Picture of Toddler Balance Bike from used child's bike
Toss out those training wheels, and teach your kids to ride using a homemade balance bike!

A balance bike is a small pedal-less bike used for teaching toddlers how to ride, and they offer many advantages over using training wheels. If you'd like to read more about balance bikes, is a great site with loads of information.

There are many commercial balance bikes available, but they can cost quite a bit. I made this balance bike from a used child's bike in a few hours, and it only cost me $5.

There's slightly more to it than just removing the pedals, crank, and chain from an old bike and just plunking your kid onto it . . . but not much.

Take a look at how I tackled this project, and let me know what you think. Hopefully there's enough information here to help you make your own. Thanks for looking!
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Step 1: Find the right candidate

Picture of Find the right candidate
The main challenge with converting an existing bike to a balance bike is getting the seat low enough so your child can easily straddle it and reach the ground comfortably with both feet. Ideally, the finished bike should provide an inch or two of clearance when your child stands over the seat.

To achieve this as easily as possible, I recommend looking for a bike with 12" tires, and a frame that is designed with one main tube that goes from the head tube to the seat post/bottom bracket area. A lot of kids' bikes have frames shaped like this, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. Bikes with this kind of frame should be pretty easy to modify to get the seat just a little bit lower than what is possible as they come from the store. (I would specifically avoid traditional-looking frames if you can, as they will require a lot more work--welding and such--which is beyond the scope of what I was willing to do for this project.) 

I found this one at a thrift store, and it happened to already have two decent tires and inner tubes that didn't need patching. Nice find!

After some very slight modifying of the seat tube, the seat is low enough for my 2-year-old. The nice things is that the seat is still adjustable so I could raise it up if we needed to in the future.
Hi! Please help! Would the bike on this link convert well:

My daughter is very petite, 14"inseam (if I measured correctly), 36.5"tall, 25 lbs.

Hoping to do this for her 3rd birthday this week!
seamster (author)  crismascarroll5 months ago

It looks like it might work, but there's no way I can say for certain.

Sorry I'm not much help!

3366carlos6 months ago

very nice, cute kid

Oldbear9 months ago

SOS pads will work well on the pitted chrome.

mhubbard51 year ago
THANKS SO Much for this post!! I linked back to you on our blog. Our kid LOVES his bike.
seamster (author)  mhubbard51 year ago
Nice work. Glad I could help!
rwomble2 years ago
This is great, I did it for my 3 yr old. He was on this for 2 weeks, then we put the peddles back on and he's cruising now. Great idea!!
seamster (author)  rwomble2 years ago
Nice! Glad to hear it worked for you.
sunshiine2 years ago
I voted for this! He just looked so happy!
makendo2 years ago
Great idea and the bike cleaned up really well. New owner looks pretty stoked!