firstbike-blueGrowing up, I loved my little red tricycle. But kids nowadays have something way cooler: balance bikes. Similar to regular bicycles, but without the pedals, these feet-powered bikes teach kids balance and motor skills. Because they look like regular bikes, little kids can feel like they’re on a big-kid ride.

Balance bikes have enjoyed several years of popularity in Europe, but only recently did the pedal-less ride make its way here to the U.S. Unfortunately, the balance bike market in the U.S. consists mostly of wooden models, which may not withstand wet weather, and metal frames, which may not provide preschoolers with the level of safety parents desire. Most also lack brakes, adding another question of safety to the mix.

Europe’s FirstBIKE unveiled their U.S. offerings at the recent American International Toy Fair and they’re pretty great (check out the demonstration video below). Made with a high-tech, flexible, and durable material—30 percent glass fiber reinforced nylon composite—the bikes are lightweight and safe for kids ages 2 and up. The adjustable seat with special shock absorption allows for comfortable rides for kids of most heights. A grippy horse-saddle design makes it stable for even the smallest preschoolers. They also feature sealed rear drum brakes, as opposed to the less safe rear V-brakes on most bikes.

FirstBIKE can be personalized in a number of colors and they are available in five models. FirstBIKE Basic features non-air tires suitable for indoor use. FirstBIKE Street has air tires ideal for urban settings, while the FirstBIKE Cross features tires suitable for grass, loose dirt, and gravel. FirstBIKE Racing features Big Apple tires for increased traction, and FirstBIKE Limited features the same Big Apple tires and comes in limited edition colors.

For more commentary from Loren, check back each Wednesday afternoon. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!