Despite its simple principle, a balance bike isn’t exactly an easy item to shop for. It’s normal to wonder which will be more comfortable, safe, and actually beneficial in preparing your kid for a grown-up bike.
But don’t fret.
In this post, we’ll go over the 10 best balance bikes for kids under 5 years old and how you can make the most out of them!
Top 10 Balance Bikes for Kids Under 5 Years Old
- Woom 1 Plus Balance Bike – Best Overall
- Strider 14X Sport Balance Bike
- Subrosa Altus Balance BMX Bike
- Huffy Lil Cruzer Balance Bike – Best Budget
- Hornit Airo Balance Bike
- DK Nano Balance Bike
- Burley MyKick Balance Bike
- GT Vamoose Balance Bike
- Fit Bike Co 2023 Misfit Balance Bike
- Banana LT Balance Bike
1. Woom 1 Plus 14” Balance Bike – Best Overall
- Adjustable seat between 13.4” and 18.5” to suit 37”- 43” kids
- The steer limiter ring, kickstand, and handbrakes add more safety to the bike
- Sturdy frame that can handle up to 130 lbs
- A Surfboard footrest attachment that makes gliding easier
- A little pricey
The Woom 1 Plus balance bike is all about performance, durability, and safety.
Take, for instance, the added dual handbrake feature. While it might not seem very special to have a brake system, it’s not common with balance bikes. Instead, many manufacturers just rely on the kids using their feet to stop.
But that’s not all.
There’s also a steering limiter you can use to keep your kid from overturning the bike and going off track. When you’re more confident in their skills, you can detach the rubber ring above the front wheel and give your child more leeway.
The Woom 1 Plus might be a good fit if your child is between 3-4.5 years, and it can handle a maximum load of up to a whopping 130 lbs!
If that’s too large for your kid, you can always consider the original Woom 1 model with 12” wheels. It’ll fit kids from 1.5-3.5 years old.
However, the Plus model comes with a surfboard-style footrest. That’s not something you get with the original model (or most balance bikes, for that matter).
2. Strider 14X Sport Balance Bike – Best Convertible
- The adjustable seat provides room for growth in the child’s inseams between 16” and 23”
- Conversion compatibility allows you to turn the balance bike into a regular pedal bike
- Equipped with small footrests to encourage balancing and gliding
- Durable steel frame that handles moderate wear
- The package doesn’t include the conversion kit
- Steel frames can be heavy to move around
The Strider 14X Sport is the one to go for if you’re looking for longevity.
Not only because the adjustable seat will keep your kid using the bike over the years, but also because you’ll be able to turn it into a regular pedal bike when your child is ready to take it to the next level.
That said, it could be a better fit for older kids between 3-5 years old. You might even be able to push it to 7 years if you use the conversion kit with the drive gear, pedals, coaster brakes, and chain guard. However, you’ll have to buy that conversion kit separately.
Odds are, it’ll still be in good condition after years of usage, thanks to the steel frame that can handle up to 80 lbs.
Compared to the Woom 1 Plus, the Strider 14X is a little on the heavier side, especially since both have 14” wheels. All in all, it weighs 12.5 lbs, while the smaller Strider 12” model is half this weight.
3. Subrosa Altus 12.3” Top Tube Balance BMX Bike – Best for BMX
- BMX geometry makes it a good first step for freestyle enthusiasts
- Peg placement helps to rest the feet without it getting in the way
- Lightweight but sturdy frame
- Ripped grips with closed ends for extra support
- Seat fabric might wear out after a while
The Subrosa Altus balance bike blends a low 3.5” stand-over height with BMX geometry to cater to your adventurous little ones.
From the frame, threadless headset, thick air tires, and Rant hubs to the foot pegs, it replicates true BMX gear. Design-wise, it looks a lot like any matte finish adult bike you’d get from Subrosa. So, it might be nice to go off with your kid on matching rides!
