Best Wooden Balance Bikes |2021 Reviews

Learning to ride your bike for the first time without training wheels is a childhood memory most of us cherish. I remember the day so vividly. We were in the culdesac next to our house and my older brother was teaching me on his bike, which was way too big for me. He held onto the back seat and let go as I rode away. 

Part of the reason I remember the day so vividly is that I was older. Balance bikes are unique in that they offer your child the ability to start learning to balance as early as 18 months old. Below we break down everything you need to know about balance bikes and discuss the best wooden balance bikes available on the market. 

Best wooden balance bikes reviewed

Kinderfeets Bamboo Balance Bike

Made from bamboo, the Kinderfeets balance bike is lightweight making it easier for riders to handle and carry. It comes equipped with an adjustable padded seat and can be adjusted from 13 to 16 inches. This bike is suitable for children with a minimum height of 33 inches. 

This balance bike is easy to assemble with securely attached wheels. The sturdy bamboo frame, puncture proof tires, soft handlebar grip, and adjustable seat allow for a safe ride for beginners.  

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Foot Pegs
  • Adjustable seat
  • Puncture proof tires

CONS

  • Must be 33 inches tall
  • 2 years old and up

Tour de France Balance Bike

The Tour de France balance running bike comes with an adjustable foam padded seat. The seat can be adjusted as low as 16 inches from the ground. It weighs 13lbs and includes a turning limiter that only allows the child to turn slightly left or right. 

PROS

  • Adjustable seat
  • Solid tires
  • Turning limiter
  • Quality wood

CONS

  • Heavy at 13 pounds
  • Lowest seat adjustment is 16 inches

Runners Classic Wooden Balance Bike

The Runners classic wooden balance bike is made for kids from 18 months to 5 years. It includes an adjustable padded seat that grows with your child. The seat height ranges from 12.5 to 15 inches. 

This balance bike has high quality pneumatic tires capable of riding on just about any surface. This classic wooden bike weighs 9.5 pounds allowing your child to safely handle the bike and remain in control. 

The company offers a full 2 year warranty ensuring the quality of their product. 

PROS

  • Adjustable seat
  • Can use as young as 18 months
  • Easy to assemble
  • 2 year warranty

CONS

  • Need to retighten bolts from time to time
  • Heavier than some other balance bikes

K-Roo Sports Wooden Balance Bike

The K-Roo sports wooden balance bike is made from real wood and includes an adjustable seat that ranges from 12 to 15.25 inches. It includes pneumatic rubber tires, can be assembled in less than five minutes and is recommended for ages 2 and up.  

This balance bike includes great safety features. The wooden hubcaps create a spoke free design so kids legs won’t get tangled up while riding. Equipped with a turning limiter, you won’t have to worry about your child taking too sharp of turns.  

PROS

  • Adjustable seat
  • Wooden hubcaps
  • Ages 2 and up
  • Turning limiter

CONS

  • Heavy at 12 pounds
  • Thin seat padding

Janod Scooter Balance Bike

This vintage style balance bike combines a classic retro design with a modern flare. Equipped with an adjustable seat that ranges from 12.6 to 13.4 inches, ergonomic handles, and durable inflatable tires. 

This balance bike weighs 8.9 pounds and is recommended for children 3 to 5 years of age. Made in France, this bike meets both European and United States requirements.

PROS

  • Adjustable seat
  • Lightweight
  • Fun vintage style
  • Ergonomic handles

CONS

  • Seat adjustment limited in range
  • Company does not offer replacement parts

Best wooden balance bikes with training wheels

If you’re not quite ready to give up on the training wheels, below are some great options. These transitional balance bikes allow for your child to start with three wheels and graduate to two wheels when you feel they are ready.

Lil’ Rider 3-in-1 Balance Bike

The Lil’ Rider 3-in-1 balance bike is designed as a three wheeled tricycle that you child glide forward with their feet. It has three different modes allowing your child to master walking, balancing, and steering. This bike does not come with pedals, but offers two different 2-wheeled modes for balance. 

This bike includes an adjustable seat, easy grip rubber handles and rubber wheels. It weighs 12.2 pounds.  

PROS

  • Adjustable seat
  • 3-wheel and 2-wheel options
  • Great for indoor and outdoor use
  • Turning limiter

CONS

  • Heavy at 21.21 pounds
  • Complaints of wood cracking

Wishbone 3-in-1 Balance Bike

The Wishbone 3-in-1 balance bike grows with your child. Transitioning from a walker with three wheels, to a low-rider with two wheels, and finally to a high-rider. Ideal for children ages 12 months to 5 years old. 

