The 5 Best Balance Bikes of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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After a new round of testing, the Guardian Balance Bike is our new top pick. The Banana Bike GT is our new budget pick. children electric car

The 5 Best Balance Bikes of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

A balance bike may be a little kid’s first introduction to zipping around on their own steam. These bikes help tots learn to steer, brake, balance, and ride—making the eventual graduation to a pedal bike easier than it might be with training wheels.

Kids as young as 18 months may be able to ride a balance bike, and many bikes can keep kids happily gliding along until they’re kindergarten age or older. Kids can ride them outdoors or indoors (if your home has the room) and can use them on family jaunts through the neighborhood. Quality balance bikes also have good resale value, and you can search for a lightly used one if you’re shopping on a budget.

After spending over 60 hours researching and assembling 22 balance bikes, and subjecting them to test panels of highly energetic kids, we’re confident that the Guardian Balance Bike is the best choice.

This top-notch bike is sturdy and easy to assemble, with air-filled tires, a steering limiter, and a handbrake that gets kids one step closer to riding a pedal bike. But it isn’t the best choice for taller kids.

This balance bike has a taller seat-height range than our top pick, but it lacks a handbrake, and it’s heavier and a bit less comfortable to ride.

This low-slung bike is not as polished as our other picks and is a pain to assemble. But it performs well and can get most kids up and happily gliding along.

Agile, simple to assemble, and sized right for the smallest kids, this is the balance bike for bike-enthusiast parents who want their child to have a pro-level tyke bike.

Slightly bigger with easy-to-install pedals, this two-in-one option can also serve as a kid’s first pedal bike.

A balance bike with a seat and handlebars that you can raise will last longer as a child grows.

Air-filled, rubber tires grip surfaces and help smooth out bumps.

The bike’s main tube should be low enough for a child to straddle and stand over comfortably.

Bikes should be light enough for kids to maneuver themselves—ideally, less than 30% of the child’s weight.

This top-notch bike is sturdy and easy to assemble, with air-filled tires, a steering limiter, and a handbrake that gets kids one step closer to riding a pedal bike. But it isn’t the best choice for taller kids.

The Guardian Balance Bike was a surprise hit during our 2023 testing round, as the preschoolers in the group fought over riding it. They loved the flashy design, easy-to-grip handlebars, low stand-over height, and well-constructed handbrake, which slows both the front and back wheels, a feature we didn’t find on any other bike we tried. That gets kids one step closer to riding a pedal bike on their own because they can learn to stop without dragging their feet on the ground. This Guardian bike, which has been available for about a year and a half, is a heavier-than-average 8.5 pounds, which makes for more stability and grounded turns, aided by the steering limiter, which prevents kids from turning the steering wheel too far to one side or too quickly. The quality, air-filled tires also contribute to a smooth ride. And this model is easy to assemble, with clear instructional videos provided.

This balance bike has a taller seat-height range than our top pick, but it lacks a handbrake, and it’s heavier and a bit less comfortable to ride.

If our top pick is sold out or if you have a taller child, the REI Co-op Cycles REV 12 Kids’ Balance Bike is an excellent choice. The REV 12 features air-filled tires and thoughtful kid-specific design elements such as a low top tube and a seat height that you can adjust by 4 inches. Note, though, that the lowest height (measured from the ground) is 13.75 inches, which is a taller starting point than the Guardian Balance Bike’s 12.5 inches; this means the bike is better suited to slightly taller children. It also has a slightly higher weight limit than the Guardian model. While the REV 12 lacks some of the extras of our top pick, such as a handbrake, it’s sturdy, and many of our kid testers opted for it over more expensive bikes, likely because of the wider handlebars and the speed they could achieve. We also gave the REV 12 high marks for easy assembly.

This low-slung bike is not as polished as our other picks and is a pain to assemble. But it performs well and can get most kids up and happily gliding along.

