Balance bike brakes

Brake or no brake? That is often one of the questions when you are trying to decide upon the best balance bike for you and your child!

The purpose of balance bikes is to help children learn to ride, balance and steer before they graduate to larger, heavier pedal bikes. Balance bikes are lightweight, easy to transport and maintain so they are the perfect introduction to cycling.

The natural way for children to stop themselves on a balance bike is to put their feet on the floor, and this will also happen if they find they are losing their balance to stop them from falling.

Younger children don't need brakes

This means that there often is not the need for a brake on balance bikes, especially bikes for younger children aged from 18 months – 3 years. Children of this age also lack the ability and don’t have big enough hands to use a brake, so many of the smaller models will come without one as it is not necessary.

As your child becomes a more confident rider, then it is worth considering buying a balance bike with a brake or fitting a brake to their existing bike. A confident rider can gain a decent amount of speed, especially if they are going downhill so it would be useful to have a brake in these situations where it is not practical to use their feet to stop.

They can help with the transition to a pedal bike

Another argument for buying a balance bike with a brake is that this will help children with the transition from a balance bike to a normal pedal bike, that will be fitted with a brake. It can be difficult for children to change their habits if they are used to stopping themselves with their feet, and it can be dangerous to be dragging your feet along when riding a pedal bike.

Balance bikes with and without brakes

Puky LRM Balance Bike 2018

Puky LRM Balance Bike

A good example of brakes on balance bikes is to look at the Puky range of bikes.

 Puky offer several models of balance bikes in their range, and the smallest two models are the Puky LRM Learner bike and the LR1L Learner bike.

The Puky LRM model (pictured)  is aimed at the youngest children aged 2 and upwards, and does not come with any sort of brake as it would not be used.

The LR1L bike has the option of a rear drum brake, and the largest model in their range is the Puky LR XL Learner bike, aimed at older children and comes equipped with a rear V-brake.

Although the presence of a brake on your balance bike is another factor to consider when choosing the right bike for your child, there are more important aspects to think about including the style, colour and most importantly the right size.

It is vital that you choose a bike that is the correct size for your child or they will be very reluctant to use it. This is the single most important factor to think about when looking through the balance bikes available and we have reviewed this point in detail in our balance bike saddle height guide.

We also have guides to the best balance bikes for 2 year olds, 3 year olds, 4 year olds and older children aged 6 or above.

Whichever bike you choose for your child, make sure they have fun and get on their bike!

Balance bike seats

Not only do balance bikes come in all shapes, colours, materials and sizes – so do the seats on the bikes so we thought it would be useful to prepare some information on balance bike seats to help you in your search for the best balance bike.

Most balance bikes will have a triangular shaped seat, and the material of the seat and the amount of padding provided will often depend on the cost and overall quality of the bike.

Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike

Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike

Many bikes towards the lower end of the price range will have a hard plastic seat, so although these types of seats are very durable they don’t provide much comfort for the rider.

A good example of this is the Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike, which is one of the best value balance bikes available at around £30.

Although it does not have a huge range of features, it is great for younger children just learning to ride and it is one of the smaller balance bikes available.

Some of the more expensive bikes towards the higher end of the market will offer various layers of foam padding, which does make the ride more comfortable although will usually increase the cost of the bike.

The Specialized Hotwalk Balance bike includes a padded seat, and although it is much more expensive at around £130 it has a high specification and a great range of features.

We must not forget wooden balance bikes, which will usually come with a wooden seat! One of the main disadvantages of wooden balance bikes is that the seat does not usually have as large a range of heights as metal bikes, although they are more environmentally friendly and look great as well. You can read our full guide to the best wooden balance bikes elsewhere on this website.

Some balance bikes now also offer U-shaped seats, which will help the rider to stay on the bike - especially if they are freewheeling downhill when they might be likely to slide off a plastic seat.

The material and shape of the seat is just one aspect to consider when you are buying a balance bike, and perhaps a more important factor is the actual height of the seat and the range of heights available. Check out our Balance Bike Seat Height Guide here!

Balance bike handlebars

The handlebars are another important feature of every balance bike, as they provide one of the child’s contact points with the bike.

This means the handlebars should be correctly aligned with the rest of the bike to provide a comfortable ride and improve the experience of learning to balance for the child.

The relationship between the saddle height and the handlebars on a balance bike is closely linked, and the saddle can be adjusted on most good quality balance bikes. We have looked at the importance of buying a bike with the correct saddle height in our Balance Bike Saddle Height Guide.

It is equally important to consider the height of the handlebars so that the rider can sit comfortably and is not reaching too high or stooping too low over the front of the bike.

