coordinated pink helmet clothes and bike with stabilisers

Tricycle VS Balance Bike VS Stabilisers - What's the Best?

Learning to cycle can be straightforward for children. When they’re unfamiliar with riding, parents prioritise building their confidence first. A tricycle or a bike with stabilisers makes a great starting point. Although there are differences, the premise of both was the same: to provide stability.

However, balance bikes emerged, challenging the traditional approach of tricycles and stabilisers. But do these pedal-less bikes effectively aid young riders? Deciding between these three choices can be daunting for parents.

In this guide, we explore the pros and cons of each to help you find the best fit for your child.

The Tricycle

The tricycle, sometimes known as the trike, is a tried-and-trusted way to learn to cycle. The three-wheeled design is popular among toddlers and young children. It’s perfect for when they may not be ready for the challenges of a bike but are certainly ready for some adventures!


  1. Tricycles allow kids to learn pedalling early in life. This makes it intuitive when they eventually ride a pedal bike. Pedalling is not a natural motion for a child used to stepping, running, and floating. But it’s a basic motion when riding a standard bike.
  2. The trike’s purpose is to help children remain well-balanced. Its three-wheeled design gives them the confidence to zoom off with little chance of falling.
  3. Some tricycles come with a push handle. This addition can ensure that your child doesn’t stray too far by keeping their hands on the vehicle. Plus, they can be removed once they’ve gained confidence.
  4. Your child doesn’t have to get off their tricycle if they fancy a rest; it doubles as a seat. Take our word for it - this helps when it comes to precarious tasks, like ice cream breaks while perched on the trike.
  5. The tricycle is a timeless look that’s frankly incredibly cute. Looking back at pictures of your little one aboard their trike will melt your heart in the future.


  1. Tricycles don’t deal well with uneven surfaces. You probably won’t notice on your driveway and roads, but trikes quickly waver when taken off-road. If the ground is not even, the three wheels that support your child can also become imbalanced.
  2. Tricycles aren’t designed to go fast. There’s usually only one gear on a kid’s trike, and it can be harder to pedal and more tiring to pick up speed. (Parents may consider this point a positive if they don’t want their child zipping off!)
  3. Tricycles often weigh more than the kid that rides them. And who will be left carrying or pushing it around when your child tries to use the trike? An exhausting thought, we know.
  4. While a trike does teach the skill of pedalling, it may leave your child unable to learn how to balance on a bike. There’s always time to learn, but a tricycle is not the route to perfecting this particular skill.

Bikes with Stabilisers (Training Wheels)


Perhaps the most obvious way to learn to ride a bicycle is by using stabilisers. The small wheels align with the rear wheel to give extra support to someone learning to ride. Training wheels aid the bike’s balance by preventing it from leaning in the way it usually would.


  1. Bikes with training wheels have brakes. So, when cycling in hilly areas and at high speeds, your child is much safer because they can stop at any time. This helps put your mind at rest if your child goes zipping off.
  2. Bikes with stabilisers have an adjustable seat and adjustable handlebar. This means they can remain the correct kids bike size after a growth spurt. They can begin to develop balance once the training wheels are gone, moving on to the next step but on the same bike.
  3. As sad as it is, children won’t stay so tiny forever. However, the bike has the potential to adapt for a bigger rider, so it could last a few years. This means you won’t need to replace it so quickly, thus saving you money!


  1. When your child graduates to ride a bike without stabilisers, they will do so without developing balance skills. Balancing can be hard to grasp, which can mean reteaching cycling to your child.
  2. Stabilisers made of plastic often create an annoying rattling sound as they move. Although it isn’t as fundamental as some of our other cons, it had to make our list. This noise won’t frustrate many people, but it could be a deal-breaker for those that it does irritate. Think squeaking shoes and a rusty swing!
  3. Little wheels cannot handle rocky terrain. If the wheels go on rough surfaces, bikes with stabilisers often cannot move forward. And who can blame them - they’re only tiny!

Balance Bikes

Gingersnap 12” Balance Bike

Balance bikes have gained traction because of their simple yet effective method. Without the pedals, they move forward by the child resting their feet flat on the ground and pushing. As kids spend more time on these bicycles, they’ll grow in confidence. You’ll see their technique evolve from faltering steps to fearless running!


  1. Balance bikes can handle uneven terrain. The saddle is so low that the child’s feet can create extra support if placed on the floor. Forget awkward riding on anything other than pavement.
  2. Riding one teaches your child to master balancing skills. Learning this early is fantastic for their development into a confident cyclist. Transitioning to bikes with pedals becomes more straightforward on their end, too.
  3. The simple and lightweight design of balance bikes makes it easier for kids to ride them longer. They’re also effortless to carry around or tuck in your car’s trunk during a family bike ride trip.
  4. Children can start riding balance bikes as young as 18 months! This age range may seem very early to start compared to most first bicycles. Yet, most of the knack of these bicycles is balancing and walking. As long as your child is confident walking and their feet reach the ground when sitting on the bike seat, they’re good to go!
  5. Balance bikes offer children independence at a remarkably young age. The unparalleled joy they experience while cycling in their youth is remarkable.


  1. Balance bikes are often designed without brakes. This is due to the relatively low speeds your child can reach when riding. One thing that can suffer from the lack of breaks is your children’s shoes.
  2. It’s only safe to ride one on flat surfaces; adding a hill to the mix could be extremely dangerous. This restriction is less of a concern in urban spaces, as they tend to be flatter. But this could be a real problem if where you live is mainly hilly.

Decision Time!

Gingersnap 12” Balance Bike

There are no wrong decisions, as each choice is proven to help kids learn to cycle countless times. This knowledge should make your purchase simpler, but we know it's not that easy.

Instead, perhaps consider these questions. They aim to prompt you to think about which option will best meet your specific needs:

  • What skill do you want to teach your child first — pedalling or balancing?
  • Where do you live? In a flat area or amongst a lot of hills?
  • How young do you want to start teaching your child to cycle?
  • How long do you want this bike to last your child?
  • Do you want your child to stay close to you or be able to roam freely when on their bike?
  • Do the areas you aim to cycle in have smooth or bumpy ground? 

We hope we have made the decision-making process a little easier for you! Click here to shop our toddler bike for 2-year-olds.

Should you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Up next on your reading list: Teach Your Kid How to Ride a Balance Bike

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