Our experts agreed: Spend less than $100 on a balance bike, and you have to make some trade-offs. Though the steel-framed Banana Bike GT offers two of the most important features for beginning riders—a low-enough stand-over height of 8 inches and light weight of 6.4 pounds—it took us more than an hour to build this model and make adjustments out of the box. But the frame is well engineered, and the range of height adjustability for the handlebars and seat is adequate. In our tests, the Banana Bike GT’s air-filled tires worked fine on paved, dirt, and carpeted surfaces but were a tad slippery on kitchen linoleum and hardwood floors, unlike our top pick and runner-up. The Banana Bike LT is basically the same bike, with less-durable foam tires.

Agile, simple to assemble, and sized right for the smallest kids, this is the balance bike for bike-enthusiast parents who want their child to have a pro-level tyke bike.

The Woom 1 balance bike doesn’t compromise on anything: It offers simple assembly, solid parts, and ideal geometry. Weighing under 7 pounds, the bike features an ideal upright riding position, a very low 7-inch stand-over height—the same as on the Guardian Balance Bike, and great for shorter kids—and 5 inches of seat adjustability, starting on the lower end at 10 inches. (Most others start around 12 inches.) During our testing, the youngest and smallest kids in the group gravitated to this bike because of the low height. Recessed hardware at the wheels makes it impossible for kids’ legs to snag, while a removable rubber O-ring creates a flexible steering limiter to prevent front-wheel jackknifes. Like the Guardian bike, this Woom model also teaches hand braking, with a built-for-little-hands lever.

Slightly bigger with easy-to-install pedals, this two-in-one option can also serve as a kid’s first pedal bike.

Of all the bikes we tried, the Strider 14x Sport was the favorite of older and taller kids. Among the tiny segment of balance bikes that can convert into pedal bikes (you need a $70 add-on kit), it’s the best option. But unlike the rest of the balance bikes we tested, which have 12-inch wheels, this bike has 14-inch wheels, so it best fits kids from about 3½ to 7 years old, depending on their height. Featuring a stand-over height of 10 inches and a remarkable seat-height range of 15 to 22 inches, the 14x Sport weighs 12.5 pounds, relatively light compared with other pedal bikes of this size. Pair all of that with a handlebar stem that you can raise nearly 4 inches, and you have an especially versatile bike that’s fun to ride and capable of growing with your child.

Jenni Gritters spent 20 hours researching balance bikes, as well as assembling and testing nine of them, for the late-2023 update to this guide. She also hosted a “bike party” with 10 kid testers, ages 2 to 6.

Jenni was previously an editor on Wirecutter’s outdoors team, and she recently wrote our guides to the best jogging strollers and the best kids hiking backpacks. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast and a mom to two kids, ages 1½ and nearly 4.

Chris Dixon, this guide’s first author and a lifelong mountain biker, interviewed bike-industry experts and spent more than 20 hours assembling, dissecting, and testing 13 balance bikes in 2017.

A properly fitted balance bike can allow kids as young as 18 months to learn to balance on two wheels with astonishing speed. For many kids, riding a balance bike is the first step to riding a regular pedal bike, and the experience gets them to that milestone sooner. Once they can balance on their own, they learn to use a handbrake (if the bike has one) and to coast. Then, finally, they learn to pedal, often skipping training wheels altogether.

Balance biking also gives small children the chance to build the coordination, balance, leg musculature, and confidence that they’ll need for pedal biking—all things they don’t get if you start them on training wheels.

Not every kid takes to a balance bike, though. Many prefer to skip a balance bike and stick with a tricycle or scooter until they’re ready for a pedal bike.

A good balance bike hits the following marks:

For the first iteration of this guide, a panel of kids ranging from ages 2 to 8 tested 13 top balance bikes in a flat neighborhood over a period of a few weeks. In 2023, Jenni and her almost-4-year-old son, a balance bike enthusiast, spent two weeks testing this guide’s existing picks against five new contenders by riding them in their neighborhood. He tried them on pavement, in dirt, and on gravel, in rain and sunshine, and quickly developed favorites. Then Jenni threw a bike party with 10 kids, ages 2 to 6. The kids raced around both paved and dirt paths, ripping around cones. After watching the kids in action, parents submitted their thoughts on the best options.

