
It’s recommended to get a run bike with pneumatic tires for 4 year old kids since they are faster than toddlers. Pneumatic tires offer superior traction and are safer to ride on grass and gravel.
In most of the cases, kids stop a balance bike with their feet. But you should get a bike that features hand brakes. It will prepare your kid for riding a pedal bike and also prevent injury. The hand brakes should be easy to reach and squeeze for the little hands.
The right size and design of handlebar is extremely important. The diameter of the handlebar should be in accordance with the size of your child’s hand so that he can easily maneuver the bike. It’ll also be more comfortable for the child if the grip has a bumper.
The standover height should be low so that you child can touch the ground with their whole feet while seated.
Cockpit is the distance between the seat and the handlebar. Choose one with an upright position and ample space, so that the kid can easily lean forward. When the cockpit is too short, the user will find it difficult to maneuver.
11. Turning Limiters
It’s a safety feature. A turning limiter blocks the front wheel and handlebar from making a full-revolution. This way sharp turns are prevented.
Most balance bikes don’t feature footrests. A poorly designed footrest can interfere when a child strides. However, properly designed footrests are good to have.
13. Standover Height
The lower the frame’s top tube, the better. With such standover height, it becomes easier for the kid to get on or off the bike.
14. Seat Height
Seat height is a major consideration before purchasing a balance bike. It’s better to get a bike that has an adjustable seat. The right height is when your child’s feet can touch the ground comfortably.
You can get a balance bike for your 4 year old child within a price range between $60 - $350.
Care & Maintenance Tips
Balance bikes require regular maintenance just like the adult trikes. Here are some tips for you to keep your child’s balance bike clean and tip-top:
- Use any silicone based lubricant to lubricate the bike’s moving parts.
- Check for worn parts or loose screws every often. Repair or replace any part if necessary.
- Make sure all parts are dust-free and clean.
- Ensure that your balance bike is not exposed to direct sunlight for a long time. Store the bike in a cool and dry place.
- Always check if the tire pressure is firm enough. Inflate the tires fully using any regular bike pump.
- Never use direct water for cleaning a balance bike. Use a clean damp cloth and let the bike dry quickly.
- If your child’s balance bike has a quick release mechanism, make sure they are tightly secured.
Balance Bike Riding & Safety Tips for Kids
- Select a safe area where your child will learn to ride a bike. Make sure they are playing nearby. If they are riding outside, choose a surface that is covered with grass.
- Make sure the size of the bike is appropriate for your child’s height and weight, in order to avoid any inconvenience.
- Get your child a good quality helmet to ensure his safety. A helmet will protect your child from head injury in case he falls down.
- Teach your kid to sit in the most comfortable position. Make sure the handlebars are set in a proper position within a comfortable reach of your child’s hand.
- Don’t let your child wear sandals or open-toe shoes while riding a balance bike. It’s better if they wear sports shoes.
- When your child is just beginning to ride, don’t hold the bike. Rather hold onto the back of your child’s shirt/jacket.
It’s Time to Wrap Up
What better way to prepare your little kids to learn a real bike than introducing them to a dandy horse! We hope that this review guide was useful for you to find the best balance bike for a 4 year old among our top 10 choices.
If you couldn’t make up your mind yet, you can always trust our Editor’s Choice! It was the most popular choice amongst all our preschooler testers and their parents. In fact, all the balance bikes on our list have made their way here because of their quality, durability, adjustability, and performance.
We also hope you got to know everything you needed to buy the best balance bike for your toddler while keeping your budget in mind. Happy riding to the little ones!
1. What ages are balance bikes for?
Ans: Most balance bikes are roughly designed for 18 month to 4 year old kids. There are some kids who are reluctant to let go of their balance bikes and start with a pedal bike. So the market is also launching moderately bigger models for 5 year olds nowadays. You’ll also find some balance bike models that are aimed at children with disabilities.
2. How do balance bikes work?
Ans: The young rider simply moves the bike forward by pushing the ground off with their feet, while seated on the saddle. They gradually learn to glide and balance. As balance bikes don’t have pedals, they use their feet to stop the bike. Some bikes also include handbrakes for easier gliding.
3. How high should the seat be?
Ans: The child should feel comfortable when seated with their feet touching the ground and the knees slightly bent. However, it depends on the riding type. For long rides, the seat should be a bit high. For tricks, you need the saddle in a lower position for comfortable bend of the knee.
4. What is the average age for a child to ride a bike unassisted?
Ans: A child typically learns to ride a bike between 3-8 year of age. The average is- 5. With the increasing popularity of balance bikes, this is becoming even earlier.
5. Can you get a 3 wheel balance bike?
Ans: 3 wheel balance bikes are called tricycles. You can get them readily available both in stores and online.
6. Can you easily get a convertible balance bike?
Ans: Yes. The very popular and reliable brand ‘Strider’ offers a 2-in-1 convertible model. What it means is that you can transform the balance bike into a pedal-bike once the child learns to ride. It’s suitable for kids aged 3-7. It saves your space, time, and money.