The best balance bikes as recommended by parents 2023

Balance bikes are an amazing way to give children all the skills they need to start riding a pedal bike.   The best balance bikes are loved, ridden and handed down to siblings and friends and can encourage a lifelong love of cycling.

A poor choice of balance bike may rust or (worse still) lie unridden and unloved in a dark corner.

Yet when it comes to choosing the best balance bike for your child the options can seem baffling. Sometimes it can really help to have a personal recommendation.

The best balance bikes, as recommended by parents

To help you choose the best balance bike we asked Cycle Sprog readers, plus the members of two cycling Facebook Groups which balance bikes their children used, whether they'd recommend them (and why), plus we've added in a couple of bikes we've been impressed with ourselves.

Some are balance bike brands that have been ridden and loved over the years, often by more than one child.

Others are newer balance bikes, which are proving popular and likely to be future classics!

For more advice on whether a balance bike is right for your child, and what to look for when you're choosing one, why not listen to the Balance Bike episode of our podcast?

Cycle Sprog is a reader-supported website. When you buy through links on this page we may earn an affiliate commission.

Balance Bike deal of the week

Kidvelo Rookie 12

Kidvelo Rookie 12 balance bike

The Kidvelo Rookie 12 balance bike is currently from £120 to £108.

The Rookie 12 is a really well designed, lightweight balance bike that's fun and easy to ride.

Read our review of this excellent balance bike

Save now



Sponsored Content


Bike, helmet, and light from just £144 (RRP £181)

Hornit Bikes have discounted their incredibly lightweight AIRO balance bike PLUS have 50% off a section of their fabulous helmets.

AND.... if you order both these you can also get a FREE light! Just add the Trace light to your basket and use the code TRACE at checkout.

The Hornit AIRO is one of the lightest balance bikes available, making it very easy for your little one to ride (and for you to carry when they've had enough!)

For more details on why we recommend this balance bike read our review of the HORNIT AIRO.

Offer runs until 23:59 on 27th November 2023 (or earlier if they sell them all).

Save now


Sponsored Content

Hornit Bikes have £10 off their incredibly lightweight AIRO balance bike PLUS 50% off a section of their fabulous helmets.

AND.... if you order both these you can also get a FREE light! Just add the Trace light to your basket and use the code TRACE at checkout.

The Hornit AIRO is one of the lightest balance bikes available, making it very easy for your little one to ride (and for you to carry when they've had enough!)

For more details on why we recommend this balance bike read our review of the HORNIT AIRO.

Offer runs until 23:59 on 27th November 2023 (or earlier if they sell them all).

Save now

Tips on buying the best balance bike for your child in 2023

  1. Buy a balance bike that fits your child - too large and they'll feel scared riding it, too small and it will be uncomfortable
  2. Solid tyres are cheap and great for indoor riding - not so comfy for outdoor use
  3. Brakes aren't necessary and can be distracting for younger children.  They can be a helpful for the transition to pedal bikes for older kids, but aren't essential
  4. Most balance bikes are 12" wheel, but you can get smaller ride ons and larger balance bikes
  5. Some balance bikes convert into pedal bikes - these can help as the child is already familiar with the bike.

Best baby and toddler helmets

Find out our top picks of the best bike helmets for babies and toddlers.

Kidvelo Rookie balance bikes

"Absolutely thrilled with my Rookie 12! It has exceeded every expectation!  - Kazzi

If you're looking for a quality balance bike that's designed to fast track your child to pedals, then look no further than the brand new Kidvelo Rookie range.

Kidvelo are a recent entry into the market, but build on decades of balance biking experience - the team of four who run Kidvelo have been major players in the balance bike industry and joined forces to design and build their own bikes.

They've taken all they know about balance bikes and obsessed over every single detail - the design, the materials, the weight (a mere 2.89 kg for the smallest 12" wheel balance bike the Rookie 12) and the customer service (including a lifetime warranty).

We've taken a closer look at the Rookie 12 and were really impressed with the all round package.

"The lightweight frame and modern, confidence-inspiring geometry should make for a fun ride and allow for small riders to progress and experiment with their cycling." 

You can read more about our thoughts in the Kidvelo Rockie 12 balance bike reviewand the Rookie 14 review

Kidvelo also make larger 14" and 18" wheel balance bikes which convert into pedal bikes, which are a great idea if your child is at that in-between stage and not quite ready for a full pedal bike yet.

CHRISTMAS DEAL - 15% off the smallest Rookie 12 balance bike until 4th January 2024.

Buy Now

 If you're interested in the Kidvelo business journey you can listen to this podcast where we interview founder Karen Wood.

