In Depth Baby Product Reviews Led by a Pediatrician

The 4 Best Balance Bikes

We tested balance bikes from top brands like Strider, Croco, Schwinn, and others to find the best
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Best Balance Bike Review (We purchased and tested the top balance bikes of 202 to find the best for every goal and need.)
We purchased and tested the top balance bikes of 202 to find the best for every goal and need.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
By Wendy Schmitz and BabyGearLab Review Team  ⋅  May 28, 2024

The Best Balance Bikes


Getting ready for a balance bike? Before little ones are ready for pedal power, you might consider a balance bike for learning the ropes. We researched more than 20 contenders before choosing 11 top options for testing. We purchased each bike and tested them hands-on in our lab for ease of setup, ease of use, and quality. We have the details you need to find the right bike for your little one based on age, height, ability, and more.

We love outdoor fun and biking! We've tested the best pedal bikes for kids, bike helmets for children, bike seats for little ones on parent bikes, and bike trailers so you can enjoy outdoor activities with your child. Also, if you need gear for your independent toddler, check out the best step stools for kids.

Editor's Note: We updated our balance bike review by removing a discontinued product. This update happened on May 28, 2024.

Top 11 Balance Bikes - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Value Award  
Price $90 List
$79.90 at Amazon
$60 List
$54.43 at Amazon
$220 List
$209.99 at Amazon
$75 List
$74.99 at Amazon
$70 List
$54.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
72
64
62
60
58
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Pros Quick-release adjustments, no-slip grip foot rest, lightweightRubber tires, adjustable width wheel, better stabilityGood for taller kids, converts to a pedal bike, rubber wheelsGood quality, no tool assembly, lightweightStylish, easy assembly
Cons Stiffer turningHeavierHeavy, could be too tall, expensiveRepeated tightening of handlebarSlight wheel wobble, Allen wrench to assemble
Bottom Line Impressive option with better balanced wheels and sturdy construction that looks coolVersatile option that transforms as your child gains confidence from a double rear wheel to singleInteresting option that grows with your child's ability if you add the available pedal conversion kitTop quality, well-balanced bike with flashy colors and rubber hand grips for a reasonable priceThis cool option has a BMX feel and could be a great choice for sporty little ones
Rating Categories Croco Velo Toddler Bike Strider Balance Bik... Bixe Bike GOMO Bike
Ease of Use (40%)
8.0
6.0
3.0
5.0
7.0
Quality (40%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
Ease of Setup (20%)
6.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Croco Velo Toddler Bike Strider Balance Bik... Bixe Bike GOMO Bike
BabyGearLab Weight Measurement 4.6 lbs 7.7 lbs 12.3 lbs 4.6 lbs 8.4 lbs
Wheel Sizes Available 12" 9" 14" 12" 12"
BabyGearLab Wheel Measurement 10.9" 8.6" 13.3" 11" 12"
Bike Seat Height Range 11 - 15.5" 11 - 13.5" 14 - 21" 11 - 15.5" 11.5 - 15.5"
Suggested Age 18 months - 5 yrs 18 months - 4 yrs 3 yrs - 6 yrs 2 yrs - 5 yrs 18 months - 5 yrs


Best Overall Balance Bike


Croco


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Quality 7.0
  • Ease of Setup 6.0
REASONS TO BUY
Quick-release adjustments
No-slip grip footrest
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Stiffer turning
SPECIFICATIONS
Wheel Sizes Available 12"
BabyGearLab Weight Measurement 4.6 lbs
BabyGearLab Wheel Measurement 10.9"
Bike Seat Height Range 11 - 15.5"
Suggested Age 18 months - 5 yrs
The Croco is an impressive balance bike with features kids and parents will love. The Croco is easy to assemble with no tools required and less than 5 minutes to complete (faster if you skip the bell). It has quick-release adjustments on the rubber-grip handlebar, a padded seat, and a fun bell. We like the no-slip tape on the rear forks for resting tired feet while gliding and the lightweight aluminum frame little ones can pick up and carry without help.

This bike has stiffer turning than the competition. While this might be a problem for skilled riders who want to make quick turns, we think the stiffer turns could be helpful for nervous little ones to prevent unexpected twists or sharp turns. This balance bike has a reasonable price and includes the features you want in a quality bike, making it one of our favorites. The Bixe Bike is a great alternative if you need to save money, as it is remarkably similar and less expensive.

The Croco is easy to assemble with limited parts and easy...
The Croco is easy to assemble with limited parts and easy instructions.
The Croco is one of the fan favorites in our test group.
The Croco is one of the fan favorites in our test group.

