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10 of the best balance bikes

Which are the top balance bikes for getting your toddler ready to tackle a pedal bike? We've tested and rated loads of different ones to find the best

MFM-Balance-bikes

A balance bike is like a training bike – without the training wheels. The idea is that, if your child can learn to balance and steer on 2 wheels first, then the move on to mastering a pedal bike is much, much easier – because it’s only the pedalling and braking bits that they need to learn, rather than everything all at once. When the time comes, your child will take to a pedal bike confidently and quickly – which will save everyone time, tears and scraped knees.

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You 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 10 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. It’s also worth considering some key technical details (see What type of balance bike should I buy?, below) before you buy.

Here is our pick of the best balance bikes – as rated by parents and tested by kids…

Micro 2 in 1 Chopper Balance Bike, £109.95

Age: 2+

Minimum child height: 93cm | Maximum child weight: 20kg

Bike weight: 2.45kg>

What it is: An ultra-lightweight balance bike with front suspension, front mud guard, puncture-free wheels, adjustable seat (35cm to 46.5cm from the ground) and adjustable chopper handlebars (up to 60cm). Comes with a stability wheel attachment, so your child can start off on 3 wheels, rather than 2. You can also buy a trailer attachment, too. Choose from Blue, Aqua or Pink.

Why we love it: It’s wonderfully light, very easy to adjust and has a lovely retro look. Our tester Aaliyah, 3, said, “Wow, it’s the best bike ever! I can go fast!” Her mum Lindsay really rated the attachments: “I like the training wheels which can be changed to a big wheel when Aaliyah is ready. And I love that you’re able to buy an add-on trailer, too – it’ll be brilliant for carrying her water bottle and snack. Not cheap but Micro are renowned for their quality and durability.

Available from: Micro and Amazon

2. My Buddy Wheels Dinosaur Balance Bike, £56

Age: 18 months+

Minimum child height: 72cm | Maximum child weight: 25kg

Bike weight: 4kg

What it is: A steel balance bike with an adjustable seat, adjustable handlebars, shock-absorbing puncture-proof rubber wheels – and a removable, machine-washable plush dinosaur that fits over the seat and handlebars (and fastens securely to the wheels). Also comes as a (pink) unicorn or a (brown) horse.

Why we love it: It’s super-easy to assemble and there’s a very handy knob to make the seat-height adjustment tool-free and simple. But of course, for our testers, it’s the dinosaur that makes this bike special – with Matilda, 2, stopping frequently to cuddle “my pet”. It’s great that the dinosaur can be easily detached, both for washing and for dino-free riding when the mood takes. A good buy for younger toddlers but might be a little small for taller 3-year-olds.

Available from: Halfords and Amazon

3. Kiddimoto Super Junior Max Metal Balance Bike, £79.99
bestbalancebikeskiddimotors

Age: 18 months+

Bike weight: 4.7kg

What it is: A steel-framed balance bike with chunky pneumatic rubber tyres, an adjustable padded seat (34cm to 45cm from the ground), adjustable handlebars, and a back brake. Also comes in a ‘Skullz’ design.

Why we love it:It’s sturdy, has a cool BMX-ish vibe, takes bumps well and – hurray! – comes with all the tools you need to assemble it. Our child testers loved its look, found it easy to manoeuvre and steer and enjoyed using the brake. We particularly like the handle behind the seat for parents to grab in those early wobbly moments. Our testers’ parents were unanimous in their praise for this bike– with one giving it “10 out of 10 for play potential and value for money”.

Available from: Kiddimoto

Little Big Bike, £185

littlebig-bike

Age: 2-7 years
Bike weight: 5kg

What it is: This clever, sturdy bike converts to a balance bike into a pedal bike. When used as a balance bike, it’s lightweight and it comes in red, green, blue and pink and has two modes: a little balance bike for the youngest of toddlers and a big balance bike for those who are ready to ride. Then add the pedal attachment, and it becomes a pedal bike.

Why we love it: It should last your child for years! It has the biggest longevity of any bikes on our list, as it’s the only one that converts into a pedal bike after you’ve finished using it as a balance bike. 

Christy, MFM Consumer & Reviews Editor and mum to Audrey, 4, and Claudia, 6, says, “I’d say this is a fantastic product for younger children – if you buy it as a first balance bike then you’ll really get your money’s worth.” 

We do think the bike is too small for tall children, though, reducing its lifespan as a pedal bike. But, adds Christy, “It feels sturdy so I can imagine it lasting for more than one child.”

Read our full review of the Little Big Bike.

Available from: Little Big Bike

5. Chicco Balance Bike, £34.99 

Chico-Red-Bullet-Balance-Bike

Age: 3 to 5
Bike weight: 2.7kg

What it is: An ultra-light metal balance bike with handlebars that adjust from 57 to 61cm and a seat that adjusts from 34 to 44cm. Choose from the Red Bullet or Pink Arrow design.

