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My toddler (two and a half years old) has just started scooting around on her balance bike. I'd like to ensure that the saddle is at the best height for her to learn to balance. I know the rules of thumb for adjusting this on an adult bike with pedals, but they obviously don't apply here!

What is the ideal height, probably expressed in terms of how straight her legs should be when sitting on the saddle?

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The main thing is that the child feels comfortable and confident that they have control.

At the start most kids want to be able to sit with their feet flat on the ground and their knees bent slightly. Others may be happy with their knees straight, but it's better to start too low than too high. It's all about developing their confidence.

As they gain confidence and want to go faster they will need the seat to go little higher. Of course they also need it to be raised as they grow.

I recommend adjusting the seat by very small amounts, about 1 mm, at a time. Do it while the child is asleep, so that it does not become an issue.

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They grow so fast it really doesn't matter, but if the kid looks too low then they are, so go up a bit.

Rider should be able to stand over the seat with both feet on the ground.

While some balance bikes have bike seats with clamps like this, they're in the minority for cost and weight reasons. enter image description here

This wooden frame is far more common and much lighter for the child to manage. enter image description here Notice the seat-pole (plank?) only has two visible holes, for a total of only three seat positions.

Don't overthink this, just be an encouraging parent :)

  • Curiously, the cheaper wooden bike has pneumatic tyres with schrader valves, whereas the more expensive metal bike has solid foam tyres and radially spoked wheels front and back. Both bikes will last a decade and serve 3-5 kids, if not left outside. The metal one has a rear brake purely as a "feature" to make the buyer select that over a one without brakes, but kids lack the hand strength to use hand brakes, so they're purely cosmetic. – Criggie Mar 4 '17 at 8:55
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    We found the metal frame version with adjustable saddle to be cheaper (UK). – Chris H Mar 4 '17 at 10:28
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    Is the wooden frame bike actually lighter? I would have thought that the metal frame would have been lighter. – Coxy Mar 4 '17 at 12:33
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These bikes are propelled by a running motion so it's important to be able to bend the legs. But you don't want the saddle so very low that they can sit down and waddle too easily without getting enough speed up to balance. To be honest though, confidence and willingness to get on is more important than "ideal" height, so you may well need to set it lower than you'd like.

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