Choosing a balance bike for a toddler
April 5, 2007 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Which pedal-less "balance bike" should we get for our toddler?

We think "balance bikes" like this are really cool for little kids. Supposedly they make learning to ride a bike easier by letting little kids focus on balance without also having to pedal, but mostly we just think our 3-year-old would enjoy one.

There are about a thousand models available right now, from expensive all-wood European models to the modestly-priced Radio Flyer bike I linked above--but not one single store near where we live carries any that we can go look at or let the little guy try out.

The least expensive models are from Radio Flyer and Kettler, but we have had kids' bikes from both of those brands that we weren't impressed with. So we're a bit wary of ordering either of those. But we're also wary of spending almost $300 on a higher-end model if we could get something good enough for less than $100.

Anybody have any experience with these bikes? With the Kettler or Radio Flyer bikes in particular? Tips on what to look for when choosing? "Wish I'd known" type things?

Yes, I've looked for reviews on-line, but haven't found any that do comparisons of brands or that are written with the kind of specific detail I'm interested in.
posted by not that girl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
According to this, Target is selling knockoffs of LikeaBike for $50.
posted by mattbucher at 10:13 AM on April 5, 2007

We just got a Skuut for our 3-year-old daughter. It looks nearly identical to "likeabike" and costs nearly $200 less.

She hasn't used it enough for me to offer any thoughts about the learning-to-ride thing or the Skuut itself, but it seems well-made.
posted by sudama at 10:15 AM on April 5, 2007

Buy an old (fixed gear) bike (junkyard). Remove pedals. Replace with foot pegs. This is how I learned to ride a helps if you've got a bit of a hill, too, at first, with soft grass to land on.
posted by anaelith at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2007

I've looked at the Norco Runbike and it's nice. I'd get that. It's about $100 here in Canada.
posted by unSane at 10:23 AM on April 5, 2007

Yes, why not get a regular bike and just remove the pedals? I'm not against the dedicated models, I think they're cool, and something I might buy as a gift for my nephew, but were it me with my kid I'd buy a regular bike that could continue to be the kid's bike after he learned to ride just by putting the pedals back on.
posted by OmieWise at 10:46 AM on April 5, 2007

Some friends have the Target model mentioned above for their almost 2-yr-old. He loves it. It's very solid and seems well made, too.
posted by miss tea at 10:53 AM on April 5, 2007

I've done the remove-the-pedal thing (last weekend in fact) but the cranks and chainring still get in the way. You have to remove the cranks, chainring and chain, plus (usually) the chainguard. Then you have to remember to save all the bits.

On most kids' bikes these things are not really designed to be done easily.

The little runbikes are a lot of fun and practically indestructible. They are a good alternative to a trike, and can be handed down from family to family.
posted by unSane at 10:54 AM on April 5, 2007

Thanks for the Target tip--we'll check that out before we do anything else.

When we went looking for a bike we could buy and take the pedals off, we found that on most little kids' bikes, the pedals don't come off. And we thought the chain would get in the way, as well.
posted by not that girl at 1:32 PM on April 5, 2007

We got a Kettler pedalless bike for my daughter, and she loves it. It seems solidly constructed. We did have a bit of a struggle when we were assembling the bike.
posted by ferdydurke at 2:47 PM on April 5, 2007

HEY! someone linked my photo! Hot Damn! My kid looooves his likeabike knock off . It is quality too. Keep in mind 2.5 yrs would be about the right age, just due to the height of these bikes.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 3:14 PM on April 5, 2007

You might consider adding one of those handle do-whicky things to the seat post so that you can push without bending down so you don't break your back.
posted by kch at 7:14 PM on April 6, 2007

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