Best Wooden Balance Bikes For Kids And Toddlers 2018 – Kids Bike Gear

kids-bike-gear
By Vaughn

Balance Bikes, in general, give kids more fun and freedom in the early stages of their riding journey, why not make that even cooler with a wooden balance bike! They look good, they’re lightweight and some are even customizable.

Why a Balance Bike?

Think of Balance bikes as a training tool, they take pedaling out of the equation letting your child focus on learning balance, the most important thing when riding a bike. They can travel further and longer without the clunky and heavy drivetrain and have some serious fun doing it.

Wooden Balance Bikes come in a few variations the main one being convertible types which go from a trike to a two-wheeled bike, all without buying any separate parts. The wood frames are suited best to general use on footpaths and parks and most bikes have a natural steering lock built into the frame to prevent cross-ups of the front wheel.

Wooden Balance Bike Quick Comparison Table

       
Radio Flyer Classic Glide & GoPlastic Spoke12''2 1/2 - 5 Years14'' - 16''Air Filled7.72 Pounds
Kinderfeets RetroPlastic Spoke12''2 Upwards12'' - 16''Solid Rubber8 Pounds
Kinderfeets Classic ChalkboardWood/Metal Rim12''2 Upwards12'' - 16''Solid Rubber8 Pounds
Janod VespaPlastic Spoke12''3 - 5 Years12.6'' - 14.4''Air Filled8.9 Pounds
Prince LionheartMetal Spoke12''2 - 514.8'' - 17''Air Filled10 Pounds
Wild BabyPlastic Spoke12"2 - 513'' - 16''EVA Foam8 Pounds
Diggin Active SkuutWood/Steel Rim12"2 - 5 Years13.5'' - 16.5''Air Filled10 Pounds
Kinderfeets TinyTot (Convertable)Plastic Spoke7"1 - 2 Years9'' - 11''Solid Rubber8 Pounds
WishBone 3 in 1 (Convertable)Plastic12''2 - 5 Years9'' - 20''Air Filled12 Pounds
ZUM CX (Reversable Frame)Plastic12''2 Upwards12'' - 17''Air Filled7.2 Pounds

 

Radio Flyer Classic Glide n Go wooden balance bike

Radio Flyer Classic Glide & Go 

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

For children aged 2 1/2 up to 5 years, the Radio Flyer Classic Glide & Go uses a well-proven design that’s one of the highest rated wooden balance bikes around. You might have heard of the Little Red Wagon and be familiar with other Radio Flyer Products since they have a large range of kids wheeled gadgets. Using Birch plywood for the forks and frame gives a great aesthetic as well as strength and finished in the classic Flyer Red it looks really sharp.

Spoked plastic wheels are used, not quite as strong as the spoked steel or solid wood wheels, they are a lot lighter which balances out the extra weight of the knobbly air-filled tires. The extra grip will come in handy for loose dirt and wet grass I’m sure. The soft grips feature a large ball-end for impact resistance and general safety, also the Glide & Go comes in a Pink version for the girls.

There’s a steel version also available if you don’t think the wood one right for you, same wheels, just a steel frame instead. The adjustable seat sits 14″ of the ground at its lowest and raises to 16″, and covered in vinyl there’s an extra bit of comfort for your kiddie. Nice and simple, the Radio Flyer Glide & Go well priced and well received.

 

 

KinderFeets Retro Wooden Balance Bike

Kinderfeets Retro

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

The Kinderfeets Retro is a popular model in their wooden balance bike lineup and the model name comes from the retro-inspired bright and unique patterns for girls and boys, there’s also a natural version as well. The frame uses a low-step design which makes getting on and off easier and kids are less likely to topple over.

Plastic rims keep the weight to a minimum and help with manageability, less rotating weight means quicker and easier turning. The recycled rubber tires give enough grip on concrete and asphalt surfaces while adding to the overall weight saving of the wheels, plus you never have to pump them up!

The seat uses a light foam pad while the seat structure adjusts up and down with three settings depending on your child’s height. An upright front end helps with comfortable and controllable riding while giving good posture to your child.  A neat feature of this particular model is the wooden footrest which some kids will like since it gives them somewhere to rest their legs while cruising. The footpegs themselves are entirely optional and can be left off when assembling.

