Summer time is around the corner…and that means bike riding galore! And since I’m neurotic and research things more than any human being should before I make a decision, I figured I’d share with you my research on toddler bikes and how we decided on our Yedoo TooToo balance bike. (And no, it wasn’t just cause the name is equally hysterical and adorable.)
So first things first, why a balance bike?!
After a ton of research, we decided to get a balance bike for A for a couple of reasons.
- It’s WAY easier for toddlers (2 years old especially) to coordinate riding a balance bike as opposed to pedaling a tricycle. I found that any time A would try to ride a tricycle his legs were never quite long enough to make a full rotation on the pedals, and once he could, he would get tired very quickly and then we would be stuck two blocks away from home with him too tired to pedal, yet too stubborn to let me help push him along. This usually happened without fail at like 4:30 pm when he was equal parts tired and hangry.
- They move way faster on a balance bike once they get the hang of it. Ok, so to some this may not be a benefit…but my skin starts to crawl when I’m outside, it’s late afternoon (our prime bike riding time of day), and we are moving slower than molasses. On the balance bike, A gets flying to the point where I have to break into a light jog, which is great. It also has allowed me to teach “stop/go” because while running/walking A won’t listen when I say stop, for some reason on the bike if he hears “red light” he thinks it’s super fun to stop and wait for me. Not sure the reasoning on that one, but I’ll take it. It also comes in handy when I want to go grab coffee in the morning but I don’t want to push the stroller cause I want my hands free. He can coast along on his bike and I can happily drink my coffee without spilling all over myself and muffling curse words as I scorch my wrists trying to juggle the stroller and hot coffee on a bumpy sidewalk. (Full disclosure: hold off until your little one has the stamina to go the distance or this will backfire and you will ultimately end up walking home with coffee in hand, a bike on your shoulder and a toddler on your hip. Yes, it is as miserable as it sounds. And yes, you will ultimately give up and leave your coffee in the first dumpster you walk by.)
- It’s way easier for them to learn to ride a “real” bike, and often times they don’t ever need training wheels. Because they are learning the “hard part” balancing on a two-wheel bike, once they are old enough, all they really need to do is add the pedaling and they are golden. Also added bonus some bikes like the Yedoo Too Too have a hand brake, so they can also learn how to use that on the balance bike as well.
- It builds core strength and balance which helps in life and sports later on. No matter what your little one goes on to be interested in, having a strong core and great balance is something that will benefit them throughout their lives. You can’t go wrong here.
- They are WAY more likely to be able to keep up on a family bike ride. Seriously, A has had his balance bike for 6 months and he already flies on it. You can only go so fast on a tricycle. Seriously, I’ve tried…you can pedal your heart out, but you are NOT going to keep up with a real bike. It’s a frustrating reality. However, on a balance bike, your kiddos stand a chance at being able to follow along on a family bike ride around the park, the neighborhood or just up and down the street with the other neighborhood kids.
Ok, so now that I’ve convinced you how great a balance bike is…how did we choose ours??
Simple. I found this AMAZING website that is 100% devoted to kids bikes and picking the right bike for your little one – www.twowheelingtots.com. Literally, they eat, sleep and breathe bikes for kiddos. What I found interesting was how important getting the right brand of bike for your kiddo was, and how it’s not one size fits all. Each brand has a different ideal height and weight for their bikes, and picking the wrong one can be the difference between your little one LOVING their bike and being insanely frustrated by it.
Here are the general guidelines for picking the right bike.
- Get the right seat height for your kid’s inseam (the measurement from floor to crotch on the inside seam of the leg WITHOUT shoes on). Bikes actually range from as low as a 10-inch minimum seat height to a 26.5-inch minimum seat height which is a HUGE difference! Why is this important? Well, a bike that runs too low will be outgrown REAL fast leaving your kid with their knees in their chest and ultimately a very uncomfortable and frustrating ride. A bike that runs too high will make it impossible for your kiddo to reach the ground and find their footing, learn how to balance, and feel confident riding safely. In general the minimum seat height should be 1-1.5 inches below your child’s inseam so that it fits when you get it, but will last the longest possible for your child. (Just as you don’t want to buy a bike your little one can’t actually ride yet, you don’t want a bike that fits your kid at the maximum seat height cause they will grow out of it super fast.)
- Your kid’s weight. Some bikes are heavier than others. If you have a featherweight and you put them on a very heavy bike, they will have a hard time managing it. Having a lighter bike makes it easier for them to ride, carry, balance on, and maneuver. According to Two Wheeling Tots, you don’t want the bike to be more than 30% of their body weight. Also, a lighter bike means that it’s less for you to lug when your toddler gets tired or just well, decides they don’t actually want to ride their bike anymore.
- Bike tires. Tire size can range from 10 inches to 20 inches. For most, 12 inch tires is the best place to start (if you are getting the bike for a toddler 2-5). Tires also come in air, rubber, foam and hard plastic. Air will run the risk of flat tires, but ultimately offer the best traction and cushioning, whereas EVA foam (usually found on lower-end bikes) will never go flat, but offer very little traction and no cushion. Hard plastic is not a wise choice since it’s really only appropriate for indoor use.
Why we chose our bike.
I strongly suggest you look at the incredibly detailed comparison chart on Two Wheeling Tots to determine the best fit in bike for your child’s height/inseam, weight and age.
After looking at the chart, we found that the best choices for us was the Yedoo Too Too. The minimum seat height was perfectly 1.5 inches below A’s inseam, it was one of the lightest bikes at 8.25 pounds and since he is a tall, but skinny little bruiser, we wanted one he could manage well from day one. Also, it goes up to 18 inches on the seat, so we know we will have a good long use (at least 2-3 years) out of it before he outgrows it. There is also a hand brake and sealed bearings (no scratched legs). At $159. it’s not the most expensive balance bike, but it’s definitely not the cheapest….BUT it comes with a LIFETIME warranty, whereas many of the others only come with a 2 year warranty. But most importantly, A LOVES it! And because we did the research and made sure to get the best bike for his height and weight he was out cruising on it day one. Seriously, he was already balancing and pushing along within 15 minutes of being on it. (Full disclosure: he has been riding a skateboard since he turned 2 – about 6 months before getting the bike – so he has inappropriately good balance for his age, but still…it was the best purchase ever!)