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Tricycle vs Balance Bike: Should You Get Both?

Tricycle vs Balance Bike
Written by James Jordan
Last Update: August 16, 2023

Balance bikes are usually great because your children can learn to balance without the pedals getting in their way. It’s also easy for them to lift their feet a little off the ground so they can push their limits and then put them down as soon as they lose balance.

But there are many instances where some kids are not attracted to their balance bikes at all. In that case, a smart trike with removable pedals is the best idea (perhaps with a push handle) that might grow with your kids.

Let’s consider some more factors to help you make an informed buying decision.

Tricycle vs Balance Bike: How They Compare

Tricycle vs Balance Bike

Which is better; with or without pedals?

The two main essentials for bike riding are pedaling and balancing.

Without pedals, your kids won’t learn how to balance themselves when they pedal the bike or simply want to go forward. Since the aim is to ride a standard bike with pedals sooner or later, a tricycle seems more suited from this perspective.

Which is better; two wheels or three wheels?

Tricycles may be a more balanced option but that’s not the point.

Since kids need to learn how to keep the bike balanced, a balance bike is designed especially for that purpose.

You can still go for trikes with detachable training wheels and pedals because they can be converted into a balance bike in a matter of seconds.

Does the choice depend on the rider’s age?

Yes, definitely. Age is an important factor to consider since your little one’s legs should be long enough to reach the pedal or the ground.

Balance bikes usually provide the best fit due to being available in many different sizes, so they are suitable even for small kids.

A typical balance bike fits 18 months to 4 years old youngsters whereas a tricycle fits only a kid for around a year and a half. Keep in mind that your kid should be at least 18 months to 2 years old to ride on a tricycle or a balance bike.

Another thing to consider is the top bar of the tricycles, which is generally too long for a small kid to swing their legs when getting in or out of the bike.

Based on this discussion, a balance bike is more suitable for toddlers.

Tricycle vs Balance Bike: Which is Safer?

For the first few rides, tricycles will be safer since there is no business of balancing the bike, which results in less falling and less injury.

But then again, both types have the risk of falling.

Balance bikes are also somewhat safe because of their lower center of gravity. The feet of your toddler remain on the ground, which helps them ride more confidently as they can catch themself before they fall.

Also, if they somehow end up falling then there will be less damage as there is a short distance to the ground.

Another safety concern is that in tricycles your kid’s legs will be on the pedals at all times. If they fall, their legs may be stuck below the trike for some time.

Is there a difference in the riding experience?

Yes, there is a huge difference. Balance bikes will give your children a feel like riding a standard bike in terms of balancing and steering whereas tricycles only help develop pedaling habits.

Your kids will be able to cover long distances with balance bikes as they simply need to walk or run to go ahead. They will be less frustrated and fall in love with riding easily as they will learn how to stop themselves, propel forward, and steer the handlebar.

Tricycles may be a little off-balanced in the case of an uneven surface as one wheel (especially the rear ones) may get higher than the other, resulting in a toppled bike.

Sharp turning can also be unsafe for tricycles as the possibility of getting tipped over is high for not being able to lean to one side like a balance bike. That’s why many US states banned 3-wheeled vehicles.

Does weight matter?

Yes, the ideal weight is 25-30 percent of your kid’s weight. If you want your child not to bother you each time they go for a ride and if you want them to handle or carry their bike themselves then you have to choose a lightweight bike or a trike.

Tricycles are heavier than balance bikes as they have pedals and extra wheels. It will also be tiring for your kid to pedal a heavy tricycle.

The lightness of a balance bike allows your kid to glide, ride, and maintain the bike easily.

Is there any price difference between them?

Prices for both bikes vary depending on the brand and the quality. But the price range is almost the same for both ($60 to $150).

However, in the long run, balance bikes win the race since they fit your child for up to 4 years. Tricycles don’t last that long; i.e., they serve half the lifespan of a balance bike.

Balance bike vs tricycle: Which one to choose?

The answer ultimately depends on you. We recommend buying both for your kids so they can learn two different aspects of riding a bike – balancing and pedaling.

If you can afford, go for the tricycle first and then the balance bike. But if you need to choose only one then a balance bike will be the perfect choice.

About the author

James Jordan

As a kid I inherited the love for mountain bikes from my father who used to ride for weeks through the Colorado trail in the city of Denver. He had his gang, and I followed pretty much the same track.

Later on, my interest in biking grew more after joining the Enduro race back in 2013. My buddies and I also participated in the Downhill racing for the third consecutive year, and it’s been an amazing experience.

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