Last updated: August 20, 2021

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Your little darling has already mastered walking and is now crazy about the next challenge? Nothing is safe anymore and every adventure, no matter how big, can come now? Of course, we parents love to watch our little ones discover the world. But so that the little ones can also pick up speed safely, a running bike is a super option.

For this reason, we have compiled the big running wheel test 2022. Because there are different types of running wheels, such as running wheels made of wood, metal, plastic or a combination. So that our little darlings can have fun with their new vehicle for a long time and you can sit back and relax, we have compiled all the useful information for your purchase decision.

In addition to expert information on the correct use of the wheel, we have also compiled some interesting facts to give you the best possible advice before you make a purchase. This way, you can easily keep track of the abundance of offers and make the right decision for you and your child.




Summary

  • Unlike other children's vehicles, a running bike offers a unique opportunity to train your child's motor skills and improve their sense of balance and coordination.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between running wheels made of wood, metal and plastic. In addition, there are also running wheel combinations - running wheel-scooter combination and running wheel-bicycle combination. All shapes are available in numerous variants and different designs.
  • Metal wheels are particularly suitable for children who like to ride outside on different surfaces. Wooden wheels are suitable for smaller children who mainly use the vehicle indoors. Plastic wheels are cheaper and suitable for parents with a smaller budget.

The Best Balance Bike: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a wheel

Advantages of a running bike over other children's vehicles

A running bike for children is the precursor to a bicycle. Unlike other children's vehicles such as a tricycle or a slide, a running bike offers a unique opportunity to train your child's motor skills, balance and coordination.

A better sense of balance not only helps your child in sporting activities, but also increases their cognitive performance. Keeping the wheel straight also requires a lot of practice and concentration from the child. In addition, your child learns to move quickly and safely under its own power.

The child also trains its perception and ability to estimate speeds. He learns to move more freely and gets tired more slowly. This makes it easier for you to take longer walks with your child. Your child can keep up with your normal walking pace on a running bike.

Because the child can only gain limited momentum and always has its feet on the ground, it rarely falls. Before you buy your child a running bike, the child must be able to walk safely and stand well on its own, which is usually at the age of one and a half.

  • Improves sense of balance and coordination
  • Hardly any risk of falling
  • Child learns to ride a bike faster after using a running bike

If your child gets used to a running bike at such an early age, he or she can switch to a bicycle very soon, at the age of three or three and a half. Often, the child no longer needs training wheels, as the sense of balance is already trained by this time.

Running bike for children: From when?

The right age for starting to ride a running bike depends on the individual development of your child. Most running bikes are available from the age of 2. In general, a running bike is suitable for children from the age of 18 months, provided your child's motor skills and size are suitable. Your child should be able to walk safely before getting a running bike.

At the age of 2, many children have not yet mastered the movements sufficiently and are not yet able to control the speed. All children are ready for a running bike by the time they are 2 1/2 to 3 years old.

What should I look for when buying a running wheel?

Basically, it is impossible to say whether a wooden, metal or plastic wheel is best. It is a question of taste and depends on which things you value most and which less. Nevertheless, there are some things you have to pay attention to.

Children should be able to sit independently on a running bike, depending on their height or stride length, and should be able to stand securely with both feet on the ground. The legs should be slightly bent so that the child can push itself forward with its legs off the ground.

Although there are averages for age, height or stride length, proportions often vary with a long torso and short legs or vice versa. For this reason, you should always measure yourself. It is advantageous if both the handlebars and the seat can be flexibly adjusted to the height of the child, as the wheel can then grow with the child.

The little boy is the perfect size for his running bike. If you are unsure, you can use this picture as a guide. Your child should never be too small for his or her wheel, otherwise accidents can happen quickly. In addition, a helmet should be compulsory for your child when riding a wheel, because it is simply safer. (Photo: Jiricek72 / pixabay.com)

Which tyres are recommended?

A running bike with pneumatic tyres is recommended because your child can use it everywhere in everyday life. Models without pneumatic tyres bounce relatively hard and are only recommended if the wheel is preferably used indoors on a smooth surface.

Wheels are available with tyres ranging from 8 to 14 inches. The most popular size is 12 inches. This corresponds to a height of just under 30 cm. For older children, 14 inch wheels are also popular.

Pneumatic tyres are particularly recommended and offer a pleasant ride.

With or without a brake?

Most running wheels do not have a brake or handbrake. The simple reason for this is that children up to the age of 3 are not yet able to handle a brake.

At the age of 2, the child cannot concentrate on riding and braking at the same time. Most children also do not have the strength to operate a brake.