 

 

Kinderfeets Classic Chalkboard Wooden Balance Bike

Kinderfeets Classic Chalkboard 

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

If you liked the Kinderfeets Retro then check out the Chalkboard version! finished in chalkboard paint so when your kids have worn themselves out from biking they can re-design and personalize the finish with chalk. There’s red, pink, black, orange and a cartoon finish which all use the same chalkboard paint.

Essentially the Kinderfeets Classic and Retro are the same, they are the same dimensions but with a few subtle differences, the main one is the wheels are a wood plate and metal rim construction which still use the solid foam rubber tires. Also, the seat’s a slightly different shape using larger foam pads with a side wing to stop any rubbing from longer riding sessions.

The Classic chalkboard comes in only slightly above the Retro in price but it’s mainly due to the two-piece wheels, plus it’s gotta be fun for kids to stamp their own design on their bike. Also, those footrests can be removed if you prefer.

 

 

Janod Wooden Scooter Balance Bike

Janod Wooden Scooter (Vespa)

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

The Janod Scooter Balance Bike does everything you’d expect a regular bike to do but with extra style and the looks of a real Vespa Scooter! The twin-plate frame layout is common to wooden balance bikes, giving extra stiffness and strength and helping to spread the load over the entire bike. In-between the frame lies the adjustable seat although it’s a plain wooden perch lacking foam or padding, also flat so it won’t keep your child seated so well should the ground be rough.

To help with weight savings, plastic rims are used while the tires are pneumatic (air-filled) to help absorb lumps and bumps. The rubber, air-filled tires also give better overall traction on unpredictable ground, especially dirt since they conform to the terrain and the rubber is stickier.

A large headlight completes the look along with side pods, the logos and even how the rear wheels hidden inside the frame! Finished in a durable, painted mint green, this gives extra protection from the elements when it’s left outside, although it may show wear and tear over time compared to clear, poly-urethane finishes. With all the extras, this Vespa lookalike still weighs in at only 8.9 pounds.

 

 

 

Prince Lionheart wooden balance bike

Prince Lionheart Balance Bike

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

For kids who want to take their adventure to the next level, the Prince Lionheart follows a tried and true design with spoked wheels to go the distance. Using the double plate, main-frame layout, this has become the standard for plywood based bikes. The two halves meet at the steering end and flare out to hold the rear wheel, minimal cutouts and good sized plates make the LionHearts frame tough.

The spokes wheels are just like a regulars bike, the air-filled tires give good traction over various surfaces and work better on gravel and off-road situations than the solid foam tires. Aimed at ages 2 through to 5, the seat has a low-height setting of 14.8 inches so just double check your child’s in-seam as it may be a bit high for your 2-year-old.

The Lionheart’s constructed from Birch Ply as with most wooden balance bikes, the difference being it’s not coated, it’s left natural so you will have to be mindful about leaving it outside in the weather. This is not unique as I recommend not leaving the wooden bikes outside for long periods as the water can penetrate around the drillings in the frame and getting into the wood layers. Decent rubber grips round out the handlebars and the graphics are minimal but tasteful, plenty of room for your child to add their own finishing touches.

 

Wild Baby wooden runner bike

WILD BABY Wooden Balance/Running Bike

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Following on with the racy theme, the Wild Baby looks the part and with three different color combination to suit both boys and girls. The Wild Baby comes in at a lightweight 8 pounds making general handling and riding more comfortable and easier in the learning stages. Also, it’s got a handy carry handle cut into the mainframe, so when they’re done it’s child in one arm and Balance bike in the other.

Plastic spoked wheels and the EVA foam tires (solid) play a large part in the weight reduction, the bikes fast rolling in general with the firm but smooth tread patterned tires but keep in mind the EVA foam isn’t the best for wet ground or offroad or excessively bumpy ground since they don’t conform to the terrain as well as air-filled tires.

The adjustable seat had a good range starting from 13” through to 16” so children from around 2 up to 5 can get rolling. The frame material is Birch Plywood, in this case, a premium grade with better glues used for better strength, also the overall fit and finish are great while the price offers excellent value for money.

