Best Balance Bike: 5 Push Bikes for Kids Reviewed



Words by Drew Rohde  |  Photos by Brian Niles

With the advent of balance bikes, kids are learning how to ride bikes younger and better than ever before! In this shootout, we test and review some of the best balance bikes on the market in hopes of helping your decision. This review and Balance Bike Buyer’s Guide has insight from our 2.5-year-old tester as well as “Dad” a mountain bike tester with ten years and hundreds of bikes under his belt, so you can rest assured the finer details will be covered below. You don’t have to be a die-hard mountain biker or avid cyclist to want your child to learn how to ride a bike, and that’s great because riding bikes shouldn’t just be about getting extreme or competing, the beauty and freedom of being on two-wheels is what hooked me on this journey, changed my life and is why I’m here, doing this now. All that to say, who knows just what your balance bike purchase may do for your child’s life! Not many kids’ purchases can have that sort of effect on their life, and that is cool!


For our toddler balance bike buyer’s guide and shootout, we rounded up several bikes with 12-inch wheels and have had them for about one year’s time, allowing for a growth spurt and full range of developmental leaps for our daughter. We believe this time is a great one as parents are likely chomping at the bit to get their kid on two wheels, but also want them to stay safe, and not outgrow that purchase in a matter of months.  


MSRP: $269

Bixbi Route 12 Balance Bike Review

Age: 2 – 6 years
Inseam: 13.8 – 18.9”
Bike Weight: 7.4 lbs
Wheel: 12”

The Bixbi Route 12 is the first bike we received to test. The folks at Bixby offer a Lowrider Kit, which drops the axles of the bike to allow for a lower standover height, and potentially earlier rideability. Something we found however, while the standover was low thanks to the Lowrider kit, the stem was a bit long as was frame reach, so it wasn’t the most ergonomically comfortable for my 18-month old daughter. By the time she turned 2 and now at 28 months, the fit got much better, and the upside of the Lowride kit is we can now remove it, raise the bike and keep it for quite a while longer! Overall the Bixbi Route 12 balance bike is a solid option that has held up, is made from high quality materials, looks like a top-tier product and was a lot of fun for my daughter to ride. It may be best suited for taller kids or those with longer torsos

Age: 1.5+ years
Inseam: 13.4″ – 16.1″
Bike Weight: 9.75 lbs
Wheel: 12”

Norco’s Runner is the burliest and we would likely say the most capable balance bike if your child is strong, tall and is looking to ride it aggressively! It has a nice, tall handlebar position for a confident upright ride, wide tires, and a sturdy build. Norco is known for building durable high end mountain bikes, so it’s no surprise their balance bike lives up to the brand’s legacy. It is, however, the heaviest bike at 9.75 pounds, so moving it around, climbing up steep bits may be tiring for a younger, smaller child. My daughter loved the confidence on bumpy, off-road rides. This was one of her favorite bikes, definitely in the top 3.


MSRP: $239

Prevelo Alpha Zero Review

Age: 1½ + years
Inseam: 12½” – 16½”
Bike Weight: 7.4 lb
Wheel: 12”

Likely my daughter’s second most ridden bike, the Prevelo Alpha Zero is one of the best balance bike options out. They are a small family-owned business that focuses on building kid’s bikes; from balance bikes up to older kids who are looking to pedal themselves down the trail. Built from 6061 aluminum, the Prevelo balance bike is one of the lighter bikes, and had a pretty low saddle height, meaning my daughter could get on this bike earlier than some others. One downside to this bike at her early age was the placement of the V-brake calipers. As she walked, occasionally her ankles would hit the brakes when her speeds increased, and her legs swept back and in. As she got taller and more coordinated, around 26-30 months, this became less of an issue. We like the small reach brake lever, quality hardware and spec selections overall. 


MSRP: $139.99

Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike Review

Age: 1½ – 5 years
Inseam: 12” – 20”
Bike Weight: 6.7 lbs
Wheel: 12″

Strider is synonymous with balance bikes. Like the Kleenex of kids balance bikes, Strider has a full line of kids bikes at various levels. The Strider 12 Sport is the most affordable bike in the Buyer’s Guide and review, and it shows it in a few places. Now, there is nothing wrong with being affordable and we realize that many kids may never take this bike on loose soil, rocky terrain, or gravel. Similarly, some families may not be bike riders, or own bike tire pumps, so having a foam tire that does not require air pressure to stay hard could be a bonus. For us, the hard “plastic” feeling tires were not the best. They did not ride quite as smoothly on asphalt, did not grip as well on dirt and were not as nice to hear riding around on your wood floors, should you let your little tike ride inside!

Benefits to the Strider beyond being the most affordable balance bike include easily adjustability at both the seat height and handlebar height. The riding range of the Strider balance bike is the largest in the test, meaning you will potentially be able to keep this bike longer. Overall, this bike rides well, it will absolutely get your child up on two wheels, striding, coasting, and swerving down the road. If you like maintenance free foam rubber tires, adjustability and do not mind a slightly less-impressive aesthetic and finish, the Strider 12 Sport is a solid option.  

Age: 1.5 – 3.5 years
Rider Height: 31 – 40”
Bike Weight: 6.6 lbs
Wheel: 12”

Without a doubt the bike that has seen the most use, and gotten the most comments while out and about, the Woom 1 is one of the best balance bikes we have seen. First and foremost, it is the lightest bike at just 6.6lbs, meaning it was the first bike my daughter could fling around, turn tight corners with or pick up by the bars. Similarly, it has a very low minimum saddle height at 10.4 inches, which meant she was able to hop on this bike confidently before any of the others. This also could have contributed to her affection and comfort with this bike.  

The top tube length/reach of the bike was always comfortable for her, and it was visible to spectators how much faster and more confident she was on this bike. Perhaps the weight, riding position, or narrower Schwalbe G-One tires were to thank – most likely a combination of all three. These are premium tires and something we love about them is the reflective strip around the diameter of the sidewall. Now that the days are getting shorter, my post-work bike rides often end up in the dark. While I have flashlights, flashing head and taillights all over, knowing that a car’s headlight will reflect brightly off her tire sidewalls is just about piece of added safety that I love. One downside to the narrower tires, however, is the performance in soft gravel or sand. The tires have a tendency to cut into the soil rather than float like a higher volume (wider) tire does. The Prevelo and then Norco took awards there. If you do not find yourself regularly walking/riding in softer gravel or sandy conditions, then this won’t be an issue, but the added benefits of the more nimble, thinner tire will be appreciated elsewhere!  

The Woom 1 balance bike is highly recommended by both my daughter and I.   

Balance Bike Shootout


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