Last Updated: Sep 8, 2020 @ 4:01 pm.

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Best Balance Bike for 3 Year Old Overall: Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike

When we test products in the real world, we always wonder: do the most popular brand names really perform best? Sometimes brand names disappoint. But not in this category! Our test of balance bikes with actual kids confirmed what many parents tell us: Strider is the top dog.

When it comes to three year olds, we thought the Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike was the best bet for most folks. Here’s why:

What We Liked

• Easy assembly and quality parts. Example: we loved that quick release clamp that adjusts the seat.

• No air tires = no flats. This Strider bike has puncture-proof foam wheels and plastic rims—no broken spokes and no flat tires.

• Simple seat adjustment lets you dial in just the right height for growing kids. Works for kids up to 60 lbs.

• 7 colors with gender neutral options.

What Needs Work

• Foam tires not the best for bumpy sidewalks. And foam tires aren’t as durable. On the upside, there is no maintenance (refilling air tires or dealing with flats is no fun).

• Ground clearance issues. The post goes through the frame—so when the seat is in its lowest position, the post hangs down near the ground. That could cause an issue on gravel or rocky trials.

• Foot rest is rather small.

• Wheels can slip on wet pavement. That’s a problem with foam tires—air tires made of rubber are more grippy.

• Pricey. On the upside, however, this brand is so well known there is probably resale value if you take care of the bike.

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Best For Easy Assembly: 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 color 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 Bike With Air Tires: Schwinn Skip Toddler Balance Bike

If you’ve got a kid who is more adventurous and wants a beefier bike with air tires, we’d suggest Schwinn’s Skip Toddler Balance Bike. Although somewhat pricier than competitors, it has some upgraded features that kids who love to ride might appreciate. Here’s a rundown:

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.

• 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’s Needs Work

• Pricey.

• Handlebars aren’t adjustable.

• Air tires = more maintenance. You’ll have to deal with flats and punctures.

• 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.

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Best For Smaller Kiddos: Bixe Aluminum Balance Bike for Kids

If you are looking for a good balance bike to take on a road trip or just have a smaller kid who might do better on a lighter bike, we would suggest Bixe’s balance bike. Made of aluminum, its super lightweight frame scored high among our smaller testers. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Weighs just 4 lbs. Yep, that’s much lighter than other balance bikes that can tip the scales at 10+ lbs.

• Easy assembly. The bike arrives with the wheels already attached—put the seat and handlebars on and poof! You’re done.

• Adjustable seat AND handlebars. 

• Foam tires = no flats.

What’s Needs Work

• Foam tires not so good on wet or gravel surfaces. These tires worked best on smooth sidewalks or streets.

• Quality control could be better. The bike we tested was fine, but we see reports that some parents complained they were missing parts. If this bike is a gift, you may want to open the box and assemble it beforehand just to be sure.

• No footrest.

• Lighter bike may not be best choice for older/bigger kids. More weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for bigger kids who might do better balancing on a heavier bike. Good news: maker Bixe has another version of this bike with steel frame and air-filled, rubber tires. It weighs 11 lbs.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing gear for kids, babies and toddlers 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.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, 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." Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet

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