Choosing the Best Balance Bike
Your child is ready to roll! Choosing the right balance bike for your child can be a tough task. How do I know I’m buying the right size or model? Does my child need hand brakes? Why are some so much more expensive than others? We have gathered all there is to know (or most of it, at least) about the latest balance bikes on the market.
Here are a couple of factors to consider:
- Bike Fit
- Bike Weight
- Bike Geometry
- Tire Type
- Other Factors
Selecting the right size balance bike for your child is top priority. To ride a balance bike correctly, your child should be able to have his or her bottom on the seat with their feet flat on the ground and a slight bend in their knee. That will enable them to push off the ground while sitting to propel the bike. To evaluate size, you’ll need to look at the seat height of the balance bike and compare this to your child’s inseam.
To measure your child’s inseam, have them stand against a wall flat footed with no shoes on. Put a book in between their legs as high as it will comfortably go. Measure the height of the top of the book. This is your child’s inseam. Your child’s inseam should be at least an inch taller than the minimum seat height so they can “walk” while sitting on the bike.
Your also want to be sure the balance bike has a well-designed geometry to allow your child to walk and run comfortably while on the bike as they maneuver it. If the seat is too close to the handlebars, your child won’t have enough room to move well.
A longer lower geometry will make balancing easier, as the bike will have a lower center of gravity. When looking at a bike with the seat all the way down, there should be a small gap between the seat and the rear wheel. All the balance bikes we offer at Ready, Set, Pedal have ideal geometries for small children.
When it comes to balance bikes, the lighter the better! The lighter the bike, the easier it will be for your child to maneuver, and the more your child will enjoy riding! Imagine if you had to propel a bike up the hill that weighed half what you do. As a general rule, a balance bike should weigh less than 30% of your child’s weight.
Should I buy a balance bike with or without hand brakes? The age of your child and the places your child is riding will help you determine whether or not you feel brakes are necessary. If your child is less than 2 yrs old, most likely they do not have the coordination to use hand brakes yet. Flat, paved trails require less stopping power than rolling dirt trails. Your child will learn to use their feet to stop but may need the assistance of a hand brake if they are picking up speed on downhill portions. If your child is more aggressive, they tend to go faster, and a hand brake can be helpful in case a quick stop is required.
The types of tires on a balance bike will affect the performance of the bike and the comfort of your child’s ride. We recommend tires with air as they provide more cushion and thus, comfort, for your child. They also provide the best traction. The only down side is that they can flat or require the occasional pump. Air tires can also add weight and cost to the bike but we feel the tradeoff is well worth it.
Another common bike tire used on balance bikes is the EVA Foam Tire. They never go flat and are lighter weight. However, they are solid so are not able to provide any cushion or traction. They can be great for a beginner or more timid rider that aren't moving very fast, but a more aggressive rider ideally would have better traction and more cushion so their body doesn’t have to absorb the impact of every bump.
There are other factors to consider as well. Some bikes are made of wood while others are steel or aluminum. Wood is generally more eco-friendly, but can fall apart if a bike is stored out in the weather. Some have safer hand grips than others. Some bikes have exposed bolts that can scratch kids if bumped against in a fall.
If you have specific questions, let us know and we are happy to help you choose the right balance bike for your child.
Ready, Set, Pedal Customer Service: (970) 718-2453