Last Updated: Feb 11, 2021 @ 2:04 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.

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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.
$94.99 ($0.43 / 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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Best For Smaller Kiddos

Easier to step on to
Timid kids loved how easy this one was to use, with its lower center of gravity. Lightweight yet sturdy. Loved comfy seat. Caveat: foam tires are puncture free, but not as smooth ride.
$59.99

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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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