Balance Bike Seat Heights Explained

child in helmet riding a bike

My daughter had lots of fun on her balance bike when she was younger and I honestly think it helped her a lot to quickly transition to a pedal bike. However, one mistake I made was buying a balance bike which didn’t let you adjust the seat height. It probably made it uncomfortable at times, which meant she didn’t use it for very long. But she didn’t seem to mind.

Adjusting the seat height of a balance bike means your child can use it for longer and it makes it more comfortable for them to use. In this article, let’s look at what seat height you should use, why it’s important and how you can adjust it.

How do you determine the size of a balance bike?

Unfortunately there is no standard size for a balance bike. The size is typically determined by the seat height and the wheel size. A larger wheel size usually equals a taller seat height, so it’s suitable for older or bigger kids. However, this isn’t always the case as every bike manufacturer is different. For example, you can find a balance bike with a 12” wheel size that has a seat height of 10-14”, but you can also find one with a saddle height of 14-20” for the same wheel size. It makes things quite confusing!

Therefore you really need to look at seat height as the main way to find the right size balance bike for your child.

How do you measure a child’s inseam?

Before buying a balance bike, you need to know your child’s inseam length. With this information, this will help you buy one with the right seat height and one which will allow for growing room. Here’s how you measure it:

  • Put shoes on your child, ask them to have their feet slightly apart and stand next to a wall.
  • Place a hard book in between their legs, with the spine pointing upwards.
  • Lift the book until the spine hits their crotch (this mimics the balance bike seat position)
  • Make sure the book is level, and measure from the ground up to the spine of the book. That’s the inseam length.

If you want a visual demonstration, here’s a good video from Two Wheeling Tots which explains it well.

Once you have the inseam measurement, you can find a balance bike which is the right size for your child.

What is the correct seat height for a balance bike?

The correct seat height is when your child sits on the bike seat, puts their feet firmly on the ground and only has a slight dip in their knees.

Why is the seat height important?

When your child is sitting on the saddle comfortably and at the right height, the slight bend in their knees enables them to push off with their feet so they can move faster, run, and in the end, glide for a bit. A seat height which is too high, when your kid is basically riding the bike on their tiptoes, makes it harder for them to pick up any speed. It also makes it a lot harder to stop!

What is the maximum seat height?

The maximum balance bike seat height should be around 2” more than the length of your child’s inseam. For example, if their inseam length is 12”, the balance bike should have a maximum height of at least 14”.

What is the lowest seat height you can use?

The lowest seat height should be roughly 0.5-1” less than the child’s inseam. For example, if their inseam is 12”, the seat height should be no taller than 11.5”. A seat position that is too low, means your child’s knees will be bent too much making a lot harder to ride the bike naturally.

Balance bike height chart

If you’re on the lookout for a balance bike, here are some balance bikes with their seat heights, so you can see what is right for your child.

Remember your child’s inseam length should be around 0.5-1″ more than the minimum seat height for a balance bike.

ModelSeat HeightChild’s Age
Yvolution Y Velo11″ – 14.17″18 months – 4 years
Banana LT Balance Bike12.2″ – 15.7″2 – 5 years
Chillafish Charlie11″ – 14.6″18 months – 4 years
ThinkMax Toddler Balance Bike10.6″ – 12.9″18 months – 3 years

How do you adjust the seat height of a balance bike?

Adjusting the seat height is fairly straightforward although it may vary slightly between different balance bikes. Usually it just involves loosening a bolt, sliding the seat up or down and tightening the bolt again. Some have a quick release lever so it’s even easier and faster to change the seat height. However, wooden balance bikes tend to be fiddlier to change the saddle position.

What are the benefits of adjustable bike seats?

Here are a couple of advantages of purchasing a balance bike which allows you to adjust the seat height:

  • Your child can use the balance bike for longer because you can make adjustments as they grow.
  • For off-road riding, your child will need more bend in the knees to give them more control, as they become more comfortable on their bike. Adjusting the seat height gives you this option.

How high should the balance bike handlebars be?

In general, the handlebars should be at the lowest setting for 6-24 month old children, a middle setting for 36-48 months and at the highest setting for kids older than 48 months. So for the majority of the time, when your child will be the most active on a balance bike, you’ll probably be on a middle setting, at a height which is roughly in line with their belly button.