Teaching your child to ride a bike is one of the most exciting experiences as a parent, and luckily training wheels are no longer the only option. Over the past few years balance bikes have become a popular option to get kids riding younger, and even skip the training wheels altogether.
If you don’t know what we’re talking about, balance bikes are two wheelers with no pedals and no training wheels, so the child uses their feet to propel themselves along.
Balance Bike vs Training Wheels
When your child first sees their new bike, the first thing they’re going to want to do is hop on. Training wheels do have the advantage here because the child can easily sit on the bike. However, their movement is limited and a lot of times pedals can be too much for them. On the other hand, balance bikes teach your child to balance on the bike (obviously), while at the same time using motor skills they have already learned with walking. It’s an added comfort for them to keep their feet close to the ground while learning, without having the pedals get in the way.
How to Teach Your Child To Ride a Balance Bike
Step 1: Stand and walk.
Step 2: Sit and walk.
Step 3: Sit, run, and balance.
Step 4: Sit, run, glide and explore!
Balance Bikes Make for an Easy Transition
There’s a bit of a trade off here, as with training wheels your child will have the pedaling motion down, but will have no concept of balance. This can be a tough transition because they will have to learn to keep the bike upright as well as deal with the inevitable falls.
If your child is transitioning from a balance bike to a pedal bike they will fall much less. They will have the natural instinct to save themselves with their feet when they begin to tip over.
The Best Balance Bike for Your Child
Most balance bikes are made for children ages 2-4, although they can start even younger than that- if they can walk they can ride! When choosing a balance bike, there are few things you’ll want to be looking out for. First are they tires, as direct and reliable feedback from the bikes steering will help your child feel more comfortable and in control. Avoid any hard plastic wheels unless the bike is only going to be used inside. The best choice would be rubber tires with pneumatic tubes, which offer the most traction and control on a variety of surfaces.
Next, there are the brakes. The original balance bikes did not have a brake, but some contemporary models now include a hand-operated rear brake. This can be a great option for added control, and learning how to use a brake, but isn’t necessary as many kids will still inevidiably choose to use their feet to slow down and stop rather than a brake.
Here are some of the best options when it comes to a balance bike for your child.
The woom 1 is great for kids anywhere from 18 months to 3 years old. It features air tires, a hand brake, a natural upright body position and added turning limiter. The woom 1 is also one of the lightest balance bikes on the market, making it easier for you child to use on their own.
The Strider Sport fits kids 18 months to 4 years, making it a great bike for your child to grow into. It has foam tires, making them maintenance free, but does not give the child as much cushioning or traction as rubber tires.
Not only does this balance bike look awesome, it was designed by former X-Games star Todd Lyons when he became a father. It has a traditional BMX stem and 16 spoke wheels, making it heavy, but great for kids who tend to be a little rough on their toys.
Another budget friendly option with foam tires, the GOMO balance bike is great for kids age 2-4. It features a tucked away footrest, adjustable handlebars, and extended wheelbase that gives more room for the rider to move around.
If you have a child who is too old for the traditional balance bike (age 4-6), but is still struggling to learn to ride a bike, the Bixie 16 is a great option. With larger wheels, a larger frame, and air tires, it can be a great way to get your kid confident enough on two wheels before adding pedals.