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How to choose the right balance bike for your child

Do you remember your first bike and learning how to ride? The highlight was certainly when the support wheels were removed, and you were looking for your balance (it may take more or less time to master, depending on the child).

Today, children can work on their balance from an early age thanks to balance bikes.

We will see:

What is a balance bike?

Draisienne and tricycle

A balance bike is very similar to a standard bike, the only difference is that it doesn't have pedals. The child's feet are in constant contact with the ground which allows them to be stable. Toddlers develop their balance through the intuitive process of walking while sitting on the saddle. Once comfortable, the child can pick up speed by trotting or even running with the bike. He will even be able to let himself be carried by the speed by lifting his feet.

Draisiennes are types of bikes that are often lighter than traditional bikes. They help build a child's confidence, coordination and independence.

Balance bikes are not a recent creation. Indeed, it is from the beginning of the twentieth century that we find paintings depicting men riding "velocipedes" or "hobby horse", the name given to what is similar to the first bicycles, invented by Karl Von Drais.

The draisienne had some success from its creation in 1827, then fell into oblivion when the first pedal velocipedes came out.


There is a wide range of balance bikes on the market in terms of price, quality, sizes, it is not always easy to find your way around.

It is important to choose a quality bike that will be better suited to the child and allow him to use it longer. Higher-end models have more features, better designed and better handling, especially with tires.

At what age should you offer a draisienne?

In most cases, a toddler will use a balance bike as early as 18 months, then switch to a pedal bike around age 4 or 5. There are no age restrictions at the top, however, and you can even find balance bikes for adults.

It's important to remember that balance bikes should be the right size for the little rider: the fit of the bike is just as important for children as it is for adults. Of course, children grow quickly between the ages of two and five, so choosing an adjustable bike is ideal.

What to look for when choosing a balance bike:

  • The height of the seat should be adjustable so that it can last over time and keep up with the child's growth.
  • Make sure you have enough space between the seat and the handlebars so that your child's legs are not blocked.
  • Your child's feet should be able to easily reach the ground and move away from it (especially important for the running phase as well as for stopping).
  • The seat should be low and close to the rear tire to facilitate balance. A high, poorly designed seat can shift your child's center of gravity.
  • The handlebars should have rubber grips.
  • Have real 12-inch tires, not plastic wheels.
  • It is advisable that the bike be no more than 30% of your child's weight. Keep in mind that the heavier the bike, the more difficult it will be for the child to maneuver. In addition you will probably have to carry the bike when the child is tired :)

Our advice

Choose a light draisienne

You will find a wide choice of wooden, metal or plastic draisiennes on the market. It is important that the draisienne is as light as possible in order to be as manageable as possible. As a general rule the lighter the balance bike the better.

Choose a draisienne that is the size of the child

While you can ride a bike that is too big for you, riding and balancing on a draisienne that is too tall and very difficult for a toddler and may get discouraged, or even not want to ride. 

In order to be at his full potential, the child must be well installed on his saddle and not on the frame as we often see. The child's legs should be half-bent and the child's feet should be on the ground to stabilize the bike. 

While it is not impossible to ride a bike that is slightly too big for you, it is impossible to ride a draisienne that is not in your size: the child must be well seated on the saddle and the legs half-bent. The objective is that the child's feet are on the ground in order to stabilize the bike. Therefore, it will be imperative to take into account the child's height and inseam.

The most common size balance bikes are equipped with 12″ wheels, and require an inside measurement of about 32 cm. However, since all balance bikes are different, be sure to measure your child's inside leg length.

Choose a scalable draisienne

Wishbone Bike

Many times wooden draisiennes allow a good evolutivity and allows to follow the child from 1 year to 5 or 6 years old.

At the youngest age it comes in the form of a tricycle from which a wheel can be removed when the child grows. Raise the saddle several inches and then, like the draisiennes from wishbone design studio, you can flip the frame to upgrade to the highest draisienne on the market.

For your child's safety, don't forget to equip him with a helmet.

📷 Photo credits: © Wishbone design studio

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