best balance bike
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Best Balance Bike for Toddler: Woom vs Strider vs Guardian

If you’re a parent of a toddler who is eager to learn how to ride a bike, but you’re not sure where to start you came to the right place – we tested a lot of different ones and found which balance bikes are the best.

Most parents will start searching for the best tricycles or ride-on toys for their little ones. It’s not a wrong choice at all, both of our kids absolutely loved theirs. However, once your little one is about 2.5 years they can start riding a balance bike.

What is a balance bike?

A balance bike is a bicycle without pedals that helps your child learn to ride by using their feet to push themselves along. It helps them to develop a sense of balance and coordination as they learn how to control the bike.

Balance bikes usually have 12-inch wheels of the same size and no chain, they are made of lightweight materials like aluminum or wood which makes them very easy for young children to maneuver.

Balance Bike vs Bike with Training Wheels

Most of us learned on a regular pedal bike with training wheels – those little side things attached. We pedaled until we were old enough for our parents to remove them. Then, parents would stick a broom into the back of the bike and eventually let go of us… right?

Now, every person recommends getting kids on a balance bike instead from the beginning and skipping training wheels altogether.

Once they’ve mastered the basics of balancing and steering, they’ll be ready to graduate to a regular pedal bike in no time – often without training wheels.

Well, at least in theory… because as I always say: you only see these 3 year olds on social media zooming on their pedal bikes, but you won’t see kids who simply didn’t get it. 😉

a child riding a strider bike in mexico

Our Experiences with the Best Balance Bikes

First child

Every child has a will of their own and learns at a different pace. Some kids are also braver than others when it comes to any sports or activities.

It often takes younger toddlers several months to be consistently interested. Our friends started their kid with the balance bike at 2 exactly and by 3 he’s been riding pedal bikes and electric scooters.

We started our first son, who’s generally a reserved and careful child, at 1.5 years with zero success. We waited it our until 3 and it was a success… he loved his balance bike and was gliding in no time.

At 4 years old we tried pedals for him and it’s safe to say that it was a fail. While he had balance, thanks to our balance bike, he just couldn’t figure out how to pedal (which I found out later is more common than it’s often portrayed online).

We thought it was a bike, so we got him a Woom bike and it was still an issue. Eventually, we ended up removing the pedals off his bike so he could continue gliding, but he was already discouraged and scared of falling.

Despite starting early on and going through a few models of the best balance bike on the market, he wasn’t having it until way later. It wasn’t his or balance bike’s fault, it just took longer.

Second child

We started his brother, who’s much more adventurous when it comes to sports, at 2. It went even worse at first, as he wanted nothing to do with a balance bike. We tried even a biking playdate, but his friend had similar feelings about her bike.

At 2.5 he finally gave it a go and started slowly sitting and walking. Still, after 5 minutes he was asking to get off the bike.

On the other hand, he had no issues pedaling a trike at his preschool and eventually got around to zooming on his balance bike as well. It just took more than we all expected again.

Why am I telling you these stories? To assure you that even though you might see these videos of toddler zooming around straight away, it might not happen. It doesn’t mean your child is any less talented, it might just take longer for them to get used to it.

I still think the balance bike is worth trying as it can help your child to get familiar with balance. Plus, you never know – your little one might just take off instantly!

toddler on a ride on two wheeled bicycle

Are Some Balance Bikes Better than Others?

Yes, and the difference is huge! However, if you don’t want to splurge on an expensive balance bike straight away before knowing if your child even likes it, I recommend starting from Strider or Joystar.

Let me guide you through top choices and explain WHY some are better and worth investing in.

Strider Bike

The original balance bike, and the reason why some even call a two-wheeled bike with no pedals a strider bike.

We started with them, as it was always the most reviewed and popular model. It wasn’t a bad one, our toddler learned to ride on it just fine, but…

The biggest issue with Strider bike was the lack of hand break. We thought it wasn’t necessary, because how fast can a toddler really go, but it turned out they can go fast.

We ended up with our toddler unable to stop, or trying to stop by dragging his feet on the ground scared. It wasn’t the greatest solution once he started gliding.

However, the bike can serve well if you’re not sure if your little one is even into riding a bike at their age.

A child is biking around lake of Annecy

Woom Bike

After Strider we switched to Woom bike, and this is what our younger son started on. It was an undeniable improvement from Strider because of the hand break. Our son could finally stop the bike without having to yell for help.

Woom bikes are known internationally and this is what you’ll see at Scandinavian playgrounds or kids zooming around the neighborhood.

The bike has air tires and a DUAL handbrake and everything is extremely durable. Most importantly it’s light, what it makes it easier to move for a little kid.

Woom bikes are undeniably expensive but don’t worry just yet. They have an upCYCLING Program that allows you to swap out the bike your child has outgrown for a brand new Woom and get 40% back of the old one.

I suggest starting with Woom 1 Plus, not Woom 1 option. We started with Woom 1 and it only lasted us a tiny bit before we had to exchange for a bigger model.

A toddler using a woom bike for the first time.

Guardian Bike

Finally, we settled on Guardian bikes, the ones known from Shark Tank. These bikes are very similar to Woom, but provide one extra feature: the brand not only stops the front wheel, but both.

Their bikes are slightly heavier than Woom, but also cheaper, so it could be an option for those who don’t want to spend more.

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