Best Balance Bikes for 4 Year Olds
Looking for a balance bike for a 4 year old girl or boy? Find lots of tips and advice on picking the right one as well as lots of recommendations. There are a few questions you may want to ask before buying a balance bike.
Pedal Bike Or a Balance Bike?
4 years old is a great age for a balance bike! If they've never ridden a balance bike before, they will love the freedom and fun a balance bike offers. After a short learning curve of learning to ride the bike, they will be whizzing around! A balance bike will allow them to master the balance needed for riding a pedal bike. Most kids graduate very quickly onto a pedal bike if they have mastered a balance bike first (generally before their 5th birthday).
If a 4 year old has ridden a balance bike before, they may be ready for a pedal bike but generally a balance bike is great to try first.
What Size Should the Balance Bike Be?
It is important to make sure that the balance bike is the right size for your child. Some balance bikes are aimed at younger children from aged 2 and 3 and these may be on the small side for a 4 year old with little growing room especially if he or she is tall. However, there are many balance bikes aimed at 4 year olds. The important thing is that their feet can reach the floor when pushing along. An adjustable seat and handlebar height will mean the bike can grow with your child.
✔️ Did you know? - many kids ovelap the use of a pedal bike and a balance bike, riding both for a period of time. This is because even if they have mastered a pedal bike, balance bikes are so much fun and young children can over go much faster on them.
Radio Flyer Glide and Go Balance Bike
The Radio Flyer is a balance bike which is well sized to accommodate most 4 year olds
It has a seat range from 37 to 48 cms so you can adust the seat to the correct height for your child. And it can be quickly and easily adjusted with the seat post release clamp - no tools required!
The bike has a long wheelbase which promotes stability
The EVA foam filled tyres are puncture free so no worries about getting a flat.
The bike is very lightweight at just over 3kg which will make it easy for most 4 year olds to control.
✔️ Did you know? - the seat height on a balance bike should measure at least 2.5cm (1 inch) less than a child's inseam so they can put their feet flat on the floor to push the bike along. Check how to measure a child's inseam here. The inseam (inside leg measurement) is the most important factor when deciding on which balance bike to buy. The age of the child is largely irrelevant!
4 year olds will vary dramatically in the length of the inside leg. The variations generally are between 38 to 48cm (and can even go outside these figures). If we do take the 38-48cm range, balance bikes will need to have a seat height of around 35.5 to 45.5cm to accommodate most 4 year olds. Taller 4 year olds will be fine with a balance bike with figures in the upper part of this range and smaller 4 year olds in the lower part. So the balance bike you choose will be unique to your 4 year olds inside leg measurement.
The Wee Ride balance bike is another good option. It has an adjustable seat height of 45 to 55cm. To know whether the seat height is right for your child, measure their inseam. Ideally the seat height you want should measure at least 1 inch less than their inseam so that they can get on and off easily and be able to push the bike along with their feet easily.
The wheels are 14 inches so perfect for a 4 year old.
The bike also features a quick release seat clamp. The tyres are air filled which will offer a smoother ride . There's a rear hand brake for safety too.
Banana Bike GT
There is a lot to like about the Banana Bike GT as a balance bike for a 4 year old. Firstly, it's affordable in comparison to some of the top of the range bikes. Secondly, it has airfilled tyres which give a comfortable ride to taller, heavier pre-schoolers and can be ridden on rougher terrain. Thirdly, the long seat post is a good option for taller riders. The saddle height can be adjusted from 32cm, extending up to 44cm which is a nice height range for many 4 year olds. It will accommodate them immediately and give growing room too.
Other desirable features are a long wheelbase (which gives greater stability). It's got adjustable handlebars and a quick release seat post. It comes in different colours, but the bright yellow is very eyecatching and definitely a favourite.
How do you make sure the balance bike has enough growing for your 4 year old?
We know to that kids will need to be able to have the seat adjusted low enough so they can push along with feet flat on the foor. They are most comfortable with their knees slightly bent. As already mentioned, the right seat height should be about 2.5cm less then their inseam so they can get on and off the bike easily.
However if the seat height doesn't adjust high enought and it's too small they will have to bend their legs too much which will make the bike uncomfortable to ride and they won't be able to lift their feet up and glide.
Therefore, to make sure there is enough growing room on the bike, it is also essential that the seat height can be adjusted upwards so as they grow they will be able to continue to use the bike. Ideally you want a balance bike which has a maximum seat height at least 5cm more than their current inseam so that there is some growing room with the bike.
Many balance bikes have adjustable handlebars and seats so they will grow with your child. You can also read reviews of the balance bike you wish to buy to give you an idea of the age range of kids that use the bikes.
Another thing to consider with 4 year olds is the wheel size. On most balance bikes you will see either 12, 14 or 16 inch wheels.A good guide to which size to get is to look at your child’s height. Measure their height with their shoes on. If they are 114cm or over it’s probably best to go with a 16 inch wheel size.