Hornit AIRO Balance Bike

"What was immediately noticeable compared to our old balance bike was the seat height. With the AIRO the saddle would go lower and he could confidently get going immediately and more comfortably" - Ewen

We've recently reviewed the brand new Hornit AIRO balance bike, and it was so lightweight I actually thought they'd forgotten to put it in the box!

Weighing it at 2.95kg the AIRO combines a really lightweight bike frame with pneumatic tyres, which means that your Sprog should enjoy a much more comfortable ride than on a cheaper bike with solid tyres.

We were impressed how Hornit have combined the best bits of so many different bikes in this one package.  You get some neat features such as a footrest for putting feet on when you're going fast and a cushioned stem cover to protect delicate parts if ever needed.

They've also managed to come up with a really cool looking bike by using magnesium alloy, a lightweight material that is a more environmentally friendly, fully recyclable alternative to aluminium.

In fact, Hornit are so confident in the quality of this balance bike they’re giving it a lifetime warranty on the frames and forks which can be registered for free online once you've received your bike.

You can read our review of the Hornit AIRO.

Buy New  Buy Used

Black Mountain Bikes

At the top end of the balance bike options, both in terms of functionality and price, sits Black Mountain.

These bikes have a unique "growing frame" that extends as your child grows.  They start in balance bike mode, and come equipped with everything you need to transform the balance bike into a pedal bike when the time is right.

This means you're getting three bikes for your initial outlay, which can be comforting at a time of uncertainty about future product availability, prices and income levels.

Because of it's design, even the smallest of the 4 bike range, the Pinto, is heavier and larger than the other bikes listed on this page (5 kg in balance bike mode with 14" wheels).  This means it's more suited to slightly older and stronger children, probably aged 3 and over.

The additional weight is worth considering if you're intending to carry it on a regular basis (say home from nursery or pre-school), but our reviewer found the Pinto to be very easy and fun to ride in balance bike mode.

There are 14", 16", 18" and 20" options in the Black Mountain range which means there's options for up to about 7 years of age (depending on your child's height of course).

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Toddlebike2 a bike for 3 year old's

Toddlebike / Lena Bike (a pre-balance bike)

The Toddlebike is not strictly a balance bike, but as it was mentioned by so many parents I felt I should include it here. The Toddlebike is designed as a "pre-balance bike" for toddlers aged 18 months and over who are too small to ride a proper balance bike.

"The Toddlebike was really useful for when our youngest was too small for the Islabike Rothan" - Dominic

"We started with a Toddlebike at around 18 months of age, then graduated to a Puky, then pedals after that. I agree that Puky bikes are really robust and easy for them to ride and would heartily endorse the Toddlebike for tinies - it's so light it gives them a great intro." - Eilidh

Buy New  Buy Used

Chicco Bullet balance bike

"We love our basic Chico bullet, now using it with our second child, very light frame and easy to master" - Correen

The Chicco Bullet is the best selling balance bike on Amazon, so there are a lot of kids out there riding this bike!  It gets recommended for its lightweight and for being great value for money.

"Having had an Islabikes Rothan for our eldest, we went for the other end of the market, a Chicco Bullet, for P. Amazing bike. Super lightweight, tyres that don't go down. Having been on the Toddlebike, she was already a pro when she got the Bullet (age 2) and was only on it a few months before being ready for pedals. So in summary, given my kids were only without pedals for a few months each I would definitely go with the Chicco which is more than good enough for this stage - save your money for getting a really good pedal bike when they're ready!" - Jo

Buy New  Buy Used

Frog Tadpole Balance Bike 2021

Frog Tadpole balance bike

"My son has the tadpole plus and it's fab, a few months on it and at three he can cycle a normal bike without stabilisers.

It's light, it looks the same as his sister's bike (minus pedals), it's training him to use a brake instead of feet to stop (very important), its ergonomics are fab and the tyres are great as they have a good grip so no slipping when going around corners fast. Love it!" - Claire

The Frog Tadpole is the smallest offering in a long line of kids bikes from Frog.

If you start on a Tadpole then don't be surprised if you get hooked - they do all sorts of kids bikes from standard hybrids through to road, track and mountain bikes for those Sprogs that really get the cycling bug!

The choice of colours and designs was one feature parents liked in the Frog Balance Bike, plus the fact that there are three different sizes.

The Tadpole Mini is sized for ages 18 months and over, the standard Frog Tadpole  is for roughly ages 2-3 years and the larger Tadpole Plus for ages 3-4 years.

