Introduction: Wooden Balance Bike

Picture of Wooden Balance Bike

This was a project for our two and a half year old nephew. We wanted to buy one but was shocked by the price for a decent wooden model. The key was to find a set of smooth rolling wheels and then design the dimensions around the diameter and axles. The seat is adjustable both up and down as well as front to back.

Based roughly on BMX geometry

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

A lot of this project can be made with leftover bits and pieces

  • 1/2" Baltic Birch Plywood- main frame
  • 3/4" plywood- front fork supports and seat post
  • Large Carriage Bolt- steering column
  • Small bolts- attaching sides of frame
  • 3/4"x14" dowel (old broom handle)- handlebar
  • wood screws- seat attachment/adjustment
  • Polyurethane
  • 12" wheels (from $7 thrift store bike )

Step 2: Cutting Out the Parts

Picture of Cutting Out the Parts

Picture shows main pieces on a square inch grid for reference. On the finished product I modified the seat a bit and shortened the front fork pieces.

  • Sketch out one side of the frame and fork on 1/2" plywood
  • Cut out with a jigsaw (I used a large drill bit to make smooth corners for the inner cut outs)
  • Trace the cut out pieces and repeat
  • Round all edges with router and 1/4" bit
  • Sand

Step 3: Front Fork and Steering

Picture of Front Fork and Steering

The two sides of the frame form a wedge. With both halves touching in the front, determine how wide the back will be based on your rear axle. The tires I found required an 11 degree taper.

  • Cut a wedge piece to fit in the inner gap of the two halves. (This will help keep the steering column from sliding around)
  • Glue and bolt together.
  • Drill a hole for the steering column
  • Cut two rectangles out of 3/4" plywood the width of the fork pieces and the length of the inner axle
  • Drill holes through both rectangles to fit carriage bolt for steering
  • Sandwich body of bike between rectangles (with washers) and bolt.
  • Cut off excess bolt with hacksaw
  • Attach front wheel to both fork pieces with slots/holes to fit axle
  • Determine how high up the front fork the body will rest without rubbing on the tire
  • Attach with wood glue and/or screws
  • Cut dowel to 14"
  • Drill appropriate wholes through and glue in handlebar

Step 4: Seat and Post

Picture of Seat and Post

For the seat:

  • Use 3/4" plywood to build an appropriate seat post. I chose an angle that allowed the seat to slightly tilt back when installed
  • Use 1/2" plywood to build a seat (I used the same 11 degree taper as the frame) A small mud flap could also be designed at this point
  • Round the edges with the router
  • Screw seat to post (don't glue, it can be adjusted to fit the child)

Attaching the seat:

Build two spacers out of 2x4 scrap. For my bike the 11 degree overall wedge meant both blocks needed 5.5 degree angles cut on the mitre saw. Adjust the width of these pieces by dryfitting with seat post in between. Once snug, glue both spacers to the inner walls of the frame. Do not glue the seat post, use screws so it can easily be raised or lowered as needed.

Step 5: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Polyurethane or paint body. Lightly sand with steel wool. Enjoy!

Comments

Styku made it! (author)2017-11-14

Hi!
Very nice job. I like your design. I'm impressed of your work.
You have inspired me to build my balance bike :)

HrkÖ (author)2017-11-02

hi

balance pike very nice ,

plan dwg solid part plasee

CJSchecter96 (author)2015-05-07

Nice job. i have to design a tandem version for my high school pre engineering class. Design im not worried about but having to ride it will be tough.

jamisonfkilbride (author)2015-04-09

I love your design. Do you have an actual template of detailed measurements that I can use to build mine?

Sorry, I don't. But if you use the picture with the pieces laid on the inch grid as a guide you could get a good idea. Or better yet, if you have access to a digital projector you could blow up that image until full scale. Your final dimensions might need to be slightly different to accommodate the wheels you use. Good luck!

taylor_s2 (author)2015-01-17

Both of my boys learned on a walking bike. They were up and riding within a few minutes. They never used training wheels. When they finally switched to a pedal bike, they did so within 20 minutes. Walking bikes are the best.

heavyweather (author)taylor_s22015-01-19

I second that.
Got 3 boys and every one started at a younger age on the balance bike. Trainer wheels are counter intuitive probably just hindering. Just like "walking trainers" which are actually harmful to toddlers.

I too wanted to try a wooden one but used balance bikes are too cheap (Even kids bikes can be bought for 10€ used)

I guess I need to try it anyways and just give it away :)


dnaorem (author)2015-01-17

I vote you.

zaphod07 (author)2015-01-17

Very nice job

kode1303 (author)2015-01-17

Very nice! You've got my vote ;-)

tonygperez (author)2015-01-16

Sweet Ride! Thanks for sharing. Gives me a good basis to start building one for my son. Thanks again.

seamster (author)2015-01-16

Love this! I was tempted to make a wooden balance bike for my youngest son, but totally chickened out. Ended up modifying an existing bike, but your wooden one looks so much cooler. Very nicely done!

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