Smaller kids should be okay with a 12 inch wheel size, although at age 4 they may outgrow the 12 inch wheels quickly. The perfect size for most 4 year olds will be 14 inch wheels as they should be okay to ride it straight away but they won't outgrow the bike too quickly.
The size wheels you get will mainly depend on the child's height. Most 4 year olds will be under 114cm so will be okay with a 12 or 14 inch wheel size but if they are on the taller size you may want to consider getting 16 inch wheels.
Strider makes both a 12 inch and 16 inch balance bike both of which could be suitable for a 4 year old dependant on his or her size.The 12 inch bike is designed for kids up to 5 years. The seat height extends from 28cm (11 inches) to 42cm (16.5 inches) but this version of the bike comes with a seat post which extends the seat up to 49cm (19.5 inches).
There is also the option of buying a larger padded seat for your kids as they grow.
If you have younger children this could be a good buy to pass onto tem after your 4 year old has grown out of it as it can be used by children as young as 18 months to 2 years. The bike has EVA foam tyres which are low maintenance (no pumping up or worrying about punctures). It's very lightweight (only 2.9kg) so easy for kids of all ages to control too. I would say this version of the strider bike would be fine for most 4 year olds.
Strider 16 inch Balance Bike
The 16 inch model is designed for older and taller kids. The seat height adjusts from 49.5 cm (19.5 inches) to 65 cm (25.5 inches) so will grow with your child. It weighs in at 8kg, so is better for the taller, heavier child.
It has some great additional features that the Strider 12 bike doesn't have including pneumatic tyres which are great for cross terrain and giving a better, smoother ride with more traction. Great for uneven terrain, grass and dirt tracks. It also features brakes and a quick release seat clamp so you can easily adjust the seat.
A brake on this bike is a good option for older kids. Younger kids don't tend to use a brake much on their bike as it means a lots of co-ordination for them. They will slow down by using their feet or just generally slow down naturally. However, older kids who can grasp the concept of a hand brake may use it more and it also prevent shoes from cuffing if you can get them to use it.
It will also get them used to using a brake for when they are ready to transition onto pedals.
Early Ride 14 Inch Bike
38 cm to 47.5cm, (approx 15 to 19 inches).It has airfilled tyres which do offer a smooth ride with better traction than EVA foam tyres. I do think pneumatic tyres are a better option for older kids if you don't mind the extra maintenance.
It's a super lightweight option at just 3.75kg in weight. This makes is a fantastic option for smaller and lighter kids who will find it easy to control and move.
The drop handle bars make it a fun option for kids who want to have a racer feel on their balance bike.
This bike has an quality build so will last, a good option to pass down onto younger siblings.
Wooden Balance Bike
The great thing about wooden balance bikes is that they are more environmentally friendly than their metal and plastic counterparts. This Prince Lionheart bike is made of birch wood which is fast growing and therefore a highly renewable source.
The Prince Lionheart balance bike is a good choice for most 4 year olds. It has an adjustable seat height range of between 37.5cm and the highest is 43cm.
It features proper inflatable rubber tyres which offer a more comfortable ride and traction.
It weighs approximately 4.54kg, so it's not the lightest balance bike but most 4 year olds should be fine to manage and control a bike of this size and weight. Ideally you want a bike which is no more than 33% of their body weight.
Read more about the differences between wooden bikes and metal bikes.
Ridgeback Scoot XL Balance Bike (14 Inch)
The Ridgeback Scoot is a well designed and perfectly sized balance bike for 4 year olds.
The Ridgeback Scoot has lots of growing room . The age recommendation is 4 to 8 years and the seat height is adjustable between 40cm to 55cm (so it's has one of the highest maxium seat heights for kids this age).
The wheels are 14 inch and air filled tyres. As kids get older air filled tyres will ensure a much more comfortable ride as opposed to EVA foam tyres. Of course, air filled tyres do require more maintenance but as kids get heavier they will require the cushioning from pneumatic tyres on a bike. Otherwise they will feel the bumps and cracks from the bike ride a lot more. The tyres will also give them more traction when riding on wet surfaces as well.
The 14 inch wheels are a great size for most 4 year olds. Balance bikes for kids aged 3 and up will generally have 12 inch wheels so the bigger wheels are a perfect size for kids who are a bit too big for 12 inch wheels but too small for 16 inch ones.
The handbrake is very useful for getting older kids used to using a brake rather than their feet when stopping. It trains them to use a brake before transistioning onto a pedal bike, so it's one less thing for them to learn.