"We have had the Frog Tadpole for a year and my daughter loves it. She got it at 3 and still uses it at just 4. she is a tall 4 year old at 110cm." - Rachel

"The Frog tadpole is brilliant. The paint chipped quite quickly so the company replaced it and we've had no problems since. It's easy to ride, light but stable. He loves it. I have just bought a 43 for Christmas now he's 3 1/2". - Simon

XMAS Deal from Bike Club - 15% discount on your monthly payment for 12 months! Offer ends 23:59 on 24th December 2023. 

Buy Now  Hire  Buy Used

Hoozar Cruz 12 balance bike

The Hoozar Cruz 12 is a great option to consider if you're looking for a balance bike with a brake, which can be helpful for transitioning from balance biking to pedalling.

Hoozar are a very new entrant into the balance bike market - two parents saw how much their three kids loved their balance bikes and decided to make one better and cheaper!

They've taken the best bits of other balance bikes and created the Cruz. It's a lightweight (3.2kg) balance bike that comes with a rear brake, footrest and proper tyres all at a mid range price.

We've taken a closer look at the Hoozar Cruz 12 balance bike so you can read more about it here.

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Hoozar Cruz balance bike is one of the best value balance bikes with a rear brake

Strider Sport Balance Bikes

"Strider Bike for the win!  Ours has done over 600 miles with three children and still going strong. Lightweight, huge range of seat height and great quality.

The only problem is you go through shoes like nobodies business as it doesn't have a brake! Our kids have sat on other balance bikes but are never as daredevil as when they were on their Strider Bike!" - Fiona

A very popular choice when I asked the parents to recommend the best balance bikes were the Strider Balance Bikes. These bikes have long been a favourite amongst racers due to the Strider Balance Bike Series that runs each year.

The Strider Sport is now available to lease from The Bike Club for a monthly subscription.  This means you can upgrade to a pedal bike when your child has outgrown the Strider.

The Strider Sport is one of the most popular balance bikes for teaching a child to ride

We're seeing an increasing number of parents opting for this method of kids bike ownership as it not only takes the hassle out of things every time your child grows but is more environmentally friendly and can be cost effective as well.

"My eldest (3) loves his Strider Balance Bike - it is the 'sport' version and is very light, although not the lightest on the market. It was a good price given it came with two seat posts to extend its lifespan. He's had no problem with the unrestricted handlebars and I doubt would use the brake offered on competitor brands (certainly not when he first had it aged 2).

It's been brilliant off-road in the woods and on pavement and he zooms around on it very happily. Another plus is that as the Strider doesn't have air tyres there is less maintenance and no risk of a puncture while out." - Louise

"We found the strider sport was great for a very short nearly 2 year old, as it was the only one that had a saddle that could go low enough and light enough.

Once she was out of nappies though the seat was too uncomfortable (and still too short for the softer bigger saddle) but fortunately someone gave us an Islabikes Rothan (see below) which was much more comfy and having the brake did help with getting ready for a Frog pedal bike." - Heather

XMAS Deal from Bike Club - 15% discount on your monthly payment for 12 months! Offer ends 23:59 on 24th December 2023. 

Hire  Buy New Buy Used

SpecializeHotwalk Balance Bike 2021

Specialized Hotwalk Balance Bike

A number of parents raved about the Hotwalk telling us how much they like the design.

"We have loved our Hotwalk, it’s solid and robust without being too heavy and has the ledge where your child can put their feet up on (which most on here don’t seem to have) when good at balancing and going downhill!" - Lucy

"Pros: lightweight, nice step-over frame, really well made. The one con: no brakes, and no easy way to fit one. Our Small loved it, and after about a year of scooting around moved very easily onto his first bike with pedals."  - Tom

Buy New  Buy Used

Vitus Nippy Balance Bike

The Vitus Nippy Balance Bike is really lightweight, small and really cheap!  At just 1.9kg it's perfect for younger children who don't have the strength to manoeuvre a heavier bike, and who aren't ready for learning to use brakes.

Our next door neighbour bought one for their granddaughter on our recommendation, and they can't stop telling me how wonderful it is!

The saddle height ranges from 31cm to 38cm allowing plenty of room for growth.

The tyres on this bike are plastic, rather than standard air-inflated tyres you get on a standard bike, so the ride won't be as comfortable as a more expensive balance bike with "proper" tyres, but it's a great value option for those just starting out on two wheels, especially if they're not venturing very far.

Vitus have also released the Vitus Smoothy, which comes with pneumatic tyres for a smoother ride, which would be more suitable if you're planning to get out and about a lot on the balance bike.

