Last Updated: Sep 8, 2020 @ 1:58 pm.

Good news! You don't have to spend a fortune to get a good balance bike for your toddler. We tested 9 balance bikes with actual toddlers to determine which ones were the best value . . . and the most fun! We looked at ease of assembly and compared safety features.

With the price of some balance bike topping three figures, we discovered there were several affordable options that were safe and fun. Here are the best bets.

FYI: We are Baby Bargains, the #1 online resource for baby and toddler gear reviews. We are 100% reader-supported and don't take money or freebies from the brands we review! Thanks for reading our article!

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Best Balance Bike Overall

Yes, real air tires! Affordable!
We loved this affordable yet good quality balance bike. Classic look and smooth ride. Nice feature: you can adjust the seat height without tools. Caveat: air tires require more maintenance than foam ones.
$84.99 ($0.38 / oz)

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Best Balance Bike Overall: Schwinn Skip Toddler Balance Bike

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.

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Easiest to Assemble

Took just 15 minutes to assemble
We loved the 2 available sizes and our testers raved about the comfort, footrest and adjustable handlebar. Foam tires, however, not as smooth as air tires.

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Easiest to Assemble: JOYSTAR 10/12 Inch Kids Balance Bike

This bike came in two sizes—10″ or 12″ wheels. That’s nice since a 10″ bike is better for younger riders. Older kids (3 and up) might prefer the 12″. We also found this bike to among the easiest we tested. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Step through frame is great for smaller riders.

• Lightweight and easy to assemble.

• Foam tires = no flats. If you have smoother sidewalks, these foam tires work well.

What’s Needs Work

• Wheels can be slippery on wet surfaces. That’s because these wheels had less knobby tread compared to others we tested. We didn’t think this was a major negative, but just an FYI.

• Limited choices.

• Quality control issues. The bike we tested was fine, but we see some reports that a few parents had assembly issues (stripped screws, broken tires, etc). If you are giving this as a gift, you may want to assemble it ahead of time to make sure there aren’t any issues.

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Best For Smaller Kiddos

Easier to step on to
Parent truth: sometimes letting a toddler personalize their ride makes it more fun. This excellent quality balance bike comes in every color on Earth and has both adjustable seat AND handlebars—that's rare!

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Best For Smaller Kiddos: Banana bike LT

This bike’s unique swooping shape was judged easier for smaller kids to mount in our testing. The frame dips down so kids can step through, which our shorter testers found better than other bikes we tested. The lower center of gravity also made if fun to ride. 

Here’s a rundown:

What We Liked

 Foam tires = no flats. While the ride isn’t as smooth as air tires, the fact you don’t have to deal with flat tires is a major plus. If you have smooth sidewalks or streets, you may not miss the air tires.

• Adjustable seat moves up from 12″ to 15.7″—that means this bike will grow with your child.

• Lightweight yet sturdy. This bike weighs just 6.4 lbs. That’s much less than the 14 lb. Schwinn Skip we discussed earlier.

• Comfy seat and hand grips.

What Needs Work

• No foot rest. When gliding, our testers said it was nice to have somewhere to rest your feet. This bike lacks that feature.

• Foam tires are plastic coated. That bothered some folks who prefer air tires.

• Only 3 colors. Besides the standard blue and pink, there is only one gender neutral option (green).

• Assembly frustrated some folks. We didn’t have an issue, but we see reports that some parents were frustrated by poorly made parts or misaligned screw holes.

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Best Color Choices

16 colors , adjustable handle are winners
Parent truth: sometimes letting a toddler personalize their ride makes it more fun. This excellent quality balance bike comes in every color on Earth and has both adjustable seat AND handlebars—that's rare!

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Best Color Choices: Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike

Let’s be honest—sometimes it is easier to coax reluctant toddlers by letting them make choices. Choosing your own bike color makes toddlers happy . . . and that makes parents happy.

Too bad many balance bike makers don’t get this point—often, colors are limited. To the rescue comes Retrospec Cub’s balance bike, with 16 color choices. And yes, this is a good quality balance bike, say our testers. Let’s review:

What We Liked

• Step through frame is great for smaller kids.

• Foot rest.

• Adjustable seat AND handlebar. That’s nice, since many bikes we tested just had adjustable seats. This enables longer use.

• Easy to assemble. 

• Did we mention 16 colors? And best of all , the bikes are two-toned in color. So if your kid wants an orange and blue bike, here’s your bike.

What’s Needs Work

• Seat could use more padding, said our testers.

• Heavy. This bike clocked in at 11 lbs.—that’s much more than others we tested at 6 to 9 lbs. The heavier weight isn’t necessarily a negative—larger/older kids like heavier bikes. Even though the maker says kids as young as 20 months can ride this bike, we think smaller toddlers may find this bike too much to handle.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby and toddler gear since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews.

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