yuba flip adorable
Yuba Flip Flop Kids’ Cargo Balance Bikes

As cycling innovations go, the kick/scoot/balance bike will probably have the biggest impact when it comes to getting more people to ride. Embraced in Europe for generations, the concept is pretty simple: yank off the pedals and lose the brakes, so kids can figure out how to balance and steer at a much younger age. As a former elementary school teacher and bike shop employee, I saw my child development and cognition classes acted out when enthusiastic parents saw their dreams of family rides get washed away in a flood of tears as their toddler quickly grew frustrated on a 12 inch bike with training wheels. Balancing, steering, pedaling, AND braking – especially with coaster brakes – quickly overwhelms a small child.

Then one day a German couple came to the shop with a simple wooden balance bike, handed it to one of my customers, and demonstrated how a very young child can quickly master gliding around under their own power. Better yet, once their gross motor skills catch up, kids that start out on balance bikes learn how to ride “real” bikes at a much younger age than children who solely rely on training wheels.

Considering the simplicity of the concept, we are pretty impressed with some new products that promise balance bikes with better versatility and longevity than most current offerings. South African company Two Wheels Trading is offering both steel and alloy-framed balance bikes built up with quality components to help them last through a long line of hand-me-downs. California-based cargo bike maker Yuba has a new design that will grow with your child.

Muna Balance Bikes

Firetruck_Front copy
Muna Firetruck steel balance bike

Muna, which means “first” in Filipino,  is offering four new models of balance bikes, two with steel frames, and two with aluminum frames. Muna’s approach is to create a quality product, built up with dependable and serviceable components, so bike shops can offer something that can compete with what is sold at big box stores. For $110 (UPDATE: $150 $160 for the alloy models) you get a bike built with inflatable tires, stainless spokes,  a headset with bearings, a quick release seat post binder, and a bar lever actuated rear drum brake. As your kid gets more skilled, and starts riding faster, the addition of a reliable, low-maintenance brake should give you considerable peace of mind; progressing from Flinstone stops to using a handbrake will be a valuable lesson before progressing to a pedal bike as well. It is also my belief that coaster brakes, and the inability to pedal backwards, is often a critical point of frustration for young children.

Pro_Mini_Front copy
Muna Pro Mini aluminum balance bike

The steel models begin shipping next week to bike shops  across the United States. The alloy modelswill begin shipping in late September. Annoyingly, they have branded the bikes as the Fire Truck (steel) and Pro Mini (alloy) for boys versus the “girls'” Pinkie (steel) and Rabbit (alloy). The bikes are distributed in the US through Torcano Industries.


Yuba Flip Flop

Yuba Flipped and Flopped
Yuba Flipped and Flopped

Yuba is releasing an innovative line of kids’ “cargo” balance bikes that feature a frame design that will stretch out its useful life for your growing child. Taking the same basic principal as turning a BMX bike into a gravity bike the Flip Flop is designed with a curving top (well, only) tube, to provide a much greater range of standover and saddle heights. The bike, available in three colors, comes standard with a rear rack, and adorably tiny little saddlebags are available.

Flip Flop Cargo Rack is rated for two teddy bears
Flip Flop Cargo Rack is rated for two teddy bears

Given the rapid rate at which many children can progress from a balance bike to pedaling, the amount of growing room may not be necessary. However, if you do plan to start a child at a very young age, or are a parent aiming to get two children a couple years apart both pedaling in short order, the Flip Flop may save you an intermediate purchase. Shop owners may also be attracted to a single item that can substitute multiple sized models from another brand. Pricing is $149.99, and will be at your LBS and on the Yuba website in November.



  1. @fayar: My little one will turn 3 in November and he’s been playing with his Strider all summer. Pretty much as soon as they’re old enough to run, they’re old enough to scoot on one of these. They do progress very quickly. He badly wants a pedal bike like daddy’s, but they don’t make quality ones that small at a decent price point so he’s stuck on a kick bike until next spring.

  2. It’s too bad Yuba didn’t use a real headset on theirs, but maybe the production version will. A brake is a good idea, too.

