Training wheels stabilize a bicycle so a beginner can ride with less fear of falling. However, they aren’t a great way to teach new riders how to distribute their weight to keep their bicycle upright while in motion. Balance bikes designed for toddlers and preschoolers help little kids feel more like big kids as they develop the coordination skills they’ll need for their first real bicycle. These clever models don’t have pedals, and are built low enough to the ground for your kids to use their feet to stay balanced. Here are our favorites.
This balance bike is so cute and soft, you may just find your toddler cuddled up with it after a long ride around the driveway. It’s built for 2-4-year-olds and features EVA tires so your child won’t have to learn how to change a flat (yet). The plush dinosaur attaches to the frame of the bike, and the seat height can be adjusted as your child grows. Best of all, their new dino-pal is machine washable for easy cleaning after a (cushioned) wipe-out in the backyard.
When you hear a bell ring merrily, be prepared for your toddler to zoom around the corner on this retro-looking balance bike. The silver and maroon-accented steel frame is designed to hold 2.5-5 year-olds up to 50 pounds as they learn to maneuver their wheels around corners, across the rough terrain of a grass-covered field, and down the sidewalk. The seat is easily adjustable without tools, and the bike weighs less than eight pounds.
If your little one wants a bike that looks more like an older sibling’s wheels but isn’t yet ready for pedals, this brightly-colored balance bike is simple and sporty. You can raise the seat up to 18 inches from the ground and the bike holds up to 55 pounds, so it’s best for kids from ages 3 to 5. With handlebar grips that accommodate small hands and large wheels that don’t puncture, this bike can navigate rough terrain with your intrepid explorer.
This Schwinn model is a great choice for parents who want their child to experience a balance bike as close as possible to a regular bike. Instead of plastic tires, you can fill these 12-inch wide rubber tires with air to allow your child excellent speed and traction. The adjustable seat lever, seat shape, and stylish painted rims do more than just replicate the look and feel of a grown-up bike—they might inspire you to upgrade your own to a more fashionable hue.