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In November 2020, a new balance bike joined the cycling revolution – the Hornit Airo Balance Bike. Created by Hornit, an Exeter based company that has led the way in innovative cycling accessories for many years. Tom de Pelet, a former lawyer and Ironman wanted to create a quality balance bike that combined stylish design with great functionality.
We’ve got hold of a racy hot chilli red Hornit Airo to see what we thought of the new kid on the block.
If you want to find out why I rave about balance bikes over pedal bikes with stabilisers, check out my blog explaining the science here.
My first impression was a really positive one. Straight out of the box, the only thing you needed to do was to straighten the handlebars with the allen key provided. No fiddly fixing of multiple components together.
The other thing you notice immediately is how light the bike is. They’ve chosen a magnesium alloy to build the frame and forks from, which is super lightweight and won’t rust. Topped with aluminium wheel rims, this nudges the scales at just 2.95kg which is unheard of for a balance bike with air tyres! A light bike is a real bonus for a little rider. It’s also a lifesaver if you end up carrying it too!
One of the most important factors for me when assessing a balance bike is the seat height range. Too many balance bikes on the market have a very limited height range. This often means that your little one has to wait months to grow into it, or they grow out of it very quickly.
This bike has a seat height range of 15cm which is substantial and enough to suit a wide variety of ages and leg lengths. It fits children with an inside leg measurement of 31cm to approximately 46cm. So, it’s definitely suitable for a tall 18 month year old up to an average height 5 year old.
Talking of seats, the Hornit Airo has a comfortable moulded foam padded seat and I love the markings on the seat post. Really handy if some one else rides your bike and you need to reset the height.
It also highlights the minimum seat insertion point which is sometimes overlooked. This is essential for keeping the balance bike as safe a ride as possible.
Although we’re classing this bike as a 12″ wheel, it’s actually got 12.5″ wheels and slightly wider than average rubber tyres at a 2.25″ width. This gives the rider a little more stability and more traction.
With quality sealed bearings, and rust free aluminium rims, you’ve got wheels that spin and spin with very little resistance. A true sign of quality components!
The handlebars are an average width compared with other balance bikes on the market and it handles nicely through the turn. This bike doesn’t come with brakes or a steering limiter. But, most 2 – 3 year olds don’t have the fine motor control to move their hands to grip the brakes anyway! So even if brakes are on the bike, they aren’t physically able to use them.
The steering limiter, which is a safety mechanism found on some balance bikes, I don’t believe is entirely necessary.
When they first start out on a balance bike, they aren’t going fast so if they do twist the handlebars sharply and topple, it’s not a disaster! And they soon learn that turning the handlebars like this causes the bike to wobble or fall so they stop doing that pretty sharpish!
If they get used to a steering limiter on their first bike, when they progress to pedal bike without one, they aren’t used to suddenly having that range of movement. They then might over steer. By that stage, they will be riding at a faster speed and the consequences could be more serious. Having a steering limiter also makes the bike less maneuverable when turning.
This bike has grippy footrests and the shape has been contoured to provide enough surface area to fit most little feet. Yet they don’t jutt out too far and rub the inside leg of your rider as they stride along. These are a fab addition.
You won’t see them use the footrests to start with, but as they get more proficient, and are gliding along, it gives them a place to rest their feet while coasting. It’s also a useful benefit for the transition to a pedal bike as they get used to having their feet in the position for where the pedals will be.
The only downside is that the footrest does take a battering when the bike is dumped on the hard ground.
My tester Edith, is a tall 4 year old and wears size 5 -6 year old clothing so she’s definitely towards the top end of the bike’s range. We had her seat post set at 2 so she still had a little more seat height to go.
She enjoyed cruising on the bike, and had no problems with handling. She said the seat felt comfortable and she gave a ‘thumbs up’ to how the bike looked.
She could rest her feet on the footrests while gliding downhill and looked very comfortable on the bike. The handlebars don’t have any height adjustment but the geometry is good for a range of heights. You can see in the photo that she is quite comfortable in her reach and Edith is towards the top range of sizes for the bike.
The one thing you do need to be aware of is when the seat post is set right down, it does extend below the bike frame and has the potential to catch on uneven surfaces. You would only have it on this setting for a very young rider so they probably wouldn’t be travelling far or very fast at this stage anyway. But it’s definitely something to be aware of. Make sure that the riding surfaces are nice and smooth to start with.
I’ve given feedback to the company about this and suggested that they might look at the possibility of having two different interchangeable seat posts.
|Super lightweight at only 2.95kg||Foot rests will get a bit battered|
|High quality wheels with sealed bearings and air tyres||At the lowest seat setting, you must keep to smooth terrain.|
|Magnesium alloy forks and frames that won’t rust|
|Good seat height range of 29cm – 44cm|
|Easy to assemble|
|Good value for such a quality product|
|Footrests for gliding and a benefit for transitioning to a pedal bike.|
So, I have to say that I was very impressed with this new product. These are a really fabulous choice as the starting point for your toddler on the biking journey!
These bikes are currently being marketed at £119.00 which I think is great value for such a high quality balance bike that is so light and has air tyres.
I’m going to be buying a few of these bikes for my bike sessions in schools and pop up community biking sessions. So, if you live in the local Devon area, feel free to come and give them a test ride!
The current colours are Hot Chilli Red ridden by Edith, Hammer Yellow, Orca White and Candy Floss Pink although I have it good authority that they’ll be adding an exciting new colour to the range in April!
Whizz over to our shop if you want to snap one up now or get in contact with me here if you have any questions about the suitability of this balance bike for your rider.
Strider Balance Bikes have been around for nearly 10 years now and STRIDER® is not the kinda company to rest on their ‘good thing’. They’re constantly refining their bikes to make them even more awesome based on technological changes and customer feedback.
Come the end of August 2018, a very exciting revolution in Balance Bikes will be available to buy. And it’s a game changer!!!
Introducing the Strider 14X Sport Balance Bike with Pedals! A tried and tested balance bike that can be transformed into your child’s first pedal bike with one unit added using just one bolt. This bike is perfect for your 3 – 7 year old that needs a slightly bigger framed balance bike.
Priced at RRP£180 with FREE SHIPPING, you’ve got two bikes in one with this innovative product. At the moment, the colours available are blue and green.
HAND OPERATED FRONT AND REAR BRAKES
14 INCH PNEUMATIC RUBBER TYRES
LIGHTWEIGHT STEEL FRAME OF 6.1kg (13.4lbs) AS BALANCE BIKE, 6.9kg(15lbs) WITH PEDALS
PADDED SEAT WITH HEIGHT RANGE OF 40-58cm (16″-23″) INSIDE LEG
EASY RIDE PEDAL KIT WITH CRANKS AND COVERED CHAIN
NARROWER PEDALS AND SHORTED CRANKS FOR EASIER PEDALLING
We’ve already got people on the waiting list to snap up the first few bikes when they hit the market at the end of August 2018.
Check out the Strider 14X Sport Balance Bike/Pedal product page now.
I’ll have a demo bike at my Balance Bike Circuit sessions so the kids can try before you buy.
Sadly we are no longer able to source these products for sale in the UK.
The Strider parent company, based in the USA, has changed their business structure and are now selling direct to the customer, rather than through dealers in the UK.
It’s disappointing that they have made this decision. We feel it means that you, our customers, won’t get the same level of customer service with this business model.
Please don’t panic though if you have bought any Strider Bike from us. The Warranties on all the products are still fully operational and we do have some spares in stock if you ever need them.
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.
The 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.
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!
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!