Wooden toys are very fashionable at the moment, and wooden balance bikes are no exception. A wooden balance bike is both stylish and Eco friendly and come in all kinds of different designs and at different prices. As a rule of thumb, the higher the quality of the wood, the more expensive your bike will be. If you are considering a wooden bike for your child, there are however some things you need to keep in mind.
Let’s face it, normal balance bikes are good looking, but wood balance bikes are gorgeous. With the natural grain of the wood coming through, no two wooden bikes look the same. Manufacturers also go through a lot of trouble to create a stylish, ergonomic shape, which is what have earned wooden bikes a couple of design awards in the past. The frames also come in different colors, or the seat and handle bars can be a pink, blue or other bright color.
Most wood balance bikes are made from a plywood, more specifically a 10-15 Baltic birch, because it is stronger and offers more resistant to warpage than solid wood. Birch is quite a durable type of wood and, most importantly, harvested from a replenishable source. The layers of wood are glued together using a non-toxic glue. A layer of non-toxic urethane paint or lacquer further protects the wood from moisture and wear. Some wooden balance bikes are made from a marine-grade wood, which makes them even tougher, but more expensive.
Most wooden balance bikes weigh between 9 and 12 pounds, making them fairly lightweight but maybe a bit heavy for the very young riders (younger than 2). Many wooden balance bikes are not meant for children younger than two, but some manufacturers do produce a smaller, lighter frame for the very small kiddies.
Although most wooden balance bikes also have adjustable seat height settings in order to grow with the child, they are not nearly as adjustable as metal frame bikes. Adjusting the seat on a wooden balance bike is also a bit more involved, as you need to remove bolts and reattach it to raise it. The starting seat height is usually set for children of 2 years and up, which is why most (read most, not all) of these bikes are not suitable for younger riders. With a few exceptions, handlebars on wooden bikes are usually not very adjustable, especially when it comes to its steering limiter.
With a wooden construction, longevity is always a concern. Wooden balance bikes are more sensitive to rain and sun exposure than metal framed bikes. Their bolts also tend to loosen more easily and will need frequent maintenance to ensure the bike doesn’t fall apart. The eco-friendliness of these bikes comes at a price. However, this doesn’t mean that the bike will warp or break at the first sight of rain. Most wooden bikes can take some light moisture and even if they get very wet, the bike should be ok as long as it is dried out properly as soon as possible. Wooden balance bikes are definitely not the type you can leave outside in the rain for days, however.
They can also splinter, warp and crack, but this doesn’t happen as quickly as many believe. Anything will wear with a lot of use, especially with the rough treatment toddlers tend to give their toys, and wooden bike manufacturers keep this fact in mind when designing the bike. Granted, a wooden bike is more likely to be a one-child bike than a metal bike, which can often be handed down several generations, but it should at least last your child a couple of years. On the upside, when wooden bikes do break, they are usually fairly easy to fix.
Pros and Cons
Wooden Balance Bike Pros
- Fashionable, trendy look
- Sustainable, eco-friendly design
- Non-toxic paint and glues
- Can handle some moisture
- Lightweight frame
- Fairly Easy to Fix
Wooden Balance Bike Cons
- More vulnerable to the elements than metal bikes
- Need to be stored indoors
- May chip and scratch over time
- Most models are not suitable for children under 2
- Not as adjustable as metal bikes
- Bolts loosen over time and need to be tightened often
A wooden balance bike is beautiful, fashionable and will teach your child all the necessary balance and coordination skills. Children usually love their wooden bikes. However, it is also a bike that will require special care. When not in use, a wooden bike cannot be left outside, it needs to be stored in a dry place. Because wooden bikes are usually not as long-lasting as metal bikes they are not your ideal hand-me-downs and are more suitable for one-child families