Review: Early Rider balance bikes

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We were given a couple of tiddly bikes for our junior riders to put through their paces. Here we provide a quick round up of what the children – and parents – thought.

Early Rider



Early Rider SpheroveloThis isn’t quite a bike. Made of two polyurethane spheres (the sort of thing skateboard wheels are made of) under a plastic casing-come-seat with wooden handles, this is a ride on toy aimed at children from 7 months to 2 years. There are two possible settings – the ‘stable’ mode, where there are two stabilising casters which stop the ‘bike’ tipping from side to side; and the ‘unstable’ mode, where you remove the casters and your youngster can topple off sideways. The idea is that your children can progress to being able to balance, but without quite such a drop to the ground as a genuine two wheeled bike would inflict.

Early Rider Spherovelo

As well as being there to ensure the moral upbringing of a child, the main role of a Godparent is to provide their wards with toys which will take up maximal space and cause most chaos. Mindful of this duty, Richard duly delivered the Spherovelo to his 14 month old Godson. His little legs only just reached the floor, suggesting that the 7 months minimum age may be a little optimistic.

Spherovelo Early Rider Singletrack magazineThat said, this was the only time our junior tester was still enough that a picture could actually be taken of him. Godfatherly pride swelled as high speed trundling around the house ensued. The step up to ‘unstable’ mode wasn’t attempted, however in stable mode there appeared to be no problems in grasping the operation of the Spherovelo.

Noise was something of an issue – possibly exacerbated by the wooden floors (although these are arguably better for the attainment of high speeds). Our test model was particularly squeaky in reverse, and while this could just have been our particular sample, it did get pretty annoying.

Early Rider Spherovelo

The size of this ride-on is fixed – there are no adjustments to be made to handle or seat height, so there’s going to be a set period when this fits, and then it won’t. Our tester didn’t get chance to take it outside, but our feeling is that this is going to need some pretty smooth surfaces to ride effectively. It’s also going to be pretty tricky to clean – roll through anything unpleasant and…well…parents may think twice about whether having a Godparent to oversee the good moral standing of their offspring is really worth the trouble.

Overall: This is a fun toy for around the house that will give your child an introduction to balancing.

Trail Runner

£149.99Early Rider Trail RunnerThe Trail Runner is a flat bar balance bike. We had the 14″ version, rather than the XL fat bike version.  Weighing in as advertised at 3.6kgs, this is a lightweight balance bike, weighing the same or less than other leading brands’ 12″ versions – a claim made by the Early Rider website but also held out by in-house research here at ST Towers. A larger bike, for larger children, at a lower weight – this is really pushing the child to bike weight ratio; something that will be appreciated by both child and parent (because, inevitably, you are going to end up carrying it home at some point).

Early RiderEarly RiderBy any definition, this is a bling bike for a child – brushed aluminium frame, riveted faux leather saddle, and carbon handlebars and seat tube. The result is rather spendy, but also rather attractive. Parents with half an eye on hand-me-down or resale options may also appreciate the bare metal finish – with no choice of paint jobs there’s no risk of getting mired in gender stereotyped colours or brattish cries of ‘Mummmeeee, but I wanted the spotty one!’.

The suggested age for this bike is 3-5 years, and the seat height is adjustable, although the bar height is not. We had a couple of youngsters shredding the gnar on this one and it seems a very capable bike. Our 5 year old tester, at 118cm high, was probably about as tall as is practical for this bike;  this 4 year old tester was pretty spot on.

Early Rider

Balance bike aficionados will notice that this bike comes fitted with an optional steering limiter. The idea behind a steering limiter is prevent your child from turning too sharply. However, fixed steering limiters can present something of a hazard, as in the event of a fall they cause the handlebars to remain sticking up into the air – with your child risking landing on it. The Trail Runner’s steering limiter takes the form of a rubber o-ring, which you can unhook if you want. Being stretchy, the idea is that the handlebars will still move if your child does land on them – the payoff is that it’s more of a steering deterrent than an actual limiter.

Early RiderOthers will notice the absence of a brake. Having experienced balance bikes with brakes, and without, team ST thinks the absence of a brake is no deal breaker. Some children will struggle to use a brake no matter how cleverly designed for little hands it may be, and others will choose to use their feet as brakes no matter how often you shout ‘use the brake’ at them. In our experience, buying some cheap shoes which you don’t mind having to replace may well be as effective as any brake on a balance bike.

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Overall: This is an excellent lightweight balance bike with good grippy tyres suited to whatever terrain your child chooses to tackle.

Review Info

Brand:Early Rider
Product:Spherovelo/Trail Runner
Price:Spherovelo £69.99, Trail Runner £149.99
Tested:by Team ST Jnr. for Two Months

Comments (0)

    We bought the 12″ wheel version for my grandson, it truly is a thing of beauty and always receives favourable comments when out and about.
    As mentioned it is very light and well made and the frame can be upgraded to 14″ wheels when junior gets bigger.

    My little one had the 14in version, and loved it, and regret not getting one for his older brother, who struggled to ride a heavy weight Trek 16. I got the 16in belter for the older one, and he was up to speed with it within a week. Unfortunately, the younger one then decided he wanted pedals, and after 3 months on the balance bike, he jumped straight on the belter, and was pedalling without problems. Older one has had a growth spurt, and have the new 20in belter earmarked for Easter.

    My boy is the very proud owner of an Alley Runner 12″. I’m not sure he quite appreciates the quality finish of the product or the Hope Seat collar to compliment!

    We had a like-a-bike (plywood ones) which has been used by all three of our kids… and is still going strong.

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