Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike Review

The Best Balance Bikes – Find the Best Bike for Your Child

by Pamela Halstead |

Balance bikes are a helpful and fun toy that can teach kids how to balance at an early age. They are an alternative to bikes with training wheels, and some are recommended for kids as young as 18 months old. Balance bikes have no pedals, rather the child using it will push themselves around with their feet, and eventually be able to push off and lift their feet off of the ground. There are certain things to consider when looking for a balance bike for your child, such as adjustability, how heavy it is, and, of course, cost.

TOP CHOICE: There are many great options out there, but my ultimate top pick is the Strider 12 Sport balance bike. It is suitable for kids from 18 months of age, all the way up to 5 years of age. It isn’t the lightest balance bike on the market, but at just 6.7 pounds, it should be light enough for even a toddler to control.

Image of the Strider - 12 Sport Balance Bike, Ages 18 Months to 5 Years, Blue

Not sure if the Strider 12 Sport is right for you? Read on to see my other top picks!

The 5 Best Balance Bikes

Strider 12 Sport

Best Balance Bike Overall

Image of the Strider - 12 Sport Balance Bike, Ages 18 Months to 5 Years, Blue

  • Material: Steel
  • Bike weight: 6.7 pounds
  • Age range: 18 months to 5 years old (child height of 30 to 44 inches)
  • Footrests: Yes
  • Tires: Industrial foam – will not flatten, 12 inches in diameter
  • Padding: Yes, padded seat and padded handlebars
  • Hand brake: No
  • Notes: Easy to adjust the seat and handlebars – no tools needed. The seat adjusts from 11 to 16 inches off of the ground, and the handlebars adjust from 18 to 22 inches off of the ground.

The Strider 12 Sport balance bike is my overall top pick because it is suitable for a wide range of ages, is relatively lightweight, and is one of the only bikes to include a handlebar pad for added protection. The Strider 12 Sport is also reasonably priced for all that it offers. While it is in the middle of the price range of balance bikes, it offers more features than some of the higher priced bikes, giving you the most bang for your buck.

You can also get a cheaper version of this bike – the Strider 12 Classic – which will last only until about 3 years of age. This is a great option if you’re not sure how much use you’ll get out of it. You can later purchase the XL seatpost to extend the age range of the bike from 3 years to 5 years. However, the Classic doesn’t have all of the features as the Sport, such as the easy to adjust seat and the handlebar pad.

Watch the Strider 12

Cruzee UltraLite Balance Bike

Best Balance Bike for Toddlers

Image of the Cruzee UltraLite Balance Bike (4.4 lbs) for Ages 1.5 to 5 Years | Blue – Best Sport Push Bicycle for 2, 3 & 4 Year Old Boys & Girls– Toddlers & Kids Skip Tricycles on the Lightest First Bike 1

  • Material:  Anodized aluminum (won’t rust)
  • Bike weight:  4.4 pounds
  • Age range:  18 months – 5 years
  • Footrests:  Yes
  • Tires: Foam, 12 inches in diameter
  • Padding: Padded seat
  • Hand brake: No
  • Notes: On the higher end of price range for a balance bike. The seat height adjusts from 11.5 inches to 20 inches off of the ground, and the handlebar adjusts from 19 inches to 24 inches off of the ground.

The Cruzee UltraLite Balance Bike is my top pick for toddlers. At just 4.4 pounds, it is easy for a toddler to maneuver and shouldn’t hurt them should they fall while riding it. It also has the widest range of adjustments of any balance bikes I have seen. So whether you’re getting it for an 18 month old or a 4 or 5 year old, it will adjust accordingly.

The Cruzee UltraLite would be my overall top pick if it weren’t so pricey. I think many parents may find this to be above their budget, and understandably so. It is one of the most expensive balance bikes on the market. You hate to spend so much money on something your little one may not even enjoy! I find anything much over $100 pretty pricey not knowing how much use you’ll get out of it.

Cruzee Bike Adventures Video

Cruzee vs Strider Balance Bike

You’ve read about the top 2 picks. So how do they stack up against each other?

The Strider is steel, which can rust if left outside, unlike the aluminum of the Cruzee. The Cruzee is 2 pounds lighter, which is a big difference for little ones! Both have footrests and foam tires, but the foam used on the Strider balance bike is much nicer and won’t flatten. The Strider bike also has the bonus of the padded handlebars, but the Cruzee’s seat has more movement range.

