A balance bike is like a training bike – without the training wheels, or pedals. The idea is that if your child can learn to balance and steer on 2 wheels first, then the move to mastering a pedal bike is much easier.


Your child starts off sitting on the bike and pushing themselves along with their feet, learning to steer. Soon, as their balance improves, they'll start to whizz along with both feet off the ground.

There's a huge variety of balance bikes to choose from: some cheap and cheerful; others much more pricey and made to super-high specs. And some balance bikes also come with pedal attachments, so that you can turn it into a pedal bike later. We've tested loads of them – and come up with a top 15 list of really great balance bikes at a range of price points.

While price is, obviously, a key factor, do bear in mind that if you have several children, a more expensive balance bike may end up being great value for money if it can be passed down from sibling to sibling. Plus, it's definitely worth considering some key technical details before you buy, which we've outlined below.

Best balance bikes at a glance

  • Best balance bike for starting out: Kinderkraft Rapid, £69
  • Best balance bike for 2+ years: Q Play SPARK, £49.99
  • Best balance bike for a lightweight smooth ride: Hornit AIRO, £139.00
  • Best balance bike for easy height adjustment: Strider 14x Sport, £229.99
  • Best balance bike for longevity: Black Mountain PINTO 14, £449.00
  • Best lightweight bike: Vitus Nippy Superlight Bike, £44.99
  • Best toddler balance bike with rear brake: Frog Tadpole, £230
  • Best for design patterns and personalisation: LIFERYDER Vogue Balance Bike, £89
  • Best balance bike for sturdiness and saddle shape: PUKY Learner LR M, £79.99
  • Best balance bike for gently learning to balance: Micro 2-in-1 Chopper, £99.95
  • Best value toddler-to-preschooler balance bike: Kidvelo Rookie 12, £130.00
  • Best lightweight 2+ balance bike with rear brake: Squish 12, £179.99
  • Best balance-to-pedal bike for older children: LittleBig Bike, £230 (with pedal kit)
  • Best balance bike for taller toddlers: Raleigh Balance Banana Bike: £119.00
  • Best vintage-looking balance bike with a basket: Bobbin Gingersnap, £109.00

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What to consider when choosing a balance bike

  • Solid or air-filled tyres? Air-filled or pneumatic tyres make for a comfier, smoother ride but can puncture. Solid tyres – either plastic or rubber, often filled with foam – are a bit bumpier but are cheaper and don’t puncture.
  • Brakes or no brakes? The higher-spec balance bikes tend to have brakes, scaled down to child size, either on both wheels or just on the rear wheel. Budget bikes tend not to have them. Opinion is divided on what's best: balance bikes can be stopped perfectly well with feet but some argue that it's good to learn about braking before you venture on to a bike with pedals – and better for your shoe leather. We'd say that, roughly speaking, a child probably doesn't have the hand/eye co-ordination for using brakes until about 2.5 to 3.5 years.
  • How heavy is it? Most balance bikes are pretty lightweight, which is handy for a toddler trying to pick it up and a grown-up having to lug it home. But some are definitely lighter than others. And balance bikes that do other things, like turn into pedal bikes, tend to be on the heavier side.
  • How adjustable is it? Good adjustability means the balance bike's likely to fit your child better and last longer as they grow. Do check out our tips on How to get the right size balance bike for your child, below. Find out if the handlebars adjust, as well as the seat – and how much they adjust by.

How to get the right-size balance bike for your child

There are no standard sizes for balance bikes, so pretty much every make and model is different – even if they have exactly the same size wheels. And to make things even more complicated, manufacturers often detail different measurements in their technical specifications (as you'll see from our list of the 15 best, below).

So, how do you reliably find the right-size balance bike for your child? You need to know your child's inside leg (or inseam) measurement and you need to know the seat height of the balance bike. What you're looking for is a seat height that's 1.5cm to 2.5cm less than your child's inside leg measurement and will, preferably, adjust higher as your child grows.

How do you measure your child's inside leg? Stand them against the wall (shoes on) with their legs hip-width apart and place a hardback book, spine up, between their legs. Gently raise the book till the spine touches their crotch. Measure from the floor to the spine of the book – and that's the inside leg measurement.

