It seems like every preschooler we know has some version of the balance bike, and for good reason. These pedal-less bikes are a safe way for kids to teach themselves to balance and self-correct at their own speed. We've posted about balance bikes before, but the much-acclaimed Early Rider, formerly available only in Europe, is a great new entry in the Stateside arena, with a couple of features that differentiate it from the rest of the crowd.
Unlike most other balance bikes on the market, the Early Rider features "Fat Boy" rear tires for extra stability and comfort. And unlike most other balance bikes on the market, the Early Rider comes in three sizes, for smaller and larger preschoolers and kindergartners. The Lite version, designed for kids as young as 20 months all the way up to 4 years old, is the lightest balance bike you can find, weighing in at just 7.2 lbs. The Classic, at 10.5 lbs, is designed for 2-to-5-year-olds. And the Evolution is slightly taller, making it suitable for the 3.5-to-6-year-old set.
Your choices don't end at size. Made of sustainable birch, Early Riders come in your choice of pink, blue and natural. All feature cool embossed flames and a faux leather seat pad.
Prices range from $159.99 to $199.99 at TykeRider (currently the sole U.S. retailer). They aren't exactly cheap, but in our experience with similar models, these kinds of bikes have decent resale value. (Besides, isn't this what grandparents and holidays are for?)