This bike exceeds European, United States, and Australian safety standards. It is made from sustainably-harvested birch and eucalyptus wood. Non-toxic glues and finishes are used. This bike weighs 13.8 pounds.

PROS

  • Adjustable seat
  • 3-wheel and 2-wheel options
  • For children as young as 12 months
  • High safety standards

CONS

  • Heavy at 13.8 pounds
  • Feet sometimes hits rear bar

Kinderfeets 2-in-1 Balance Bike

The Kinderfeets 2-in-1 balance bike is designed for children 18 months to 4 years of age with a weight limit of 55 pounds. The adjustable seat ranges from 10 to 13 inches. 

This bike is handmade with sustainable birchwood and non-toxic handlebar grips. It meets safety standards for European, North American, and Australian markets. With two modes, this bike easily converts from a tricycle to a two-wheeled balance bike. Available in multiple colors, you can choose the perfect bike for your little one. 

PROS

  • Adjustable seat
  • Ages 18 months and up
  • 3-wheel and 2-wheel options
  • Different color options

CONS

  • 55 pound weight limit
  • Thin seat cushion

Balance bike vs tricycle (training wheels)

A balance bike is a two-wheeled bike with no pedals. Children learn to balance on the two wheels while pushing forward with their feet. 

A tricycle is a three-wheeled bicycle with one large front wheel and two small rear wheels. The bike is propelled by foot pedals. 

With the security of three wheels, tricycles and training wheels do not teach children how to balance. The center of gravity for tricycles are much higher than a balance bike. This can cause them to tip over easily. 

Balance bikes are smaller, lighter, and more narrow than tricycles. They fit smaller children better. Your child can start on a balance bike as young as 18 months versus the traditional 3 or 4 years for a tricycle with training wheels. 

Benefits of a balance bike

Coordination

The balance bike is designed to teach children to use their arms and legs to move the bike forward. Combined with learning to balance this helps build their strength, improves motor skills, and agility. 

Easy to use

Compared to tricycles, balance bikes are easier to use. Kids use their feet on the ground to stop, steer, and turn. The easier ability to learn how to balance in turn builds up their confidence.

Performs better on uneven surfaces

Balance bikes can handle almost any terrain. Unlike a tricycle the two wheel model is similar to a traditional bike allowing your child to go wherever they want.

With three wheels, the tricycle tends to tip over more easily. If your child is riding on uneven surfaces a rear wheel can become off-balance resulting in tipping.

Safety

Many parents choose a tricycle, because they think balance bikes are unsafe. In fact, balance bikes are safer in many ways. The seat is closer to the ground making falls shorter. They do not go as fast as tricycles which will keep your child’s speed under control for when they do crash.  

Easier transition to a regular bike

The hardest part to learn about riding a bike is balance. A balance bike will teach your child the concept of balance from the beginning. From here they can transition easily to a regular bike, as no training wheels are ever needed. 

Things to consider

Weight

Generally speaking the lighter the better. Depending on the size of your child, a bike that is heavy is going to be hard for them to handle and maneuver. A bike that is too heavy for your child to manage can also be dangerous. The added bonus to a lightweight bike is it is much easier for parents to carry and transport.  

Balance bikes range in weight with the lower end being around 6 pounds. This equals about half the weight of a traditional tricycle which is a lot easier for small children to handle.

Balance bike geometry

The focus of balance bikes is learning how to balance. They favor running and gliding. You will want to consider the wheelbase. A long wheelbase is better and allows for your child to lean slightly forward aiding in the ability to balance. Balance bikes that are poorly designed will limit the child’s ability to lean by creating minimal space between the seat and handlebars. 

Seat height

One of the most important things to consider with a balance bike is seat height. The incorrect size can lead to frustration in your child and inhibit their ability to learn how to ride their bike. A balance bike requires your child to push with their legs, so you never want to go too big.  

A proper seat height is determined by your child’s inseam measurement. You will want a bike with a minimum saddle height of 1 to 1.5 inches less than your child’s inseam. When your child is seated, make sure both feet are flat on the ground with a slight bend in the knees.   

Tire types

Air tires (pneumatic tires)

Air tires provide great traction, particularly when riding off-road. They also have more flexibility and will absorb and cushion better. Air tires do tend to weigh more and lose air or become flat. You will most likely need a bicycle pump, which is something to keep in mind. 

EVA foam tires

EVA foam tires are lightweight and low maintenance. They are typically puncture proof and can withstand weights up to 60 and 80 pounds. They provide less traction and are suited more for pavement riding.  