So which is the winner? It’s the Strider. Why? It has amazing features that are directly comparable to the Cruzee’s, but the price tag is so much smaller! The Strider offers the best bang for your buck.

Joovy Bicycoo

Best Balance Bike with Air-Filled Tires

Image of the Joovy Bicycoo Balance Bike, Red

  • Material:  Aluminum (won’t rust)
  • Bike weight:  8.75 pounds
  • Age range:  18 months, up to 55 pounds
  • Footrests:  No
  • Tires:  Pneumatic (air-filled); wide (2.5 inches), 12 inches in diameter
  • Padding: Very thin pad on seat, no handlebar padding
  • Hand brake: Yes
  • Notes: Seat adjusts from 14 inches to 15.25 inches off of the ground, but the handlebar does not adjust.

The Joovy Bicycoo features air-filled tires, giving this bike good traction and cushion. The tires are also wide (2.5 inches), which makes it easier to balance. Some drawbacks include: weight, because at almost 9 pounds, it will be difficult for younger kids to maneuver; and adjustability. Although it suits kids up to 55 pounds, the seat only adjusts 1.25 inches, which really isn’t a wide range.

Chicco Red Bullet Balance Training Bike

Best Balance Bike for Older Kids

Image of the Chicco 1716000070 Red Bullet Balance Training Bike

  • Material: Metal
  • Bike weight: 6 pounds
  • Age range: 3 years and older, with a maximum weight limit of 55 pounds
  • Footrests: No
  • Tires: Foam, 12 inches in diameter
  • Padding: Padded seat
  • Hand brake: No
  • Notes: Not for small toddlers, but a good option for shorter term use – recommended for ages 3 and up. Seat adjusts from 13 inches to 15 inches off of the ground.

The Chicco Red Bullet balance bike is a great option if you aren’t looking to spend too much. It is inexpensive, but will still do what it needs to as far as teaching balance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t adjust a whole lot, so it is only good for kids 3 and older. If you are looking for a bike for a smaller child, this won’t be the best for you, because the seat will be too high.

Chicco Balance Bike vs Strider Balance Bike

The Strider is the undeafeated champion thus far. So how does this well-known Chicco bike compare?

They weigh nearly the same, with the Strider being a wee bit heavier. Both have solid metal construction. They both have a padded seat and foam 12 inch tires. So here’s where the Strider strides far ahead: it has footrests, it has padded handlebars, and it has way more adjustability options. You can use the Strider beginning at 18 months, but you have to wait until age 3 to use the Chicco.

Thus, the Strider wins over the Chicco Red Bullet and remains the undefeated best balance bike.

Critical Cycles Cub No-Pedal Balance Bike for Kids

Best Cheaper Balance Bike

  • Material: Steel
  • Bike weight: 9 lbs
  • Age range: 18 months to 5 years
  • Footrests: Yes
  • Tires: Foam, 12 inches in diameter
  • Padding: Padded seat
  • Hand brake: No
  • Notes: Seat adjusts from 12.5 inches to 17.5 inches off of the ground. At 9 pounds, it may be a little too heavy for a toddler, although it is recommended for ages 18 months and up.

The Critical Cycles Cub No-Pedal balance bike is another great lower cost option. It has a wide range of adjustability, however, at 9 pounds, it may be too heavy for younger kids to control. Unlike the Chicco Red Bullet, this bike does have a footrest.

Important features for a balance bike

There are many features to consider when you’re looking for a balance bike. Depending on what age your child is, and how you plan to use the balance bike, you may have different priorities.

Material

Most balance bikes are made of metal, but also come in wood and plastic. If you are planning on keeping the bike outside where it may be exposed to rain, you should opt for a rust-free metal or plastic frame.

The material is a lot of what determines how heavy the bike is. Wood frames and steel frames tend to be heavier than plastic and aluminum frames. The best material out there, in my opinion, is anodized aluminum. It can stand up against weather, and it is very lightweight.

Lightweight

Depending on what age range you are looking to buy a balance bike for, you should pay close attention to the weight of the bike. A toddler will not be able to steer a real heavy bike, so weight should be at the top of your priority list if you are shopping for a smaller child. Obviously, you don’t want a bike that is too heavy for an older child either, but they typically aren’t made that heavy.

