Tyke Rider balance bikeI’ve long been a fan of the wooden, pedal-less early rider bikes which get kids more confident and more able to ride a real bicycle than anything I ever had back in the Stone Age. But the prices? Holy heck. And by heck, you know – I don’t mean heck.

Well praise the gods of affordable fabulosity for the new learning bike from Britain’s Tyke Rider which starts at around half the price of the $300+ LIKEaBike, and is now available in the states. Right in time for Christmas, yes!

They were kind enough to send me over a pink Early Rider Classic with snazzy racing flames to check out–just to prove to me that there is in fact a pink bike on the market that doesn’t make me want to gag. While you do have to put it together, it’s not that hard and the result is well worth it – a sturdy, well-designed wooden bike with a badass retro chopper look. Yes, even in pink.

It’s got a fat boy in the rear (i.e. “big honkin’ wheel”) that does seem to make the bike more stable. The leather seat adjusts up and down, and the handlebar reach can be adjusted too, so it really will last your kid than a year or two. But the best part is how it really does help kids learn how to tackle a two-wheeler and circumvent that false sense of balance that training wheels offer. In fact, it’s not unusual to see kids in our neighborhood zipping around on these things who hardly look old enough to say bicycle, let alone ride one.

Little Nutty children's bike helmetThe Classic will be fine for kids 2-5, plus there’s an Early Rider Lite for those a little younger (not that mine would have been ready at 20 months!), and an Early Rider Evolution which is built to handle kids a little older. And they’re all super light, so tossing it in and out of the trunk is no big deal.

Oh and moms? The seats are washable. Can I get a whoo?

While you’re on the site, don’t forget to grab one of the Little Nutty children’s bike helmets from Portland’s Nutcase, which are about the greatest looking kids’ helmets I’ve ever seen. The dial on the back means you can adjust it as your kid grows (or lend it to visiting friends and cousins), and the fun patterns and cool styling will make kids excited to put the helmets on and keep them on. Which, of course, is the point. –Liz

Cool Mom Picks Pick of the Year badge

Find wooden balance bikes and Nutcase helmets for children from Tyke Rider and just for you – because we love you – we’ve scored you 15% off your purchase with code “tykerider” at checkout.

For more great gift ideas for kids this holiday season, check out our 2009 Holiday Gift Guide!