This top-notch bike is sturdy and easy to assemble, with air-filled tires, a steering limiter, and a handbrake that gets kids one step closer to riding a pedal bike. But it isn’t the best choice for taller kids.

The Guardian Balance Bike was a surprise hit in our 2023 round of testing. It’s a relatively new balance bike option, and we hadn’t tested it before. Tots and their parents agreed: This durable, aluminum bike offers it all. It’s heavy enough to be grounded for fast turns but light enough to accommodate kids of all ages, it has a handbrake that slows both the front and back wheels, it’s equipped with a steering limiter for safety, and it has an appealing, flashy design, with shiny, bright paint and crisp logos. Jenni’s son loved this bike even more than the Strider 12 Sport he had been riding for years, and it was the hottest ticket at the bike party.

The Guardian bike teaches kids to balance—and to brake. Guardian’s SureStop handbrake system sets this model apart from all the other bikes in the field, except the Woom 1. This braking system slows both the front and back wheels, teaching children how to both balance and slow down without using their feet, which is an ideal precursor for riding a pedal bike.

It’s a good height for most kids, with appropriate geometry. The Guardian Balance Bike has a stand-over height of 7 inches, which prevents kids from hitting their heels on the frame of the bike when they’re sitting. It puts them in an ideal, very slightly forward-leaning position while they’re riding, which is safe but still encourages speed.

The weight is just right. The frame is constructed of aluminum, which we prefer over steel due to its durability and light weight. At 8.5 pounds, this model isn’t the heaviest of the bikes we tested, and it turned out to be the Goldilocks weight for kids in the 25-to-30-pound range. The weight grounds the bike during turns, but it’s still light enough that kids can ride fairly fast.

Adjustability is a bit limited. The Guardian Balance Bike has an adjustable seat with a height range of 12.5 to 16 inches, but the handlebars adjust only forward and backward, not up and down, providing a more limited range than on some of the other bikes we tried.

It has quality tires and a helpful steering limiter. The Guardian bike’s air-filled, rubber tires are the cream of the crop, grippy enough to find traction on any surface but offering enough bounce to make for a fun ride. Jenni’s son had fewer crashes on this bike in comparison with the others in the testing pool, likely due to the bike’s steering limiter, which prevents overturning the handlebar. It’s these small details that set the Guardian Balance Bike apart.

It’s easy to assemble and has a stylish design. Compared with many of the other bikes we tried, the Guardian model was easy to build. (The only options that were easier came fully assembled.) All you need to do is attach the handlebars; well-made online videos can direct you if you run into issues. On top of that, whereas many companies offer bikes in just a couple of colors, Guardian currently gives you six options, ranging from black to hot pink. This balance bike has a one-year warranty.

It isn’t the best choice for taller kids. The Guardian Balance Bike has a limited seat height range of 12.5 to 16 inches. And the fact that the handlebar doesn’t extend could make this bike a poor fit for taller kids, who may prefer our runner-up pick, the REI Co-op Cycles REV 12, or our also-great pick, the Strider 14x Sport, because of the bigger height range those bikes provide.

The price fluctuates. The Guardian bike is expensive, and the price fluctuates from $150 to $250, which can be confusing. Watch for sales, which are frequent.

This balance bike has a taller seat-height range than our top pick, but it lacks a handbrake, and it’s heavier and a bit less comfortable to ride.

If our top pick isn’t available, or if you have a taller child, the REI Co-op Cycles REV 12 Kids’ Balance Bike is an excellent next-best choice. At 9 pounds, the REV 12 is heavier than many of the other bikes we tried, and it lacks some extras. But it’s a reliably sturdy and easy-to-ride bike that the kids in our testing pool enjoyed as much as those that were almost double the price.

