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Best balance bikes 2024 — the perfect starter bike for your little ones

Help your child master the fundamentals of balancing with one of these super fun push-along bikes

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In the last dozen or so years, balance bikes have really revolutionised the way children have been learning to ride a bike. These steerable bikes with no pedals allow a child to effectively learn how to balance and steer a bike without the complication of pedalling thrown into the mix. Simply put, balance bikes make a child's first experiences with bikes simple and fun, and not something complex that could put them off for life.

Just like any type of bike, balance bikes are available at a wide range of prices. Some cheaper models don’t have as many added extra features such as brakes, and others... well, they could make a large dent in your wallet, and there are even carbon fibre balance bikes available nowadays if your child has been really good! Some can also double up as a 'proper' bike once your child gets the hang of balancing and wants to progress onto pedalling. 

Although there are many types of balance bike on the market as we have mentioned, they are more often than not pretty basic and straightforward. An important thing to look for when buying one is an adjustable saddle height. This is important as you will need to be able to adjust the position as your child grows, until they are ready to move on to a big bike. If they are already at that stage or nearing, make sure you check out our pick of the best kids bikes to help make that next step.

Another important aspect to consider when selecting a balance bike for your child is fit. A properly fitted balance bike will allow your child to stand with their feet flat on the floor, so they can scoot themselves along and stop with their feet; not to mention, it helps them to feel in control.

It's also important to ensure that your little one can get on and off their balance bike easily, with the saddle height a couple of centimetres less than the child’s inside leg measurement.

If your child is still too small and/or you want to take them around town on your bike to get them used to cycling from the passenger's seat, we'd also recommend investing in one of the best child’s bike seat & trailers you can afford to attach to your bike, so they can enjoy the simple pleasures of being out riding (with mum or dad doing the hard work of course).

Without further ado, here are our top balance bike picks... reviewed by our reviewers and ridden by their kids, of course!

The best balance bikes

Hornit AIRO balance bike

Hornit Balance bike AIRO

Best balance bike overall
Buy now for £139 from Amazon
Looks great
Light and simple to use
Lifetime warranty
Easy to set up
No brake option (yet)
No quick release on seat post

The Hornit AIRO is a sleek-looking, simple and fun to use balance bike that'll turn heads in the playground, for both children and parents alike. This is a solid option for introducing your child to the world of cycling; it looks the part and performs well. It's light, simple and good fun to use, making it our best overall balance bike.

This particular balance bike benefits from being made from  magnesium alloy which helps to make this one of the lighter options in our pick at only 2,950g. The base of the frame features grip-taped foot plates, handy for when children are up to speed on the flat or whizzing down a slope.

Overall, the Hornit AIRO is a really great lightweight, all-round option for your child. It really is a superb introduction to life on two wheels, as well as being well made it also looks the part and is fun to ride. 

Read our review:
Kidvelo Rookie 12 balance bike

Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike

Best lightweight balance bike
Buy now for £108 from Kidvelo
Very light
Good price
Easy to adjust for multiple kids
Lifetime warranty
No rear brake

If you have been searching high and low for the perfect lightweight balance bike for your child then seriously look no further, the Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike is the one for you. At just 2,890g, this very light option will have your child confident on a push along bike in no time.

The frame is made from lightweight 6061 aluminium tubing with the traditional double triangle gets a few alterations to suit smaller riders: the top tube sweeps down low so it's easy for even the smallest of legs to step over the frame. The rear of the frame you will find the chain stays are topped with black grip tape for more confident riders as they pick up speed and want to keep their feet clear of the ground. 

Everything considered, the Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike is a really well designed and designed bike for little ones. The lightweight nature of the frame allows for the bike to be easy to control and manoeuvre for children, allowing them to gain confidence and independence without weight holding them back or making the process more tricky.

Read our review:
Specialized Hotwalk kids balance bike

Specialized Hotwalk kids balance bike

Best balance bike for smaller children
Buy now for £149 from Tredz
Airless tyres mean no punctures
Loads of adjustability for growing kids
Tough and likely to survive many a toddler wobbly
Bell not easy for a kid to use
Not the lightest available

Another option from the very highly regarded American bicycle company, Specialized, the Hotwalk balance bike is a fantastically designed pick for anyone wanting to accommodate a smaller child who is eager to get going on two wheels thanks to its drastically dropped frame design making getting on and off super easy. Therefore, we feel it to be the best balance bike for smaller children. 

At 4,230g, this certainly isn’t the lightest of balance bikes we have features on our guide, however it’s still a manageable weight for a small child and allows for a low level of neglect thanks to the robust nature of a slightly heavier bike. More so, the geometry of the rear triangle has also been designed to allow smaller riders to get on more easily.

Overall, with an RRP of £149, the Specialized Hotwalk balance bike is an all round well built, robust bike that offers loads of adjustability for a growing child. Not only that but the geometry of the frame makes it the best balance bike for smaller children as it’s a lot easier than other designs to get on and off.