Best balance bikes for toddlers and preschoolers

1. Kinderkraft Rapid, £69.00

– Best for starting out

Available at: Boots and Amazon

RAPID Kinderkraft balance bike being tested by child

Age: 3+ | Weight: 3.7kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 33.5cm to 41.5cm | Max child weight: 35kg | Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023


  • Inexpensive
  • Can add bell and basket
  • Helps first-time cyclists to become confident


  • Tricky to assemble
  • Straps to add basket don’t look great

The Kinderkraft Rapid is sturdy yet lightweight, and it’s ideal for children coming to cycling for the first time as its limited-turn handlebars stop little ones careering out of control while they find their confidence. The low frame also helps smaller and younger children to feel a bit more secure. It’s also a wallet-friendly option, along with other bikes in the Kinderkraft range.

It seems very durable and could be used for multiple ages due to the changing height of the seat. My son hadn’t been on a balance bike before but he took to it really easily as we could move the seat to suit him perfectly.
Kayleigh, mum of our child tester, 3

2. Q Play SPARK, £49.99

– Best for 2 years+

Available at: QPlay

q play spark balance bike

Age: 2 to 4 | Weight: 3.9kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Rubber/foam (EVA polymer) | Seat height: 32cm to 37.5cm | Max child weight: 30kg


  • Great value
  • Light up wheels
  • Low saddle height starting position


  • Saddle height range limited
  • Wheels small for children at upper end of age range
  • Foam tyres not as bouncy as air-filled ones

The SPARK is a midweight balance bike with a height-adjustable sponge saddle, height-adjustable handlebars with grips, steering limiter and large solid rubber tyres. Plus, it has LED lights on the wheels that flash as you pedal. This stylish balance bike has a low saddle starting position, making it a good choice for 2 year olds and smaller 3 year olds, especially as it has a steering limiter. But it's the light-up wheels that make it stand out from the crowd.

Zara struggles with the other balance bike we have but she was successful with this one – it was very easy for her to use and she was super proud of herself. I was genuinely shocked this was £49.99, as it looks and feels comparable to the much more expensive brands.
Jayne, mum of our child tester Zara, 3

3. Hornit AIRO, £139.00

– Best for a lightweight smooth ride

Available at: Amazon and Hornit

hornit airo balance bike

Age: 18 months to 5 years | Weight: 2.95kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 29cm to 44cm | Max child weight: 30kg


  • Very lightweight
  • Available in a great range of colours
  • Suitable for large range of heights and ages
  • Minimal assembly required


  • Wheels small for children at upper end of age range
  • Pricey

A very lightweight toddler balance bike, the Hornit AIRO comes in a range of bright and beautiful colours – Hammer Yellow, Orca White, Magma Red, Flamingo Pink, Mavericks Blue and Tuvalu Turquoise. It has a height-adjustable saddle that spans 15cm, grip-taped footrests, handlebar grips, padded stem cover, thick air-filled tyres and wheels with sealed bearings. The Hornit AIRO comes with a lifetime warranty (on frame and forks).

The seat goes very low, making it suitable for 18-months+ riders as they can comfortably put their feet on the ground. Plus the padded seat and easy-to-grip handlebars show the bike is absolutely built with smoothness and comfort in mind.
Emma, mum of our 19-month-old child tester

4. Strider 14x Sport, £229.99

– Best for easy height adjustment

Available at: Very, Skate Hut and John Lewis

strider 14x sport

Age: 3 to 6 | Weight: 5.7kg without pedals; 6.9kg with pedals | Brakes: Yes - in pedal bike mode | Wheels: 14in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 38cm to 55cm | Max child weight: 36kg


  • Converts from balance to pedal bike
  • Easy to adjust height of saddle and handlebars
  • Suitable for large range of heights


  • Wheels large for children at lower end of age/height range
  • Very pricey

This steel-frame balance bike has an easy-to-move, height-adjustable padded seat and handlebars, plus safety grips, footrests with grip tape and big, bouncy air-filled tyres. Its standout feature is an additional pedal kit (sold separately) that transforms the Strider 14x Sport from balance bike to first pedal bike. Suitable for riders with a minimum inside leg measurement of 40cm, the bike is ideally suited to taller 3 year olds and 4 to 5 year olds who want to get to grips with balancing and steering before moving onto pedalling on the same cycle. It comes in Blue, Green, Tangerine and Pink. It's also available in a 12 Sport version (£129.99) which isn't convertible but it's a bit cheaper and suitable from 18 months to 5 years.