It’s better-sized for taller kids. The REV 12 features a stand-over height of 8.5 inches, in contrast to the Guardian Balance Bike’s 7 inches, and its seat height adjusts between 13.75 and 17.5 inches, while the Guardian model’s seat adjusts from 12.5 to 16 inches. Compared with our top pick, this balance bike can accommodate a slightly taller kid, which means it might get more use over time. It can also accommodate a heavier kid (up to 60 pounds, versus the Guardian model’s limit of 50). In our tests, however, smaller kids found the REV 12 to be too tall and too heavy for their liking.

The handlebar is more adjustable. You can raise the handlebar by about 2 inches (the Guardian bike’s handlebars can’t change in height), and you can adjust the handlebar angle with an Allen wrench, same as on the Guardian model. The REV 12’s handlebars ranked among the widest of the balance bikes we tested, which made them ideal for taller preschoolers.

It’s preassembled and easy to ride. The REV 12 comes prebuilt, so parents will be overjoyed to find that all they need to do is adjust the seat height and the orientation of the handlebars with an Allen wrench. The tires also come prefilled with air. And the REV 12 is easy to ride; it’s 9 pounds, in contrast to the Guardian Balance Bike’s weight of 8.5 pounds, but kids in our tests zipped around quickly on it. As with our top pick, Jenni’s son appreciated the REV 12 for its mix of stability and agility—it could wind through cones, but it was also durable enough for him to ride off-road.

But it has fewer extras. The REV 12 doesn’t come with a handbrake or steering limiter, as our top pick and upgrade pick do. Plus, it comes in only two colors, while our other picks offer more options. It’s basic but reliable, with a solid resale value and the benefit of REI’s excellent return policy. Still, we wished for small extras: Angled tire-valve stems would make filling the tires easier, and a handbrake would have been nice.

This low-slung bike is not as polished as our other picks and is a pain to assemble. But it performs well and can get most kids up and happily gliding along.

Holding its own among bikes that are triple the cost, the Banana Bike GT was popular among our kid testers for its right size and light weight (just 6.4 pounds). It’s miles better than all of the other sub-$100 bikes we tried, but it has a much longer build time and less-treaded tires than the other picks on this list, which creates a slightly less smooth ride. That lack of tread can lead to some slipping around corners, too. Its air-filled rubber tires work fine on paved, dirt, and carpeted surfaces, though. Like our runner-up pick, this model lacks a handbrake.

It’s similar to the REI REV 12 in sizing and geometry. The curved frame is well engineered, with a low stand-over height of 8 inches.

The adjustability is good. You can easily raise and lower the seat from 12.25 to 17.3 inches—a similar max height to our runner-up, and a bit taller than our top pick, but with about an inch and a half more range. The handlebar stem raises 3 inches as well.

But it’s tough to build. The Banana Bike GT took over an hour to build, the longest time in our lineup. Though most adults should be able to put this bike together, it involves a large learning curve. You’ll need a pump to fill up the 12-inch tires, which don’t come prefilled, whereas the tires on the Guardian and REI models do. The frame is made with steel, not aluminum (as on our other picks), which can be less durable. And this bike lacks the pretty, vibrant paint finish we found on many of the other bikes.

The Banana Bike GT goes in and out of stock quickly and doesn’t come with a warranty.

Agile, simple to assemble, and sized right for the smallest kids, this is the balance bike for bike-enthusiast parents who want their child to have a pro-level tyke bike.

If you’re confident that you can persuade your child to give balance biking a go, and you’re less concerned about cost, the aluminum and stainless steel Woom 1 is a work of industrial art. With a light frame, a powerful handbrake, and solid customer support, the Woom 1 works for kids ages 18 months to possibly 4 years for a shorter child, and the company offers a trade-up program that may lure you into bigger bikes in the line.

During our testing, the stylish Woom was that bike. Parents were impressed right away by the beautiful paint job (it comes in six colors) and well-considered build of the Woom 1’s frame. And the kids felt the same: Jenni’s son called the Woom 1 the “cool, fast motorbike” and chose to use it when he wanted to go “fast, fast, fast.” Many of the kids at the testing party fought over the Woom 1, and several of them spent the days following the party begging their parents for a Woom 1 of their own.

