Balance Bikes Vs Trike - Which Is The Best?

Undecided between a balance bike or a trike? Balance bikes are speedy and fun. Trikes can be perfect for the backyard and for learnign to pedal. So it can be a hard decision.

The best thing for you and your child will depend on what you want for your child as well as their age and abilities. There are lots of different types of trike and balance bike so it is important to make sure you get the specific trike or bike that is most suited to your child and your budget. Balance bikes and trikes both have pros and cons.

Balance Bikes - What You Need to Know

  • Balance bikes do what they say on the tin and are great at teaching kids how to balance. Kids who have learned to use a balance bike, tend to learn to ride a pedal bike in a shorter period of time than those who haven’t used a balance bike.
  • There is a learning period to using a balance bike but generally most kids can start using them straight away (as soon as they are confident walkers - about 18 months.) They will start of by just by standing and then walking around with their balance bike between their legs. As they grow and become more confident they will walk, run and then lift their feet up and glide with the bike. For a young child the balance bike needs to be lightweight so they can easily manage and control it. It also needs to be small enough so they can put their feet flat on the floor when sitting on the bike. There are many great balance bikes for kids aged 2 or 3.
  • The learning period to riding a balance bike is generally short, it won't be long before they are whizzing around on their bike. And this is where the advantage of balance bikes lies. Kids can become very speedy on them and get to a to b with very little effort. They can be very advantageous if you need to walk anywhere with a little child as they cover some distance without getting tired.  Trikes tend to be heavier and more cumbersome so they are slower. Kids use more energy to pedal so they get tired more quickly and therefore don't travel as far.
  • Kids aged 2 or 3 who start using a balance bike, generally learn to ride a pedal bike much more quickly - quite often between their 4th or 5th birthday. If you buy a balance bike for a 2 or 3 year olds, you are looking for two to three years of use before they graduate onto a pedal bike.

Popular Balance Bikes

Strider Sport

Banana Bike

Cruzee

Mid RangeBudgetTop of the Range
18 months to 5 Years2 to 4 Years18 months to 5 Years

Trikes - What You Need To Know

  • Trikes can teach your child many skills. Perhaps the most important of these is they encourage your child to learn how to pedal. Trikes are stable and secure. They have two wheels at the back and one at the front so that kids can learn to pedal without worrying about balance.
  • As kids have to pedal, it takes more effort so they don't tend to go as far as quickly. Their legs will tire much more quickly pedalling on a trike in comparison to gliding on a balance bike. This means they are a better option for using in garden / backyard rather than getting from a to b. Or if there is space they are often popular choice to have indoors. Many toddler, playgroups and nurseries will have trikes which kids can use in an indoor and / or outoor space.
  • They are a good fun option. Many trikes have buckets at the back, where kids like to put their toys. Young childre love carting their toys from one place to another.
  • Both a trike and a bike help teach co-ordination, develop gross motor skills and build confidence. They are great tools for building physical health and strength too.

Popular Trikes

Little Tikes 4 in 1

Fisher Price Trike

Radio Flyer Trike
Mid RangeBudgetMid Range
1 Year to 3 Years Plus18 Months to 3 Years2 to 3 Years

Tips for Buying a Trike

1.) The age of your child and the type of trike

There are lots of trikes around nowadays. If you’re buying for a 2 year old you or younger child you can buy trikes with parent handles that you can use to push your child around in before they are able to pedal.

Many of these types of trikes are adjustable. So you can start of with a trike with a parent handle which can be removed so the child can pedal a trike independently when they are ready.

If you’re buying a trike for an older child (aged 3), you will probably want an independent trike without a parent handle. This will be great for teaching the child how to pedal. However, if they are like my son and find it hard to pedal or they are later learning how to pedal it might be something they are reluctant to use very much.

2.) Size of the Trike

It's important the the size of the trike is right for the child in question. So if you are buying an independent trike without a parent handlebar, make sure they can reach their feet with the pedals when sitting down.

3.) Trike Wheels

Many trikes have plastic or rubber wheels which are puncture free. Plastic wheels are lightweight and perfect for indoor use or on flat ground outdoors. However, if you want to push/ ride the trike over rough terrain, consider getting a trike with air filled tyres to add cushioning to the ride.

Where Do You Want To Use It?

Indoors or in the garden

If you want a ride on for kids to use in the garden or indoors or just outside the house a trike might be the best option. Kids don’t tend to go very far on their trikes once they start pedalling on their own. They are also cumbersome to put in the car and take to the park.

For trips to the park and the school run.

If you want something that will make your little one more independent. Or something that will get him or her from a to b quickly and easily (perhaps on the school run, to or from the local shop or to the park) consider a balance bike. They will eventually learn to travel quickly and it will give them a bit of independence. Balance bike also tend to be easier to put in the car and take to the park or other open space.

Also, bear in mind you may probably have to do a little bit of chasing your child on a balance bike as they do pick up speed sometimes wherea you probably won't have to do that with a trike.

Decisions, decisions!

Which is best for your child, a trike or a balance bike?

There's so many considerations, everybody's decision will be different.

Very Young Children

If you are buying for a young child (age 2 and under)  as you can use a parent handle on a trike at first and there are lots of opportunities for them to learn how to pedal. There would be a lots of growing room in the trike and it would help them to learn how to pedal. It's a great toy to have in the garden at home or just to use for short trips out.

2nd Birthday Gift? 

Having said this, my son had a balance bike for his second birthday. It took him a couple of months to use it properly but it wasn’the long until he was whizzing around on it. It was a great help from getting from a to be quickly when taking my son to school and he used to love whizzing around on the park on it.

Age 3 and Above

If you are buying for an older child age 3, I would also recommend a balance bike. They should be able to master it pretty quickly and most balance bike are aimed for kids aged 3 plus. If I wanted something just to use in the back garden or outside the home or I was desperate to teach them how to pedal, I would go with a trike.

Other Options of  Balance Bike / Trike

There are some alternatives to a balance bike and a trike:

A 3 Wheel Push Along Which Converts To A Balance Bike

There are a number of 3 wheels trikes that convert to a two wheel balance bike. They are pedaless but kids can use their feet to pedal a three wheel ride on (two wheels at the back and one a the front). Check out the Kinderfeets Tiny Tot bike as one example:

 

3 Wheel Ride Ons

There are various 3 wheel ride ons that don't have pedals. The 3 wheels gives them extra stability but they can start learning how to use their feet to push them along. One popular example is the Skuttlebug:

A Trike and Balance Bike in 1

The XJD balance bike and trike in 1 is a geat idea. Toddlers can scoot around using their feet and the two wheels. When they are ready they can use the pedals to get around too. The pedals can be removed and it can be used just as a 3 wheel ride on. It's foldable so can easily fit in a car or storage space.