The frame itself is high-tensile steel that stands up to the whole skatepark and freestyle biking vibe. Despite the sturdy build, it’s not as heavy as you’d expect — it’s only 9.9 lbs.
It even comes with a 28mm offset fork for added suspension power. However, there are no brakes or brake mounts here, but that’s typical of balance bikes, anyway.
All in all, the Subra Altus kids’ balance bike might be a good fit if your kid is already showing an interest in BMX biking styles and you want to slowly build their confidence to hop on the real deal.
You can get your child started on this bike as soon as they’re one year old, and it could still fit them till they’re four.
4. Huffy Lil Cruzer 12” Balance Bike – Best on a Budget
- Affordable price point
- Wide tires reduce shocks and pumps
- Easy three-step assembly with a detailed manual from Huffy
- Seat high is easily adjustable with a quick-release clip
- A heavy frame means that the bike doesn’t travel very well
The Lil Cruzer 12” by Huffy could be a good option if you’re on a tight budget and looking to get a bike for a 3-year-old kid.
With proper maintenance, the kid could use it up till age five with a height range of 37” to 42”. That’s because the seat height can go from 13” to 15”. However, you’ll need to keep in mind that the recommended maximum load is 60 lbs only.
On the plus side, the inflatable pneumatic tires on this bad boy can handle a lot of terrains, especially with the rigid suspension.
Additionally, the metallic sheen with bold color choices can be very attractive to children. As a parent, you’ll know that this is always a bonus when trying to get your kid to commit to a sport!
Just like other Huffy bikes, the Lil Cruzer comes with a limited warranty that covers manufacturing defects.
The most obvious downside is that it can be a little heavy for a kid’s bike. The entire package arrives at around 15 lbs, but it also means you’re getting a good bang for your bucks with a sturdy frame.
5. Hornit Airo 12.5” Balance Bike – Best Portability
- A lightweight frame that makes the bike easy to carry around
- Textured grips on the footrests prevent slippage, even with little feet
- Sleek design with six bold color options to suit all tastes
- Covered by a lifetime manufacturer warranty
- The tires might not provide the best traction during off roads rides
With a sleek design and an impressively light magnesium frame, the Airo by Hornit might be your toddler’s first bike.
Don’t let the petite size fool you, though. The whole thing weighs 6.5 lbs, but it’s not flimsy at all. In fact, it can carry a maximum load of 66 lbs.
If your kid is between 1.5 and 4 years, odds are, this bike will fit them nicely. You can double-check that the inseam length is between 11.8” and 18.1” for the best results.
That said, it’s not entirely out of the question for a 5-year-old to be able to use this bike.
As an extra safety measure, the stem on the handlebars is padded with neoprene to absorb the shocks in case your child leans over. Plus, the valve that you’d expect to see on typical stems is also absent since it can be a choking hazard.
Yet another thing that many parents will love about this balance bike is that the required assembly is minimal. You’ll only need to straighten the handlebars and tighten a few screws here and there with the hex wrench included in the package.
6. DK Nano 12” Balance Bike
- Adjustable seat height from 11.75” to 14.25” to add room for growth
- It comes with an integrated footrest
- Clean and sleek design that looks like an adult BMX bike
- Pneumatic tires with high traction suitable for training over sand, gravel, and mud
- Not the most affordable option
Much like the Subrosa Altus, the DK Nano also takes on a BMX vibe. In a way, it brings in the training features of a regular balance bike with the aesthetic of freestyle adult two-wheelers in one nifty product.
Mostly, it’ll fit bikers starting at two years old so that they’ll be ready to transition into a pedaling model by five. However, you can’t install a pedal kit or a brake system on this one like you could with the Strider 14X Sport.
While the integrated foot platform isn’t as roomy as the surfboard one in the Woom 1 Plus balance bike, it still comes in handy with gliding. It’s also not detachable, but it gets the job done.
With a metallic frame, sleek saddle, and matte handles, the DK Nano looks very modern. Whether you go with ocean blue, solid purple, or black smoke, your tiny tot will definitely stand out from the crowd on this bike!