It’s sized well for little riders, with perfectly constructed geometry. The Woom 1 offers an upright riding position that’s comfortable for most kids, as well as a very low stand-over height of 7 inches (the same stand-over height as on our top pick, the Guardian Balance Bike). The seat adjustability—between 10 and 14 inches—offers the shortest starting point of any bike we tried, the benefit of which was obvious during testing, as the shortest kids took to the Woom 1 immediately.

It comes prebuilt. The Woom 1 arrives almost ready to go—its wheels and handbrake are already attached and perfectly adjusted, and only the tires need to be filled.

It’s light, with air-filled tires and steering control. At 6.6 pounds, this model is one of the lightest balance bikes we tested, with air-filled rubber tires that have just enough knobbiness to both grip the dirt and speed over pavement. Like the Guardian Balance Bike, the Woom 1 also has a steering limiter, which in this case is little more than a strap and a thick O-ring bushing that prevents the rider from making jarring and potentially over-the-handlebar stops. When your kid no longer needs the limiter—that is, when they get old enough or skilled enough to maintain handlebar control—you can simply pop off the O-ring and let it dangle.

It has a powerful handbrake. The Woom 1’s handbrake stops only the bike’s rear wheel, while the Guardian model’s handbrake stops both the front and back wheels as on an adult bike. There’s no difference when a kid is straddling or running with the balance bike and not putting weight on the seat. But sitting on the Woom 1 and braking is likely to result in a sharper stop than on the Guardian Balance Bike.

A kid will size out of this bike fairly early, but Woom offers a trade-in program. The one thing we’d change about the Woom 1 would be more height adjustability—most kids will outgrow it by age 4. But if you enroll in the company’s upCycling program, you can return your Woom 1, shipping prepaid, to the company within two years of purchase, and Woom will put 40% of the returned bike’s original purchase price toward a larger bike, such as a Woom 2 or a Woom 3. You pay a one-time enrollment fee of about $60, but the discount renews up to your purchase of a 26-inch-wheel Woom 6.

In July 2023, Woom issued a recall of bikes with a one-bolt stem clamp design, like the Woom 1, made from 2018 to 2021 because the stem and handlebars could detach. Woom offers a free safety kit to correct the problem. You can email for more information.

Woom offers a 10-year warranty when you register your bike.

Slightly bigger with easy-to-install pedals, this two-in-one option can also serve as a kid’s first pedal bike.

Of all the balance bikes we tested, the Strider 14x Sport is the best for bigger kids, and it’s the only bike in this group that can convert into a pedal bike (with a $70 add-on kit). It was also one of our children’s favorites.

For taller and older kids, the Strider 14x Sport is ideal. The 14x Sport has 14-inch wheels instead of the 12-inch ones on all of our other picks; it’s built for kids who are taller than 3-foot-1, likely those closer to 3-foot-5, which is usually around 4 years old, depending on your kid. Some children can ride a 14-inch bike up to age 7. It weighs 12.5 pounds without pedals and 15.5 pounds with, which is pretty light for a 14-inch bike but much heavier than the other balance bikes we tested for this guide.

It has forgiving tires but no brakes. The 14x Sport features smooth and shock-absorbing air-filled, semi-knobby rubber tires. It doesn’t have a braking system (in pedal mode kids just push back on the pedals to stop). Still, the kids in our testing pool who were on the taller side reached for this bike time and again.

It’s well constructed and the most adjustable of the models we tested. This Strider bike has a stand-over height of 10 inches—higher than our other picks by 2 or 3 inches, but unsurprising since the bike is meant for taller kids. It also offers a long, stable wheelbase, as well as a remarkable seat-height range of 15 to 22 inches. Plus, the handlebar can rise by nearly 4 inches and tilt upward and forward nearly 4 inches.

