Balance Bikes or Stabilisers? Which to Choose for Your Child’s First Bike

Raleigh Kids Bikes

Balance bikes or stabilisers?  It's the most debated question when it comes to buying a first kids bike. Do you choose to stick with with the old school stabilisers – it worked for us, right?  Or do you jump on the Balance bike bandwagon and ditch the stabilisers in favour of this newfangled fad?

Teaching your child to ride their first bike is an exciting milestone for any parent; but it can be confusing trying to choose the right option for your child.  We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both to help you choose.


We all remember when the stabilisers were first removed and you finally mastered riding without them.  You probably ended up with a few cut knees along the way but it was all worth it in the end!  At around the age of 2 to 3 you may start looking at bikes for your little one.  Most 12” and 14” wheel bikes come with matching stabilisers so this can seem like the most obvious option.   Plus, stabilisers have historically been accepted as the first step in teaching your child how to ride.  The down side to stabilisers is the extra weight, plastic rattling noise, and turning circle limitations.  Plus, stabilisers can be a nightmare to fit! We've seen a few wonky sets in our time and that certainly doesn't help your child's balance.

However stabilisers can be a blessing for parents; your child will be able to zip off on their own almost straight away.  Forget constantly following your child with one hand behind their back terrified they'll topple over at any moment!  They'll have almost instant confidence and be ready to cover decent distances relatively quickly.  This is great if you're keen on family rides and want to get them covering some distances quickly.

The biggest disadvantage of stabilisers is that your child will rely on them and won’t develop the same sense of balance on the bike.  This makes it very difficult and for them to learn to ride on 2 wheels and could make teaching them to ride take longer overall.

Balance bikes

Balance bikes are relatively new to the market and have already taken the UK by storm.  The lack of pedals may make you feel like you are getting less for your money but the gains to your child’s confidence make every penny an investment!

Balance bikes work by building up the muscles a child needs to be able to balance effectively on their bike.  They’re also significantly lighter than their stabiliser clad counterparts; perfect for little legs and easier for mum and dad to carry once they've had enough.  Balance bikes are actually suitable for children from as young as 18 months old and help to start their cycling journey early.

What's more, after a few years when it’s time for your child to move onto a bigger bike, you’ll most likely find that no stabilisers are needed.  There may be a few wobbles while they get used to the bigger bike but they’ve already built up their balance and the muscles that they need to control their new bike.  You’ll find your child  will take to their new bike surprisingly quickly with some even picking it up within an astonishing 30 minutes!

The verdict

Obviously when making the choice between balance bikes and stabilisers it's important to think about your lifestyle and most importantly  your child.  Stabilisers have their advantages in getting kids moving fast and giving them the initial confidence to get going.  However studies have shown that children who have had a balance bike as their first bike are much more confident when first riding a 16” wheel bike compared to children that have been using stabilisers.

It’s hard not to favour balance bikes when the benefits are so significant.  We think that if you're looking to get your child on two wheels quickly this is by far the best option.  At the end of the day, anything that increases confidence, comfort and fun for kids is a winner in our book!

Check out our full kids bike range or read more about our new limited edition Balance Bikes below.

Introducing Our New Mini Bikes

We know how much kids love to be just like their parents when they're young which is why we've introduced mini versions of some of our most popular adults bikes.  The new mini Sherwood and mini Team Burner will be launched this autumn but we'll be keeping you up to date with all of the news on social media and email.

To register your interest in one of these limited edition bikes simply pre-register with us and you'll be the first to hear about the launch date.  Only 1,00o of these beauties have been produced and we've got a limited number to sell online, alternatively you can use our pre-registration page to find a store near you who will be receiving stock of the bikes around the launch date.

Plus with matching helmets available too your little ones are sure to look super stylish while they learn to ride.


Pre Register Now