For a toddler, you should look for a bike that is under 7 pounds or so, in order to guarantee that they will be able to control it on their own. And rest assured that the balance bike is actually better than training wheels for teaching your child to ride a bike!

Footrests

Once children get better at balancing on their balance bike, they will be able to lift their feet off of the ground and coast for a short distance. Not all balance bikes come with a designated place for children to rest their feet. This limits the bike somewhat, in that they won’t be able to properly get their feet off of the ground to practice balancing. I think this is one of the more important features to look for.

Tires

Image of the Strider - 12 Sport Balance Bike, Ages 18 Months to 5 Years, Blue

There are several different types of materials that the tires on balance bikes will be made of. The most common you will see are: pneumatic (AKA air-filled), industrial foam, and rubber. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks.

  • Air-filled: Offer more cushion, but are heavier, and can go flat. Air-filled tires will typically last longer than foam or rubber tires, depending on how much you use the bike. Foam and rubber tires will wear more quickly. Note: You may also see wide air-filled tires. These wider tires help make balancing even easier. However, these are generally the most expensive out of all of the different tires available.
  • Foam: Won’t go flat, but don’t have as much traction or cushion as air-filled tires. This shouldn’t be a problem on streets and sidewalks, but if you venture onto grass, you will lose traction.
  • Rubber: Also won’t go flat, and offer a little more traction and cushioning than foam tires. Although better than foam tires, rubber tires still have much less traction and cushioning than air-filled.

Tire Size

You will also find that different balance bikes have different sized tires. Tires typically range from 10 inches to 16 inches in diameter. If you’re buying a balance bike for a toddler, look for tires on the lower range (10 or 12 inches). If you are looking for a bike for a four or five year old, they will do better with larger tires (14 or 16 inches). Obviously, this is based on average heights. If you have a taller toddler, they may fare well with larger tires.

Adjustability

Most balance bikes have some adjustability – usually both in the handlebars and the seat. This way as your child grows, you can adjust the bike accordingly to better fit their height. Some bikes only adjust a couple of inches, while some have wider ranges, allowing for longer use.

It is most important to focus on seat height, and make sure your child doesn’t have to extend their legs in order to touch the ground. Their knees should be at a nice bend in order to properly use the bike.

Hand brake

Although a hand brake may be too difficult for young kids to operate, it is neat to include because it teaches them the concept for their next bike. Not all balance bikes have a hand brake, and I don’t think it’s a deal breaker if a bike doesn’t include one.

Price

Price can be a big factor in any purchase you make. Balance bikes have a wide range of prices, starting at about $40 and going all the way up to $200. The more you spend, the higher quality bike you will get, up to a certain point. The cheaper bikes don’t suit as wide of age ranges, and may not be made from the best materials.

If you’re looking for a balance bike for an older child who may only get 1 or 2 years of use out of it, I think the lower end models may be perfect. But if you are looking for a balance bike for a toddler, it is worth it to spend a little more for a lightweight bike that is suitable for their height, and can last you several years.

Keep in mind that you should also factor into your cost a child helmet and elbow and knee pads. It’s always important to keep that little noggin protected! Depending on what brand you get, you should expect to pay at least between 20 and 40 dollars for a helmet and pads. Just be sure to factor this cost into your budget when looking for a balance bike.

Cheaper balance bikes can make fabulous gifts. That’s why they land on our lists of the Best Gifts for 3 Year Old Boys and the Best Gifts for 4 Year Old Boys.

Padding

Image of the Strider - 12 Sport Balance Bike, Ages 18 Months to 5 Years, Blue

Surprisingly few balance bikes come with much padding. A padded seat will make your child’s ride more comfortable. Maybe more importantly, I like that some models have a padded handlebar to help protect your child if they are to hit it.

Assembly

My Recommendation

With such a wide selection of balance bikes out there, you could go back and forth on which to choose for days. My overall top pick is the Strider 12 Sport because it gives you the most bang for your buck, offering features that are usually seen on higher end models, but coming in at a more modest price. If cost weren’t a factor, I would go with the Cruzee UltraLite because it is so lightweight and adjustable – it is suitable for a wide range of ages, and is durable enough to endure years of use.

Pamela Halstead
I am a stay at home mother to one son. With a background in safety and health, I am very safety-conscious, especially when it comes to products for my child!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *