Best Toddler Bikes for a 1, 2 and 3 Year Old



Nov 22, 2021

Selecting the right toddler bike can be difficult, especially with all the options on the market. A toddler bike is a great outdoor toy for your toddler that promotes motor skill and coordination. Let me help you navigate the selection to pick the perfect bike for your 1, 2, 3 or 4 year old.

best 2 year old balance bike
Yellow 12x Strider and my second son

 My husband and I couldn’t wait to get our kids on bikes as early as we could. My husband was an amateur bike racer in England and taught me the joy of cycling while I lived there. We spent 4 months cycle touring Asia and for a couple years ran a bike touring business. Bikes are a passion of ours. 

But finding the right bike for your toddler can be hard. A couple things you will need to consider before selecting a bike; age of your toddler and their skill level.

The best way to introduce bikes to toddlers is to read to them. Make sure to read my 9 favorite toddler books about bikes.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Rest assured all products I suggest are products I have bought or would buy based on personal experience or through my network of other mommas.

Summary of Best Toddler Bikes by Bike Type

ProductCategoryAge AppropriateSkill Learned
Best Ride-On Balance Bike
Baby-Young Toddler's First Bike
Concept of a Bike
Best Toddler Balance Bike
18months - 4 Years
How to Balance on a Bike- Handling
Best Toddler Tricycle
18 months to 3 years
How to Pedal
Best Pedal Bike
Once Mastered a Balance Bike
How to Pedal and Handle a Bike

What are the Different Types of Toddler Bikes?

  1. Ride-on Balance Bike: Is designed like a balance bike but has four wheels instead of two
  2. Toddler Balance Bike: Two wheel bike with no pedals or training wheels
  3. Toddler Tricycle: Bike with three wheels and pedals and balances itself; one wheel up front and two in the back
  4. Pedal Bike - A bike with two wheels and pedals (some come with training wheel options)once your child has mastered a balance bike.

Recommendations for Best Toddler Bike Based on Toddler Age and Development:

Best Bike for 1 Year Old or Early Walker:

As soon as your little one is walking you can start their journey to cycling happiness. The easiest way to introduce a bike to a new walker is by a ride-on balance bike. Instead of the 2 wheels a normal balance bike has, the ride-on version has 4 wheels and holds itself up. 

The skill your little one will be learning is to sit on the bike and use their legs to glide along. Once your toddler has mastered this skill you can move them to a balance bike with 2 wheels.

Best Ride-On Balance Bike:

Ancaixin “Mini Bike” Baby Balance Bike

The Ancaixin bike is built to last. So far this bike has been used by both my children and one of the neighbors; I expect it to last through multiple more children (not all mine!).   The bike is light (5 lbs) and built well. It features a carbon steel frame, noiseless EVA wheels and soft supportive seat. 

ride on balance toddler bike

My 18 month old is having a hard time giving up this bike as I transition him to a Strider bike. Every morning we open the garage for a walk and he bolts for this bike. He takes off and scoots as far as I let him go.

This bike also seems to be indestructible. My toddler picks it up and chucks it on the driveway most days; the bike remains unharmed. The manufacturer has multiple different color options and provides a 2 year manufacturer guarantee.

Best Bike for 18 Month old+:

Around this time your toddler might be ready to ditch the 4 wheel ride-on balance bike for a 2 wheel balance bike. However, if your little one is hooked on their previous ride-on version you might have to remove it from sight to get them to upgrade. My 18 month old was addicted to his ride-on and I had to remove it from sight.

balance bike for 2 year old gliding

The skill a toddler balance bike is teaching is to handle the bike while using his/her feet to glide forward. He/She will learn how to pick the bike up from the ground, mount the bike and steer it while moving! It is a lot and often takes toddlers time to master. 

After they master the basics your toddler will be learning to go faster and to ride up and down inclines. Some toddlers take to this bike quickly and even compete in balance bike races!

Best Toddler Balance Bike:

Strider Balance Bike

The strider balance bike cannot be beaten. The bike weighs only 6.7 lbs making it really easy for my toddler to handle. We had another balance bike first, found at a rummage sale, the bike was heavier (10 lbs)  and my toddler found it frustrating. When the bike fell, which happened a lot at the beginning, he found it hard to pick back up and lost interest in it. 

Toddler Strider Balance Bike- best toddler bike
My 2 year old on Strider Balance Bike

The strider features an adjustable seat and handlebars that only takes seconds to adjust but stays firmly in position.  Other features include a durable steel frame, puncture-proof tires and a choice of many different options/colors to fit the size of your child. I recommend the classic style and could not be more happy with this product. 

The Strider has a built in footrest to promote gliding. This bike is eloquently designed; making your toddler the envy of all the neighborhood kids.

Want to read my full review of Strider bikes?

Best Toddler Bike for Two Years old +

Once your toddler has developed the coordination to allow him/her to be able to pedal a bike you can introduce a tricycle. Learning to pedal is a valuable skill that will come in handy later; when introducing a child to their first pedal bike. I recommend introducing a tricycle after you first introduce the balance bike to start their practice of pedaling. 

