1. Seat Height & Adjustability
Seat height range for balance bikes can vary greatly. It's crucial to choose the correct size based on your child's inseam measurement. Consider the ability to quickly adjust seat height without tools for convenience.
2. Bike Weight
A balance bike should weigh no more than 30% of your child's weight. Consider the practicality of a lighter bike for both maneuverability and ease of carrying.
3. Bike Frame Materials
Balance bike frames are designed from an assortment of distinctive materials: various metals and alloys, wood, and composite materials.
- Steel Frame: Sturdy but prone to rust.
- Aluminum Frame: Lightweight and popular.
- Wood Frame: Environmentally friendly but less adjustable.
- Composite Frame: Lightweight and indestructible, prone with a slight lateral flex at higher bike speeds.
4. Bike Tires
There are a number of different types of balance bike tires with various tread patterns.
- EVA Foam Tires: Lightweight and maintenance-free.
- Pneumatic Tires: Standard, comfortable, but prone to flats.
- Rubber Tires: Provide traction, suitable for indoor use.
- Plastic Tires: Low quality, indoor use only.
- Big Apple Tires: Superior comfort with air cushioning.
5. Word of Mouth
Take advantage of "word of mouth" by seeking opinions from parents who have children using balance bikes. Their firsthand experiences are invaluable.
Consider hand brakes for skill development and riding enjoyment, even for kids under five. Children tend to use their feet, but introducing hand brakes early can be beneficial.
7. Steering Limiter
Steering limiters prevent jack-knifing, but opinions on their necessity vary. They have pros and cons, with a minor overall effect on riding.
8. Hand Grips
Handgrips should be comfortable and protect their little hands during a fall or an accidental handlebar run-in (think tree, wall, etc). Choose a handgrip with a protective rubber and cushion end.
A balance bike footrest is a nice feature if it doesn't interfere with the rider's ability to use their feet correctly, but not necessary. Generally utilized by children who have mastered their balance bike and are looking to take their riding skills to the next level.
Reputable manufacturers offer warranties. Check the coverage, and some may require timely registration. If a safety issue or recall should occur, then you would be notified.