Our top pick:
- Surprisingly, for a
3 year old. The classic 12” bike with training wheels is not the best way to help them learn to ride. They will learn much faster, easier and with less painful falls with a balance bike. Of all the balance bikes I researched, the Strider SportBalance Bike was my favorite. Because it is tough, specially designed for young kids and the best value.
My dad had just finished screwing on the training wheels. This was going to be my first time riding a bike. He helped me onto the seat and I put my feet eagerly onto the pedals. As I started off, slowly at first. I felt the rush of riding a bike for the first time. 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 vividly remember the nasty scrape across the right side of my face. I took a while until I tried to ride again.
Most of us learned to ride using training wheels. But as I found out recently, using a balance bike as your child’s first bike is a safer method and it allows them to learn faster.
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. The story I told in the first paragraph was the first time I rode a bike without training wheels. It didn’t go well. That is because it is a big jump to have to balance on your own. The training wheels didn’t allow me to develop my balance skills. I eventually learned to 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 none the next. I could have learned all my balancing skills safely on a balance bike first. But that’s all hindsight now, at least I can help my kids.
WHAT IS A BALANCE BIKE?
A balance bike is like a regular bike but without pedals. That means that a
It also introduces the freedom of cycling at a much earlier age than usual. They can now keep up with you as you walk without the need of strollers or kid leashes.
DITCH THE TRAINING WHEELS
Balance bikes are safer for a
The high cost of making a good quality and easy to ride
Training wheels help your
By taking away the training wheels and pedals you are actually giving their learning a boost.
Here are the best balance bikes you can buy for your 3 year old:
- Best Overall: Strider Sport Balance Bike
- Best for a budget: Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike
- Best premium and ultra lightweight: Cruzee Ultralite Balance Bike
Read on in the slides below to check out my top picks.
THE BEST OVERALL BALANCE BIKE
Why you 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 is amazing to see
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 quite rightly say that 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!
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.
Pros: Best selling, strong, lightweight, comfortable and easy to ride design
Cons: Aluminium frame would be even lighter
Check the price of the Strider Sport Balance Bike over at Amazon now.
BEST BALANCE BIKE FOR A BUDGET
Why you 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”.
Because their feet can reach the floor and the physical shape of the bike. It is hard
The company who makes the Retrospec Cub are Critical Cycles. They actually make adult bikes. They have used the same manufacturing methods and materials in their
Pros: Price, step through design, foot rests.
Check the price of the Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike over at Amazon now.
BEST PREMIUM BALANCE BIKE
Why you will love it: If you want the best then look no further than the
The Cruzee is super lightweight for a children’s bike. It means that it is effortless to handle for your kid. 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 aluminium frame. That also means it will stay rust free.
Its design has enough adjustment in the handlebars and seat to provide up to 3 years of use. I think that makes it a great investment for your kid. 3 years means plenty of fun filled days riding around the park or the neighborhood.
Pros: lightest balance bike in the world, excellent build quality, Aluminium frame, plenty of colors to choose from.
Check the price of the Cruzee Ultralite Balance Bike over at Amazon now.
CHOOSING AND SIZING A BALANCE BIKE
The best way to size any bike for a 3 year old 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. The main thing to remember is that you want your
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 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 researched and found 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 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.
Riding a bike is a thrill for a
I think that riding gloves are so important because it is only a matter of time until your
You may also want to buy elbow and knee pads if you are especially cautious over your
Safety equipment for a 3 year old 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 them 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. The designs that this company have
areamazing! Love them!
- 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 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 pick for a bike 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
It turns out they don’t need the help of training wheels. Training wheels can actually hinder 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.