  3. My son is about 2.5, and he has been using his Giant balance bike for the past week and become very good at it. For us we had to wait until he could touch the ground and be confident enough to give it a go. As Dave stated, if they can run, they can ride one of these as long as they can comfortably touch the ground.

  4. @ Dockboy:

    We have one of the wooden strider bikes which only uses a couple of cartridge bearings instead of a headset. Our son is currently using it and he’s the 5th kid on our block over the course of 7 years to have this bike. It’s probably as high mileage as one these bikes will get. These bikes don’t see nearly the usage of a proper, adult bike so not having a headset really isn’t as big a deal as you might think.

  5. Proud dad post:

    My youngest son turned 3 in July. Started on a stride-style bike as soon as the snow melted this year (may), and was riding a peddle bike with no training wheels by his 3rd birthday in July (his is a Giant 12″ bike).

    We had a few tricycles too, but to be honest my boys didn’t really care for them, and if you are big enough for a tricycle, you’re big enough for a stride-bike.

  6. @Dockboy Yuba’s threaded steerer and headset is one of their “features”, as it allows them to run a quill stem and thus have adjustable stem height.

    Really not seeing anything that innovative or feature packed here. Yubas list of “features” are pretty standard across the board these days, apart from maybe the brake, but they are becoming more common place these days too.

    Kids should be able to ride these from between 18 months and 2 years onwards. My eldest is 4 and a balance bike is still her primary bike for when we go family riding, as she can go way faster on it, making the whole the ride more enjoyable for all.

  7. My son turned 2 about a month ago, and he’s been rocking his balance bike since he was 18 months. Right now he’s able to take 4-5 inch drops, do barspins and ride with just one hand on the handlebar. Jackson goldstone has been a real inspiration form him, as much the local BMX crew.

  8. Evan got on his at 1.5 and he is tearing it up at 3. We are getting a pedal bike for him next month. Hopefully the transition goes well. A brake on a balance bike is a very good idea.

  9. To echo what the others are says I started my daughter right before her 2nd birthday. By 2.5 I’d take her with me on short jogs. I’d but my hand on her back and give her a good shove and she’s coast 15-20 yards at a time and I’d push her again.

    The quill stem is handy. We graduated to a 12″ peddle bike right before she turned 3, I adjusted the seat and stem on the scoot bike several times to fit her growing body before moving on. She’s proud of the fact that she’s never used training wheels.

    I like the idea of the hand brake, but for 1.8-3 year old I don’t think it’s all that practical. Their stumpy little fingers would have a hard time letting go of the handles bars. Actually actuating the lever would be quite difficult as well. For kids 3+ it may work. My daughter did love dragging her feet, but wife hated her trashing the toes of her shoes.

  10. My younger daughter is just under 2 and has been walking with hers for a bit now. Our oldest at 4.5 has been riding hers confidently since she turned 3 and is now really comfortable with hills and such. The younger ones always want to get on them to follow their siblings and these are the best things to use. As long as they can put feet down and hold the handlebars they can start using them.

  11. I disagree Moove. My experience is that coaster brakes hold kids back. They prevent them from being able to stand on their pedals, which in turn limits where they can ride. My son started on a strider at 1.5 years old. He moved to a 12″ wheeled pedal bike at 3.5, a 16″ wheeled bike at 4, and I just bought him his first freewheel 20″ micro BMX bike at 4.5. I finally had the realization that I should have put him on a freewheel bike much sooner. It’s amazing how far his skills have progressed in just a few rides on a freewheel bike. There’s no doubt that handbrakes are difficult to use with small hands, but the levers on his micro BMX are small, and with proper adjustment of the lever reach, my experience has been that kids can pick handbrakes up pretty quickly

  12. @fayar: It really depends on the inseam and coordination of your child. There are several balance bikes that have an inseam as low as 11 inches such as the the Strider, Ezee Glider or the Kinderbike E Series. For example, our youngest started on a balance bike at 15 months and was able to ride a pedal bike the day he turned 3 years old.

    • I like the Yuba’s and the designs of the Muna are pretty cool as well. As neat as these bikes look, make sure they fit properly before falling in love with a particular brand. We are biased since we are bike dealers and so we aren’t going to hide how huge of fans of balance bikes we are 🙂

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