In addition, there is a risk that the child will pinch his or her fingers. If your child is already over three years old, you can consider a handbrake. However, it is not mandatory, as children should only ride where they can stop easily with their feet.

Additional extras such as a bell, carrying strap, stand or lights are not necessarily needed. However, it can make your life a little easier. All additional features can also be bought afterwards and mounted on the wheel.

A helmet is a compulsory accessory for every running bike. Your child should not get on a running bike without a helmet. Even the smallest fall without a helmet can have serious consequences. Knee and elbow pads are also very useful in the beginning.

How much does a running bike cost?

Wheels come in all price ranges. The cheapest wheels are made of plastic and start at 15 euros, making them a really inexpensive way to train your child's motor skills. Metal wheels start at 25 euros. Wooden wheels start at 35 euros.

Wooden or plastic bicycles are lighter and therefore more suitable for small children than metal bicycles.

For higher-quality models, you can also pay amounts in the three-digit range. These models are more durable and offer better comfort. Nevertheless, everyone must know for themselves how much a running bike is worth for their child.

The following table summarises the different prices depending on the material of the wheel:

Material Price range
Running wheels made of plastic From 15 euros
Running wheels made of metal From 25 euros
Running wheels made of wood From 35 euros

Decision: What types of running wheels are there and which is right for you?

Children have an incredible urge to move. In order to promote the healthy development of the child, a baby walker is ideal. Basically, you can distinguish between three different types of wheels:

  • Wooden wheel
  • Metal wheel
  • Running bike made of plastic

In addition to the different materials - wood, metal and plastic - there are also two different combinations of wheels:

  • Running wheel and bicycle in one
  • Wheel and scooter in one

Depending on what you value most, a different type of wheel is best for your child. In the following section, we would like to help you find out which type of wheel is best for your child.

For this purpose, we will introduce you to all the types of wheels mentioned above and clearly present the advantages and disadvantages of each.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a wooden wheel?

Wooden wheels are suitable for very young children. A wooden wheel is usually relatively light and can also be used indoors.

Very high-quality woods such as spruce or pine are often used in the manufacture of wooden wheels. The wooden running wheels are varnished so that the running wheel is spared from splinters. Ecologically oriented parents try to promote the child's natural connection with such wheels and sensitise it to the environment in a playful way.

Advantages
  • Suitable for smaller children
  • Ecologically oriented
  • Wooden discs reduce risk of injury
Disadvantages
  • Mostly not weather-resistant
  • Less durable
  • Most models do not grow with the child

Wooden models are available in all sizes. In terms of safety, this type offers the advantage that the wooden discs instead of the spokes reduce the risk of injury.

The disadvantage is that the height of most wooden wheels cannot be adjusted, so they do not grow with the child. However, the number of height-adjustable wooden wheels has been increasing recently. Depending on the quality of the workmanship, wooden wheels are more susceptible to moisture.

Wooden wheels are particularly light and are therefore suitable for very young children.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a metal wheel?

Metal wheels are more flexible than their competitors. The saddle and also the handlebars can be adjusted in height very flexibly. Since children grow very quickly, this is a big plus point as it can be used by children for longer.

Families with several children save the cost of several vehicles, as a metal wheelchair can be used by all children between the ages of two and six thanks to the individual adjustment options. In addition, a metal wheel is more stable and durable than wooden or plastic wheels. It is wind and weather resistant and suitable for longer outings.

Advantages
  • More customisation options
  • Visual style factor
  • Wind and weather resistant
  • Different tyre sizes
Disadvantages
  • Often heavier than wood and plastic
  • Not suitable for very young children
  • Metal spokes increase risk of injury

Some children also react very much to the visual style factor of metal. Such products often look more modern and cooler. The latest models have many additional features. These can be, for example, a particularly spectacular frame shape, extra padding on the handlebars or other accessories such as brakes or side stands.

With regard to safety, caution is advised with metal spokes. Here it makes sense to watch the children while they play. Metal wheels are usually heavier than wooden or plastic wheels and are not suitable for very young children.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a plastic wheel?

The third type of wheel we present is a plastic wheel. There are rather few wheels made of plastic. Plastic wheels are very light and durable. They are easier for children to handle when they are lighter.

You can also clean them very easily because glass fibre reinforced plastic or high quality polyethylene is usually used for the frames of plastic vehicles. The wheels have no spokes so that the children's feet don't get caught in them.