Best Budget Bike


Bixe Bike


60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 5.0
  • Quality 7.0
  • Ease of Setup 6.0
REASONS TO BUY
Quick-release seat/handlebar
No-slip footrest tape
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Stiff turn
SPECIFICATIONS
Wheel Sizes Available 12"
BabyGearLab Weight Measurement 4.6 lbs
BabyGearLab Wheel Measurement 11"
Bike Seat Height Range 11 - 15.5"
Suggested Age 2 yrs - 5 yrs
The Bixe Bike is a wallet-loving price with nicer quality than many competitors for a price most families will love. This bike has quick adjust clamps and can be adjusted on the go. It includes non-slip tape to secure feet for coasting, and the assembly was simple. We love the lightweight design that is easy for little ones to pick up and hold, and we think the quality is better than most and is good for the price.

This bike needed repeated tightening on the handlebar during assembly. While not a deal breaker, we think it is worthy of consideration. It is largely the same as the Croc bike with just a color difference, and it wouldn't surprise us if they come from the same manufacturing plant. Turning is also stiffer on this bike, but this could help prevent new to-riding little ones from accidentally turning when they don't intend to, requiring more deliberate movements. Overall, the Bixie is all you need to get to riding, and we think little ones will love it, too.

balance bike - the bixe is easy to assemble with an intuitive design and few parts.
The Bixe is easy to assemble with an intuitive design and few parts.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best for Timid Toddlers


Velo Toddler Bike


64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • Quality 7.0
  • Ease of Setup 6.0
REASONS TO BUY
Rubber tires
Adjustable width wheel
Better stability
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier
SPECIFICATIONS
Wheel Sizes Available 9"
BabyGearLab Weight Measurement 7.7 lbs
BabyGearLab Wheel Measurement 8.6"
Bike Seat Height Range 11 - 13.5"
Suggested Age 18 months - 4 yrs
The Velo Toddler Bike is a toddler-centric option with rubber tires that can increase the difficulty level when your child is ready. We like the style of this unique bike, and little ones will think it's cool (our testers certainly did!). It has rubber handgrips, quick assembly (under 5 minutes), and is one of the few we tested designed with younger toddlers in mind thanks to an adjustable width.

This bike is somewhat heavy and might be more challenging for smaller or younger children to pick up alone, which is disappointing given the target age group. That aside, we like the adjustability and the confidence this unique bike can give younger or reluctant riders. We think it could be a good transition option from the XJD Baby Bike when toddlers are ready for more fun and new challenges.

The Velo comes with everything you need for assembly and good...
The Velo comes with everything you need for assembly and good instructions for a quick build.
The double rear wheel of the Velo can be switched to a single wheel...
The double rear wheel of the Velo can be switched to a single wheel when little ones gain new skills.

Best Transition Bike


Strider Balance Bike - Pedal


62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 3.0
  • Quality 8.0
  • Ease of Setup 9.0
REASONS TO BUY
Good for taller kids
Converts to a pedal bike
Rubber wheels
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy
Relatively tall
Expensive
SPECIFICATIONS
Wheel Sizes Available 14"
BabyGearLab Weight Measurement 12.3 lbs
BabyGearLab Wheel Measurement 13.3"
Bike Seat Height Range 14 - 21"
Suggested Age 3 yrs - 6 yrs
The Strider Balance Bike - Pedal converts to a pedal bike by purchasing a conversion kit, making it a unique selection in our review. This bike is taller than most competitors in our lineup and has metal wheels with air-filled rubber tires. This design makes it more akin to a “real bike.” We suspect older children will enjoy the “big kid” look and feel. This Strider bike is one of the easiest to assemble, with an assembly time of around 3 minutes.

This product might be too much for younger riders and not enough for older riders. We suspect there is a sweet spot for this balance bike, and parents will like that it can convert to a pedal bike when kids are ready, but if you miss this window, you might end up buying a pedal bike instead of the pedal conversion kit. If you're not ready for the commitment of this transition bike or want to save some money for the moment, the Croco is our favorite balance bike that doesn't convert to anything else. Overall, we think it can fit some goals but won't be the answer for everyone.

This larger Strider takes more time to assemble but it is still...
This larger Strider takes more time to assemble but it is still straightforward.
Taller or older riders who aren&#039;t ready for a pedal bike might like...
Taller or older riders who aren't ready for a pedal bike might like this useful option that converts to a pedal bike with the purchase of a kit.