It's easy and comfortable to ride, especially in balance bike mode, and fitting the pedal kit was straightforward. For the money, the bike has plenty of play value with the added flexibility of adding pedals when your child is ready.
Andrew, mum of our child tester Jenson, 4

5. Black Mountain PINTO, £399

– Best for longevity

Available at: Black Mountain


Age: 3+ | Weight: 5.7kg | Brakes: Yes, front and rear | Wheels: 14in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 42cm to 54cm | Max child weight: 35kg


  • Frame extends to accommodate growing rider
  • Converts to pedal bike
  • Includes gears and front and rear brakes


  • Heavy for children at lower end of age range
  • Very pricey
  • Changing bike between modes can be time-consuming

This innovative aluminium-frame toddler balance bike converts to a small pedal bike and then a larger pedal bike. It features a ‘growing’ frame and gear system, rubber belt drive, front and rear brakes with easy-pull brake levers, and a height-adjustable seat. It comes with pedals that can be added once your child gets the hang of balancing and is available in Neon Green, Sky Blue, Orange and Purple.

6. Vitus Nippy Superlight Bike, £44.99

– Best lightweight bike

Available at: Vitus

vitus nippy superlight balance bike

Age: 3+ | Weight: 1.9kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 10in | Tyres: Solid foam | Seat height: 31cm to 38cm | Maximum child weight: 30kg


  • Affordable
  • Very lightweight
  • Easy to carry


  • Wheels small for children at upper end of age range
  • Limited range of colours

The Nippy Superlight is a lightweight aluminium balance bike, with a height-adjustable padded saddle, height-adjustable handlebars (with grips) and wide solid foam tyres. Its super-lightweight frame means it's easy for parents and even children to lift or carry the bike where necessary. It’s light and nippy-looking yet sturdy, with nice wide handlebars. This would make a great first bike to ease your child into the world of cycling, and is especially enticing with the affordable price tag.

7. Frog Tadpole, £230

– Best toddler option with rear brake

Available at: Frog Bikes and The Little Bike Company


Age: 2 to 3 | Weight: 4.17kg | Brakes: Yes, rear only | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 34cm to 42cm | Max child weight: 120kg


  • Excellent 'fit' for younger children
  • Bell included
  • Rear brake included


  • Very epensive for a bike designed to fit a narrow age/height range

An aluminium-frame toddler balance bike with height-adjustable saddle, Tektro rear brake, pneumatic tyres and locking headset, the Tadpole comes with a bell and is available in Electric Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Spotty White, as well as Yellow. It's also available in other sizes: Mini for 18 months+ and Plus for 3 to 4 years.

8. LIFERYDER Vogue Balance Bike, £89.99

– Best for design patterns and personalisation

Available at: Amazon and Liferyder

LIFERYDER Vogue Balance Bike tested by child

Age: 2+ | Weight: 3.5kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 32cm to 45cm | Max child weight: 30kg | Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023


  • Optional name personalisation
  • Lots of pattern designs
  • Sturdy yet light
  • Easy to build


  • Wheels big for children at lower end of age range
  • No bell included

For a fun first experience on two wheels, Vogue from LIFERYDER is a brightly patterned kids' balance bike that is made in the UK. As well as a host of safety features, it will grow with your child. Safety is a key consideration with this bike, which has an anti-jackknife steering mechanism that restricts the handlebars from fully rotating, reducing the risk of accidents. Combined with soft child-size handlebar grips, the bike provides a stable and secure platform for children to develop their balance and co-ordination on two wheels.