Rubber tires

Rubber tires are best suited for indoor and hard surfaces. They provide a lot of traction and you don’t have to worry about flats. 

Hard plastic

Hard plastic tires are the lightest in weight. They are generally considered best for use indoors as they are prone to cracking and provide little traction. 

Big Apple tires

Also referred to as “Fat Boy” tires, the big apple tires are a wide profile air tire. They create more traction and are more expensive than the other options.

Brakes

Children naturally use their feet on the ground to control speed and to stop. Hand breaks and back pedal stopping are both great options for your child to practice developing their motor skills. Eventually your child will need to learn how to use hand brakes on larger bikes, so it might be a good idea to introduce them to this concept from the beginning.  

Footrests

A footrest on a balance bike is mostly used if your child is going down hills or performing more advanced tricks. Depending on the age of your child and their ability, a footrest isn’t necessary. 

Hand grips

Hand grips are used to protect your child’s hands during a handlebar run-in. Should your child run into a post, a wall etc., you will want a hand grip that will absorb the impact. Look for a hand grip with protective rubber and a cushion end. Also keep in mind that your child has a smaller grip radius and will need a smaller hand grip for better control. 

How to teach your child to balance bike

The simplicity of balance bikes means that they don’t require much instruction. Kids sit on the seat holding the handlebars and use their feet to move forward. They can walk, run, or glide. If needed, you can give your child a gentle push or hold onto the back while they are getting familiar with the concept.

Operating a balance bike safely

Safety is always our number one goal when it comes to our kids. Here are a few ways you can set your kid up for success while using a balance bike. 

  • Make sure your child is wearing a helmet that properly fits for any falls. Be sure to buy a helmet that meets the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  
  • Set the seat at the correct height so your child’s feet are flat on the ground with a slight bend in their knees
  • Find an open wide space that is free from any objects or obstacles. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on your child’s abilities and skill levels, most kids around 18-months to two years old can start riding balance bikes. At this age limit they will have developed the proper coordination and strength needed to use a balance bike properly. There is no upper age limit restriction and balance bikes are even made for adults; however, most children will start to ride a bike with pedals around the age of four or five. 

The majority of us grew up learning how to ride a tricycle with training wheels. Naturally we don’t see this as a bad thing and I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is. Training wheels are still a great option.. The difference is your child will have to unlearn some habits from training wheels. Balance bikes offer a better option for children to learn how to ride a bike properly. 

Training wheels are often set a little higher than the rear wheel which results in a bike that tips from side to side as a child’s weight transfers. When a child reaches a corner their weight is supported by the outside training wheel. The bike leans away from the corner resulting in the rider leaning the wrong way. Training wheels also limit the child because they can’t be used on sloped or rough surfaces.  

A balance bike teaches your child to ride correctly from the beginning. Without training wheels they are able to lean the bike towards the inside of the corner, which is the correct way. 

Turning limiters are a feature that keep the handlebar and front wheel from completing a full rotation. Instead, they limit the degree of turn to a range around 20 to 30 degrees. 

There are pros and cons to turning limiters and two different schools of thought. Some parents like the added safety. Turning limiters prevent children from making sharp turns, keeps the brake cable from getting twisted, and can potentially limit falls. Other parents believe turning limiters prevents children from learning proper techniques of riding a bike. Ultimately, this will be a decision for the parent and what is best for you and your family. 

Depending on the bike, some balance bikes do allow for you to add pedals and chains. Some parents like this option, because eventually they will transition their child into riding a regular bike. This is a great option if you only want to purchase one bike instead of two bikes by being able to add on gear as needed. 

Similar to a bike, some balance bikes come with hand breaks. Naturally, children will use their feet to stop and move their bike. When they reach 2.5 to 3 years old is when they are developmentally ready to use a hand break. You may want to consider a balance bike with a hand break if you want your child to learn that skill before transferring to a pedal bike.  

Final thoughts

If you’re debating between a traditional tricycle or a balance bike for your child, consider what will work best for your family. One of the main benefits of a balance bike is that it allows your child to start learning balance as young as 18 months old. Teaching your child the concepts of riding a bike at an early age allows them to graduate easily to a traditional pedal bike.

Balance bikes are also light in weight, perform well over uneven surfaces, and are easy to use. No matter what you decide, we hope these reviews help you find one of the best wooden balance bikes for your child.

Looking for more gear for your little one? Head over to our Gear Guides Section to see more comparisons.

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