Roundup of Toddler Learner Bikes

A learner bike is a toddler-size bicycle without pedals or gears. It has the steering and balancing challenges of a real bicycle, but is infinitely simpler because your feet are always ready to grab the ground. The Big Idea is that they help kids learn the basics of bicycling quickly, and later allows kids to transition faster to real bicycles without needing training wheels. I don’t know if it’s true, but parents and kids seem to love them. The intended age for learner bikes starts a 2- to 3-years-old and tops out at 5-years-of-age.

Bikes are on my mind because Dad Eric Wolfram sent me a charming video (also at blip.tv) of his almost-3-year-old Jake cruising around on a Like-a-Bike in Central Park. Eric took a recent trip to Germany and reports that all the toddlers there seem to be riding them.

Click To visit Blip.tv where the video can be viewed.

So I thought I would assess the status of learning bikes currently on the market. Much to my time-conscious dismay, many companies seem to be churning out learner bikes. A few of the bikes I found are listed below (after the jump) in alphabetical order. Not all of the bikes are sold in the U.S.

Part 2 of this article, to be written sometime in February, will be a feature comparison of the best bikes I am considering for my daughter.

Beginner’s Balancing Bike by Radio Flyer.
Photo of a Beginner's Balancing Bike by Radio Flyer.

Bino Bike by Laufrad Enterprises. “Your child achieves a completely new dimension of movement.” Oof. Isn’t that why bicyclists wear helmets?
Photo of a Bino Bike  by Laufrad Enterprises.

Early Rider by Boomslang Bikes. Billed as “quintessential.”
Photo of an Early Rider bike by Boomslang Bikes.

KiwiBike by Artisan Toys. It’s billed as “innovative and exciting” and “revolutionary.”
Photo of a KiwiBike by Artisan Toys.

Learner Bike by Puky. Winner of the award for Worst Name for a Manufacturer that Builds a Motion-Related Product.
Photo of a Learner Bike by Puky.

Like-a-Bike by Kokua. It’s billed as “unique.”
Photo of a Like-a-Bike by Kokua.

PedoBike by Woodenbike. It “replaces the stroller” and “continues to be the only vehicle of its kind.”
Photo of a PedoBike by Woodenbike.

Rainbow Wooden Bike by Rainbow. It’s not enough to say you’re the first. This bike is billed as a revision of “the original bicycle created in 1818 by Baron von Drais’!” Uh huh.
Photo of a Rainbow Wooden Bike by Rainbow.

Rolli Rider by Rolli Rider, LLC.
Photo of a Rolli Rider bike by Rolli Rider LLC.

Skuut by Skuut, LLC.
Photo of a Skuut bike by Skuut, LLC.

Sprint Balance Bike by Kettler. This bike is one of several models. Kettler does not yet list learner bikes on its own web site.
Photo of a Spring Balance Bike by Kettler.

Woody PushBike by Woody Pushbike.com, Inc. It’s billed as “all new, coveted, retro style” and is “made with superiority.”
Photo of a Woody Pushbike by Woody Pushbike.com, Inc.

Comments

17 Responses to “Roundup of Toddler Learner Bikes”

  1. John says:

    We just bought a Like-A-Bike ‘Jumper’ (Their metal bike) for our son’s 3rd birthday and he loves it. He tried the wooden Like-A-Bike that you pictured in your review at his cousin’s in the summer and was riding it in minutes. There really is very little to learn.

    These bikes are not yet that common in the UK, but I believe the Cycle Club of Great Britain recommends them as the best way to get kids riding, and hopefully skipping the training wheels stage altogether.

    December 20th, 2006 at 9:08 am

  2. nrp says:

    We’ve often kicked ourselves for not patenting the concept when we just took the pedals off my younger sister’s bike years ago to help her learn to balance. Did it with my kids’ bikes over the summer; works just as well.

    December 20th, 2006 at 9:23 pm

  3. AL says:

    Wondering if anyone has any experience with either the Kettler Sprint Balance or the Puky learner bike? Considering esp the Kettler for my 2 year-old son. Not sure what advantage or disadvantages are…. Any opinions out there?