The Vogue has a colourful, customisable design that comes with more than 40 stickers and unique accessories including mini private registration plates

The sturdiness and quality of the frame and wheels is fantastic. The patterns available online mean there's so much choice when it comes to choosing your design to showcase your child's personality. The bike came with his name on, which really made Flynn feel so special and that it belonged him. Great touch!
Jaimie, mum of our child tester Flynn, 3

9. Puky LR M, £71.90

– Best for sturdiness and saddle shape

Available at: Kids Bike Shop


Age: 2+ | Weight: 3.5kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 8.4in | Tyre type: Rubber/foam (EVA polymer) | Seat height: 30cm to 40cm | Max child weight: 25kg


  • Ergonomic saddle stops rider sliding forward
  • Sturdy
  • Low step-through height


  • No bell included
  • Very small foam-filled tyres
  • Heavy for very young riders

The Puky LR M has a scratch-resistant frame, foot platform and an adjustable, ergonomically shaped saddle. The handlebars are also adjustable, and the bike also sports safety grips, crash pads, ball-bearing wheels and steering, and soft foam tyres. It comes in Red and Pink.

It’s super-sturdy with a low, step-through frame and soft, grippy tyres. We like the large foot platform and the banana shape of the saddle that stops your child sliding forward as they ride. Made by a German firm with a great reputation for quality kids’ balance bikes (they offer bigger balance bikes too), this is a great choice if you’re looking for a robust, modestly priced balance bike for a child under 3 and an inside leg measurement of 30cm to 43cm.

10. Micro 2in1 Chopper, £99.95

– Best for gently learning to balance

Available at: Micro and Amazon

Micro 2 in 1 Chopper being tested by child

Age suitability: 2+ | Weight: 2.45kg without stability wheels | Brakes: No | Wheels: 8in | Tyres: Solid rubber | Seat height: 35cm to 46.5cm | Max child weight: 20kg | Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023


  • Stability wheels included
  • Very lightweight
  • Retro look


  • Very small foam-filled wheels
  • Low clearance from the ground

Scoot around safely on the Micro Balance Bike 2in1 Chopper, a lightweight balance bike with clever features and a cool, retro design that parents and kids alike are sure to love. The balance bike has a 2-in-1 convertible design. For stage one, there is a detachable two-wheeled back stabiliser, to help small children master balance quickly and easily. Once they gain confidence, the stabiliser can be removed and the bike converts to a traditional 2-wheeled design. The Micro Balance Bike 2in1 Chopper comes in 2 colourways, Pink and Blue.

I can go super fast now on this new bike.
Our child tester Jack, 3

11. Kidvelo Rookie 12, £130.00

– Best value toddler-to-preschooler balance bike

Available at: Kidvelo

kidvelo rookie 12 balance bike

Age: 18 months to 4.5 | Weight: 2.89kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 30cm to 48cm | Maximum child weight: 30kg


  • Bell included
  • Great range of seat heights
  • High upper weight limit


  • Wheels small for older/taller riders
  • Pricey

With a sturdy frame, bouncy air-filled tyres, bell and angled footrest, this well-built bike will last for years. Thanks to a seat post that can be adjusted with a lever and handlebars that can be rotated with an Allen key (included) to alter the reach, it can be perfectly adjusted to fit a growing rider. The saddle drops low enough for a child with an inside leg measurement of 30cm, making it suitable for first riders, while the upper weight limit of 30kg means a child could ride it for years and at least until they're old enough to transition to a pedal bike. It comes in Green, Blue, Red and Pink. It's also a previous Gold MFM Toy Awards winner.

Chester is able to hold his bike up on his own and pick it up to tackle kerbs, meaning he can be more independent and have more fun. He also love ringing the bell to let everyone know he's coming.
Kellie, mum of our child tester Chester, 3

12. Squish 12, £179.99

– Best lightweight 2+ option with rear brake

Available at: TGC

squish balance bike being tested by child

Age suitability: 3.5 + | Weight: 3.8kg | Brakes: Yes | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 33cm to 42cm | Maximum child weight: 20kg | Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023


  • Seat design allows your child to stand easily and feel confident
  • Handy carry handle for parents
  • Sticker set included


  • Pricey

The Squish Balance Bike is a colourful and lightweight first bike that helps to build confidence and also makes parents' lives easier. This brightly coloured bike is decorated with distinctive paint splodges and for further personalisation, a Squish sticker set is included. To encourage kids to get moving, the frame is designed to be low enough to stand over with confidence, but high enough to sit on. It is constructed of a lightweight alloy that makes it easy to use and scoot around on, and the handlebar grips are designed to make it easier for little hands to hold.

