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As a parent, seeing your child take those first steps towards independent mobility is a special experience. Introducing children to cycling aids their physical and cognitive development, making it even more significant with a riding bike.

When it comes to choosing the first bike for your child, there are usually two options – balance bikes and tricycles.  

In this blog, we'll explore the differences between the two, helping you choose the right bike for your child aged 1-4.

A child on a Strider balance bike in the outdoors

The Benefits of Balance Bikes 

Balance bikes have gained immense popularity over the last several years due to their many benefits. Below are some of the reasons why they are worth considering: 

Developing Balance and Coordination 

Essentially, balance bikes help children who are learning to balance and steer a bike from as early as 1 year old. 

By using their feet to push off the ground while maintaining balance, children will develop a strong sense of coordination. 

This will become important to them when they move on to pedal bikes later on. 

Building Confidence 

The transition from feet pushing to gliding builds riding confidence. Riding a balance bike boosts self-esteem, igniting a desire for more independence and control.

A Smooth Transition to Pedal Bikes 

Once your child has mastered riding on a balance bike they will find it easier to transition to a pedal bike. 

They will have already developed the fundamental skills of balancing and steering which will make the transition quicker and smoother. This will save time and eliminates the need for stabilisers and training wheels. 

child sitting on a tricycle in the outdoors

The Advantages of Tricycles 

Tricycles have been a popular choice for parents when teaching their young children to ride a bike, until recently.

Below are some of the reasons why tricycles might be just right for your child: 

Stability & Safety 

First and foremost, tricycles offer excellent stability simply due to their three-wheel design. The two rear wheels provide a stable platform which allows children to focus on pedalling and steering without worrying about balancing.  

This stability instils confidence in young riders, making them feel much safer and more secure. 

An Early Introduction to Pedals 

Tricycles are a good option for kids who wish to experience the joys of pedalling at an early age. They allow little kids to understand how to pedal whilst developing leg strength and coordination all at the same time. 

This ensures they have a solid foundation for when they are ready to start riding a pedal bike

refer a friend offer

Fun & Playfulness 

Tricycles, like balance bikes, offer various colours, designs, and exciting features such as baskets or bells.

This adds fun to your child's riding experience, fostering engagement, imaginative exploration, and enjoyment.

Age Range and Developmental Considerations 

Taking into consideration your child’s age and developmental stage is important when choosing between balance bikes and tricycles. Here’s what we think you need to be aware of: 

Balance Bikes 

Kid's balance bikes are suitable for children aged 18 months to 2 years, considering their coordination and physical development.

They cater to children in the early stages of walking and balance development, allowing them to progress at their own pace. 


Typically, children who are older, ranging from 2 to 4 years old, will start off on a tricycle. They offer stability for young riders to learn pedalling and steering, ideal for confident walkers seeking an advanced riding experience.

A child sitting on a Strider balance bike at a BMX track

Making the Right Choice 

Choosing the right toddler bike depends on various factors that suit their individual needs and preferences.

Here are what we think are some of the factors to consider when making your decision: 

Physical Development 

Take note of your child’s physical development and fine motor skills. If you think they are a confident walker and have good balance, then a balance bike might be the ideal choice. However, if they need more stability, a tricycle would be the better option. 

Personality and Confidence 

In addition to taking note of their personal attributes, be sure to consider their personality and confidence levels.

An adventurous child would likely prefer a balance bike, while a cautious and timid child may lean towards a tricycle. As you’re their parent, you will know best! 

Where Will They Typically Be Riding? 

One question to ask yourself is where will your child primarily be riding their bike? For nearby parks or spacious yards, a balance bike is ideal for exploring diverse terrains.

Or perhaps your child prefers the safety of indoors or flat surfaces? If so, then a tricycle is the way to go. 

Longevity and Transition 

Regardless of which one you choose for your child, you’ll need to consider the long-term usability of the bike.

Tricycles have a shorter lifespan, while balance bikes transition naturally to pedal bikes and last longer.

A toddler on a tricycle in a home being helped by her dad

Parental Involvement 

Ask yourself this question – how involved do you want to be in your child’s riding experience? Balance bikes require more involvement as your child may need a little more help in pushing off or maintaining their balance. Simply due to their stability, tricycles allow children to ride by themselves sooner, reducing the need for constant parental guidance. 

Both balance bikes and tricycles have unique advantages for parents and children, catering to different stages of their development.

Tricycles introduce pedalling and stability, but balance bikes excel in teaching balance and coordination, ensuring a smooth transition to pedal bikes.

The decision is ultimately yours as a parent, but as experts in kids' bikes, we highly recommend balance bikes. They kickstart your child's biking journey, from mastering balance to exploring BMX and mountain bikes.

Remember, regardless of your choice, prioritize safety, learning, and fun as your child embarks on their bike-riding journey.

Questions We Usually Get Asked About Balance Bikes and Tricycles

Is it better to start with a balance bike or training wheels?

Balance bikes are often considered a better option for young children learning to ride a bike compared to training wheels. These bikes teach children essential balance and coordination skills from the start, allowing them to gradually develop confidence and control.

Is a balance bike or a pedal bike better?

Both balance bikes and pedal bikes have their own advantages depending on the child's age and skill level. Balance bikes are great for younger children as they focus on developing balance and coordination without the distraction of pedalling.

On the other hand, pedal bikes are suitable for older children who have already mastered balance. They provide the opportunity to learn to pedal and enhance overall biking skills.

Two children in the outdoors with one child on a balance bike

What's the best bike for a 2 year old?

The best bicycle for a 2 year old is either a balance bike or a pedal bike. As mentioned, this will all depend on where they

Why a balance bike over a tricycle?

A balance bike offers several advantages over a tricycle. Firstly, balance bikes promote better balance and coordination development in children.

By using their feet to push and glide, children learn to balance naturally, preparing them for future biking skills. In contrast, tricycles provide stability but don't teach the essential balance aspect of riding.

Tricycles offer stability for young kids & toddlers, but balance bikes foster holistic development.