It can seamlessly transition to a pedal bike. The Strider 14x Sport has a curved handlebar, which feels more like that of a traditional bike. About four weeks after Jenni's almost-4-year-old son started riding the Strider 14x Sport, they installed the pedal kit. He was able to move easily to pedaling, despite never riding a pedal bike before, because the kit includes half-pedals, which allowed him to touch his feet to the ground when he got nervous. The ability to add pedals seemed like a huge win for the parents in our testing pool, who knew that this feature could reduce a child’s psychological barrier to switching to a pedal bike.

It’s quick and easy to convert to a pedal bike—and to ride. Attaching the pedals required only an Allen wrench to switch the footrest out; making this change took Jenni five minutes. Once the pedals are attached, the 14x Sport has a nicely narrow Q factor (the distance between the cranks) of 5.9 inches, which keeps a child’s legs from splaying out while they’re on the pedals and allows them to generate power more easily. Chris, this guide’s original author, found that the kids in his neighborhood could lean the Strider 14x Sport pretty hard into a turn without the inside pedal scraping the ground; this is a big deal in terms of safety for new riders.

The balance bike arrives nearly constructed, and Strider offers top-notch customer service. With Strider’s excellent step-by-step instructions (also available in a video), the initial buildout was a simple 10-minute process. Strider also includes a terrific booklet (PDF) with the 14x Sport that not only explains the how and why behind teaching a child to go from striding to pedaling but also describes a few games that you can play to make the experience as fun and natural as, well, riding a bike.

Strider offers a two-year limited warranty.

If you want a simple, well-made bike, with no extras, for a solid price: The Strider 12 Sport, our former top pick, is well designed and simple. It’s extremely popular, and we understand why: It offers easy assembly, a wide range of size adjustability (11 to 19 inches on the seat), light weight (6.7 pounds), and a low, 8-inch stand-over height for easier balance. But over the past few years, models from other brands—such as Guardian and Woom—have outpaced this basic bike by offering additional safety and education features, such as steering limiters and handbrakes. The Strider 12 Sport also has foam tires, whereas most of its competitors have air-filled tires. Though foam tires never need to be refilled, they make for a ride with slightly more drag, and in our testing we found that the Strider 12 Sport was less well suited to any surface that wasn’t pavement. When our testers took this bike off the road, it was tough to push and maneuver. And it didn’t move as fast around corners as some of our other picks. The 12 Sport comes brake-free.

If you want a version of our budget pick that’s available for a bit less: The Banana Bike LT, our former budget pick, is essentially the same as our current budget pick, the Banana Bike GT. It has foam-filled tires, in contrast to the GT’s air-filled ones. We found that the foam tires slipped more on hardwood floors and didn’t work well on dirt roads.

If your kid is close to being ready for a pedal bike and is tall: Trek’s Precaliber 12 was one of the more robust bikes we tried, and like the Strider 14x Sport, it converts from a balance bike to a pedal bike with just a bit of work. Its seat-height range of 15.5 to 18.5 inches makes it better suited for older kids (likely ages 4 and up), and the sturdy, air-filled tires make it easy to ride on pavement, dirt, or gravel. But during our testing, the kids avoided riding this bike, likely because of its 15-pound weight, nearly double that of any of the other bikes we tested. The Precaliber 12 lacks a handbrake and is also more expensive than the similar 14x Sport at $280, though you can take advantage of Trek’s 50%-credit trade-up program as your kid grows. You can most easily find a Trek model at a local shop.

The gorgeous, aluminum LittleBig three-in-one model is a hybrid balance pedal bike like the Strider 14x Sport. It offers a step up in quality, weighs less (11.2 pounds without pedals, 14.5 pounds with), and has excellent front and rear handbrakes as well as an ingenious system that allows you to flip the midpoint of the frame (video) so that it grows with your kid. The pedal-installation process is not as simple as with the 14x Sport, though, and this bike’s geometry is more aggressive, which makes it agile but not quite as comfortable as the Strider model.

