Which Balance Bike?

You’ve made the decision that you want to buy a balance bike for your youngster, great choice, you won’t regret it! Check out my post Stabilisers are Teaching Children Bad Habits if you want to read the science behind the benefits of balance bikes.

Next comes the research to figure out which one will be the best one to buy.

Balance bikes come in a gorgeous array of makes and models these days which is great! Although it makes sifting through the many options a little more work.

I’ve tried to save you some work highlighting the key points that you might want to consider.

frame-sizeThe size of the frame varies from model to model so it’s important to pick a bike that has a frame size that fits your child now but also comes with adjustability in the seat height range and possibly handlebars to ‘grow’ with your child.

Some balance bikes such as the Wishbone Bikes or Ridgeback Scoot Balance Bikes have a larger overall frame so suit a child who is of average height or above for their age, or if your rider is a little older in starting out their balance bike journey. The Hornit Airo Balance Bikes have a slightly smaller frame size so suit those toddlers who are more petite or younger starting out.

The Seat Height Range is a really important component of your decision making. They need to be able to fit on the seat at its lowest setting. And the range of seat height needs to be enough so that the bike will last for several years. Many balance bikes on the market have a very short seat height range which means your child will grow out of it too quickly.

If you can’t physically try it out in a store, or at one of my demo sessions, the best thing to do is to measure your child’s inner leg length from crotch to the floor(some call this the inseam). Then take away 2cm to give allowance for the slight knee bend which you want them to have when sitting on the bike saddle for safe riding. This number is then the seat height that they need to ride the bike ride now.

Check out the Bike Seat Height Comparison Chart below for a comparison of the range of seat heights in the bikes that we sell.

Wishbone Original Minimum
Wishbone Original Maximum
Wishbone RE Minimum
Wishbone RE Maximum
Wishbone Cruise Minimum
Wishbone Cruise Maximum
Ridgeback Scoot" Minimum
Ridgeback Scoot" Maximum
Ridgeback Scoot XL" Minimum
Ridgeback Scoot XL" Maximum
Hornit Airo" Minimum
Hornit Airo" Maximum

Frame MaterialThere is a choice of Nylon, Wooden, Steel, Aluminium or Magnesium alloys for the bike frames. All come with their pros and cons.

Nylon is a great tough option and, with glass fibre re-inforcement, has extra strength. The Wishbone Recycled Edition Balance Bike or Trike are super sturdy and have stainless steel axels now too so they can be left outside with no problems.

Wooden bikes are nostalgic, yet relatively hard wearing options. For the eco-conscious out there, Wishbone Original Bikes come from sustainable birch wood plantations. The downside of wood is that it doesn’t appreciate being left outdoors day and night and adds a little more weight to the overall balance bike.

Steel bikes are quite common towards the cheaper end of the market and while sturdy, they do add quite a bit of weight and have the downside of rusting over time.

Aluminium bikes are light and with an anodised paint finish, they have the benefit of not rusting or chipping paint. Bikes with these frames would be the lightest on the market like the Ridgeback Scoot and Scoot XL.

Magnesium alloy is the latest super lightweight material to be used in bike frames. The Hornit Airo Balance Bike have magnesium alloy forks and frames and comes in at a levitatingly light 2.95kg, and that’s with air tyres too!

Tyre Type

Air filled Rubber Tyres,  Foamed Filled  Plastic tyres or Solid Rubber Tyres are the main 3 options in the market.

Air tyres offer a much better riding performance and if you’re planning on doing a fair bit of biking, these are definitely the best option. The bike is springy and therefore much more comfortable, and the air cushioning cuts down the vibrations going through to your child. A bonus for their rapidly developing little bodies. The rubber tyres also have good grip on the surface, whether it’s wet or dry.

Solid polyurethane (EVA) tyres don’t have as much spring or grip as the air tyres. These types of tyres are best used on smooth surfaces such as playgrounds, skate parks or concrete tracks and over short distances. You have lower maintenance with this tyre type but the trade off is a less comfortable ride.

Wishbone bikes all have non-marking rubber 12.5″ air tyres which give a great smooth grippy ride but do add a little extra weight to the overall bike. The Ridgeback Scoot and Scoot XL, along with the Hornit Airo balance bikes all head down the air tyre route too for a more cushioned ride.

So, hopefully that gives you a little more information on which bike to pick. Of course, your kids have a BIG say in the decision making too! If they love the look of the bike, they’ll more likely want to pick it up and whizz along!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or queries about a make or model of balance bike that you’re considering. Always happy to help get your youngsters moving!

Kes Reid

 

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