    February 5th, 2007 at 2:07 pm

  4. Una Smith says:

    Puky has a model of learner bike with a hand brake (not shown here). Is Puky the only manufacturer now offering a hand brake?

    March 18th, 2007 at 7:52 am

  5. ulli says:

    Hey all,

    We purchased the KinderBike (www.mykinderbike.com) primarily because we liked the way it looked and it’s low cost ($39.99). My son loves it! Was balancing within a week. I would recommend this or any other metal version. Would steer clear of the wooden ones, since they don’t seem as durable. Also, the models with hand brakes are good if your child is 6 or older. Younger children don’t have the hand strength or dexterity to use them.

    March 23rd, 2007 at 11:10 am

  6. Sofia says:

    I can recommend the weirdly-named Puky (pronounced Pookie, as in Garfield’s teddy, wasn’t it?). I have 2 now (both sourced 2nd hand from ebay). My daughter had difficulty cycling until I found this brand. Her learner bike has no gears (which would only confuse) but runs so smoothly, she can make it up most slopes. The single brake (rear) is easy to depress, she can stop before she falls in to the sea which is a relief! My message is go puky!!

    July 6th, 2007 at 10:02 am

  7. Bee Flastski says:

    Just wanted to share our success with the Kettler Sprint bike. Our Kettler was well worth the money spent and developed our son’s confidence as he learned balance without the need for training wheels. He just loves push with his feet as he makes his Kettler Spring go fast. I would recommend this brand over the wood bikes.

    March 1st, 2008 at 5:01 pm

  8. Bee Flatski says:

    Forgot to mention in the previous post that we purchased the Kettler Sprint bike at http://www.bestpricetoys.com as they had great reveiws about the Kettler Sprint.

    March 1st, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  9. Scott Davis says:

    HELP!!

    We bought the Bino Bike – (3yrs old son) he loves it…..BUT…..both back and front tires, will not stay in the rim’s.

    I cant find a website for the bike..or any support from the ebay seller; who I got it from…any help out there from you guys?

    May 26th, 2008 at 11:37 am

  10. Marie says:

    We are having trouble communicating with Skuut regarding our balance bike orders. Emails are not returned, no one answers the phone and messages are not returned. At this point we are very frustrated with the company because we, as well as many of our customers, have been waiting months to receive our order. We are not accepting new orders until this is resolved, and those with current orders have the option to cancel by calling 614-218-4002. Please have your order number handy to expedite the process. We are very sorry for the inconvenience and will do our best to keep our customers happy. http://www.sproutsoup.com/skuut-balance-bike-c-25-p-1-pr-72.html

    May 29th, 2008 at 3:05 pm

  11. ed says:

    Hey Scott Davis:
    We had the same problem with our Bino Bike, along with some plywood peeling. The wheel was mis-formed, not the tire. I found this out by swapping the tires and the same wheel had the same problem. I contacted them and they sent a new wheel and panel.

    But that was a year ago. Their website has not worked in some time. I think they may have gone out of business.

    June 2nd, 2008 at 6:29 pm

  12. Colleen says:

    I know the balancing bikes purposely do not have training wheels, but I am looking for just that.

    My daughter is very disabled and the only mobility she is able to utilize is that of a ride-on toy with the narrow base, and no peddles, like that of a balancing bike. However, she does not have the muscle tone to balance a two wheeler.

    Do any of them have training wheel accesories availabale or are any of them able to be converted?

    August 4th, 2008 at 6:44 pm

  13. Andy says:

    Colleen,

    I would be very surprised if any of these companies offered training wheels, I’ve never seen them from any of the brands and it would go against their stated purpose.

