What is a balance bike? (and how to buy one)

What is a balance bike? (and how to buy one)

What is a balance bike? (and how to buy one)

A balance bike is a simplified version of a full-sized bike that helps kids learn the fundamentals of riding without training wheels! Unfortunately, many of us began our biking journey learning to ride with training wheels. Luckily for our kids, the days of shakily navigating their bikes through the neighborhood, trying to keep up with kids who had already ditched their training wheels, are gone – there is a better way!

Balance bikes have become increasingly popular among parents and little riders, not only because they are tons of fun, but also because 1) they are safe for little kids to ride 2) they teach the fundamentals of bike riding (more on this later!) and 3) they on-board kids to an easier experience with bikes, leading them to be more proficient riders when the day for pedals comes.

To help you understand what a balance bike is and how to buy the best bike, we’re going to cover:

  • What is a balance bike?
  • Why a balance bike is (in our opinion) the BEST option out there for little riders and
  • What to look for in a balance bike

Before we get started, if you have ANY questions concerning kids and bikes, you can always reach out to one of our Bambino Bike Experts via info@bambinobikes.com. Our team is filled with bike veterans who also happen to be parents, we are (or have been) in your shoes and we are here for you!

Okay, onto the good stuff!


What Is A Balance Bike?

Simply put, a balance bike is a bicycle without pedals. Balance bikes come in many shapes, sizes and forms. The basic idea is to create a simple bike without the distractions of pedals, brakes, training wheels or a drivetrain so that a child can focus on developing key skills, one of which is balance! To propel themselves forward, children use their feet to kick, scoot, or run along while riding the bike. You may have heard other names for a balance bike such as kick bike or run bike, these are all the same types of balance bike. Once kids have mastered the skills of balance and steering, they’re ready to make a quick and easy transition to a pedal bike.

Why are there no training wheels, pedals, or brakes?

As adults we often forget that we learned everything we know today little by little and with lots of practice. Pause for a minute and think back to when your child was learning colors or shapes. Maybe they had one of those cubes with the shapes. You could almost see the gears turning in their head when they picked up a shape, began figuring out where it goes, and then how to make it fit into the hole. This is the reason that balance bikes are so beneficial for children, they remove all the unnecessary distractions and really break it down to the basics for them so they can learn little by little, adding new skills as they learn.


Why Is A Balance Bike the Best Option for Children to Learn How to Ride A Bike?

Balance Bike vs Training Wheels vs Tricycle, what’s best? It’s no question in our mind that balance bikes are the best option for learning how to bike, and here’s our reasoning… A balance bike is the best option for learning how to ride at a young age because it allows your child to focus on developing their balance and hand-eye coordination which is at the core of knowing how to ride a bike. 

Think training wheels are a good training tool? Think again! Training wheels or “stabilizers” are doing the work of balancing for the rider, which completely defeats the purpose of learning how to balance on a bike! Your child should be learning the most important skill, which is balance, and training wheels completely remove this from the equation, making the rider dependent on them. This dependency can actually become dangerous on larger bikes that carry more speed, preventing the rider from properly maneuvering the bike around or over obstacles.

Now, you may be thinking – what about a tricycle?Two Wheeling Tots wrote an in-depth article on Balance Bikes vs. Tricycles. To summarize their article, tricycles are generally heavy and not very easy to ride. According to them, “if you want your child to have thebestriding experience, a balance bike wins hands down.”

They broke down why into 5 main reasons -

  1. Balance bikes fit toddlers much better than tricycles.
  2. Balance bikes safely and easily move over uneven surfaces, tricycles do not.
  3. Balance bikes are light and easy to ride – kids can ride balance bikes much farther than a tricycle.
  4. Balance bikes offer years of fun and independent riding.
  5. Balance bike graduates never need training wheels. The transition to a pedal bike is easy!

We have to agree, balance bikes win hands down.

What To Look For In A Great Balance Bike!

