Good-bye Training Wheels: Hello Balance Bikes

Time to get to know another one of our Baby Gizmo Senior Editors!  Meet Melissa!  And then let her tell you all about the fabulous world of balance bikes!!

Melissa received a BS degree in Civil Engineering and is the proud stay at home mother of thing 1 and thing 2. Being the wife of an Air Force pilot means being the only parent for days, weeks and even months at a time. This chaotic and unpredictable life of a military mom calls for some serious retail therapy and Melissa puts her focus on baby gear and unfortunately for her husband the deal-a-day baby sites. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Melissa has lived in FL, OK, WA and is due for another move soon. She enjoys spending time with friends and family and watching college football in the fall. Go Irish!

Balance Bikes go by many names; running bike, push bike, training bike, learning bike, or scooter bike but whatever you want to call them they are awesome and we love them here at Baby Gizmo. The most difficult part of riding a two wheeler is learning the balance which is why Huffy invented training wheels in 1949 to allow children to ride bicycles at a younger age. Recently the balance bike (originally invented for adults in the 1840s) was resurrected when companies realized that training wheels were hindering children from learning balance and becoming dependent on them.

Lil’ Cruiser started using his balance bike at about 26 months. He walked with the bike for the first few days. Walked faster the next day and even faster the following day. After about 2 weeks he was cruising at a runner’s pace. A month later he had his feet up more often then down and had completely mastered balancing and steering. Now the hubby being the typical male needed to know if all this “balance” was real so for his 3rd birthday, lil’ Cruiser got a real two wheeler with pedals and NO training wheels. After 15 minutes of some help lil’ Cruiser was riding and pedaling a two wheeler all by himself and I don’t mean for just a minute or two. He was doing full on laps around the playground at top speeds. It was jaw dropping and very impressive for all of the party goers who witnessed it.

Balance bikes comes in two distinct varieties; wood or metal. They come in a range of sizes allowing an 18 month old toddler or a 9 year old child to ride a bike. This article will focus on your choices in the metal category for the shortest of riders but most of these companies make larger versions if you are interested in a bike for an older child. If you would prefer a wooden balance bike check out our review of the Early Rider Balance Bike.

Glider (2-5 year olds)

Glide Bikes claim to be the first US makers of balance bikes with their now discontinued pv glider. Their mini-Glider will fit most 2 year olds with use of their adjustable seat on the lowest setting of 12″. The designer of the Glide bikes is a dad and took great care in the safety of the bike. He designed the geometry of the bike to have a low speed balance as well as nearly eliminating the possibility of going forward over the handlebars, and finally included a stop on the turn radius to prevent the handlebars from injuring a child in an accident. Safety isn’t the only plus to this bike, the mini-Glider is packed with features including the adjustable seat, adjustable handlebar height, foot pegs, handbrake, kickstand, EVA foam tires and a lightweight alloy frame weighing only 8 lbs.

SHOP Glider Bikes

KaZAM (3-6 year olds)

KaZAM balance bikes are unique. These are the only bikes to feature a full footrest on the frame of the bike, helping children maintain their balance and center of gravity while riding. This bike is not for young toddlers, KaZAM they recommends that their riders be 3 and older. The KaZAM bike is available in a range of colors and features a metal frame, adjustable handlebars, air tires and an adjustable seat post from 14″ to 17.5″ tall,
the tallest of the bikes featured here. This is also the heaviest bike weighing in at 11.2 lbs but the extra weight shouldn’t’t be a problem for the older riders it’s designed for.

SHOP KaZAM Bikes

Specialized Hotwalk (2-5 year olds)

Specialized are one of the premier makers of adult bikes and they outfit all their Hotrocks with the same quality components as those bigger bikes, including stainless steel spokes, alloy rims and durable bearings, seals and fasteners for years and years of low maintenance and all-out fun. The hotwalk comes completely assembled from your local bike shop. They only adjustment needed is the seat height which is done with a simple allen wrench which ranges from 13″ to 15.5″. The Hotwalk features air tires giving your child a smoother ride over any terrain be it grass, gravel or sidewalk. Other features include the adjustable seat, adjustable handlebar height, and a lightweight aluminum frame weighing in at under 8lbs.

Strider PreBike (18 months – 5 year olds)

The smallest balance bike available from an American company allowing for children as young as 18 months to ride unlike most other bikes that accommodate kids 2 and older. The newest model features an integrated footrest, EVA polymer tires and a durable welded steel frame. This bike is available in a wide range of colors and even has some optional accessories like a brake kit, quick-release seat clamp, or pneumatic air tires. The
seat post adjusts from a low 11 inches up to 16 inches tall. Since this bike is built for the youngest riders it also has the lightest frame at less then 7lbs.

SHOP Strider PreBike

If you prefer European manufacturer’s there are some entering the US market such as Kinderbike’s Laufrad Mini, Likeabike’s jumper and PUKY’s learner bike.

– Contributed by Melissa

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Melissa Jarotkiewicz, Editor Melissa received a BS degree in Civil Engineering and is the proud stay at home mother of thing 1 and thing 2. Being the wife of an Air Force pilot means being the only parent for days, weeks and even months at a time. This chaotic and unpredictable life of a military mom calls for some serious retail therapy and Melissa puts her focus on baby gear and unfortunately for her husband the deal-a-day baby sites. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Melissa has lived in FL, OK, WA and just recently moved to Germany. She enjoys spending time with friends and family and watching college football in the fall. Go Irish!

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2 Comments on "Good-bye Training Wheels: Hello Balance Bikes"

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Jenny
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We have the Strider and we really like it. It’s very light, very sturdy, looks great, and we were able to by it locally. My 27 month old enjoys walking with it and is learning to sit and push herself along. I can’t wait until she can ride faster so we can bike together. 🙂

BetsyO
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We have the kinderbike laufrad mini and its saddle height is the lowest available at just under 11″. It also only weighs 7lbs because it uses alloy instead of steel tubing. I liked it better than the others you menntioned because it came with a rear v-brake, alloy rims, bell and reflector for no extra cost AND a lifetime warranty. It also has been rated the best by a few periodicals including the new york times (that is where i read about it). I’m sure there are many more brands that you missed too that are better than some you… Read more »
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