    Your best bet is probably one of the metal Kettlers since they have chainstays (the part of the frame running from under the seat to the rear axle) closest to those on a conventional bike. You can pick up universal fit training wheel kits at most big box stores like Walmart or Toys R Us, and those might fit a Kettler. They will definitely not fit on any of the wooden bikes. We have a pair of Bell Spoke Hedz training wheels that look like they would fit the Kettler, though I can’t guarantee that since I have never seen one in person. I checked some websites, it looks like what is most common now are the Bell E-Z training wheels which don’t seem to mount the same way as the pair I have, but they might still work. What you need to worry about most is that the axle has enough length to accomodate the training wheel brackets, which go over each end of the axle after the nut is removed, then the nut is replaced. If the axle is not long enough, you can’t replace the nut due to the added thickness of the bracket. The Kettler has a kickstand mounted on one side of the axle, so that might suggest that the axle has some extra room (you would probably need to remove the kickstand). There are some other metal frame balance bikes out there that might also work for you, like the Strider, the Boot Scoot or the PV Glider. It sounds like your situation would really want to have the limited turn radius for safety, the Kettler has this but I don’t think the Boot Scoot does. Good luck. If you have questions, send me an email at mrpoopoon-tv AT yahoo.com. (weird email address, long story). Replace the AT with @, I don’t spell it out to avoid getting picked up on spam email lists.

    September 6th, 2008 at 8:22 pm

  14. nicolette says:

    Coleen… you could get the “wutsch” from puky ( by the way a very old and well known company in Germany – and in German the Name does not sound weird at all :) ).
    The wutsch is basically a very low to the ground tricycle without pedals- stable enough for even the smallest kids but still training their balancing skills.
    Try their website- they do have an enlish version …
    Good luck…

    October 22nd, 2008 at 11:38 am

  15. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    In the circles I run in, these are called “run bikes” or “Balance bikes” — and are used instead of training wheels, as well as much earlier.

    One that keeps getting mentioned over and over is the “strider”
    http://stridersports.com/

    October 22nd, 2008 at 7:37 pm

  16. Ed Loewenton says:

    These tiny toddler bikes without pedals are really a great, once-in-a-century re-discovery.
    According to Wikipedia:
    The original version was called a “dandy horse” in Europe, among other names, and was patented in January 1818 by Baron Karl von Drais in Mannheim, Germany. Drais’s name for it was Laufmaschine (German for ‘running machine’), and it also became known as a velocipede. They have been re-born in the past few years as a much more effective way to teach kids as young as 2 to ride bikes, younger than previously thought possible. The name “balance bike” seems to be emerging from the pile of attempts to figure out what to call them.

    “Teaching” is really not the right word. Most kids require no adult help or instruction with balance bikes, beyond setting it up and getting the seat adjusted to exactly the right height, and perhaps a brief explanation about what it is for. Seeing another child ride a balance bike with some skill is probably the best guide for a youngster. “Teaching” will probably ruin the experience for the child, and turn a natural instinct to move and steer the balance bike into resistance or disinterest.
    These things really do work with little kids! I have play-tested 2 different brands with local children, and they 1) love it and can’t get enough of it and 2) are more or less able to ride one and coast on it almost from start, depending on their athletic talents (genetic) and physical fearlessness vs timidity (general gotten from the parents, but that’s another argument).
    One little fellow started riding one at age 28 months, at the age of 3 was building jump ramps, and graduated to a real bike at age 4. He tried a friend’s bike with training wheels, and was unnerved and annoyed that he could not make it lean into turns, something he had gotten comfortable with from the first day or two on his own balance bike. Training wheels actually add to the likelihood of falls when a child is just starting out.

