DS is 3.6, and has been asking for a bike. Would prefer to go down the balance bike route, rather than getting a bike with stabilisers, but I was wondering if there is one that can be used as a balance bike initially, and then pedals added later on? He's quite tall, and I don't want to spend money on something that will likely be used for less than a year before he gets a proper bike.
We bought a Puky bike with 12" wheels, and unscrewed the pedals until DS learned to ride - which was when he was 4. DS grew out of the bike when he was about 6, but he isn't tall for his age. You need a bike on which the seat can go down far enough for them to scoot along when using as a balance bike, and then put it up once they learn to ride. Cheaper bikes tend not to have unscrewable pedals, but 'proper' bikes are much heavier than balance bikes, so they need to be able to manage a heavier bike if you use it at both stages.
I think there is an Isla bike that has a whole removable chain mechanism as well as pedals.
DS didn't have a balance bike, I just bought a Puky with removable pedals as a way to get him to learn to ride. He had a scooter until then - v easy to carry! At 3.6 your DS may well be ready to ride a eal bike v soon, so a Puky bike with removable pedals may be the way to go, with the balance bike phase just as a means to learn to ride.
Try and get a lightweight second hand balance bike and see how he gets on?
Hmm.. been looking at this one which isn't too expensive, and would be big enough for him at the moment. Checked ebay and resale value is pretty good, so even if it only lasts 6 months I'd be able to get back a decent amount of money I think.
DS would love this one, but it's too much money and it doesn't even have brakes..
Most balance bikes don't have brakes (although the IslaBike Rothan does). I am not a fan of very cheap balance bikes (friend's son has one) although I am a tightwad. Friend's son got one a few weeks ago - cheap hollow plastic wheels have worn through already - wheels can come off, but can not find replacements, no brake, going rusty in places, and too light to have much control, very skitty on bumps in road etc. If nothing else, get one with proper pneumatic tyres.
Islabike Rothan has excellent resale value. You couldn't go wrong on that front. My jaw almost dropped off when lady let her son leave it leaning up on wall outside a shop (in a studenty high-burglary area). That was 2 years ago and I still regret not going over & telling her to lock the Rothan or it might get nicked.
Oh -- and, Isla does a trade-in scheme on her bikes. So you could get some quids off of a Cnoc 14 or 16 by giving the Rothan back to her. Haven't done that myself, but many people seem happy with the Isla deal
I know this thread is old but in case others come across it the LittleBig bike converts from a balance bike into a pedal bike. It grows too so can last your child from the age of 2 to 7, a full 5 years. Only available from our shop at https://www.littlebigbikes.com