Balance Bike vs Trike: Which is Better for Child Development? – The smarT Head Start – smarTrike Blog

Balance Bike vs Trike: Which is Better for Child Development?

Tatiana Kopyrina - Writer for smarTrike
By Tatiana Kopyrina
Davor Štefanović - Editor for smarTrike
Edited by Davor Štefanović

Updated August 28, 2023.

A focused toddler trying out a balance bike in a park

Is there anything more joyous than seeing a child's sheer delight at mastering a new skill? Parenting is filled with these magical moments. As parents, we can support these developmental milestones with stimulating play and suitable toys. Enter the realm of outdoor play, where ride-on toys like trikes and balance bikes reign supreme, playing a crucial role in developing balance and coordination.

But what's the difference between a trike and a balance bike? A trike is a sturdy, three-wheeled ride-on toy that's low to the ground, while a balance bike is a two-wheeled, pedal-less bike propelled by your child's running legs. Let's explore the benefits of these toys and how they can boost your child's development.

Explore Classic Trikes Collection

Benefits of a Balance Bike

Are balance bikes worth it? Absolutely! These two-wheeled, pedal-less bikes are fantastic for bolstering children's gross motor skills, balance, and coordination. They're simple to use and unlikely to topple over, empowering children with a sense of confidence and control over their movements.

Balance bikes allow children to focus on their balance and control their speed since they can halt the bike with their feet. As such, they're a safer alternative to pedal bikes for very young children. Keep in mind, though, that your child won't be able to practise pedalling until they transition to a pedal bike.

Did you know?

The transition from a balance bike to a pedal bike is often smoother and quicker as children have already mastered the tricky part—balance.

Suitable for youngsters as young as 18 months and up to about 5 years old, balance bikes come in various sizes to match the child's height, with adjustable seats that grow with them. You can use balance bikes both indoors and outdoors, making them a versatile activity for your little ones to enjoy.

Additionally, balance bikes offer cognitive and emotional benefits. For instance, as children learn to control their movements and explore their surroundings, they gain independence and self-confidence. Mastering balance, steering, and stopping the bike also enhances their problem-solving and decision-making skills.

» Here's why physical activity is important for child development

Benefits of a Trike

Trikes are another excellent way for kids to bolster their gross motor skills and coordination, offering a myriad of benefits:

  • Physical Development: Riding a trike helps children improve their balance, pedalling, and steering skills, which all involve the use of their core, leg, and arm muscles. Plus, it aids in developing bilateral coordination, which is the ability to use both sides of their body in a coordinated manner.
  • Parental Control: Trikes often come with parental handles, making them perfect for energetic toddlers who wish to steer and pedal while their parents guide them.
  • Cognitive and Social Development: Trikes can help children's cognitive and social skills flourish. As they navigate their surroundings and make decisions about where to go, they engage with others around them. Riding a trike also teaches children spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination as they learn to gauge distances and react to obstacles in their path.
  • Independence: Just like balance bikes, trikes can help young kids gain a sense of independence and self-confidence as they learn to ride on their own.
  • Customizability: Many trikes feature adjustable seats and pedals to fit children of different heights and sizes, making them suitable for kids of various ages and developmental stages. Plus, with various designs, colours, and shapes available, they can appeal to a child's interests and preferences, encouraging them to engage in physical activity.

» Boost your toddler's development by teaching them to pedal

A toddler riding a trike in a blue jacket and a yellow hat

Balance Bikes vs Trikes

Balance bikes are ideal for developing balance and coordination in young children, while trikes provide more stability and are easier to ride for younger kids. The choice between the two depends on the child's age, developmental stage, and desired level of challenge.

Balance Bikes Pros & Cons


  • Promotes balance and coordination
  • Helps children transition to pedal bikes faster
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Suitable for children as young as 18 months
  • Can be used for a longer period of time as children grow


  • May take longer for children to learn how to ride
  • Can be more expensive than trikes
  • Requires more space for storage

Trikes Pros & Cons


  • Provides more stability and support
  • Easy for kids to learn how to ride
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Typically less expensive than balance bikes


  • May not promote balance and coordination as well as balance bikes
  • Can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces
  • Limited age range - typically suitable for children up to 3 or 4 years old

Getting an Early Start: A Pushchair Trike

Pushchair trikes offer an excellent platform for young children to get a head start in their journey of exploring and mastering ride-on toys. These tricycles are thoughtfully designed to support children from as young as 9 months, facilitating the development of their gross motor skills, balance, and coordination.

As a standout example in this category, the STR5 Folding Pushchair Trike brings a blend of safety, convenience, and adaptability to the table.

6-in-1 STR5 Stroller Trike6-in-1 STR5 Stroller Trike6-in-1 STR5 Stroller Trike6-in-1 STR5 Stroller Trike6-in-1 STR5 Stroller Trike
Comfort & Fun
6-in-1 STR5 Folding Pushchair Trike


  • Built for Safety: The STR5 is equipped with a secure 5-point harness and a robust frame. Safety is not just an option but a guarantee during your child's thrilling adventures.
  • Ease and Convenience: Not only is this trike easy for your little one to navigate, but it also offers parents the convenience of easy handling and manoeuvrability. Be it a park visit or a neighbourhood stroll, the STR5 Folding Pushchair Trike turns every outing into a breezy experience.
  • Adapts with Your Child: The beauty of the STR5 Folding Pushchair Trike lies in its ability to evolve with your child. Its adjustable features ensure it remains a cherished part of their playtime as they grow and develop.

6-in-1 STR5 Folding Pushchair Trike

4.8/5(141 reviews)

Finding the Perfect Ride-On Toy

Incorporating ride-on toys like balance bikes and tricycles into your child's playtime can significantly boost their physical and cognitive development. When choosing the right toy, consider your child's age, size, and developmental level. There's no one-size-fits-all solution for choosing between a balance bike and a trike. Both have unique benefits, and the best option will depend on your child's individual needs and abilities.

Why not let your child try both a trike and a balance bike to see which suits their abilities and preferences better? See which one they seem most comfortable with and prefer to ride.

Explore Classic Trikes Collection