The Yedoo TooToo is a small, lightweight (8.2 pounds) steel bike with air tires, a steering limiter, and a strong linear-pull handbrake (great for hilly areas). Its step-through height of 10 inches is a bit high, and though its seat-adjustment range is a little larger than that of our top pick from Guardian, its 1.1-inch-diameter bar grips were too wide for our smallest brake-grabbing kids.

The Ridgeback Scoot is a solid, bigger 12-inch model. Made by a UK-based company, it’s a really nice bike, but it doesn’t exhibit quite the attention to detail that the Guardian Balance Bike does, despite a comparable cost. This model is also hard to find in the US.

We also tested the budget Kazam v2e, which features the lowest step-in height of any bike we tested, at 6 inches, as well as a wide, comfortable footrest. We had issues with the width of its rear tubes, which rubbed our tester’s legs, and the foam tires were quite slippery.

The original Croco Ultralight Balance Bike, a popular, sub-$100 Amazon option, has foam tires and a tool-free adjustment system, and it weighs just 4 pounds. With a seat-height range of 11 to 15.5 inches, it’s built for smaller kids, and it’s equipped with a bell. But we found it annoying to build—you need your own screwdriver, and the parts don’t fit together easily—and its cheap, hard tires didn’t have enough give for kids to ride it comfortably. The frame is made with such thin aluminum that it felt like plastic to us, and the paint got scratched up almost immediately.

The similarly budget Bixe Extreme Light Balance Bike was nearly identical to the Croco model we tested. It has a puzzlingly high 85-pound weight limit to match its seat height range of 11 to 15.5 inches. It’s also a light 4 pounds. But this Bixe model had cheap, foam tires with very little tread; Jenni’s son wiped out on this bike more than on any other. And the frame and hardware felt cheap.

Specialized’s Hotwalk is a solid bike, but it usually costs over $200 and offers no handbrake.

In most respects Giant’s Pre is on a par with our runner-up pick, the REI REV 12, but it’s available only in bike shops, so it’s harder to find.

Cannondale’s Kids Trail Balance bike (it comes in boys’ and girls’ versions, which are identical apart from the colors) is unique, with its single-sided lefty-style fork, made famous on Cannondale’s big mountain bikes. But most riders don’t need the extra-robust wheels, and feature-wise, you get more for your money from the REI REV 12.

A child can begin balance biking from as young as 15 to 18 months on a light bike with a low seat; they can simply rest their bum on the seat, hold the handlebars, and walk around.

To maximize the chances that your kid will come to enjoy balance biking, Strider inventor Ryan McFarland, bike guru John Bradley, and Wirecutter editors recommend the following:

This article was edited by Amy Miller Kravetz and Kalee Thompson.

John Bradley, former editor in chief of VeloNews, phone interview, August 25, 2017

Watts Dixon, owner of Revolution Cycles, columnist for Dirt Rag, and father, phone interview, August 26, 2017

Ryan McFarland, president of Strider Bikes, phone and email interviews, August 30, 2017

Katie Bruce, director of marketing and communications for the National Sporting Goods Association, email interviews, September 27, 2017

Toby Hill, managing editor of Bicycle Retailer, phone and email interviews, September 27, 2017

Ivan M. Altinbasak, owner of WeeBikeShop, email interviews, November 7, 2017

After spending 30 hours testing 13 pedal bikes, we’ve picked the fun, no-fuss, Co-op Cycles REV 16 Kids’ Bike as the best first pedal bike for most kids.

A kids seat mounted to your bike is a good way to begin to nurture your child’s own love of riding for transportation—or just for fun.

After testing dozens of bike handlebar bags, we’ve chosen five that can carry all your riding essentials, no matter where you’re headed.

After testing 75 bike racks—including hitch, trunk, and roof models—we recommend the Küat Sherpa 2.0 hitch rack as the best way to carry your bikes on a car.

The 5 Best Balance Bikes of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Mtb For Sale Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).