A tricycle does not feel like a normal bike as the seat is closer to the ground and the dynamic is different. For this reason I think a tricycle does not hinder a toddlers development of balance if they also have a balance bike. I would not recommend a pedal bike with training wheels.

The main skill your toddler will learn is how to pedal a bike to propel them forward.

Best Tricycle for Toddler: 

A tricycle is a great way for your toddler to learn how to pedal without wearing about balancing a bike too. Tricycles have a lower center of gravity and made for a toddler to easily get on and off.

Schwinn Roadster Bike for Toddlers

Schwinn Tricycle has a fun retro look to the bike. The toddler tricycle is heavy, weighing 20 lbs and built strong. For a balance bike I like a light bike since my toddler has to handle it. For a tricycle a heavy bike is better. A heavier bike with low center of gravity means your toddler won't flip it over when riding.

The toddler tricycle comes with bell your child will love. Other features include tassels, adjustable seat locations and wood rear deck.

This is a great sturdy bike that your toddler will enjoy learning to pedal on.

The Radio Flyer Trike Bike

This Radio Flyer tricycle is a great pick. The seat is configurable and can accommodate a shorter child. The seat has a back allowing the child to lean back with no fear of falling down.The trike goes both forward and back with the movement of the pedal.

Two Radio Flyer Trikes for toddlers
Both tricycles pictured are Radio Flyers. The trike on the left is an older model no longer sold and the trike on the right is a newer version that is built for a younger rider.

The tricycle comes in different sizes based on your child and two primary colors; red and pink.

Best Bike for Two and a Half Years+:

This is the youngest that I have heard of a toddler mastering the balance bike and ready for a pedal bike. Most toddlers are not ready till 4 years of age. When you get your first pedal bike, I would suggest removing the pedals first, making the bike a balance bike. This allows your toddler time to adjust to the new bike before taking on the new skill of pedaling.

best bike for 3 year old strider 14x
Newly 3 Year Old just fits Strider 14x bike but he hasn't mastered pushing off and balancing yet

The main skill your toddler will be learning is to pedal while balancing their bike and the use of brakes.

Strider 14x Balance Bike with Optional Pedal Kid

What better way to introduce a pedal bike than a bike your toddler already knows? If you own the 14X Strider bike you can purchase the pedal kit. This converts the balance bike to a pedal bike. The bike is already familiar and a great transition to pedal bikes!

strider 14x vs strider 12x for toddlers
Left picture is the Strider 14x bike compared to the right picture of the Strider 12x

Similar to the features of the 12x Strider the 14x Strider is lightweight, 12 lbs, making it easy for your toddler to learn to handle. It has adjustable seat and handlebars to grow with your child.

The downside of the Strider 14x is that without the pedal set there is no brake. To brake with the pedal set you have to pedal backwards. The upside is a lighter bike when pedal is not attached.

Does My Toddler Need A Bike With Training Wheels?

If your child has mastered a balance bike and the tricycle they do not need training wheels. They can learn to ride a pedal bike with the help of an adult, but patience is key; it may take time. 

Once your child has mastered the pedal bike they are good! Enjoy your ride!

Criteria to Help Select the Right Balance Bike for Your Toddler

  1. Weight of the bike: Toddlers do best on a lighter bike that they can maneuver easily. A heavy bike is difficult for the toddler to turn and if they fall off the bike is harder for them to pick it up and start again.

I would recommend a first bike that is 8 pounds or less

  1. Adjustability of the Seat: Toddlers are growing and you need a bike where you can adjust the saddle to accommodate. 

Measure the inseam of your child. This number should be AT LEAST the minimum bike seat height for it to fit your toddler. For example if I measure my 3 year olds inseam I get 15 inches. This should be at the lower range of the bike seat height if I want the bike to last.

  1. Adjustability of Handle Bars: The bike should have the option to adjust the position of the handle bars.

You only have to worry about the inseam of your toddler, this measurement should be sufficient for the adjustability of the handle bars.

Tips to Encourage Toddlers Interest in Bikes

  1. Ride a bike yourself. Kids watch everything you do and if you enjoy cycling and they see this then they will be interested too!
  2. Take your toddlers on your bike. Nothing is better than experiencing the joy of cycling on your parent’s bike. Read my post on cycling with your toddler to get more information.
  3. When your toddler and you are outside, which I hope is daily, bring their bike along. Even if they don’t want to try it, keep showing your toddler it is an option, but don’t force them to ride. 
  4. Make it a daily routine to ride their bike. Toddlers don’t have the longest attention span so shoot for 10 minutes a day to start. As their interest grows so will their time on the bike.
  5. Read books about bikes to your toddler.

momma and toddler on bike
Cycling with my Toddler

Safety Tips for Toddlers on Bikes

  1. Always ensure your child is wearing an appropriate size helmet. Both my toddlers own this bike helmet.
  2. Make sure the road is not slippery or icy before riding.
  3. Introduce tougher terrain over time, do not set your child up for failure.

What Size Helmet Do I Need For My Toddler?

For more information on helmets for toddlers check out: Best Toddler Helmets for 1, 2, 3 & 4 Year Olds

If your toddler is interested in wheel he/she might like Best Scooter for Toddlers.