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A balance bike is a great wheeled vehicle for younger kids, an excellent way to get children used to steering and balancing and prepare them for the use of a pedal bike.
How do they work? A balancing bike is essentially a regular pedal bike without the pedals.
Kids can propel themselves forward using their legs and learn how it feels to balance on two wheels. As this is the hardest part of learning to ride a regular bike, it's a great idea to get kids started on balance bikes young. They're just as fun as these best scooters, and more able to replicate the feeling of a proper bike.
Some balance bikes can be used by children as young as 18 months, though two-year-olds tend to be more able to get the most out of them. They can be enjoyed by children as old as five, when children will hopefully be ready to progress to a pedal bike. It's important that you get a bike that fits your child well, so make sure to take their measurements before making your purchase, and don't be tempted to go solely off the age recommendation, which is only a generalised guide.
It's also essential to make sure your little one is safe when on two wheels, pedals or no. Make sure you invest in a good helmet at the very least, and knee and elbow pads if you want to provide extra protection against scrapes and bruises.
We've researched the best balance bikes on the market so you don't have to. Find your favourite balance bike below.
Kidadl's Top Pick
Whilst all the balance bikes on our list come highly recommended, we believe this HOY Napier 2020 Balance Bike is the best balance bike you can buy. The frame is nice and sturdy and the tyres are super high-performing. Everything about the bike is good quality and there's even a grab handle for safe riding.
1. HOY Napier 2020 Balance Bike
This swish little balance bike is part of Sir Chris Hoy's range of kids' bikes, and it's beautifully designed. The first thing we noticed about it was the style; it looks super slick and comes in three trendy colours. But it's a really good-quality machine, too, with plenty of thoughtful touches designed to make your child's first ride a smooth one. The handles are super soft and tactile, the frame lightweight enough that children will be able to manoeuvre it themselves and the wheels are chunky and robust, allowing for a smoother ride. We particularly liked the grab handle on the back of the saddle, which makes it much easier to carry, whilst also supplying an easy place to hold on to when you're helping your child on their first ride. The frame, wheels and every other component are made with quality materials that set this bike apart from other, more toy-like varieties on the market and will ensure it lasts for much longer; ideal if you want to pass it down to younger siblings. Suitable for children as young as two years old.
- Price: £110
- Age: 2-5 years
- Wheel Size: 12 inch
Best Balance Bikes For Young Riders
2. Vitus Nippy Superlight Balance Bike
This cool metallic bike is incredibly lightweight; weighing in at just 1.9kg it's an excellent choice for particularly young riders, who will be much more able to lift and manipulate it. The dinky 10" tyres make it similarly well-suited to toddlers, and though they're made of plastic, they're robust and scuff-resistant, and perfectly adequate for toddlers who won't yet be old enough to tell the difference. Both the handlebars and the seat are adjustable, so it can grow as your child does, just bear in mind that it doesn't have breaks (not uncommon with balance bikes, and unlikely to be too much of an issue with first-time riders). We love the sleek design - there are six metallic shades to choose from, so your little one can choose the colour scheme they like best. And at £45, you won't be shelling out too much on a bike that your child may grow out of quickly. The best balance bike for 2-year-olds.
- Price: £44.99
- Age: 18 months - 4 years
- Wheel Size: 10 inch
Best Balance Bikes For Durability
3. Specialized Hotwalk 2021 Kids Balance Bike
This Hotwalk balance bike from reputable brand Specialized is a really well-made little machine. The AI premium aluminium frame is strong and sturdy without being too clunky and the airless tyres are impervious to punctures, meaning it can withstand plenty of rough terrain and heavy riding. Any child is going to encounter a few falls when they're first learning to balance on two wheels, but this bike will withstand more than most, making it perfect for particularly heavy-handed kids. It doesn't have any breaks, but it does have a little ledge where your child can rest their feet as they glide along - a welcome feature missing from many competitive models. Suitable for kids as young as 2 years old.
- Price: £138.99
- Age: 2-4 years
- Wheel Size: 12"
Best Tried-And-Tested Bikes Brand
4. Kiddimoto Black Super Junior Balance Bike
Kiddimoto are the oldest balance bikes company in the UK, so it's safe to say they know what they're doing. This little two-wheeler features a strong steel frame, puncture-proof pneumatic tyres and a wide, padded saddle that's super comfy. It's built to last (it carries a five-year guarantee) and the upright BMX style radiates old school cool. The handlebars have sculpted gripping pads for extra comfort and the whole thing is nice and lightweight. All for an excellent price, too. Best of all, Kiddimoto give customers the chance to have their balance bike personalised - a great extra touch that any child will surely appreciate.
