Wooden balance bikes, Our Early Rider experience

Early Rider Review – a cut above the rest

Early Rider Testers

Two years ago we bought an Early Rider Classic  for our eldest daughter Harriet (was 3 and 1/2 years) and an Early Rider Lite for our youngest daughter Isabelle (was 20 months).  After a thorough thrashing by the best testers available we thought we’d share our experiences.  

Our children have absolutely adored their Early Rider bikes over the last two years.  They’ve been ridden in Parks, on pavements, in forests, in the garden, to and from school, the shops everywhere really . .  our Early Rider Lite has even been to France with us.  They’ve suffered everything two small children can throw at them and still look great.

Isabelle was very young at just 20 months when she first got her ‘Lite’ and kind of walked around on it in the beginning.  Now she scoots around with supreme confidence, push push push and glide, heels skidding against the floor to stop and generally looking very cool.  Harriet was older when she got her classic and quickly took to free wheeling down ramps with her her feet off the floor.  After a bit of encouragement getting her to pedal forward instead of backward Harriet quickly took to her pedal bike without any need for stabilisers.

There are other cheaper brands of wooden balance bikes around but the technical spec, the quality and longevity of Early Rider means your children will use them over and over, treasure them and really find joy in learning to ride a bike for the first time.  Those fantastic looks are born from top quality FSC certified marine grade birch ply which means they are built to last and made of wood from managed forests.  Weather and boil proof glue means you won’t see wood pieces coming apart, the resale value of Early Rider bikes is high and each bike comes with a 2 year warranty.  The solid, smooth and reassuring ride is provided by aluminium rims, steel spokes and pneumatic tyres.  The wheels spin with almost no resistance on sealed bearings, just give one a spin and see how long it takes to stop, this leaves your child free to tackle the challenges provided by the terrain.  Adjustable seat height and reach and steering which can be restricted for younger children while they start out and then unrestricted when their confidence grows allowing them to correct balance with steering instead of feet.

We’ve looked at some of the cheaper wooden bikes on the market and quite simply they don’t touch Early Rider.  Cheap heavy solid tyres, plastic bits and poor quality wood, you have to ask yourself will my child really get good use out of this, will they still be riding it in a years time, will I be able to pass it onto another child or will it be thrown to the back of the garage with something broken never to be used again?

If you like to get out with your children and would like your toddler to want to get out on their bike, then a quality balance bike like an Early Rider is one of the best investments you’ll ever make.  Our eldest daughter Harriet ( now 5yrs)  rides a pedal bike with ease after 2 years on an Early Rider Classic and our youngest Isabelle (now 3yrs) currently zooms around on her Early Rider Lite.  Isabelle is so confident we’re thinking of getting her a pedal bike pretty soon but she loves her Early Rider so much we’re holding off.  We’ve all had so much fun as a family with our little Early Riders. The complete Early Rider range is available to buy at Babi Pur – Shop Early Rider Bikes

early rider liteEarly Riders in Brittany

After much research Harriet now has an Isla Bike cnoc 16 which we thought should have a mention as well because it’s just so good.  A great bike for so many reasons, we must write a review about this bike soon! For more info on Isla Bikes visit their website


I'm Pete. Co-founder of Babipur, the ethical retailer of goods for all the family established 2007. When I'm not talking about wooden toys, inequality in supply chains and reusable lifestyle products you'll find me riding my bike, paddling my board or lost in the mountains of Snowdonia.

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3 Responses

  1. Phil says:

    Great review! Our daughter will soon be reaching 20mo, so we’re considering this type of “bike” to help her learn balance.

    You mention at the end that your younger daughter, now 3, is still “zooming around on the Early Rider Lite.” Was there any consideration to moving her up to the Classic once your older daughter started on a pedal bike? Or is the Lite versitile enough that it should last until the transition to pedal bike?

    Thanks for your insights,

  2. Giles says:

    An interesting article. How was the transition from early rider to cnoc? Was the lack of brakes on the balance bike an issue and was the steering limiter useful? I ask because I’m trying to decide on a balance bike for my 2y8mo

  3. peter says:

    The steering limiter is useful on the Early riders. It makes it much easier for smaller kids to use. We changed it after a few months to allow the full steering.

    Going onto a pedal bike the hardest thing was getting the kids to actually pedal as they weren’t used to it. It only took an hour or so and once they’d got it that was it. I look at my friends kids and lots of them are still riding bikes with stabilisers and I feel like mine have been riding a pedal bike for ages now.

    After having two kids use them I’m a firm believer in balance bikes. There’s plenty around to choose from but the Early Riders is top quality. The lite in those photos has since been passed onto three other families.

    Hope that helps.

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