    I sell balance bikes, have assembled a number of brands, and play-tested 2 of them. I could be selling any of the many brands, or ALL of them. We are selling only one. As owner of a small toy-manufacturing business since 1979, I have a good idea for mechanical design and manufacturing quality. I am used to evaluating such things as suitability of design and choice of materials for usability and durability. I originally sold a wooden bike, which we called the Scootercycle (a “TM” trade mark!), which was better built than any of the cheaper wooden bikes (i.e., not the Like-a-Bike) on the market. It is still being sold by someone else under the name “Plim Woodie”.
    HOWEVER, I HAVE DECIDED TO SELL ONLY METAL BALANCE BIKES for 5 significant design reasons:
    1. The metal frames are strong enough to allow a curve or s-shape, allowing a larger open area between the seat and front wheel/steering column. This makes it much easier to jump forward down off the seat without any risk of the child hitting a higher connecting bar, as in all the wood bikes. I.e., the metal bikes are built like “girl’s bikes”. This increases initial confidence and comfort for the new rider.
    2. The strength and formability of metal allows for tube-within-tube design and clamping, so handlebar and seat height are infinitely adjustable. Precisely adjusted seat height is especially critical in getting a child comfortable for his first ride. When we play-tested the Scootercycle, the only initial difficulty our athletically gifted 2 1/2 year old guinea pig had was in getting comfortable with seating position, for this exact reason, and because of reason #1. .
    3. Tube-within-tube design and clamping also allow the steering column to be completely enclosed, thereby excluding any chance of pinched fingers.
    4. Metal allows easier installation of extras such as handbrake and kickstand. I am not aware of any wood bike that has these.
    5. The metal bikes are a great deal more durable, especially in the critical joint between handlebars and steering column. Our Scootercycles were beautifully built, but under daily pounding the area of the steering column into which the handlebars are screwed disintegrated into splinters after 6 months. It might have lasted a little longer with a less athletic child. We reconstructed it with steel plates and epoxy. Other brands such as Skuut have what I regard as structural design errors that I believe will shorten their useful lifetimes.

    I HAVE ENDED UP SELLING ONLY THE KETTLER SPRINT. We took a good look at 2 other metal bikes, the Strider and the PV Glider.
    I found the Strider to be cheaply made, in ways that would affect its suitability for kids. In assembling it, sliding the steering tube or seat into place scraped off paint. A “foot rest” was made of what appeared to be an industrial stair-tread material, abrasive enough to scrape a child’s skin.
    I really liked the PV Glider. It is made of light aluminum alloy, and has foot pegs for cruising, a good idea. The paint is attractive and somewhat more durable than the Strider’s. However, it does not have a mechanical steering angle limiter, which increases the chance the bike will jacknife (remember when you were first learning?). This is not a problem once the child learns to scoot along at speed and cruise, but can be a deal killer for the somewhat hesitant 2-year-old who is just learning to sit on the bike, or who is walking beside it holding the handlebars.
    The other thing I don’t like is the quick release seat adjustment. This device must be adjusted so it requires real force to close the lever in order to secure the seat safely. Otherwise the seat may collapse or rotate unexpectedly, and could be a hazard. For kids age 2-4 an adult should adjust the seat for height and straightness, and make sure it is tight enough not to move. The Glider also has synthetic foam solid tires. This avoids flat tires, but the material does not have as much traction on pavement as rubber.
    The Kettler Sprint has none of any of these problems. It is in a class by itself. Instead of paint, it has polyester powder coating, infinitely more durable and scrape resistant, and unlike paint, has never to my fairly expert and extensive knowledge been associated with lead or other toxic hazard. It is all steel and heavy polyethylene, and while it weighs more than other bikes, it will outlast any 10 of them, a good thing for larger families. The seat is the most comfortable and adjustable of any bike. The steering column has a clever internal gadget that limits steering angle, it has a handbrake that a small toddler can work effectively, and a kickstand. It also has inflatable tires of a good quality, sticky rubber. With all this, the Sprint is only a few dollars more expensive than most brands.
    Finally, the Like-a-Bike seems to be very well made, but I see no reason to spend so much money for a toddler toy.
    As I said, I could be selling any or all of these brands, and making more money, too, but have settled on only one, the Kettler Sprint. I HAVE NO CONNECTION TO THE KETTLER COMPANY OTHER THAN BUYING AND RESELLING THEIR PRODUCTS.

    November 1st, 2008 at 8:40 am

  17. Frauline says:

    Ed Loewenton said alot of things. But I must take his review with a grain of salt, since he’s pushing the one bike that he sells. The Kettler too has many issues. I know, I bought one. Yes it’s nice aesthetically. I’ve heard there are problems with getting the handlebar inserted and tightened. The bike itself is 16 lbs! I’m guessing a 2 or 3 year old is going to struggle mightely to push something that heavy around (it is a “push” bike afterall). The Kettler also has way too many plastic parts (headset, rims, etc). It’s not built like a bike, but rather some toy from Walmart. The LikeaBike and BMW bikes are way better than the Kettler – for design, components, etc. As a competitve bike rider, I can attest to that.

    December 6th, 2008 at 12:55 pm