I do think the bike is worth the money, it’s the best balance bike we have tried for my son. I like the colourful and attractive design, it’s lightweight and a really good quality build. It has a really useful handle, which is great when their little legs get tired, and we end up carrying the bike!
Aimee, mum of our child tester Rex

13. LittleBig with pedal kit, £230 (with pedal kit)

– Best balance-to-pedal bike for older children

Available at: Little Big Bikes

littlebig bike

Age: 3 to 6 | Weight: 4.9kg to 6.6kg | Brakes: Yes, front and rear | Wheels: 14in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 37cm to 55cm | Max child weight: 40kg


  • Front and rear V-brakes included
  • Large tyres give a stable and smooth ride
  • Optional pedals, great longevity


  • Heavy for children at the lower end of the height range
  • Larger tyres make bike fast for smaller/younger children
  • Pricey

For a child starting their cycling journey a little later, this convertible balance-to-pedal bike is ideal it converts in 2 ways, both from a smaller balance bike suitable for riders with a minimum inside leg measurement of 37cm (around 3 to 4 years old) to a larger balance bike suitable for riders with an inside leg measurement up to 55cm (around 6 years old) and to a first pedal bike for riders from about the age of 4. Once they've mastered the art of staying upright, older cyclists will benefit from front and rear V-brakes and pedals, which can be fitted onto the frame with the tools provided.

I can't wait to go to the forest to ride my bike and when I am older, I can use the pedals like the big kids do.
Our child tester Brooke, 4

Read the full MFM LittleBig balance bike review

14. Raleigh Balance Banana Bike, £129.99

– Best balance bike for taller toddlers

Available at: The Bike Factory

raleigh balance banana bike

Age: 2.5 to 4 | Weight: 5kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 33cm to 41cm | Max child weight: 30kg


  • Decent height range for riders
  • Distinctive design and finish


  • Heavy for children at the lower end of the height range
  • No bell
  • Only available in 1 colour

Designed to look like the iconic Raleigh Team Banana road bike, this mini balance bike version boasts a striking black and yellow glossy paint job on its sturdy aluminium frame. It also has air-filled tyres that roll smoothly over small bumps and ridges. The seat post goes low enough to accommodate a rider with a 33cm inside leg measurement, which is average for a 2 to 3 year old, but the 5kg frame and long reach make this a bike ideal for taller (up to 98cm) and stronger children.

I know with Raleigh I'm putting my son in safe hands as it's a trusted heritage brand – and the high quality is obvious straight away. I can tell we're going to be going on a lot of bike rides in the coming months!
Gemma, mum to child tester Myles, 2

15. Bobbin Gingersnap, £109

– Best vintage-looking balance bike with a basket

Available at: Bobbin Bikes and Smallable

bobbin gingersnap

Age: 2 to 4 | Weight: 5kg | Brakes: No | Wheels: 12in | Tyres: Pneumatic | Seat height: 41cm to 50cm | Maximum child weight: 35kg


  • Bell included
  • Distinctive design and finish
  • Premium features including hand-made wicker basket


  • Heavy for children at the lower end of the height range
  • Narrow seat height range, pricey

This beautiful hand-made bike will be the envy of the playground thanks to its solid cream tyres, sturdy steel frame in a classic shape, real wicker basket and vegan leather saddle. The alloy seat post is adjustable and goes down to 41cm. It's available in a chic range of colours, including Blossom Pink, Duck Egg Blue, Cerise, Yellow and Green.

I like the colour of the bike and putting Bunny in the basket then ringing the bell.
Our child tester Lizzie, 3

About the author Helen Brown

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

Pictures: Product websites


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Gabrielle NathanContributor

Gabrielle Nathan has been a journalist for 20 years, writing lifestyle features for publications including Red, Women’s Health, Wildflower and Condé Nast Traveller. She has been writing about parenting since 2012, the year she became a mum.