 

 

skuut wooden balance bike

Diggin Active Skuut 

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

The appropriately named Skuut is one of the most popular wooden bikes on Amazon, it comes in at an affordable price, is well made and the designs nice and simple. It’s an award-winning design with the Oppenheim Gold Seal approval topping the list. The long, padded vinyl seat gives enough comfort for little ones to spend extended periods of time on while the pneumatic tires further add to the smoother ride.

If you’re worried about wheel strength, the Skuut’s ply wheels with the chromed steel rims are tough, the birch plywood keeps the wheels straight and true while the steel rims hold the increased pressure of the air-filled tires.  The other big bonus with the plate-style wheels is the lack of spokes to catch fingers and feet in.

Adding to the Eco-friendly approach of Diggin, when you buy a Skuut, they plant a tree! how cool is that! also, on the outside, Diggin has used non-toxic lacquer to seal the birch plywood from the elements.  The Skuut comes in at 10 pounds, this is slightly heavier than the Kinderfeets Retro and the Janod Vespa, but it’s expected as the wheels are made from heavier materials.

 

Convertible Wooden Balance Bikes

 

 

Kinderfeets TinyTot Wooden Convertable Balance Bike and Tricycle

Kinderfeets TinyTot Wooden Convertable Balance Bike and Tricycle

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Start your kids riding early with the KinderFeets TinyTot, it’s one of the smallest balance bike/trike combos out there with the seat being able to adjust from 9″ to 11.5″ You get the best of both worlds with the convertible design, also you save money in the long run not needing to buy two different rides.

The TinyTot start off as a tricycle giving enough stability so children as young as 1 can jump on and push themselves around, at the back, the rear wheels are widely spaced to avoid topples and they use the plastic spoked design the same as the KinderFeets Retro Bike, difference is the tires, they use a thinner profile but the material is still the same recycled rubber. At 7” the wheels well proportioned to the overall small stature of the bike.

The TinyTot is finished in 7 different color combinations while the paint itself is non-toxic. Up front, the large, round-end soft handgrips are a must for safety while the house walls and doors will have an easier life when the bikes used inside. Designed with an age range of 1 – 2 years it gives a great head start for your kids’ skills learning to ride bigger bikes when the time comes.

 

 

 

Wishbone 3-in-1  Convertible Balance Bike

Wishbone 3-in-1  Convertible Balance Bike

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

The Wishbone 3-in-1 also starts out life as a tricycle which can later convert to a regular balance bike. Like the TinyTot kids from 1 year and up can start rolling around under their own steam, although the main difference between the two models is the Wishbone is a larger bike and is capable of taking a child right through till 5 years old, the Kinderfeets TinyTot stop around 2 – 2.5 years.

Made from sustainably sourced Birch Plywood, nontoxic glues and finishes are used and even the packaging has a focus on recycling. And if woods, not your thing, there’s a recycled plastic version as well. The wheels use a semi-spoked design with a perforated webbing adding to their strength, these are actually made out of recycled plastic as well.

The 3-in-1 runs on air-filled rubber tires for durability, which is needed since the bike has a long operating life. Up-front the Wishbone uses a rather wide fork assembly which provides a strong interface for the handlebar and even with an extra wheel and burly front end the overall weight is still only 12 pounds, going down further when the bikes converted to its balance bike layout.

 

 

 

 

ZÜM CX Reversable Frame Wooden Balance Bike

ZÜM CX Reversable Frame Bike

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Pronounced ‘Zoom’, the CX uses a clever frame layout to achieve its large range height adjustment. In the low setting, the curved frame allows the seat to sit just 12” from the ground, this adjusts through to 14” before the next frame setting is used. In the high position, seating range is 15” – 17 ”, this allows you to drop the bike right down for the learning phase then when the confidence and legs grow, up the bike goes for longer and adventurous rides.

The ZUM runs on plastic spoked wheels and uses sealed cartridge bearings which isolated the hub of the wheel from wear and tear and gives a better service life, also air-filled rubber tires give more grip on changeable surfaces. A padded vinyl saddle sits on the adjustable seat mast and there’s a handily integrated fender just in case the rider accidentally slips off the back of the seat.

Large rubber hand grips keep things safe and stop the plywood handlebars breaking open on the ends when the bikes laying down. The ZUM CX is held together by steel fasteners and the lacquered finish is non-toxic. Also, there’s a good instruction manual on the ZUM website which covers the conversion as well.