Read our review:
Raleigh Balance Banana bike

Raleigh Balance Banana Bike

Best balance bike for safe steering
Buy now for £95 from Amazon
Limited turning circle for safer steering
Large gripper buffers to protect hands
Fun design
Heavier than others
More difficult for smaller children to mount than others
Tightly packed tread is a pain to get mud out of

This option from the classic British bike brand Raleigh looks great, is well thought out and practical according to our reviewer (and his daughter). It's not the lightest and smaller children won't find it super easy to mount, but toddlers aged two and up and their nostalgic parents might find it a match made in vintage-looking heaven. 

Designed to be a mini-me of Raleigh's iconic Team Banana bikes from the late 80s, the design is fun that makes it instantly recognisable. Assembly takes all of two minutes so your nipper can get going almost as soon as they've pulled off the wrapping paper, and once on it the bike has an adjusted geometry to help children balance better, with a lowered and extended rear triangle to help with stability. It's not as easy to get on as a step-through style frame, but once your child has learnt they need to lift their leg over it should be plain sailing. 

There are some good practical elements such as the large buffers on the grips and the steering stops to prevent accidents, and at £99 it's pretty good value for money.

Read our review:
LittleBig 3-in-1 bike

LittleBig 3-in-1 bike

Best convertible balance bike
Buy now for £175 from Little Big Bikes
Can convert into a proper bike
Added accessories
Front and back brake
Little heavier than others

This LittleBig bike offering is a brilliant concept that will see your child travel from the early stages of grasping balance through to learning how to incorporate pedalling. This is thanks to its ability to go from a little balance bike to a bigger balance bike and then into a proper big bike, due to the ability to flip the rear end as well as attach cranks and pedals (which come with the bike). Thus making it the best convertible balance bike.

A LittleBig therefore can start off as a very small balance bike which is perfect for really young children. As your little one then grows you can flip the rear half of the frame and turn it into a larger balance bike, and then, when your kid is ready to fly solo, you attach the pedals and chain and it's a small pedal bike. It also comes with both a front and rear brake which is of course useful and great for safety reasons. 

Overall, this amazing balance bike is a great multi dimensional option if you are looking for something that will last and your child won’t just grow out of once they hit another growth spurt. Not only that, but it's also light, well made and above all so exciting to ride that you'll struggle to get them off it.

Read our review:
Micro 2in1 Balance Bike

Micro 2in1 Chopper balance bike

Best first balance bike
Buy now for £89.95 from Decathlon
Comes with double wheels at the bike
Well priced
No brake

For very young toddlers who need a bit of help starting out, this balance bike from Micro Scooters can have a pair of skateboard size wheels at the back or a single bike wheel, making it the best first balance bike for little ones trying to grasp balancing. 

Although we haven’t published a full review this balance bike on the site (but have had rave informal reviews from contributors) Micro claims this to weigh just 2,450g (5.4 lb) which is very light. Not only that but this particular balance bike also comes with adjustable handlebars, making it suitable for children from two years and up. 

All in all, this is a great first balance bike for a young child and with the possibility to swap the single back wheel to two smaller ones for extra stability and turning it into almost a tricycle / balance bike hybrid. Thus making it the best first balance bike as it’s really great to learn and gain confidence on, thanks to this double rear wheel feature.

Halfords Indi Balance Bike

Halfords Indi Balance Bike

Best budget balance bike
Buy now for £35 from Halfords
Smaller 10” wheels
Narrow 19mm handlebars
No brake

This option from Halfords is a bargain at just £35.00! Due to numerous recommendations from friends of the site and their little ones, we have given it our best budget balance bike option.

Although it doesn’t come with added extras that others do, you can’t complain for the price. The Indi benefits from a sturdy steel frame to withstand bumps and 10-inch wheels with solid tyres. The saddle height has a minimum of 35cm and max of 42cm, with 19mm handlebars that are perfect for diddy hands. 

Overall this is a great value balance bike recommended for children aged 2 to 4. The lack of a brake means it's for flat terrain only and there's no footrest for coasting, but it's very well priced.

Black Mountain Pinto

Black Mountain Pinto

Best balance bike/pedal bike versatile option
Buy now for £399 from Black Mountain
Loads of adaptability
Geometry suited to children's physiology
Good components
A big outlay

The Black Mountain Pinto starts life as a balance bike and when your youngster is ready to pedal can be converted into a pedal bike by adding the included cranks, pedals and drive belt. As the child grows it can be further adapted to become a larger bike with a higher gear, so your initial investment sees junior through the first couple or three years of their cycling life. Making it the best versatile balance bike of our selection.

The Pinto is a well-built overall package with some quality components as well as clever design ideas that'll give plenty of confidence to those who are about to start their cycling journey. In particular, the Pinto has a shallow head angle for very stable handling, which can really help your child with the transition from balance biking to pedalling.

All in all, this is a fantastic option that offers a lot of adaptability to ensure your child can progress through their cycling journey. It's a big outlay for a 'balance bike'... although it's much more than that, so saves you needing to buying the young'un another first pedal bike when they progress.  

