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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.