A common misconception about balance bikes is that children will outgrow them quickly therefore making them quite a waste of money. Although it is true that they do not replace regular pedaled bikes for older children, a child can still realize many benefits by using this type at a younger age. With pedaled version it is quite hard to start children off early but with its light weight design, and child-sized features toddlers as young as 18 months are able to make use of them making it a fun activity for both parent and child.
In addition to being great for younger children, depending on the adaptability of the balance bike model, some can actually be used for children as old as 6 years old. Largely dependent on the size of the child, one of the key things to look for is how high the seat can rise to determine the if it will be appropriate. In other words, bigger 4-year old may outgrow their bike sooner than smaller 6 year olds.
The best way to determine the appropriate bike is to measure the child’s inseam length. This is the height from the child’s foot to their midsection (around the inner part of the leg works best). On average an 18 month old has an inseam length of 11 inches. This site provides several measurements which could come in handy. Bikes like the Strider ST4, Strider ST3 and FirstBIKE Street have adjustable seat posts that go as low as 11 inches. Additionally, most bikes can have seats adjusted up to 19 inches in length.
Another thing to consider is the child’s ability or desire to learn . Some children are quick learners and capable of balancing and steering sooner than later. If you have children that don’t show as much interest then there really isn’t much point in choosing a bike to reach their height if they just aren’t ready or are showing no interest. Therefore, the choice of balance bike really comes down to your child’s physical and technical capabilities.