The Prince Lionheart Balance Bike is yet another wooden offering on the market and is a rugged, simplistic design made from 100% eco-friendly birchwood. A large number 73 appears on the frame, representing the year in which the family-owned company Prince Lionheart, was founded. Apparently their very first product was a rocking horse and they have come a long way since. Boasting awards from Tillywig Toy, Brain Child and the Creative Child Magazine I was quite curious to see how the Prince Lionheart would compare to similar products from competitors Skuut, Smart Gear and Early Rider.
The bike arrived neatly packed in its box and had to be assembled. Even without the directions that come with it, the assembly is pretty straightforward and I had the bike up and running within 10 minutes.
The first thing I noticed about the Prince Lionheart bike is the fact that it does not have the same lacquer finishing as the SmartGear and Skuut Bikes, making it much more vulnerable to wear and tear. If this was my kid’s bike, the first thing I would do is to give it a finishing coat to offer some extra protection from the elements. What I do like about this bike is that the single, solid bar that connects the frame to the handle seems much stronger than the Skuut’s weaker pin. I am also happy to report that there are no protruding bolts that can hurt a child.
When it came to adjusting the seat, we ran into a bit of a problem. My daughter is a fairly tall 2 year old and the bike is meant for children between 2 and 5, but the seat was way too high for her. The seat’s lowest setting starts at 14 inches, so be sure to measure your child’s inseam (length from feet to crotch) before purchasing this bike, as it might even be too high for smaller three year olds. I have seen that some people had to drill extra holes into the frame to get the seat at a lower setting. My four year old son had no problems getting on the bike, though, so he had the honor of testing this one. Another thing to note is that the handlebars are not adjustable at all, which is a fairly common issue on wooden balance bikes and limits the bikes ability to grow with the child.
Weighing 11.4 lbs, the Prince Lionheart balance bike is heavier that your Early Riders and even the Skuut, but it was still light enough for my four year old to handle with ease. My son had a lot of fun going down the ramps with this bike and it was sturdy enough to allow him to ride it with confidence right from the bat. The bike doesn’t have any footrests or brakes, which is perfect for a toddler who is just beginning to practise balancing as these features just tend to distract and confuse.
My son was however complaining that he couldn’t really coast with the bike as he had to dangle his feet in the air to do so. The wide profile, pneumatic air tires absorbs impact from bumps well, so my son was impressed with how comfortable the bike is. He also liked the fact that it had spoked wheels, just like the “big” bikes, but I do have my reservations about that feature as they make it easy for shoelaces, pieces of clothing or feet to get caught in it and may cause accidents.
Apparently the bike can take a weight of up to 65lbs, but I wouldn’t let a heavier child ride it too often. After just a couple of test rides, the bolts were already loosened and I had to go fetch the Allen wrench. As with other wooden bikes, this one will need to be checked and maintained on a weekly basis.
Pros & Cons
Prince Lionheart Balance Bike Pros
- Teaches coordination, steering and balance
- Sturdy design inspires confidence
- Great step for transitioning to pedalled bikes
- Simplistic no-fuss design
- Fairly lightweight
- Eco-friendly, wood harvested from renewable source
- Pneumatic air tires ensure a smooth ride
- Easy to assemble
Prince Lionheart Balance Bike Cons
- Too big for smaller toddlers
- No footrest
- Handlebars not adjustable
- Needs a lot of maintenance
- Vulnerable to rotting and warping from moisture
- Bolts loosen quickly
For its price, the Prince Lionheart is not a bad choice, especially if you want something that is eco-friendly. It has everything you want in a basic balance bike and focuses on ease-of-use, making it a great tool to teach a kid balance, coordination and steering. It is also a fairly comfortable ride, but don’t expect this bike to last for years to come. Being from wood, it will require a lot of maintenance and should never be left outside in the rain. For the rest, there isn’t really anything that sets it apart from its other wooden competitors. If I had to choose a wooden bike, I would rather opt for the more durable Early Rider that can take a younger child.