Balance bikes are becoming increasingly popular because they help kids learn how to balance on two wheels -- something that tricycles and bikes with training wheels can't do. Balance bikes do not have pedals and the seat is low to the ground so kids can use their feet to propel themselves forward and then lift their feet to coast. Among balance bikes, we found the best reviews for the Strider PREbike, a lightweight bike with a durable steel frame. Many balance bikes come with wooden frames, and experts say the Strider PREbike is more durable. It weighs only 7 pounds, so kids find it easy to push themselves along. Parents like that both the seat and handlebar are adjustable, which helps the PREbike fit kids between the ages of 1 and 5. Reviewers say the balance concept really does work, and their kids were able to transition to a two-wheeled bike with no problems. The biggest downside is the $100 price tag. Although most parents say the Strider PREbike is well worth the cost, it is significantly more expensive than most toddler bikes. If you prefer a traditional tricycle for your toddler, the Schwinn Roadster Trike (*Est. $70) gets the best reviews.
The Strider PREbike is evaluated in a number of professional reviews, including from Babble.com, Bicycling and Parenting magazines. User reviews at sites like Amazon.com and Target.com help fill in the gaps and provide details that the professional reviewers might miss.
Babble.com gives a Babble Best award to the Strider PREbike. Editors say it's a good fit even for small toddlers, and they like that the bike teaches balancing skills. "After a few years practicing on a Strider PREbike, we think your 4-year-old will have no problem transitioning right to pedals," they say.
Review: Best "Big Bike" Preparation: Strider PREbike Balance Running Bike, Michelle Horton, June 2011
2. Bicycling Magazine
The Strider PREbike earns a recommendation from Bicycling magazine in its 2010 buyer's guide. Editors like that the bike is practically maintenance free, and they say it is well suited to either pavement or packed-dirt trails.
Review: Strider Sports Prebike, Editors of Bicycling magazine, Apr. 2010
Parenting magazine also recommends the Strider PREbike. Editors like the lightweight frame and puncture-resistant tires, but there are few details shared in this brief review.
Review: Balance Bikes for Kids, Beth Weinhouse, June 2011
The Strider PREbike has a 4.5-star rating at Amazon.com after nearly 140 reviews. Parents praise the lightweight design and say their kids learn to balance on two wheels very quickly. However, some say the price is too high.
Review: Strider PREbike Balance Running Bike, Contributors to Amazon.com
The Strider PREbike also gets high marks at Target.com, where nearly 30 reviews combine to give it a 5-star rating. Many parents say their children never need to use training wheels, and the consensus is that the PREbike is sturdy and durable.
Review: Strider PREbike Toddler Balance Bike - Orange, Contributors to Target.com