7. Burley MyKick 12” Balance Bike
- Flip-lock seat collar for quick release starting at 12.5”
- The curved top tube helps keep the stand-over height low
- Airless rubber tires cut down on maintenance and punctures
- Minimal assembly required out of the box
- Rubber tires can reduce the traction
While the 12” tires on the Burley MyKick might not be the best option for off-road use, it’s still a good transition bike for kids between 2-5 years.
The steel and aluminum frame here weighs 11 lbs. It’s not particularly heavy, but your kids might struggle to lift it on their own.
On the upside, it does have a seat clamp that works in a very similar way to the Huffy Lil Cruzer’s quick-release feature. Plus, it also requires minimal assembly, much like the Hornit Airo.
However, there’s one controversial bit on this balance bike: The airless tires can either be a hit or a miss.
For some people, the smooth rubber might feel flimsy and gimmicky. For others, it’s a low-maintenance bliss. Overall, it’s really easy to clean, doesn’t leave marks, doesn’t require air pumps, and it’s puncture resistant.
So, you’ll have to reflect a bit on your priorities before getting this bike. If you don’t mind the rubbery tires, you’ll get to choose from four bright color options for your little one. Regardless of which color you’ll end up with, you’ll be covered by Burley’s limited warranty policies.
8. GT Vamoose 12” Balance Bike
- Low-rise Legit Fit frame that helps kids on and off the bike
- A soft but textured grip on the handlebars for a steady hold
- Rugged all-terrain tires for better traction
- Covered by a 3-year manufacturer warranty
- No footrests for the biker
The Vamoose bike utilizes the GT’s Legit Fit steel frame design that’s made to accommodate little tots the moment they’re ready to learn to ride a bike.
GT Vamoose comes in two size options for kids under five years, but we decided to go with the 12” here since it’s more of a universal starting size. With a low stand-over height, your kid can walk, sit, or glide over the frame. It’s even easy to get on and off without any help at all.
Although it’s made of hefty Hi-Ten steel, the bike isn’t heavy at all. It’s only 9.8 lbs since GT bought lightweight aluminum into the construction, too. Overall, it’s not as light as the Airo by Hornit, but it’s still relatively easy to carry around.
For the tires, you’ll get GT’s 12X2.5” all-terrain set with decent traction grips for rides on sand and gravel. Just keep in mind that both the seat post and the wheelset are alloys, but they’re still pretty sturdy, though.
On the downside, there’s no platform for the kids to lift their feet on while gliding. Instead, there are the tiny bolts on the wheels that could double as pegs. However, most kids won’t be able to catch up on that quickly, and they’ll just have to hold their legs up themselves.
What’s even more enticing here is that GT covers its bikes with a three-year warranty on the frame, provided that you get the product registered with the company after purchase.
9. Fit bike Co 2023 Misfit 12” Balance Bike Review
- Adjustable seat with a quick-release clamp
- Low stand-over height for easier access
- 10mm fork offset for extra stability
- Design that brings in the BMX frame with the geometry of a balance bike
- Comes with a hefty price tag
If going for minimalist designs isn’t your little biker’s cup of tea, they might love the Misfit balance bike. It takes on a classic approach to two-wheelers and blends it in with BMX-like features for kids.
In terms of weight, the Tig Welded Steel frame on the Misfit 2023 is only slightly lighter than the GT Vamose, at 9.6 lbs. While both have 12” tires, the Misfit’s set is only 1.5” wide, and usually, you’d see a thicker tire on kids’ bikes that try to replicate the BMX feel.
However, the stand-over height (5.7”) is still very convenient for tots under five years. The seat itself can go from 15” to 17” to add a bit of room for growth. As a plus, the saddle height is adjustable with a quick-release clamp, too.
While there are no brakes, you’ll get a mini front load stem and a 10mm offset fork on the suspension, which should provide a stability boost for your tiny biker.