We have found that metal balance bikes are more likely to have adjustable handlebars than wooden balance bikes, and the range will usually be a few centimetres so that the bike can grow with your child.

The Puky LR1 Learner bike has a seat that can be adjusted from 29cm – 40cm, so this is one of our recommended balance bikes for 2 year old as it is an ideal first balance bike. The bike is also designed so that the handlebars can also be adjusted when you are ready to move the saddle up – so the rider maintains the same comfortable position.

The handlebars on wooden balance bikes tend to be less adjustable, although the handlebars on the top of the range Early Rider wooden bikes are manufactured from a very luxurious foam and are easy grip for the rider. The handlebars may be fixed on less expensive wooden balance bikes.

The safety aspect of balance bike handlebars is provided by the knobby rubber ends that are usually found on most bikes. These will stop a wayward child scraping their hands against hedges, trees and walls – and they should also provide some protection in the event of a fall.

So, although you may not think about handlebars too much when you are looking for the best balance bike, they are an important part of the bike and play a major factor in providing a comfortable ride.

How to ride a balance bike

Many children now learn to ride on a balance bike, which teaches them the principles of balance and steering before they graduate to a pedal bike. There are a huge number of bikes of many different styles, models and colours that are designed for children as young as 18 months – but how do you actually get your child going on their balance bike?

You may well have spent hours researching the best balance bike, decided on a wooden, steel or aluminium bike and then selected your favourite model and colour. But what do you do if your child takes little or no interest in actually learning to use the bike?

This can be quite a common problem as many bikes are designed for very young children – and as any parent will testify it can be more than difficult getting children of 2 or 3 years of age to go along with your wishes!

Learning to ride a balance bike

Learning to ride a balance bike is a gradual process, much like learning to ride a proper bike. Some children will take to it straight away, and will be enjoying their new found freedom within an hour or so of mounting the saddle for the first time. Others may be a bit more reluctant to join the world of two wheels, so you may need to employ some gentle encouragement and use some of the tips below to get them going.

One of the most important aspects when choosing a balance bike is the saddle height. The child needs to be able to sit on the bike with the saddle at it's lowest height with their feet flat on the floor, so they can sit in comfort with their knees slightly bent.

Read our balance bike saddle height guide for details on how to measure your child correctly.

Once they are comfortable on the bike, they just need to start moving the bike along with their feet while staying in the saddle. Make sure they get plenty of practise and they will soon gain in confidence enough to lift their feet.

Use a flat area for their first attempt – the local park or playground is perfect – but make sure they have some protection for arms, knees and heads in case they take a tumble!

The magical moment of balancing comes when the child lifts their feet off the floor. They don’t need to concentrate on pedalling or braking, and although they are bound to be shaky at first they can easily put their feet on the ground so the risk of falling off is much lower than a normal pedal bike.

If your child is quite reluctant to use their bike, then a good idea is to go for walks with them and to take the balance bike with you, with the child riding or just pushing the bike. You may have to carry the bike along with you, but if you persevere and offer encouragement, then hopefully they will soon realise that they can ride the bike and scoot along as fast (or faster!) than you can walk.

Try to make the walk part of your daily routine – take the bike to the shops or to the park with you (as long as it is safe of course), and maybe go to an area where you have seen other children riding balance bikes (or normal bikes!)

Let your child take their time, make sure they have all of the right equipment (helmets etc), have plenty of patience and your child will soon be whizzing off into the distance!

Pink Balance Bike

Balance bikes are available in a huge range of sizes, styles, colours and designs to suit children of any age from 18 months to 12 years – but if you have a little girl then you may well be looking for a pink balance bike!

This might be stereotypical, but many of the leading manufacturers are quick to offer their most popular bikes in a striking pink colour to capitalise on this, so we thought we would provide some recommendations for our favourite pink balance bike.

Weeride First Balance Bike Pink

Weeride First Balance Bike Pink
  • Step through frame
  • Big range of saddle heights from 31cm
  • Carry handle on the saddle
  • Range of quality features

Our first recommended pink balance bike is the high quality Weeride First bike. This bike is designed for children from as young as 18 months - 2 years, so if your little girl has recently started walking and you want to start her out on a learner bike then this would be a great choice.

The bike has an easy step through frame, it is lightweight and has an adjustable saddle and all the safety features you would expect from such an established manufacturer.

It is not the cheapest pink balance bike on the market, but offers a range of quality features and is an ideal way to get her started on the principles of balance and steering.