It weighs 5.6kg so is on the heavier size, it's not the best choice for smaller lighter kids. Ideally you want the bike to be no more than 1/3rd of a child's body weight so it'se easier for them to manage and control.
|Bike||Tyres||Wheel Size||Seat Height||Brake||Weight||Age Range|
|Ridgeback Scoot||Air||14 inch||40-55cm||Rear Hand Brake||3.6KG||4-8|
|Wee Ride||Air||14 inch||45-55cm||Rear Hand Brake||6.5kg||3-5|
|Bike Star||Air||12 inch||35cm-42cm||Rear Hand Brake||4.8kg||3 plus|
|Strider Sport||EVA||12 inch||29-49cm||None||2.9kg||3-5|
|Strider||Air||16 inch||49.5-65cm||Front and rear hand brakes||8kg||6-10|
|Early Rider||Air||14 inch||38-47.5cm||None||3.6kg||3-6|
|Prince Lionheart||Air||12 inch||37.5-43cm||None||4.54kg||3-5|
Weight of A Balance Bike
A lighter bike is generally easier for small children to control and use. A heavier and taller 4 year old will be able to manage a heavier bike better than a smaller, lighter child. So the ideal weight of the bike will depend on the weight of a child.
One rule to follow is look for a balance bike which is around 33% of the weight of your child or less. Sometimes, the more features the bike has (brakes, footrests etc), will add to the weight of the bike although higher end balance bikes may use more expensive and lighter materials. So, look at the weight of individual bikes when you are checking them out. Just avoid particularly heavy ones for your child.
The average weight of a 4 year old is 2 stone and 9.5 pounds (17kg), so for the average child you would want to look for bikes that weigh around 5.61kg or less. This is a guideline, many balance bikes for older kids are heavier than 5.61kg, so weigh up other features and price when considering which bike to buy. Many fit and strong 4 year olds can manage bikes which are heavier than 33% of the weight. But you will see a huge difference between 12, 14 and 16 inch balance bikes. For example, the 12 inch Strider weighs 3kg while (perfect for younger, lighter kids) whereas the 16 inch Striker is 8kg.
What About Brakes?
You will find the most young children use their feet to stop the balance bike. Very young children don't have the co-ordination to use a handbrake so this will be the ultimate way of stopping the bike.
However, the time children reach age 4, they will mostly have the hand and eye co-ordination to use a handbrake. A handbrake can be very good for older children as it can help save their shoes when riding the bike. However they will still be using their feet to make the bike go, so it's instinctive for them to use the feet to stop as well.
Some bikes for 4 year olds and older children will have brakes and others may not. It may add a little bit onto the price of the bike. If you have a chance to test the brake on a balance bike, it's a good test to use your little finger on the brake. If you can use the brake with your little finger, it will mean your child should have the strength in their hand to use the brake as well.
Ultimately it's a personal decision whether to get a balance bike with a brake. They aren't needed but they can be useful for added safety for stopping and to save scufffing shoes.
Most balance bikes have one of the following tyre types:
Pneumatic (air filled tyres) - these will give good traction and are good for riding on all surfaces. They will offer a smoother, more comfortable ride for kids. Some potential disadvantages are that it can add a bit more weight to the bike which makes them not such a good choice for young, small children. Obviously some maintenance may be required to prevent punctures.
EVA foam tyres - the great thing about these tyres is that they are puncture proof. They tend to be on lighter bikes and are a good option for younger, smaller children who will just be riding their balance bike along the pavement or on a flatter, smoother surface.
The disadvanges are that they aren't the best on other terrain such as grass. If used a lot, the foam can start to wear away.
Hard plastic - you will see some bikes with hard plastic wheels. These are lightweight but will be much less comfortable to ride. They will be best for indoor use.
Another Option To A Balance Bike
If you already have a pedal bike for your 4 year old another option is to lower the seat on the bike to the lowest possible setting and to take off the pedals (there are lots of videos on youtube showing you how to do this). They can then use the bike as a balance bike and when they have mastered balancing you can put the pedals back on. The only downside with this methods is that pedal bikes tend to be a lot heavier than balance bikes and it may be a little difficult for some 4 year olds to balance, manoeuvre and control this type of bike. But it may be worth giving it a go.
Is 4 Too Old For a Balance Bike?
The short answer to this is no. 4 is still a good age for a balance bike, and using a balance bike for even a short amount of time will shorten the time it takes them to learn to ride a pedal bike. What will vary is the amount of time the average 4 year old will use a balance bike for in comparison to a 2 or 3 year old. Whereas a 2 year old could potentially be using a balance bike for years, a 4 year old may only use if for a few months, a few weeks or even just a few days. On the other hand, there is no reason whey they couldn't use the bike for a couple of years if they enjoy it. The amount of time a 4 year old may use the bike for will normally affect the amount you want to spend on a balance bike. So, when thinking which balance bike to buy, consider how long you think they will be using the bike for. Or it may be possible to pass it onto a sibling or friend or even sell it when they have finished.