Although it’s a little on the expensive side, it’s still not an entirely unreasonable price when you’re getting this quality.
10. Banana LT 12” Balance Bike Review
- Affordable price point with decent quality
- Airless tires require minimal maintenance
- The adjustable seat clamp goes from 12.2” to 15.7”
- Lightweight frame for easier handling
- Airless foam tires with plastic rims provide less traction and cushioning
Even if it doesn’t come with the most durable build, the Banana LT balance bike hits the mark on affordability, portability, and convenience.
In terms of portability, the Banana LT is actually comparable to the Hornit Airo, with 6.4 lbs total weight on the travel-friendly frame.
However, the maximum recommended load on the bike is 55 lbs only instead of 66 lbs on the Airo. It doesn’t take away from its suitability for kids between 2-5 years old, though.
The curved frame is a lot like the one on the MyKick by Burley, and they both work nicely in keeping the stand-over height low. It also comes with airless tires, but they’re made of EVA foam instead of rubber, and the rim material is plastic.
If everything about the Banana LT balance bike seems enticing to you, but you’re not a big fan of the airless tires, you can always opt for the GT version.
The Banana GT is exactly the same but with regular pneumatic tires, a metal rim, better cushioning, and higher all-terrain traction. For some people, it’ll feel less like a toy and more like a true bike. On the downside, it’ll need a bit of maintenance on your part.
Keep in mind that there’s assembly required for both models. While it could take 30 minutes or so, it’s not complicated, and you get all the necessary tools included in the package.
Before committing to a balance bike, you might want to consider a few factors that can help shape your decision.
Let’s take a closer look at seven main features to keep in mind:
Footrest pads and platforms can make the transition from walking to gliding a little smoother by encouraging kids to balance themselves with both legs lifted. Textured ones are even better since they reduce slippage.
That said, many children will still be able to get along just fine on their balance bikes without footrests at all.
So, it’s not really a requirement, but it’s a nice extra feature to have on the side.
In fact, some manufacturers will make them detachable to let you make that decision on your own, and this is the case with the Woom 1 Plus bike.
2. Adjustable Seating
Adjustable seating for any kids’ bike is way more important than adult models. It’s not just because our bodies are different, but because those little kiddies will outgrow one-sized bikes quickly.
Ideally, you’ll always want to keep the seat 0.5-1” shorter than the inseam.
If you’re not sure what your child’s inseam is, take a measuring tape and extend it along their inner legs, then use that as a reference when you’re bike shopping.
It might be better to get something with a minimum saddle setting that starts just at your kids’ current size. This way, there’ll be more room for growth before you hit the seat’s maximum height.
The most convenient saddle to look for is one with a clamp. Those make adjusting the seat height on the go so much easier and virtually tool-free.
3. Low Stand-Over Height
Even if the seat height is a fit for your kid, you still need to make sure that the stand-over range isn’t an issue.
It sounds complicated, but it all boils down to this: Can your kid comfortably stand over the top tube while keeping both feet on the ground?
Usually, bikes with low centers of gravity, like the Burley MyKick, are easy enough for the kid to step over without much challenge.
Look for curved frames that drop right before the seat and low top tubes to get the best fit. Those are both good indicators of a low stand-over height.
4. Lightweight Frame
It’s not just enough to have a low stand-over height for the bike construction to be fit for a child. You still need to make sure that the frame isn’t too heavy for them to lift it themselves if they fall over.
Even if your kid won’t have to lift themself, the bike has to be light enough for you, too. After all, you’ll be the one who has to carry it back home when your child gets sick of riding it around.
Usually, anything that’s lower than 10 lbs will work best for you and your kid. The Banana LT or the Hornit Airo might be the way to go here if you’re looking for the lightest options.
5. Safety Features
Brakes aren’t a standard feature with balance bikes — that much we’ve covered. However, if it’s crucial for you to get your kid used to handbrakes, then the Woom 1 Plus is the one for you.
