The verdict is in: balance bikes are the best (and fun) way to teach a kid how to ride a bike. These pedal-free bikes teach balance skills, going from walking to running to gliding.
Yes, some balance bikes can top three figures and that seems a bit too steep to us. We set out to find the most affordable (yet, fun and safe) balance bikes that don’t require a C-note. Good news: we found several that don’t compromise on the fun but are easier on the wallet.
After testing 9 balance bikes, we think the best overall is the Schwinn Skip—it scored the tops in our testing by actual toddlers. Here’s an overview:
What We Liked
• BMX styling with metal spoke wheels and rubber air-tires = fun! This bike can absorb more bumps than bikes with foam tires.
• Easy to assemble.
• Seat can be adjusted without tools.
• Nice footrest. That’s often missing on other models. A footrest makes gliding more fun.
• 8 colors included color keyed accents on rims on some versions—our testers thought this looked the coolest of all the choices tested.
What Needs Work
• Air tires = more hassle. Kids love the smoother ride from air tires, but parents know these tires can go flat. You may have to have a portable pump handy . . . or replace a flat.
• Handlebar isn’t adjustable. You see this feature on slightly more expensive balance bikes and that is helpful for growing kiddos. Yes, the seat is adjustable—but it would be nice if the handlebar was also adjustable!
• Heavy. This bike weighs 10.5 lbs., so it may not be the best choice for younger/smaller riders. However, our three year old testers of average height just loved it.
• Durability could be better. We see scattered reports from our readers that this bike can break—specifically the seat adjustment handle breaks too easily, in our opinion.