Today was going to be my first time riding a bike. My dad had just finished attaching the training wheels.
He helped me onto the seat and I put my feet eagerly onto the pedals. As I started off, slowly at first, moving along the sidewalk on a beautiful warm and sunny day. I thought I’m doing it! I’m riding a bike!
I remember feeling so proud. Feeling the rush of my very first bike ride.
I can’t remember much of what happened next, but my dad said I made an unexpected turn to my right, my front wheel dropped off the curb and I soon followed it. I do remember, quite vividly, the nasty scrape across the right side of my cheek. It took a while until I felt confident enough to ride that bike again.
You probably learned to ride a bike using training wheels, just like me. But …
I would never recommend using training wheels to learn to ride a bike ever again.
I now know that using a balance bike as your child’s first bike is a far safer method to teach your toddler how to ride a bike and it actually allows them to learn faster.
MY TOP PICK | BIKE FOR A TODDLER 2-3 YEARS OLD
- Your toddler will learn much faster, easier and with less painful falls with a balance bike. Of all the balance bikes I researched and bought, the Strider
SportBalance Bike was my favorite. Because it is tough, well made, specially designed for toddlers, and the best value by far.
Balance bikes are a different way of learning the skills needed to ride a pedal bike. Probably like me, you started with training wheels and then one day took them off.
As you know from the story I told in the first paragraph. The first time I rode a bike without training wheels. It didn’t go well. That’s because it’s a big jump to have to balance on your own after using training wheels.
The training wheels didn’t allow me to develop my balance skills. I eventually learned to ride that bike and balance correctly, but with a few more falls. (Thankfully none as bad as my first).
I didn’t have to make that big leap in skill between training wheels one day and gone the next. And neither does your toddler. I could have learned all my balancing skills safely on a balance bike first. But we didn’t have balance bikes when I was young. At least I can help my kids and you can help yours to learn the joys of riding a bike without the pain of learning.
THE BEST BALANCE BIKES YOU CAN BUY FOR YOUR 2-3 YEAR OLD TODDLER
- Best Overall: Strider Sport Balance Bike
- Best for a budget: Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike
- Best premium and ultra-lightweight: Cruzee Ultralite Balance Bike
Carry on reading the slides below now to check out my favorite overall balance bike.
THE BEST OVERALL BALANCE BIKE
WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE IT
The Strider Sport Balance Bike has a great design. It’s safe and easy to ride. The tough materials will make sure it lasts. It is everything you want in a balance bike for a 3 year old.
It makes you smile when your
I guess that is why so many people grow up and continue to enjoy riding their bike for the rest of
Strider where the first company to develop the way of teaching kids to ride using a balance bike and they still make one of the best. They aren’t exaggerating by saying they “Revolutionized the way kids learn to ride”.
The Strider bike is suitable from ages 18 months to 5 years old. It’s amazing to think that kids who are still in diapers can be happily riding around without any training wheels on! That’s the amazing leap forward that balance bikes have given us to help your child learn to ride their bike.
The Strider bike also grows with your child. Both the seat and the handlebars are adjustable. This means as your child gets older you can just raise the seat and handlebars to keep the bike comfortable. The steel frame makes the bike lightweight at 6.7lbs (3 kg), making it easy for them to handle and for you to carry. It also has mini grips so their tiny hands can control the handlebars with ease. The tires are puncture-proof, so there will be no messing around changing them. Check out the current price of the Strider Sport on Amazon as sometimes it is on sale.
Pros: Best selling, strong, lightweight, comfortable and easy to ride design.
Cons: An aluminum frame would be even lighter.
BEST BALANCE BIKE FOR A BUDGET
WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE IT
The Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike is a bargain for the quality of the bike. It comes in plenty of different colors and is very well designed with an easy “step through frame”.
It is also maintenance-free and needs minimal setup when bought. The Restrospec Cub also has air-free tires so you don’t have to mess about pumping them up when they inevitably go flat or you need to store the bike.
Do you worry about your toddler gaining too much speed on their bikes? Well, on the Retrospec Cub their feet can reach the floor and the physical shape of the bike makes it hard to gain too much speed. Which is so important to stop them getting out of control and having a nasty fall.
The company who makes the Retrospec Cub are Critical Cycles who actually also make adult bikes. They use the same manufacturing methods and materials in their
Pros: Price, step-through design, footrests.
BEST PREMIUM BALANCE BIKE
WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE IT
If you want the absolute best then look no further than the Cruzee Ultralite Balance Bike. The Cruzee is the lightest balance bike in the world. You or your child will be able to carry it with ease. Making it more fun and less cumbersome. But also one of the toughest and most durable.
The Cruzee is super lightweight for a children’s bike. It means that it is effortless to handle for your toddler. They will have more fun for longer as they won’t be lugging around a big heavy bike. It uses an ultra-light but strong aluminum frame. That also means it will stay rust-free forever.
Its design has enough adjustment in the handlebars and seat to provide years of use. I think that makes it a great investment for your kid, plenty of fun-filled days riding around the park or the neighborhood, watching the joy on their little faces.
Pros: Lightest balance bike in the world, excellent build quality, Aluminium frame, plenty of colors to choose from.
WHAT IS A BALANCE BIKE?