Why we love it: This is a really easy-to-carry, nippy little bike that’s great value for money. We also secretly love the fact the handlebars slightly remind us of our childhood Chopper. 

Our MFM child testers enjoyed riding it, too. Stanley, 3, says, “I love the colour – red is my favourite. And I can zoom around and that is fun.” And Laura, MFM tester and mum to Leila, 4, says, “We love this bike. It’s a great price! Leila’s testing it, but my 2-year-old loves it, too… It seems very sturdy and hard-wearing.”

Available from: Amazon and Argos

6. PINTO by Black Mountain Bikes, £369 

Age: 2.5+
Bike weight: 5.7kg

What it is: A super-lightweight balance bike that starts out in balance mode, then turns into a pedal bike. Featuring a ‘growing frame’ design and proportionally-scaled brakes, saddle and pedals. Comes in 4 colours. 

Why we love it: It is very pricey but it’s beautifully made – and so super-slick and pared-back, it will be the envy of the playground. It’s also durable, and suitable for rougher ground.

Julie, MFM tester and mum to Amethyst, 4, says, “Amethyst has taken the bike in balance-bike mode on a dog walk a couple of times and, by the second go, she was already getting the hang of it and lifting both feet off the ground. It’s rugged enough to be used on all sorts of terrain.” 

Sarah, MFM tester and mum to Harry, 3, says, “The super lightweight frame makes it easy to move around and the smart style and colour is brilliant – and eye-catching for little ones, like Harry. It’s clearly made to high standards and is definitely a bike I would recommend to family and friends – worth every penny.”

Available from: Black Mountain

7. Strider 12 Pro Aluminium Super Light Balance Bike, £160 

Strider 12 Pro Aluminium Super Light Balance Bike

Age: 18 months+
Bike weight: 2.2.kg

What it is: This balance bike claims to be the lightest in the world. It has a seat that adjusts from 27cm to 48cm. Its all-terrain tyres have special coated bearings so it can even be ridden in water or sand.

Why we love it: This bike is ULTRA lightweight, the lightest of our list. And it has a massively adjustable seat and the mini handlebar grips are ideal for tiny hands – which is what helped win it Silver in our 2017 Toy Awards. Best of all, no tools are needed for adjustments!

Check out our full review of this Strider bike

Available from: Strider and SourceBMX

8. FirstBIKE Street balance bike, £115

Age: 2 to 5
Bike weight: 3.5kg

What it is: A lightweight balance bike with injection-moulded glass-fibre frame, inflatable tyres, height-adjustable saddle, steering limiter, SafetyStop brake. Comes in 10 different colour options.

Why we love it: It’s wonderfully light and the ‘horse saddle’ seat and gentle brake are both great. We also rate how easy it is to adjust the seat (no tools needed).

We’ve got the complete First Bike review – our tester Magda says, “I would recommend FirstBIKE as, although it’s pricey, features like the easy seat height alteration, brakes and steering limiter make it great value.”

Available from:  FirstBIKe and Amazon

9. Wishbone Bike, £159 

Age: 1 to 5
Bike weight: 3.8kg

What it is: A convertible wooden balance bike that transforms from a 3-wheeler to a 2-wheeler as your child grows.

Why we love it: Considering it’s wood, it’s pretty lightweight! The convertible design of this funky bike means the fun starts at age 1 with 3 wheels, before it transforms to a 2-wheel balance bike. You can then flip the ‘wishbone’ frame to make it even larger for 5-year-olds. It’s pricey, but it could last for years.

Available from: Wishbone and Amazon

10. Bobbin Moonbug Balance Bike, £100 

bobbin moonbug balance bike

Age: 2 to 4
Bike weight: 5kg

What it is: A vintage-style balance bike with a Hi-Ten steel frame and chrome-plated steel handlebars with rubber grips, 12-inch alloy wheels, vegan “leather” sprung saddle and hand-woven wicker basket. Sized for children with 33cm to 43cm inside leg. Comes in Pea Green, Blueberry or Gloss Red. Requires some assembly.

Why we love it: It’s so lovely to look at – and the basket’s a huge hit, especially as you can easily take it off (and put it back on) just by undoing the straps.

Available from: Bobbin

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What type of balance bike should you buy?

There are so many types out there, but the main things to consider are the size of the frame – too big and a small toddler will struggle, too small and it’s not going to work for an older child – and the seat adjustability.

The last thing you want is to be constantly hunting for that special tool to adjust the seat, so it’s worth looking for one that is easy to alter.

You may also want to think about the tyres as they could be air-filled, foam, or solid rubber, but check what will work best for the surfaces you plan to take the balance bike out on.

Brakes are another feature to consider, as most young riders won’t have the strength or dexterity to use them, but they could be handy for older children.

Check out the golden rules to teach your child about their scooter, trike, balance bike or bike.

And it’s worth looking for a steering column turning limiter, which stops your child jack-knifing the bike.

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