Puky LRM Balance Bike Pink

Puky LRM Balance Bike Pink

  • Very low saddle height from just 29cm
  • Ideal for 18 months - 2 years
  • Step through frame for younger children
  • Foam tyres so can be used both indoors and out

Another great balance bike that is available in pink is the Puky LRM model.

Similarly to the Weeride First Balance Bike, this bike is designed for the youngest of children with a step through frame and a very low saddle height starting at just 29cm.

It offers a range of features including safety handlebar grips, soft luxury foam tyres and a height adjustable handlebar. The Puky LRM balance bike also features ball bearing wheels and steering.

This is a great, mid-range balance bike that is ideal for learning to ride and offers fantastic value.

Chicco Pink Arrow Balance Bike

Chicco Pink Arrow Balance bike

  • Great budget option
  • Lightweight metal frame
  • Ideal for 2 year olds

An excellent budget option if you are looking for a pink balance bike is the Chicco Pink Arrow Balance bike.

This bike has a thin chassis and a metal frame, and it is one of the lightest balance bikes on the market at just 2.7kg.

This is an ideal starter bike for a 2 year old and makes a great introduction to riding as it can be used indoors before the child has enough confidence to venture outside.

The Chicco Pink Arrow Balance bike does not have a huge range of features, but it is usually available at a very reasonable price.

Kiddimoto Kurve Balance Bike

Kiddimoto Kurve Pastel Dotty balance bike

  • Quality wooden balance bike
  • Pnuematic rubber tyres
  • Saddle height from 37cm
  • Better for older children between 3 and 5

Kiddimoto are well known for their great range of quality balance bikes, and this includes the fantastic Kiddimoto Kurve.

This balance bike is made from birch plywood, so it is available in a number of different and exciting designs, including the Pastel Dotty (pictured) that will appeal to little girls.

This bike is suitable for children aged between 3 and 5, as the saddle height has quite a small range between 37cm – 39.5cm.

Other features include rubber grip handlebars and pneumatic rubber tyres for a smooth ride.

Kiddimito provide a great range of accessories as well including helmets which are also available in a number of different designs.

Boppi BMX Pink Balance Bike

Boppi BMX Pink Balance Bike

  • BMX style bike
  • Great budget option
  • Adjustable saddle height from 30cm
  • Ideal for 2 – 4 year olds

A final choice is the Boppi BMX balance bike which is available in a number of colours including pink.

This balance bike is a similar price to the Chicco Pink Arrow bike, but comes in a BMX style with a lightweight metal frame, padded seat and cushion handlebars.

The seat can be adjusted from 30cm – 42cm so it will suit all ages between 2 and 4 and can grow with your child.

A great value choice, although there are many more pink Balance Bikes out there - and hopefully you will find one that your little girl will love!

Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike

  • Great value
  • Very light at 2.7kg
  • Saddle height 33cm – 38cm
  • Best for 2-3 year olds
  • Shorter wheel base than some other bikes

The Chicco Red Bullet Balance bike is one of the best budget balance bikes available, but is it worth the investment and what do you get for your money?

The bike has a metal frame, and weighs in at a very light 2.7kg, although one of the reasons for the low weight is that the bike is small compared to other models. This means that although the bike is marketed for children that are 3 years or older, you will probably find that most 2 years olds will be able to comfortably use the bike, and by the time they reach 4 or 5 they will have outgrown it.

The metallic frame is painted a striking red colour on the Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike, and features includes an adjustable seat with a lowest seat height of 33cm. This means that the bike looks great and little riders will love learning to ride on a 'proper' bike rather than a toy.

The saddle height is probably the most important factor to consider when choosing the best balance bike. The height of 33cm on this bike is ideal for most 2 year olds which is one of the reasons this bike is one of our recommended balance bikes for 2 year olds

However, please make sure that you measure the inseam of your child first to make sure the minimum saddle height is around 2.5cm – 3cm less than their inside leg.

The handlebars are also adjustable, and the bike comes equipped with plastic tyres so it can be used as a toy inside the house or outside when you go to the park. This is a common feature on some of the less expensive balance bikes, as they are low maintenance and puncture proof. Read more about balance bike tyres in our Ultimate Balance Bikes Tyre Guide.

The bike does require some assembly, although this is quite straightforward and should not take more than a few minutes as most of the work has been done for you before delivery.

The Chicco Red Bullet Balance bike is one of the best value balance bikes around, and although it is not packed with many features it does have a sturdy and durable build and provides the basic requirements for a good quality bike.

The thin chassis, light weight and plastic tyres make it a good choice, although the very short wheel base can make the bike difficult to handle and it can show signs of wear and tear after heavy use.