 

 

Points to consider when purchasing your Wooden Balance Bike

Assembly

There’s a small amount of assembly needed when your new bike arrives, it’s usually putting the fork on and fitting the wheels, be sure to avoid overtightening screws and bolts as it may strip out or damage the wooden frame holes, also it’s wise to give the bike a quick check over every now and then and tighten any bolts that have worked loose.

Seat Height

This is the distance from the ground to the seat when the bike in an upright position, this will relate to your child inside leg measurement (the distance from their crotch to the ground when standing) Measure your child’s inseam before you buy so your not waiting for them to grow into it.

The recommended age range is a general guide as toddlers vary with their height vs age measurements.

Type of Riding

Wooden Balance Bikes can do most things their metal counterparts can do, but only to a certain point. Obviously, wood isn’t quite as strong as steel or aluminum so be mindful if you expect your child to be using it in places like a skatepark or anywhere where there are larger drops since this may stress the joint, particularly in the steering area.

Your kids might get away this in the early stages but once they get their confidence up, hitting the BMX track would warrant changing to a metal bike. For around the home and general riding, the wooden frame bikes are excellent.

Tire Material

The tire is the bikes only contact point and the different material have a big impact on how the bike feels and handles.

  • EVA Foam Tires: Usually found on plastic rims, they are solid and give a firm ride, if your child’s not using the bike a lot they work fine. when used heavily they can wear down quite quickly so you may end up buying spare wheels. For off-road and better slippery-surface performance, air-filled tires are better.
  • Rubber Tires: These are the closest thing to air-filled rubber tires. Normally they are solid but still provide some comfort for the rider, also they tend to last longer than the foam ones.
  • Air Filled/Pneumatic Tires: These give the best, most predictable ride. They will need to be pumped up from time to time and the tires can wear down but the grip and cushioning is the best of the lot.

Wheel Material

As you can see from the list, there are a few different types of tires and wheel material combinations. Both plastic and metal one have their pros and cons but in most cases, either type of wheel will work for most kids.

  • Plastic wheels:  lighter than steel or aluminum spoked wheels, they help to keep the overall weight of the bike quite low and help with steering and maneuverability. One thing to watch with air-filled tires, if they are used on plastic rims be aware of over-inflation since this may damage the plastic rims.
  • Metal Spoked/Wood Disc, Metal Rim Combo: Spoked wheels are among the strongest, usually there’s a decent hub to help with long-term durability and they will stand up better to the rough and tumble of daily use. The Wood Disc wheels use an internal wooden plate to which a metal outer rim is attached, this is to hold the tire firm especially if strength is needed for the air pressure in a pneumatic tire.

2 in 1 and 3 in 1 Wooden Balance Bikes

These models offer great value and help your children ride a lot earlier than they normally would on a stand-alone bike. The Wishbone 3 in 1 goes from a trike to a small balance bike up to a large one which gives an excellent timeframe for use, the initial investment is more than other bikes but it pays off since you avoid buying a separate trike.

The ZUM CX uses the same mainframe but just turns upside down to achieve a lower seating position, cheaper than the Wishbone but still gives great standover clearance for younger riders.

Outdoors

Wooden Balance Bikes are almost always Plywood since it’s a layered wood, water can be the enemy of these little bikes. In general, it’s best to not leave them sitting in the weather for extended periods since water can penetrate the drill holes and start to break down the structure of the wood.

If you live in a particularly wet environment, a wood frame may not be the best choice.

Conclusion

There is no single best wooden balance bike but the models here all offer something that sets them apart, from wild graphics and multi-tasking and even a scooter replica. Having a bike made from wood is awesome, but it’s also a great way to get your kids working on honing their balancing skills before they transfer to pedals.

If there’s anything I have left out or if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

 

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Vaughn
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14 thoughts on “Best Wooden Balance Bikes For Kids And Toddlers 2018 – Kids Bike Gear

  • October 21, 2018 at 11:18 pm
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    I have a 5 year old girl and a 11 month old boy. These bikes are legit! You describe the different models so greatly and I will for sure share this with my wife. I can see us buying at least one. Oh, and I will also get another one for my nephew, who is 4 years old.