A balance bike is like a regular bike but without pedals. That means that a 2-
The best part is that when they feel like they are losing their balance they can just put their feet down to steady themselves without any pedals in the way.
Balance bikes introduce the freedom of cycling at a much earlier age than usual. I find them great for trips out because now they can now keep up with you as you walk without the need for strollers or kid leashes!
DITCH THE TRAINING WHEELS
Balance bikes are safer for a
I would strongly suggest that you don’t buy a pedal bike for a
The high cost of making a good quality and easy to ride
Well, the cheaper 12” pedal bikes cut corners on manufacturing, they have to, it keeps costs down. Unfortunately, t
Training wheels help your
Balance is the most important skill they need to learn when riding a bike. A balance bike teaches them all about the skill in balance needed to ride a regular pedal bike, but in a much safer way. It will allow them to have more fun and progress faster.
Balance bikes are also better value for money and lighter than most regular cheap pedal bikes of the same size.
By taking away the training wheels and pedals of their first bike you are actually giving their learning a boost.
CHOOSING AND SIZING A BALANCE BIKE FOR YOUR TODDLER
Confused about how to correctly size a balance bike?
The best way to size any bike is by using the seat height. You want the seat height to be around 15” to start with for a 3 year old. You can then extend the height upwards as they grow.
Balance bikes compared to pedal bikes are easy to size correctly.
It’s important to remember that you want your
On a pedal bike, this can sometimes be difficult to get the sizing right because of the smaller wheels.
The weight of a bike is very important. Children lack the strength to ride cheap heavy bikes.
You also have to remember that children of this age might not be riding their bike all the way to and from a destination. Maybe they might ride part of the way to school or just around the park when they get there. If that is the case then you will be the one carrying the bike back for them. That is another reason why a lighter bike is a much better investment.
IF YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SET ON USING TRAINING WHEELS
If all the information I have given you hasn’t convinced you to buy a balance bike to boost your child’s riding skills; or if you truly feel like their riding skills are at the level where they deserve their first real pedal bike. I have a recommendation for the best 12” pedal bike.
My top pick for a pedal bike:
- The Cleary Gecko takes the construction of adult bikes and brings it to the best 12” pedal bike I have ever seen. The riding position is comfortable, the height and adjustability of the seat are spot on. The handlebars are low and wide, which means easier and less twitchy steering. Overall it is an exceptional first pedal bike.
The Cleary Gecko is the smallest 12” pedal bike available. It is great for advanced
As I have previously mentioned, I would keep your
As previously suggested above, the cost of a good quality 12” pedal bike is much higher than a good quality balance bike. The cost of construction for a child’s bike is surprisingly high for a manufacturer. That’s why you tend to find excellent quality but higher-priced bikes or low quality, cheaply manufactured and heavy cheap bikes and no in-between.
SAFETY EQUIPMENT YOUR TODDLER NEEDS
Riding a bike is a thrill for a
I think that riding gloves are important because it is only a matter of time until your 3 year old has a fall and the first thing to normally to hit the ground is their delicate hands. I’ve seen some nasty cuts and grazes from children who weren’t wearing gloves.
Riding gloves are a great value buy and give them good protection for their hands. Picking bits of asphalt from a sore palm after a fall isn’t fun at all.
You may also want to buy elbow and knee pads if you are especially cautious over your
I understand why people would want to use them, in the
TODDLER CYCLING SAFETY EQUIPMENT – MY TOP PICKS
- Helmet: We decided on this helmet (Amazon link). We thought it looked the best. When it arrived we found that it fit our toddlers well and I would definitely recommend it.
- Gloves: This was an easy choice, there was a clear winner in terms of the best fit and quality I could find on Amazon. It was this pair (Amazon link) we ended up going for in the end. Love the designs from this company!
- Elbow pads and Knee pads: We didn’t end up using them as I explained, but I think for the value and great reviews If I decided that in the future they did need some I would go for these (Amazon link).
BEST BIKE FOR A 3 YEAR OLD BOY
Since writing this article I have had many requests to suggest the best bike for a 3 year old boy. I think at this age girls and boys are similar in size and strength so my recommendations would be the same as I have already given. Although, in terms of looks, a little boy may prefer different colors and style.
MY TOP BIKE PICK FOR A 3 YEAR OLD BOY
- Best for a boy: Strider Sport Balance Bike
The colors they do are Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow and Red.
It was a big surprise to me that most professionals recommend starting your 3
The evidence suggests that kids learn faster and easier using a balance bike and then graduating straight up to a small pedal bike (1).
It turns out they don’t need the help of training wheels. Training wheels can negatively affect how quickly a
Balance bikes are just brilliantly simple to ride and so intuitive for our little ones to get the hang of.
They are much safer than trying to teach our
I really wanted my kids to learn to ride at an early age. I know the enjoyment I had when I was younger riding around on my bike. I think that learning to ride a bike is an adventure. It’s being able to explore the places around you. It helped boost my confidence when I was younger. It gives kids a feeling of self-reliance, which at that age is hard to get from anything else.
Hi, my name is Gavin and together with my wife we are the proud parents of twins. We believe that learning more about your children will help you be a better parent and love your 3 year old even more. That’s why we created At3yearsold.com, just for you!