Not all balance bikes are created equal! Sure, a balance bike is a simple toy, what could go wrong? More than you’d think, that’s for sure. Let’s talk about the key advantages in buying a well-designed bike and why a Bixbi Bike might be the right bike for your child. 

Less is more - A balance bike is meant to break the skill of riding a bike down into its most basic fundamental skills without the distraction of things like brakes, pedals, shifting gears, and a drivetrain. A hand brake isn’t a necessity on a first bike since most children won’t even have the strength to use a hand brake until they are close to 3 years old. Bixbi bikes are a simple and elegant balance bike that removes any distractions from your child learning how to ride, balance and steer their first bike.

Geometry - long and low is the saying. A balance bike that is designed properly actually helps the learning experience! You’ll want to find a bike with a longer wheelbase (the distance between the center of the wheels) because that helps with balance at speed. You’ll also want the handlebars to be lower (closer to the bike) and to select a bike with a top tube length, also know as cockpit (distance between the handlebars and seat) that is a little longer to encourage a ride position that facilitates easier balance and steering. A bike with a short wheelbase, a small cockpit, and high bars are a red alert because that makes a bike difficult to balance and steer since the bike is “twitchy” or wobbly so to speak. 

Weight - a balance bike should weigh less than 30% of your child’s body weight. Why? If you only weigh 25 pounds and are not that strong and try to pick up a 12 pound bike it’s going to be really difficult! Weight also matters for moving the bike around when riding, and of course going uphill. Bixbi Bikes are designed with the lightest weight materials in mind and with that they only weigh 7 pounds! Your child will enjoy riding around on their Bixbi Balance Bike because it’s so light and easy to maneuver. 

Air tires - The tire options available on balance bikes are solid foam or traditional air-filled tires. Yes, both will work and function as needed, but air-filled tires will provide benefits like ride quality and traction, and they are easily replaceable. Since you can adjust the PSI (pressure of your tires) you can have a softer ride with more traction in dirt, or a harder ride for going fast on pavement! Rascal Rides wrote a great article on the key points of a balance bike to consider. 

Seat height - If you’re starting your child out as early as possible on a balance bike, then seat height (based on your child’s inseam) is an important factor to consider. Not all balance bikes have a low seat height and that might mean your child’s bike will have to sit on the sidelines while they grow a bit more. Bixbi Bikes do have a taller seat height, which is part of the design aspect in that it looks and rides like a real bike, only smaller. But not to worry, they addressed this with the addition of the LowRider Kit. With a simple adapter the bike can be set up for smaller riders with an inseam as small as 12”.

Assembly - consider your comfort level with bike maintenance and how much assembly is required. Some bikes require more assembly than others and more tools. With a Bixbi Bike all you have to do is attach the handle bars and front wheel and set the proper seat post height; the one tool you’ll need is included. We take care of everything else for you - like airing up the tires and installing the LowRider Kit if you purchase one with your bike.

Style - Let’s be real, bikes are cool, and having a cool bike is the best part of being a kid (or an adult in my case)! Most balance bike brands only offer bikes in one to three color options and it’s usually the typical pink and blue (where’s the variety?!). Bixbi Bikes come in over 10 different awesome colors including 6 metallic colors! You and your child can pick their favorite color and if you want to take it to the next level you can personalize your bike with your child's name! 

Warranty - Sure, it’s only a kids bike, but knowing that you’re covered for any issues is great peace of mind. Some brands offer only short warranties on parts replacements, so know before you buy what your purchase is covered for, because toddlers can be very hard on their toys! At Bambino Bikes we offer 30-Day Ride Happy guarantees on your purchase, lifetime warranty on Bixbi Bikes, and of course if you ever have any issues the Bambino Team is here to help you out. 

Now that you know what a balance bike is and what to look for in a great quality bike, let’s take a look at some of the bikes! Again, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact a Bambino Bikes Expert

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