Guardian Balance Bike Review

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Guardian bike is on a mission to create the safest bikes for kids, and they’re doing a great job with that goal!  With all of their bikes using their proprietary SureStop braking system, these kids bikes are designed to keep both tires on the ground while safely stopping your kids bike. 

guardian bikes balance bike for kids review

Our 5-year-old has been riding a Guardian Airos for the last year, and the lightweight design and easy one handed brake system have skyrocketed his confidence.  We were thrilled to hear that Guardian was going to start making 12” balance bikes and couldn’t wait to try it out!

Things we love about Guardian Bikes overall:

We started our son on a Guardian bike when he was transitioning to a bigger size and was struggling with hand brakes.  He was constantly struggling to figure out which brake to pull and how much pressure to apply.  He had a few hard falls (both from braking too hard, and not hard enough), and quickly got discouraged about biking overall.  Instead of having him go back to his too small bike, we instead got him a Guardian Airos 20” small bike and the difference in his riding was immediately improved. Read our Guardian Airos review for more details! 

guardian bikes airos 20 small review
Guardian 20″ Airos Small Bike

Here are some things that we’ve fallen in love with from Guardian Bikes:

  • Good geometry designed for kids
  • SureStop braking system is perfect for beginning riders
  • Kids bike sizes are determined by kids measurements, not just age to help get the right fit (check out their size guide)
bike park with balance bike guardian
Guardian Balance Bike

Guardian Balance Bike Specs

Cost: $199
Ideal Child Height: 33 – 40 inches
Age Range: 1.5-4
Wheel Size: 12”
Seat Range: 12.5 – 16 inches
Bike Weight: 8.5 lbs
Rider Weight Limit: 90 lbs

guardian bikes kids balance bike

The Guardian Balance bike is designed for kids who are 1.5-4 years old.  It’s designed to really help kids get a good start with biking with a focus on balance, steering, and braking.  

This Guardian bikes toddler bike is available in three different colors: Dark blue, light blue and pink, and gray and yellow.

This kids balance bike has a low stepover, to make it even easier for kids to get on and off, which is one of our favorite features.  

guardian bike balance bike for toddlers with hand brake

The quick release seat post adjustment makes it easy to adjust the height of the seat as kids grow, and more importantly, as their confidence increases.  

This bike also includes internally routed cables so that kids don’t get caught up on their rear brake cables, as well as a steering limiter, so that the handlebars don’t do a 360 degree turn.  

balance bike hand brake

Most importantly, this balance bike for toddlers features the Guardian SureStop braking system that not only brakes both wheels with one brake, but according to Guardian, it’s also is easier to pull than other brands hand lever brake.  

Best Features Of Guardian Bikes Balance Bike

Overall, we really liked the Guardian Balance Bike.  While it didn’t stand out from the competition as much as the Guardian Airos does, it’s still a fantastic little bike.  

guardian bikes kids balance bike low stepover height

Probably our favorite feature was the stepover height.  Most other balance bikes that we’ve tried (and we’ve used a lot with our 5 kids) have a higher stepover, and it’s a bit of a challenge for biking with young toddlers.  This balance bike from Guardian made it really easy to get on and off, which is especially helpful for kisd who are young, new to biking, or are more timid. 

guardian bikes kids balance bike little girl riding

The tires are a bit wider than other balance bikes, and although this might not sound like a big deal, I love that they’re air filled AND came with an adaptor to get a pump to fit between the tiny spokes (a sanity saver for mom and dad).  The air filled tires make this bike feel more like a regular bike (instead of the rigid tires that most balance bikes have).  

We also really love the hand brakes, but quickly learned that they don’t work for everyone.  We tried the bike out with several kids of different ages and sizes and learned that although we wanted all the kids to use the hand brake, most of the younger ones couldn’t figure it out.  We had one 3 year old who bikes a lot and figured it out, but she felt like an anomaly in our group of little test riders.  I’m hoping with more time it’s easier for kids, but I think that kids won’t be able to really use their brakes until they’re very confident at balancing and getting to higher speeds.  Logically though, that’s just fine since kids don’t really need to use brakes until they’re going faster anyway.

What We Didn’t Love About The Guardian Balance Bike

Overall, the Guardian Balance Bike felt a little bit small.  While it says it’s designed to accommodate kids up to 40”, we tested it on our son who was 43”, and it was way too small, so I think that 40” is a bit too generous.  I’d say that it’s better for kids up to about 38” or so.  While I know that size doesn’t always correlate with age, as a general rule, I’d recommend this bike for kids up to age 3.  

balance bike too small
The bike is clearly to too small for a 43″ kid

Another feature that was lacking in this bike was a lack of places for kids to put their feet.  It can be really hard for kids to learn how to balance if the only option for them is to put their feet out to the side.  I think that to really help them learn the proper balance that transitions better to pedaling, a set of rails or pegs for kids to put their feet on would be a great addition to this preschool balance bike.  

guardian bikes balance bike balancing toddler

On The Fence About

The one thing that we’re on the fence about is weight.  While the bigger size Guardian bikes would absolutely be considered lightweight, this kids balance bike felt rather heavy.  While overall it weighs 8.5 pounds, our Strider only weighs 6.7 pounds.  This didn’t seem to be an issue for our 2.5 and 3 year old testers, but I think it would be much harder for 1.5-2 year old kids to handle.  

Final Thoughts on The Preschool Balance Bike by Guardian Bikes

We love that Guardian now makes bikes for kids of all ages, and especially love that the Guardian Kids Balance Bike is made in the United States.  This is a well built balance bike, but the features such as the hand brake and the slightly heavier frame seem to be best suited to bigger kids in the 2-3 year old range.  

biek park with a balance bike by guardian bikes

We truly believe that balance bikes offer the best way to teach kids to ride a bike, so we always recommend balance bikes over bikes with training wheels.  Since this bike has the realistic feeling of an actual bike with air filled tires and the hand brake, it makes a great (and fast) transition into a pedal bike.  If the one handed brake works well for your child, we highly recommend keeping things smooth and having them start on a 16” Guardian Airos