The Woom bikes also cover yet another safety concern with the steering limiter that keeps your kid from turning a full 360°. This feature comes in handy with children who still don’t have complete control over the handlebars.
Other than that, you’ll have to settle for a different standard of safety features. For one, look for bikes with padded stems, like the Hornit Airo. It’ll absorb shocks on impact.
Some parents might also be concerned about the exposed bolts on bikes like the Banana LT. While it’s not a serious issue, it’s still something to keep in mind if your kid trips over often.
6. Wheel Size and Construction
The tire size is all about the biker’s age and height. For kids under five, 12” and 14” bikes are usually the way to go.
It’s with the construction that things get a little tricky.
While it may seem like pneumatic tires are better, it’s not always the case, at least not for everyone.
Airless rubber or foam tires usually cut down on maintenance needs, from the air pumps to the floor markings. On the downside, they provide less traction and can make the whole bike feel wobbly.
The same applies to the wheel’s rims. Metal ones are more adult-like and sturdy, while colored plastic ones can be more attractive to little kids.
7. Fork Offset and Trail
As a general rule of thumb, lower fork offsets mean more tail, leading to better stability when steering in a straight line.
For instance, the Co 2023 Misfit’s 10mm fork will be slightly more stable than the Subrosa Altus’ 28mm fork. Meanwhile, steering the Subrosa can feel more dynamic.
It’s important to note the difference won’t be major either way. After all, you kid isn’t going to take that bike for a solo hike or anything. That’s why both are valid options as long as you’re primarily using the bike on even surfaces.
5 Handy Tips to Make the Most Out of a Balance Bike
Regardless of which balance bike you end up with, you might need to keep some tips and tricks up your sleeve to make the training phase easier.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Teach Your Kids to Get On the Bike Themselves
At first, it’ll be tempting to just lift your kids and put them on the saddle. However, you need to teach them to get on and off without assistance.
If you want to help, try giving pointers and help the first few times by tilting the bike. After that, it’s better to let them try it on their own.
2. Let Things Take Their Course
While it might not seem very productive to just use your legs to move the balance bike, this is how the kids learn.
So, let the child make their way up from walking, then running, and finally gliding. Don’t be alarmed if they can’t balance with both feet off the ground right off the bat.
They might even need to start standing and then gradually learn to sit down while maneuvering the bike.
3. Don’t Point Out Design Flaws
More often than not, it’s the parents that complain about missing features. So, if you decide to get a bike that’s lacking in a certain aspect, try not to point it out in front of your kids.
Odds are, they won’t have trouble with it till you draw their attention to the problem.
This is particularly true with balance bikes that don’t have footrests. If you don’t talk about it as a flaw, the little ones will probably learn to glide without them.
4. Try Out New Practice Spots
To keep your child engaged with the bike, you can always visit new parks and tracks for them to practice on.
Some parents might even take their kids to skate parks! It’s a nice change of scenery and will help build up the confidence level. Just make sure that the place isn’t too crowded when you go.
5. Remember That Safety Comes First
While it can be thrilling to see your baby getting the hang of biking and speeding off by themselves, it’s still important to take some safety measures.
Getting fitted helmets could sound a little inconvenient initially, but it can save your kids some hard bumps when they fall down — which all kids will eventually do.
If you have a steering limiter, make sure to loop the ring in. Additionally, it’s always safer to avoid areas with high traffic. You won’t believe how easy it is for a kid to speed out of your reach on a balance bike!
That’s a wrap on our top 10 list of the best balance bikes for kids under 5 years old.
While you can’t go wrong with any of the top picks here, the Woom 1 Plus seems like an all-around performer. It’s durable, stylish, and efficient, but the safety features just sealed the deal for us!
No matter which option you end up with, the beauty of balance bikes is that they’ll nourish the cycling passion within kids at a young age.
With a bit of patience and practice, your little one will soon be ready to jump on a pedaling bike!