Advantages
  • Very light
  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Spokeless wheels
Disadvantages
  • Simple design
  • No other accessories

In contrast to metal wheels, plastic wheels are rather plain and have no other accessories such as brakes or side stands. The handlebar grips of plastic wheels are designed to provide safety for children.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of running wheel combinations?

The biggest advantage is that you only need one children's vehicle and don't have several of them standing around. Depending on the child's mood, they can choose whether they prefer to play with a running bike, scooter or bicycle.

Advantages
  • You only need one child's vehicle
Disadvantages
  • Not very stable
  • Often very heavy
  • Neither a real running bike nor a real bike/scooter

The disadvantage, however, is that such children's vehicles are usually not very stable and are often heavier. It is neither a real running bike nor a real bicycle or scooter. The size of the vehicle is usually too small for a bicycle because the child grows quickly.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate wheels

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate bicycles. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular wheel is suitable for your child or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Age
  • Item weight
  • Maximum load capacity
  • Tyres
  • Wheel size
  • height adjustable handlebar and saddle
  • Extra equipment
  • Design

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Age

We have already dealt with age in detail above. Nevertheless, we would like to point out that it depends on the motor and physical abilities of your child.

You should primarily take an individual look at your own child in order to prevent the child from being overtaxed at an early age. The most important thing when buying a wheel is that your child can walk safely.

The height and the length of the legs are also decisive for the control of a wheel. Most children are able to ride a wheel from a height of 85 cm.

As a rule, your child can ride a running bike at the age of two, provided that all motor and physical abilities of your child are in favour of it.

The age of use is only secondary. It is more important that your child can handle the wheel well.

Item weight

For tender and very small children, we recommend choosing wooden wheels or even plastic wheels, as these are usually lighter than metal wheels. Wooden wheels weigh on average 2 kg, whereas metal wheels weigh over 4 kg.

Wheels made of wood or plastic are lighter and therefore more suitable for small children than wheels made of metal. (Photo: dernaturfilmer / pixabay.com)

However, there are also many metal running wheels that weigh up to 3 kg, making them suitable for tender children. In general, lighter wheels are easier for children to handle because they simply don't have much strength yet and it is difficult for them to hold a heavy wheel.

Maximum load capacity

The maximum load capacity of a wheel is only relevant if your child is already over five or six years old and may be heavier than an average child. An average child rides a wheel up to the age of five and is not heavier than 20 kg at this age. Most baby walkers have a load capacity of 20 to 50kg. Larger metal wheels often have a load capacity of up to 50 kg.

Did you know that the most important developmental steps in the first years of childhood can only take place with sufficient movement?

The type of movement is irrelevant. However, movements such as climbing stairs that can be easily integrated into everyday life are a very good tip for active movement.

Tyres

As mentioned above, we recommend running wheels with pneumatic tyres because they can be used everywhere, not only indoors but also outdoors. They bounce softer than their plastic competitors and allow for excursions on different surfaces.

Bumps are cushioned better and the child does not feel the small hills as much when riding as with a plastic tyre. Children also do not tire as quickly and usually find the pneumatic tyre wheel more comfortable to use.

The disadvantage of a pneumatic tyre is punctures, such as a flat tyre. This cannot happen with a plastic tyre.

Models without pneumatic tyres should only be used if the wheel is preferably ridden indoors on slippery surfaces. Plastic tyres prevent unintentional slipping due to their properties.

Plastic or rubber tyres are very stable and almost never break, which is the great and cost-saving advantage of foam and solid rubber tyres.

On dirt roads or other uneven surfaces, however, moving the wheel becomes a little more strenuous.

If the children are still very small and only go on short trips with their wheel, a plastic or rubber tyre is the right choice.

There is no such thing as the perfect tyre for all situations. You should choose the right tyres according to the surface on which the wheel is normally used. In general, all types of tyres are stable enough to last a long time with normal use.

The following table compares the two types of tyres:

Type of tyres Description
Pneumatic tyres Good suspension, for uneven surfaces
Plastic tyres For smooth surfaces, No flats possible

Wheel size

As a rule, wheels differ in whether they are fitted with 10 inch, 12 inch or 14 inch tyres. As your child grows taller, he or she will need larger tyres to keep riding fun. 10 inch tyre models are suitable for small children from 18 months.

This table gives a good overview of when your child reaches the next "inch level". The age is only an indirect help, it is better to orientate yourself on the height and the stride length of your child.