- Price: £60
- Age: 3-5 years
- Wheel Size: 12 inch
Best Balance Bikes For Longevity
5. Micro Scooter 2In1 Chopper Balance Bike
Micro are more well-known for scooters than their balance bikes for toddlers, but this is a great basic balance bike nonetheless. It's not quite as high spec as some of the others on this list - the plastic wheels make for a super smooth ride on flat surfaces, but won't hold up soft or rocky terrain - but it certainly looks the part, and will serve any first-time rider perfectly well for indoor fun or pavement riding. The assembly is straight forward (a definite bonus) and the handlebars and seat height are adjustable, allowing for longevity as your child grows. Best of all, each part is replaceable and can be bought separately, so you can keep it running for years without having to buy a whole new one if a specific part breaks. A much more sustainable and long-lasting option that's great for passing down to other family members.
- Price: £99.95
- Age: 2 - 5 years
Best Balance Bikes All-Rounder
6. Chicco Red Bullet Kids' Balance Bike
This Chicco bike is a good little all-rounder if you're looking for a solid balance bike that won't break the bank. It doesn't have all the fancy features of more expensive models, but it's pleasingly lightweight, very easy to assemble and features adjustable seat and handlebars. The frame is nice and sturdy, so should last, just bear in mind that it's pretty small; these definitely make good balancing bikes for toddlers. Most notable of all is the price; it's great value for what it is. The chopper style is super cool and we love the fierce red!
- Price: £34.99
- Age: 2 years+
- Wheel Size: 11 inch
Best Bikes For Upgrades/Customising
7. Strider Sport Kids' Balance Bike
Another great option for younger riders, this Strider balance bike can also be adjusted and upgraded to fit older kids. The seat and handlebars can adapt to fit children as old as five, an impressive age range to be able to accommodate, and are fully adjustable without tools. It's lightweight, the tyres are puncture-proof and there are two integrated footrests; a really useful feature that gives your child somewhere to put their feet as they further practise their balancing skills. The padded seat is nice and comfortable and the grippy handles are perfect for small hands to hold onto. It's a pretty simple little model but so easily upgraded with added features like heavy-duty tires or a foot brake. The best balance bike for upgrades and customisation.
- Price: £109.99
- Age: 18 months - 5 years
- Wheel Size: 12 inch
Best Balance Bikes For Families On A Budget
8. Chad Valley Kids' Balance Bike
At under £25, this Chad Valley bike is one of the best balance bikes for families on a budget. It's definitely more of a toy than a proper bike, but it certainly does the job and is perfect for use in the park or garden. The bright, primary colours are fun and appealing, the steel frame is relatively durable and the whole thing is nice and light. Both seat and handlebars are adjustable and the tyres completely puncture-proof, so it should last long enough to make it doubly good value for money. It's also compatible with stabilisers, if your little one needs an extra helping hand balancing when they're first starting out.
- Price: £24.99
- Age: 2-3 years
- Wheel Size: 10 inch
Best Balance Bikes For Style
9. Janod Bikloon Vintage Metal Balance Bike
If you're looking for a stylish ride, this vintage balance bike from French toy company Janod is a beautiful model. The traditional design is really lovely, and the neutral beige colour scheme of the frame makes these great balance bikes for girls or boys. The sweet faux-leather satchel that attaches to the front completes the picture, and makes a great place to store snacks or toys. It's certainly not a case of style over substance, though, it's well-made too, with proper inflatable tires and an adjustable saddle that allows it to be enjoyed by kids as old as six years old. There's also a ledge for kids to rest their feet as they ride. It's more well-suited to smooth surfaces, and won't hold up like its competitors on rough ground, but your child will look very sweet pedalling away.
- Price: £109.24
- Age: 3-6
Best Balance Bikes For Quality
10. Frog Tadpole Plus Balance Bike 2020
Frog bikes do an excellent range of well-designed balance bikes that make great starter bikes for little riders. Some are designed for children as young as 18 months, but the Tadpole plus model is targeted at slightly older children. It comes in a number of fun colours and patterns (including red, pink and Union Jack) and a range of sizes, with a quick-release seat post that allows for easy seat height adjustment as your child grows (minus the Allen key). The thick Kenda tires can handle all sorts of terrain and the frame is robust enough that it can take some serious wear and tear. The seat is wide and comfortable, the handles soft and easy to grip and the brake handle lever (a surprisingly uncommon feature when it comes to balance bikes) is adjustable, so you can fiddle around with it until it is in the perfect position for little hands to reach. Plus, the locking headset limits the steering, preventing erratic movements and stopping the front wheel from folding in under itself - a welcome addition for new riders who aren't yet fully confident on two wheels. A sturdy, good-quality choice for your little one's first ride that comes fully assembled and has a 365 day returns policy. Bonus.
- Price: £200
- Age: 3-4 years
- Wheel Size: 14 inch
Kidadl Best Buys selects the top parent-recommended products across the web for families of all ages. If you liked our guide to the best balance bikes then why not take a look at our pick of the best kids' tricycles that kids will love? Or take a look at our guide to the best kids' roller skates.
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