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Islabikes Rothan balance bike

"We went for Islabike Rothan for E and were quite pleased at the time - low stepover, relatively light and given his time on a Toddlebike he took to it like a duck to water." - Jo

I'm sure many of our readers would be surprised if an article about the best balance bikes didn't feature an Islabike. However, opinion is split on the Rothan.

Some raved about its lightweight and the fact that unlike some other balance bikes it comes with a brake.

Others firmly felt it was far too expensive, that young children don't need a brake, and money should be saved for the larger Islabikes in the ever growing range.

"We had an Islabike balance bike when A turned two. I would highly recommend these as they are nice and light so easy for a little one to pick up and comes with brakes so saves the shoes! The brake levers are the perfect size for little hands. A moved onto a pedal bike with ease soon after turning three. C at 20 months is bike obsessed and is desperate to get going on the balance bike but his legs aren't quite long enough yet." - Emma

"We had an Islabikes Rothan for our two, and the youngest had a Toddlebike to start with too. The balance bike made it easy to transition to a pedal bike, eldest three and a bit, youngest getting on for four." - Dominic

Buy New  Buy Used

Islabike Rothan Balance Bike
Balance Bike Podcast - from The Family Cycling Podcast

The best balance bikes – the choice is yours!

As you'll see, the balance bikes recommended fall into several groups.

Those cheaper balance bikes with solid wheels and no brakes (Vitus Nippy and Chicco Bullet) are very simple for young riders to get the hang of.  Due to the lack of additional components, they're also cheaper than the balance bikes with brakes and pneumatic tyres, plus there is no risk of a puncture.

At the top end of the price range Islabikes Rothan and Frog Tadpole are both popular because they are from well respected quality kids bike brands. They can help children master the art of braking before they progress to pedals. Puky balance bikes are also available with pneumatic tyres and a rear brake on the more expensive models.

In the middle the Kidvelo Rookie and the Hornit AIRO fit in between these two groups in terms of price and functionality, as they're both really simple and lightweight, but with the benefit of pneumatic tyres. Neither have a brake (but both look great - you're personal preference will be between the frame styles on these two!)

If you're looking for a balance bike that converts into a pedal bike, the Black Mountain is a brilliant choice if you can afford it, as it will last a lot longer than any other bike on this page as the bikes convert to a pedal bike, and the frame also expands so the bike quite literally "grows" several times with you child.   The larger Kidvelo Rookie 14 and 16 also convert from balance to pedal bikes, and are much more affordable choices than the Black Mountains.

Finally for younger riders, the Toddlebike/Lena Bike is a great option for those aged 18 months plus who aren't quite ready to progress to a full balance bike.

In all cases, the best balance bikes featured are lightweight and very easy for young children to manoeuvre. They are well constructed to last the abuse that their riders will inflict, and come recommended by many different parents.

There is no right or wrong answer as to which is the best balance bike for your child. 

Your budget, brand preference and amount of use the bike will get should help you make the correct choice for your family.

A massive thanks to all the Cycle Sprog Facebook followers plus the members of the Family Cycling UK and Preowned Frog Bikes For Sale Facebook Groups for taking the time to let me know their recommendations for the best balance bikes.

Do drop a comment in the box below to let others know which balance bike you recommend, and why - thank you!




Karen Wood

Hello. We appreciate feedback at Strider but as you aren’t a verified purchaser from the same review you left on our website then I think you may have your brands confused. The Strider, without the pegs on, doesn’t stick out. However if a child’s legs are that close to the frame then you do not have the seat height correct. It would need lowering. This bike is used by Strider Instructors in over 700 schools in the UK and in 6 years this is the first ever complaint. If you would like training on how to use the bike correctly please get in touch.


Please do NOT buy a STRIDER 16 SPORT YOUTH BALANCE BIKE. The design is incredibly poor. Two hubs at the bottom of the frame, which allow footrests to be added, actually stick out on either side of the frame. This means that children can very easily hit their legs against the frame, causing pain and bruising. I go into schools to teach children to ride bikes and balance bikes, and a lot of the children complain about this problem with the Strider bikes. Today, I had a child in floods of tears after hitting her leg, which has prompted me to write this review. Strider really should remove this design from sale and drastically improve it. It is currently not fit for purpose.

Pavlina Greatorex/Bubble Bike Store


I run an online shop selling balance bikes and kick scooter bikes. I am interested in getting a review on your website – is that possible and what would I have to do for that?

Many thanks for your help!

Pavlina, Bubble Bike Store


Hello Pavlina, Thanks very much for your message. I have just sent you an email – look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards, Karen

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