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
72
Croco
Best Overall Balance Bike
$90
Editors' Choice Award
64
Velo Toddler Bike
Best for Timid Toddlers
$60
Top Pick Award
62
Strider Balance Bike - Pedal
Best Transition Bike
$220
Top Pick Award
60
Bixe Bike
Best Budget Bike
$75
Best Value Award
58
GOMO Bike
$70
58
Schwinn Elm
$100
58
Strider Sport Bike
$130
56
Retrospec Cub
$80
44
XJD Baby Bike
$60
34
JOYSTAR Marcher
$66
32
JOYSTAR Roller
$67

balance bike
Credit: rades6 © 123rf.com

Why Trust GearLab


We researched over 20 potential balance bike competitors for this review before purchasing and testing more than 12 popular contenders in our original testing. This review includes test metrics like assembly, ease of use, quality, bike adjustment assessments, and more. We tested bikes side-by-side in our lab and in parks with tot testers to bring you the insider details on the bikes parents and little ones loved. While they might all appear similar on the surface, we did discover minor but important differences that impact our level of satisfaction and child enthusiasm.

BabyGearLab has been designing and testing baby gear since 2013. We've spent countless hours researching and testing products hands-on and side-by-side for everything from strollers and bike trailers to baby wipes and bottles.Wendy Schmitz, Senior Review Editor and mother of two boys, conducted bike selection. Wendy knows a thing or two about balance bikes, with more than a few in her garage still used by her boys, who went straight from balance bikes to pedaling unassisted. Bob Wofford, Senior Review Analyst, took the analysis role on this review with the assembly of each bike and testing for things like quality, ease of setup, and ease of use. Our hands-on testing approach will give you the information you need to find the right bike for your little one.

The details of these similar products are what lets some stand out...
The details of these similar products are what lets some stand out from the others as superior.
We tested each bike for ease of assembly, use, and quality.
We tested each bike for ease of assembly, use, and quality.

Analysis and Test Results


We tested each bike for ease of setup, use, and quality, focusing on safety, fun, and longevity. While the balance bikes appear to offer similar features, functionality, and designs, we noticed differences in their construction, quality, usability, and more.


Value


The Bixe Bike is our favorite budget-friendly bike. This bike is lightweight for little ones to easily lift it and includes non-slip tape for resting feet when coasting. The overall quality is better than many competitors and it should easily last through the balance bike years for one or more children. Setup is quick and easy, and while it requires no tools, we did have to tighten our quick-release handlebar a few times to get it right.

balance bike - the velo double wheel design makes it one of the easiest options to...
The Velo double wheel design makes it one of the easiest options to use, especially for timid or unsure toddlers.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


We believe the perfect kids' balance bike design incorporates convenient features, such as a kid-friendly weight, tires that grip, either a footrest or no-slip tape, innovations to aid the bike's stability, and quick-release clamps on the bike's seat and handlebars for tool-free adjustments.


The Croco ranks the highest in our review. It is lightweight, features no-slip tape for little feet to rest when coasting, and quick-release adjustments on the seat and handlebar for quick change-ups when switching riders. It has foam tires, and for most beginner riders, foam tires will be enough, especially if your kid's bike route consists of neighborhood striding. However, foam tires do not offer the same grip on various surfaces as rubber tires, which might be a factor to consider if your adventures go beyond the pavement. Most balance bikes in our review have foam tires, except for the Strider Balance Bike - Pedal. This bike is designed for older kids (ages 3 - 6 years) and weighs significantly more than others, with the potential to be upgraded to a pedal bike.

balance bike - not all of the bikes are easy to adjust and we think quick-release...
Not all of the bikes are easy to adjust and we think quick-release features are worth looking for.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The XJD Baby Bike also ranks low somewhat by default due to its design. With three wheels, this option isn't a standard balance-style bike, making it an excellent choice for toddlers who want a bike but aren't ready for balance. We like the wider wheels, low step-over design, and simple styling. But, with a design intended for younger riders and that you can't adjust the seat or handlebar height, it is a poor choice if your goal is longevity or a longer lifespan. Also, it is all plastic, and we don't think it's fit for outdoor or long-term use. All of these factors hurt its score in this metric. We recognize that it fits a niche in the world of balance bikes and only recommend it if you have an adventurous little one looking to be on the move with something other than a traditional walker and you don't mind indoor riding.