    I wish these bikes were for sale when I was younger. It makes me even want to go back in time and try them. Such a great article! With Thanksgiving, black Friday, and Christmas around the corner, this article is just perfect! 

    Reply
    • October 22, 2018 at 3:41 am
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      Hi Victor

      I agree, balance bikes have become really popular as of late, also would have been great to have one as a kid. They make good presents since they are affordable and also pretty much every kids loves a new bike as a present!

      Reply
  • October 17, 2018 at 6:52 am
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    I really like the look of these wooden balance bikes! They’ve got a real retro quality to them. I noticed some of them have pegs for my son to rest his feet while trying to balance, but most have nothing in lieu of pedals. In your experience, do young children ever have trouble keeping their legs up while learning to use a balance bike? 

    Reply
    • October 17, 2018 at 7:31 am
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      Hi Bobby

      When kids are learning their legs and feet are always being used so generally they don’t need their legs up ate all, when they can coast along freely they lift their legs up or sometimes can rest them on the bike frame or foot pegs if the bikes got them.

      Reply
  • October 17, 2018 at 5:34 am
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    My nephew is looking to get a bike, but I really don’t think he is ready for one, yet.  I know this is an odd question, but at what age do most kids learn to ride a bike?

    I like the idea of a wooden bike.   However, my concern with them is what happens when it gets rained on or something.  Will it be completely ruined?  I would guess the wood will start getting weaker.

    Reply
    • October 17, 2018 at 7:36 am
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      Hi Garen

      Most kids should be okay around 2 but it depends on their confidence, use your judgment when trying them out on one as it will vary a lot between different children.

      As for the wood, sure it’s a legitimate concern, most of them are clear coated so it does protect them to a certain extent, it wont get ruined if its left out occasionally but it’s best to not make a habit of it. I have seen the various wooden balance bikes used by different family members over the years and they tend to wear out more than being affected by the elements.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  • October 17, 2018 at 4:02 am
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    Hi, thanks for going over the different types of balance bike, I was a bit unsure which one to get my son.  You say they are customisable, my son is really into the Justice League, can i get it customised in that style. Do these places do this for you?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • October 17, 2018 at 7:39 am
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      Hi John

      When I mentioned customizable, it was more to do with the chalkboard finish being able to be drawn on, but hey, you could draw the Justice League super-hero emblems on it, I’m sure he would love that!

      Reply
  • October 4, 2018 at 7:58 am
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    Hi, there
    I have been looking for Balance Bikes for a while, I am keen to buy one for my son, do you know if they are able to ship to Denmark since it’s where I’m living at the moment? I like the shapes of the wooden frames, and made out of plywood they should retain a good deal of strength.

    Best regards
    Salomon.

    Reply
    • October 4, 2018 at 8:11 am
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      Hi Salomon

      The shipping should be fine, usually if somethings not able to be shipped your told at the checkout.

      Vaughn

      Reply
  • October 4, 2018 at 7:58 am
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    I like the Prince Lionheart Balance Bike. I bought for my nephew and he loves it. His friends always ask him for a ride. This bike looks like a royal bike which acts like a child Ferrari. It is not easy to break as well. A good bike indeed. Previously all the bikes I buy were made of steel. This time it is a wooden bike and it is unique.

    Reply
    • October 4, 2018 at 8:02 am
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      Hi Kit

      I agree, it’s a good looking bike with a decent build quality, the wooden bikes definately have that ‘cool’ factor that the kids love.

      Reply
  • October 4, 2018 at 7:04 am
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    It is my nephew’s birthday next month and I want to gift him something which will be useful for him and hopefully will be something he will enjoy. I never knew the concept of balance bike and I am very impressed as this might be very beneficial for him. I think this will be a fun way to learn balancing for him. I like the Kinderfeets Classic Chalkboard as the customization can be done and also I think its built is better then others. Do you have any suggestion for me apart from these options?

    Reply
    • October 4, 2018 at 8:16 am
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      Hi Hari

      Ha, yes whats better than a new bike? a new bike you can draw all over! My suggestion is consider where they are going to ride it eg. grass or dirt? go for air tires, on pavement and indoors the foam and rubber solid tires are fine. Also just double check his inseam measurement to make sure the bike’s going to be a good fit for him.

      Hope that helps you!

      Reply

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