By peoplestaff225
Updated June 10, 2009 10:00 AM
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Made from wood with large, rubber tires, the Prince Lionheart Balance Bike ($80) looks like a big-kids’ bike. Its retro styling with the race car number up front and the real bike tires makes it cool.

My 3 ½-year-old son Finn jumped right on after we assembled it — it only took a couple of minutes — and cruised down the sidewalk, pushing the bike with his feet. As he gets more accustomed to riding it, I can see him sticking his legs out and coasting along. It’s not adjustable so I don’t expect it to work for him for multiple summers, but he is so proud of this bike that he rides it all the time and the high-quality construction will outlast his brother’s use, too.

Balance bikes give small kids the feel of a real bike and teach the balance and coordination required to ride one. My hope is that, when the time comes, we’ll be able to transition to a pedal bike without using training wheels. Maybe next summer!

— Kristen