Footrests can be a blessing and a hindrance, depending on skill or the child's age. Some kids like a place to rest their feet or stand on when they get better at balancing, while others were frustrated by the footpad placement and kept banging their calves on it when running to get up to speed. The Schwinn Elm, Velo, and XJD Baby Bike feature no footrest or non-slip tape. But, the JOYSTAR Roller, JOYSTAR Marcher, GOMO, Strider Sport Bike, and Retrospec Cub do, with Retrospec having the most significant footrest design. One isn't better than the other; in our opinion, it's a personal choice. We suspect most kids will adjust to whatever style they have and never know the difference if they have nothing to compare it to.

balance bike - the croco is one of the better quality options in the group with...
The Croco is one of the better quality options in the group with attention to detail like no-slip grip on the footrest and alert bell on the handlebar.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Quality


Most balance bikes are not intended for the rough world of mountain biking, off-roading, or long-distance travel on asphalt, which means their quality is generally less than what you expect from a pedal bike. This reality means most bikes come with plastic wheels, plastic/foam tires, and less comfortable padding than you might expect. Overall attention to detail is also lacking, with wheels that wobble and some that spin slightly canted. While these are undesirable traits in a pedal bike, these concerns are more easily overlooked in a balance bike as it doesn't affect the intended use or ability of little ones to use the bikes as they desire. However, it doesn't mean we think you should accept any old quality level, as some of the competition does put in more effort with better-quality features, materials, and construction.


Among the competition, the JOYSTAR bikes struggle the most in our side-by-side comparisons, mainly due to subpar construction. While neither is so terrible that we would advise avoiding them, we believe the small things matter and add up. These options had balance problems in their spinning wheels and looser connections on the handlebar and seat posts, which resulted in some play in the handlebar.

The Lava seat is nicely padded and well built.
The Lava seat is nicely padded and well built.
The padded rubber grips on the Schwinn show the attention to detail...
The padded rubber grips on the Schwinn show the attention to detail and thoughtful design for little riders.

The Strider bikes rank high in this metric. These options offer better quality materials and attention to detail with the best seat padding in the group, giving them a definite edge over the Joystar options. The larger Strider also includes metal wheels and air-filled rubber tires, more like a real bike, but it is bigger overall and not the right choice for younger or shorter children.

The Croco has quick-release adjustments and a design that stands out...
The Croco has quick-release adjustments and a design that stands out in comparison to the competition.
The Joystar Roller is an okay bike, but compared to the competition...
The Joystar Roller is an okay bike, but compared to the competition it showed a lack of attention to detail which hurt it in the quality metric.

And, shy of the top score is the Bixe Bike, Schwinn Elm, and Croco. These options also have impressive quality with near-perfect paint and no manufacturing flaws, offer slightly better padding in the seat and experience less wobble in the wheels.

balance bike - assembly of the balance bike are all very similar but those with...
Assembly of the balance bike are all very similar but those with fewer parts and no tools required are definitely ahead of the pack.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Setup


All of the bikes in our review require some degree of assembly, so prepare yourself. Luckily, none of them are hard, and we think the minimal parts and intuitive designs make them all a doable project for almost everyone, even those lacking assembly skills (we see you!). With no pedals, no chains, and simple designs, you'll have your tot cruising before you know it.


Both the XJD Baby Bike and Retrospec Cub have strikingly swift assembly times among the competition. However, the Strider Balance Bike - Pedal beats these contenders with the quickest assembly time, and we consider it one of the easiest options to assemble. The Strider ranks the highest given this feat.

balance bike - adding the bell to the croco increased its assembly time a hair over...
Adding the bell to the Croco increased its assembly time a hair over that of the Bixe, its virtual twin.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The GOMO Bike is relatively quick to build despite requiring a wrench, and the Bixe and Croco have a straightforward assembly, requiring no tools and including helpful instructions. We did have to re-tighten the handlebar's quick release on the Bixe more than once. Although it isn't hard, it did take more effort than it should. The handlebar bell on the Croco increases the overall assembly time slightly, but you can skip the bell for quicker cruising and attach it later when your child is less excited.

The JOYSTAR Roller and JOYSTAR Marcher require more assembly than other contenders; therefore, they rank the lowest. You'll need to attach the forks, handlebar, seat, and rear and front wheels to the frame, essentially building the bike from scratch. The formed tubes where you mount the front and rear wheels on our bikes were too wide, and we had to tighten the nut down significantly to pull them in. This sort of lack of attention to detail hurt the JOYSTARS for quality. The remaining competitors are similar, with seats, forks, or handlebars attached to frames using the included wrenches.

balance bike - the balance bikes in this review are some of the top options on the...
The balance bikes in this review are some of the top options on the market.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Conclusion


Selecting the right balance bike for your child's size, age, and ability can be easy if you know what to look for and what to expect. Using our extensive hands-on testing information, you can narrow your search and focus on the best balance bike for your little one from our lineup of great choices. Whether you want the ultimate starter bike for your toddler or a super balance glider for your 3-year-old, there is a balance bike in our award winners and lineup we think you'll love.

Wendy Schmitz and BabyGearLab Review Team