Read our review:
Specialized Hotwalk Carbon

Specialized Hotwalk Carbon

Bonus pick: a true money-no-object balance bike
Buy now for £431.49 from Bike Inn
Very lightweight
Looks great
Very expensive

For most of us, the standard Specialized Hotwalk will be the one most parents would consider investing in, and it still ain't cheap; but if you want to start them on fancy carbon really young, then look no further than the Specialized Hotwalk Carbon... £999-worth of pure luxury balance bike! 

Throughout, you will find the frame, forks, handlebars and wheels are all made from carbon. The frame itself is made from Lightweight FACT 9r, ensuring the bike is nimble and light to improve manoeuvrability. Weighing in at only 2,100g it’s seriously impressive, and the only downside is it doesn’t come with a brake.

All in all, this is a serious piece of kit for a little one. Enough to have the majority of adults envious, but it’s also seriously expensive. Therefore, this best money-no-object balance bike won’t be for everyone, but it’s cool nonetheless! 

How to choose from the best balance bikes

What are the best balance bikes for toddlers?

The best balance bikes for toddlers are ideally ones that are light and can therefore be easily manoeuvred on. This is an important feature to consider because the easier the bike is to ride, or balance on, the more likely your child is to take to using the bike thanks to the confidence they'll gain from easily being able to control the bike.

Pretty much all of our options above somewhat fit that description, and if it's a capable and sensibly-priced lightweight balance bike you're after then we'd probably go for either the Hornit Airo (2.95kg) or the Kidvelo Rookie 12 (2.89kg) as our top picks. 

Are balance bikes suitable for two-year-olds?

A balance bike is suitable for most two-year-old children; in fact, some toddlers take to riding a balance bike before they even turn two. It's largely down to the individual child and whether or not they are motivated and interested in going for a spin on a balance bike. 

A good way to figure this out is to take your toddler to a local bike shop that stocks balance bikes to see if you can try them out. Quite quickly you will be able to see if your child is keen or not, regardless of their age. Generally speaking, as long as your child can hold themselves up on the balance bike, then the rest is up to you as only you know your child and what you are comfortable with.

What type of bike is best for a two-year-old?

As we've already clarified, a balance bike is almost always the best option for a toddler of this age. Balance bikes are fantastic for one main reason: they allow your child to learn about balance, of course! This is something that often takes children a long time to grasp and master once stepping up onto a two-wheeled bike with no stabilisers, but this will be less daunting after some time on a balance bike. They also allow your child to build confidence independently as they can touch the ground with their feet at any time while scooting along, making it a great, safe option for a two-year-old.

On the other hand, tricycles can be a pretty good option too. However, due to the stability the double wheels at the back they provide, a tricycle won't really be teaching your child balance. Nor will it help them to grasp manoeuvring, which are both two important skills needed to transition onto a 'big(ish) bike', of which many examples can be found in our best kids' bikes guide.

Is a balance bike or scooter better?

If you were wanting to know if you should invest in a balance bike or a scooter for your little one, then you should firstly consider two things, as they are both very different and offer different skills. The first being: which does your child show more interest in? If your child seems very keen on bikes and always wants to have a sit on one, then it's a pretty safe bet that your child would enjoy a balance bike.

Next, do you want your child to ride a two-wheeled bike without stabilisers eventually? We're hoping the answer is yes, so therefore a balance bike is always going to be a better option for getting them used to being in an on-bike position while learning key balancing skills. In our experience, toddlers who have only ever scooted often need a lengthier period with stabilisers when they get their first bike, whereas we know of staffers' little ones who have progressed from balance bikes to riding a pedal bike without stabilisers in days. 

Are micro-scooters a better alternative?

Micro-scooters can be great, and we appreciate that balance bikes aren't the only way children can learn two-wheeled balance. We've spoken to parents whose children have gone straight from scooting to pedalling because their time on micro-scooters has equipped them with the right reflexes; although as mentioned above, balance bike to pedal bike progression is usually a faster way to get the stabilisers to come off. 

Some kids just prefer scooters, and it's better to indulge any interest in being active than to try to push them too hard into cycling. Not only that, but if your kids love all sorts of wheeled toys, then there's no reason they can't have both... if your bank balance will allow for it! 

Are balance bikes worth it for toddlers?

Without a doubt, which is why we've put this guide together! Although some can be a little on the pricey side, there are some great affordable options out there for £50 or under. If your child doesn't take to balance biking for whatever reasons or progresses onto a pedal bike quickly, the amount you spend doesn't have to be dissimilar to another other main Christmas present. 

Not to mention, balance bikes are really popular thanks to the independence and confidence they give little ones; therefore if you have bought one and your child no longer needs or uses it, they can be easy to sell on. More importantly, young children just really enjoy whizzing around on them; who doesn't love whizzing around on their bike!

Having learnt to ride a bike in order to race as a child, Charlotte is no stranger to life on two wheels. Racing across multiple disciplines over the years, she now focuses her time on road racing. Racing with her Belgium based team. Not only that, but Charlotte has many years experience working within the cycling industry alongside her racing endeavours. Therefore, it’s fair to say that anything with two wheels is right up her street.