Age body size stride length saddle height recommended size
1.5 - 2 years 78 - 85cm 26 - 32 cm 24 - 30 cm 8 inch / 10 inch
2 - 3 years 85 - 95 cm 32 - 38 cm 30 - 36 cm 12 inch
3 - 4 years 95 - 105 cm 38 - 45 cm 36 - 43 cm 12 inch / 14 inch
From 4 years from 105 cm from 45 cm from 43 cm 14 inch

Because children grow quickly, they need a running bike with somewhat larger dimensions from the age of three at the latest. Then 12 inch tyres are the right choice.

If the child is taller than 95 cm, 14 inch tyres are often suitable. With the larger tyres, the frame of the bike usually also gets larger dimensions.

From the age of 4, you can switch to a normal bicycle if your child is confident on a running bike.

Height-adjustable handlebars and saddle

When buying a running bike, make sure that the handlebars and saddle are height-adjustable so that your child can use the bike for longer. If only the saddle can be adjusted in height, the vehicle geometry deteriorates enormously and with it the basic conditions for the learning child.

The handlebars of a wheel should always be adjusted so that your child can sit as upright as possible and grip the handlebars comfortably. The arms should be slightly bent. If the handlebars are set too low, the angle of vision is directed too much towards the ground. This makes it more difficult for the child to orientate itself and it loses valuable reaction time in dangerous situations.

The wheel saddle should be adjusted so that the child can safely reach the ground with its feet when seated. The legs should even be bent a little during the ride so that the child can push off strongly against the ground.

Children grow quickly. If the wheel grows with your child, it is not necessary to buy a new one after one or two years. This saves you the cost of a new wheel, and your child does not have to part with a cherished toy.

Extra equipment

Wheel with or without brakes?

Many wheels, especially larger wheels, have a handbrake. As mentioned earlier in the text, brakes are not necessary because children who are just starting to ride a wheel are not yet able to use or coordinate a handbrake.

On the one hand, they do not yet have the necessary strength to operate the handbrake lever, and on the other hand, they are not yet able to coordinate different movements at the same time. In addition, hand brakes can be very dangerous, especially on sloping terrain.

If you absolutely want to have a wheel with brakes, then we advise you to equip the wheel with a particularly child-friendly braking system.

A wheel with a steering lock?

Wheels with a steering lock can be very dangerous for the child in the event of a fall. If the vehicle is lying on the ground, the handlebars automatically point steeply upwards and cannot be turned down.

If your child falls and hits the upper part of the body, stomach or genital area on this end of the handlebar, it can lead to severe injuries in extreme cases. In the interest of your child's safety, you should not use a steering lock.

Bell, stand and handlebar basket?

There are some additional features for bicycles that are not necessary, but are often useful. A stand, for example, is very advantageous because you don't have to lean the wheel against the wall to make it stand.

Most wheels do not have a stand, a bell or even a handlebar basket. However, these are things that you can buy and fit to the wheel yourself if necessary.

Design

Wheels differ not only in terms of material, but also in terms of design.

For example, there are wooden wheels with a Vespa look or a giraffe design. Metal wheels come in many different colours and unusual frame shapes. There are also some that you can have personalised with your child's name. Colourful stickers are very common for plastic wheels.

If you're a fan of retro designs, the Vespa-style wheel is the right choice for you. If you prefer bright colours and stickers, choose a metal or plastic wheel. The design is a matter of taste and is up to you and your child.

Facts worth knowing about the topic of running wheels

How do children learn to ride a wheel?

It varies from child to child. Some children just sit on the wheel and ride off. Other children need a little help at the beginning.

In the beginning, it is best to explain to your child what the new toy is and how it works. Help your child get on the wheel and stay close to your child during the first attempts. After a few first attempts, you can let your child try to ride alone.

Did you know that the urge to move is already anchored in children's genes?

Until the age of two, children learn to turn, crawl and eventually walk without help from others.

If that doesn't work at first, you can stand behind the wheel and give it a little push from behind. Otherwise, you can walk a little way ahead and then call for the child to follow you. Don't worry if it doesn't work right away. Sooner or later, the child will automatically start riding the wheel.

How quickly do children learn to ride a wheel?

For some children it is relatively quick and for others it takes a little longer. As a rule, it can be said that children who quickly gain confidence in the wheel at the beginning learn to ride a wheel in just a few days.

How long do children ride a wheel?

Most children use the wheel until they are too big for it. Normally, a running bike can be used until the age of 5 or 6. Most children use it until they can ride a bicycle. However, there is no reason to put the running bike in the basement as soon as you have bought a bike for your child. Variety is good for children.

So don't worry that the wheel will only be useful for a year or two. Nevertheless, it is advisable to buy a running bike at an early age, because then your child will benefit for a very long time.

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