The best bike for a 1 year old

Do you have a one year old who is desperate to get on two wheels? Or are you a keen cyclist yourself, wondering when your offspring is going to be able to accompany you on a bike ride? Perhaps you’re looking for a present for a one year old, and wondering if they’re old enough for a bike yet? Here at Cycle Sprog we’re here to help demystify cycling with sprogs, and in this post we’ll be looking at what the best choice of bike is for a one year old.

Can a 1 year old ride a bike?

There can be a real difference in the physical abilities of children at this age, especially between those who have just turned one and those who are approaching their second birthday. Each toddler will develop at a different rate, so please be patient and don’t force them to ride a bike if they’re not interested or not ready. If they’re still crawling, then they’re not ready to ride a bike.

Frog Tadpole Mini in use - one of the best balance bikes for a 1 year old toddler

What type of bike can a one year old ride?

Of course a one year old won't be riding a pedal bike, but there are several options available which are mainly suitable from about 18 months and over, although some toddlers will be ready slightly earlier than that and others a lot later. A pre-balance bike like a Toddlebike is a great choice to get them started, and is suitable from as soon as they can toddle around. After that they can move onto a balance bike (such as the Frog Mini Tadpole pictured above). If you don't know what one of these is, see our cunning titled post What is a Balance Bike.

Can a 1 year old really ride a balance bike?

The majority of one year olds aren’t ready to progress to a balance bike, but there will be some children who are physically mature for their age may start to be ready for a balance bike whilst they are still 1.

As most children won’t be ready for a balance bike until the age of at least 2, balance bikes tend to be sized for slightly taller children. In this post we only feature smaller balance bikes which are suitable for ages 18 months and over. If you want a fuller list, then check out our other post on the best balance bikes.

The best bike for a 1 year old

Here's our selection of the best ways you can get a one year old onto two wheels. As you'll see they are roughly in age order based on a mix of physical development and inside leg measurement.

Toddle Bike (£24)

A Toddlebike can be used as soon as a  child is confidently walking (often about 18 months). Designed to be more stable than a balance bike, the Toddlebike has two wheels rather than one at the rear. The geometry is narrower than a traditional three wheel trike, which enables them to learn the balance skills needed to progress quickly onto a balance bike. It can be used inside and outside the house, and is REALLY lightweight (less than 1kg).  The Toddlebike is manufactured by Lena - who for some reason call it a scooter!

Toddlebike / Lena 
Inside Leg measurement: 20cm
Tyres: Solid
Weight: 0.8kg
Frame: Durable plastic with steel axles
Guarantee: 3 years
Price: Check price on Amazon

Strider Balance Bike Rocker (£50 plus bike)

The Strider balance bike could be the best bike for a 1 year old as it can be used with the rocker base from their 1st birthday and then turn into a balance bike at about 18 months If your child can sit up unaided but can't yet walk (often about 12 months onwards) you can get them onto two wheels with the innovative Strider Rocking Base, which turns an ordinary Strider Balance bike into a rocker. No need for rocking horses any more!!

Cost wise, you do need to invest in both the bike and the base at the same time but this option means as soon as they're ready to progress to using the balance bike you just need to remove it from the base and away they go.

Strider Rocking Bike
Inside Leg measurement: 22cm
Tyres: Solid
Price £49.95 for the base  plus the Strider Balance Bike (from £66)

Frog Tadpole Mini (RRP £115)

Frog Tadpole Mini Balance Bike in use

Welsh based Frog Bikes have a vast range of kids bikes, all designed with the age of the rider in mind. Their very smallest bike is the Tadpole Mini balance bike, which comes with tiny 10” wheels. It is the smallest balance bike we can find and it’s suitable for children with an inside leg of just 24cm. It has a safety steering lock which stops your child from turning the handlebars too vigorously which can cause accidents.

Frog Tadpole Mini
Inside Leg measurement 24cm
Brakes Tektro rear brake with small, easy reach lever
Tyres Kenda 10” hybrid tyre
Wheel size 10”
Weight 3.46kg
Frame Lightweight aluminium
Guarantee 5 years on frame and forks
Price RRP £115 from Tredz - use code SPROG10 to get 10% off

Strider Classic (£66)

Strider Balance Bike Cup - Manchester

Strider Bikes only make balance bikes, so they really know what they’re doing! Their basic model is the Strider Classic, which is suitable for children with an inside leg measurement of 27cm and over. Built to be incredibly robust, fast and fun, Striders are used in balance bike racing the world over, as well as by children who just want to ride at a more leisurely pace. Their basic model is the classic which should cover most eventualities, but you can upgrade to the lighter weight Strider Sport  or the aluminium framed Strider Pro if your child is planning to ride very fast!

Because of the quality of these bikes there's always lots of good condition bikes available second hand on E-bay

Strider Classic Balance Bike
Standover height 27cm to 41cm inside leg  (can be extended to 49cm with longer seatpost)
Brakes No – although can be fitted
Tyres Solid EVA polymer (i.e. won’t go flat)
Wheel size 12”
Weight 2.9 kg
Frame Steel
Price  Models start from £66 

Wishbone 3-in-1 bike (from £200)

Wishbone 3 in 1 is one of the best bikes for a 1 year old, as it is a three wheeled bike for a 1 year old and can convert to a balance bike when they reach 2 years old

The Wishbone is a 3 in 1 bike that is designed to grow with your child. It starts out as a three wheeler trike for toddlers with an inside leg of 27cm, which easily converts to a small two-wheeled balance bike. For older children the frame can be flipped and seat post extended to cater for children up to an inside leg of 46cm (probably about 4 years).  There is also a 2-in-1 version that skips the trike bit if your child doesn't need it.

Wishbone is a New Zealand based company, and their environmental credentials are worth mentioning. The wooden version is made from sustainably produced birch and the plastic version from recycled carpet fibres and only one product is needed to span several years.

Wishbone 3-in-1
Inside Leg measurement 28cm (trike mode) to 46cm (large balance bike)
Brakes No
Tyres Solid
Wheel size 12”
Weight 5.4kg (trike) 5.3kg (balance bike)
Frame Wood
Price RRP from £200 

A bike for a 1 year old is just the start - do keep in touch!

We hope you’ve found this post useful, and you find the best bike for your one year old. As they grow (rapidly!) over the coming years you’re going to be facing lots of decisions about what bike to buy at different ages, where to ride and what to wear. Keep up to date with all the news, views and opinions on family cycling by following Cycle Sprog on Facebook and Instagram, or signing up for our newsletter. Welcome to the Cycle Sprog family!!

Other posts you may find useful:

Affiliate disclosure:  In order to keep Cycle Sprog going, we use Affiliate Marketing, which means that on some of the links on the this page we may get a small commission if you make a purchase. This doesn't cost you any more, but helps us to keep the website going. Thanks for your support.

This post was first published in July 2018 and updated in July 2019 to reflect current prices and stock availability.

Recent Articles

kids bikes

Family Cargo Bikes roundup from the 2019 Cycle Show

Family Cargo Bikes roundup from the 2019 Cycle Show

There were lots of family cargo bikes on display at the 2019 Cycle Show - here's our round up of which ones caught our eye

Read More

kids bikes

The best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes - 2019

The best kids 26" wheel mountain bikes - 2019

Here's our selection of the best, and most fun, kids 26" wheel mountain bikes

Read More

kids bikes

Where to buy the cheapest Frog Bikes - September 2019

Where to buy the cheapest Frog Bikes - September 2019

It's rare to find Frog Bikes reduced, but I've been trying to find where are the best places to buy a Frog Bike this month

Read More

Leave a Reply