Balance Bikes are training bicycles that help children learn to steer and balance. They have no pedals or cranksets, no chains and no training wheels. Balance bikes are made to allow the little riders to learn balance first, so the bikes must be small enough that the child can walk the bike while sitting in the saddle, with both feet on the ground. Children as young as 18 months can be cruising along on a top rated balance bike with just a few hours’ practice! While newly popular, balance bikes aren’t in fact new on the scene. The first one was actually invented in 1817. Don’t worry – there are some newer models out (both wooden and metal) sure to please your eager young riders! The German-built Like a Bike and PUKY are hit as are the U.S. made Skuut and the Australian developed TIKE.
The choice of balance bike available to the UK market is still fairly limited. You can find a kids bike with no pedals through manufacturers such as Hondura, Islabikes and Norco but there are still a large number of bigger named companies like GIANT who don’t market a running bike in the UK. Plus, although many of the bigger brands have designed a balance bike of their own, there are very few companies who specialise in first bikes for kids.
How to learn balance bike
Keep your head up when you ride just as you would when you are running or walking. You’ll tend to weave and wobble if you look at the ground immediately in front of you. Put the bike in a low gear so you can push the pedals with ease. You don’t really need to balance on a bike, the bike is already balanced; you’re probably yanking the handlebars which is making you wobble. Relax as much as you can; on a straight and level piece of road or pavement you can steer a bicycle with just one finger.
Encourage your child to walk again and push on the ground using their feet. Set the handlebar height with respect to the saddle. The steps we used with my son were pretty simple: I just went for walks with him, with him using or pushing the balance bike. As children get stronger and more confident, the gliding gets longer and faster. Remember to encourage them to look where they are going, not at their feet.
- If the saddle is at its lowest setting, set the handlebar also to its lowest setting.
- I showed him how to ride (you can show him videos of other kids his age using them as well) and encouraged him to ride.
- Once they reach this point, they’re already past stabilisers.
- They will need to sit up and look straight ahead.
- If the saddle is in the middle of its adjustment range, also set the handlebar in the middle of its adjustment range… and so on.
It took a while, but at some point it clicked for him that he could ride the bike about as fast as I walk, and it was easier for him to keep up. Once you start to become concerned that they can glide longer and faster than you can run, it’s time to think about a bicycle with pedals. It helps to have someone up ahead to look at, as toddlers are distracted easily. Kids grow quickly, so you will need to take a moment to adjust the bike every couple months to insure a proper fit. When choosing your child’s first pedal bike, look for something with proper brakes front and rear. Do this many times and your child will naturally sit on the saddle and pick up speed. Remove the pedals from the new bike. If they want to slow down just remind them to put their feet down.
Advantages of balance bike
Balance bikes are a replacement for tricycles and training wheels as they are designed to be used during the ages that a child would typically ride a tricycle or use training wheels. Unlike kids on traditional pedal bikes with training wheels, toddlers and preschoolers on balance bikes can ride for several miles at a time and run up hills—all while having fun and boosting their self-confidence. Balance isn’t the only useful thing your child will learn from one of these bikes. nlike training wheels, balance bikes teach skills like balancing, steering, braking, using caution, as well as basic traffic rules — basically everything you need to know to ride a traditional pedal bike. With the skills learned from a balance bike, riders as young a 3 years old transition straight to a regular kids bike without the assistance of training wheels.
- Family walks and bike trips are much longer.
- The design of a balance bike encourages kids to use their arms and lift their legs when moving forward.
- Plus, as kids gain confidence they become more enthusiastic about biking.
- Balance bikes ride like regular bikes and don’t get stuck on uneven surfaces, easily gliding over rocks, dirt, curbs and even jumps.
- In Europe, for example, when you take a walk in the park, you are surrounded by children on bikes without pedals who brilliantly balance, steer, and brake and do not torture themselves on traditional pedal bikes with training wheels.
- This not only helps them to build up their strength, it also helps them to fine tune their motor skills, coordination and agility.
When the bike starts to tip over, kids instinctively plant their feet to slow down and stabilize, reducing the risk of tipping over. A balance bike teaches a child instinctively that it is leaning and body positioning that steer a bike with handlebars just helping the process. That is why these bikes are often used in preschools, gyms, amusement parks, zoos, and bike rental facilities. Plus, a balance bike can only go as fast as your child can push, which means you won’t have to worry about any high-speed crashes.
Most balance bikes come with an adjustable seat which can be adjusted to accommodate your child and provide that perfect fit. A balance bike is fun. At the age of 2, our children now receive balance bikes for their birthday. The great things about bikes is that it gives us a reason to go outdoors. Interestingly, the adjustable seat height can start at just eleven (11) inches from the ground, making the bike quite accommodating for even the shortest legs. It is propelled by the rider walking, running, then rolling on their own until feeling comfortable enough to lift both feet off the ground and cruise while balancing on the two wheels. It takes them about 4-5 months to really figure out how to cruise on them, but man, once they get it – THEY GET IT.
My second child was off the balance bike and on a 2-wheel trail riding bike – DOING TRICKS – at 4 years old. It is hard to get my son as excited about anything as he is about cartoons, but he loves to bike. Because of their design, these bikes are also quite easy to control and maneuver. Learning to ride a balance bike gives your child the freedom to learn at their own pace without pressure to learn to balance immediately like on a pedal bike.
Let’s just say that his older sister figured out how to ride because she wanted to catch up to him. Most kids today don’t get enough time in nature causing a wide-range of behavioral and emotional problems. It should also be noted that because they are meant for children under the age of 5 years, this fact is usually taken into consideration and it is not rare to have a three year old using the same bike as a five year old; with only the seat adjustment being necessary. If you get a well-built balance bike it is capable of not just riding around the driveway, it can be ridden on the grass at the park or even on your favorite hiking trail.
Choosing the right balance bike for your kids
Unlike traditional adult bikes, it is very hard to pinpoint some of the best brands. Safety is always the number one priority – and that means buying a bike that’s the right size and fit. Wooden balance bikes are light, come in a range of trendy styles and tend to be more eco-friendly. Some of these are surprisingly heavy. This is because each of them has a unique feature that would appeal to you and your child.
- It’s tempting to buy a bigger bike they can ‘grow into’.
- However, bikes made from wood are not as adjustable as metal or composite ones.
- For little tikes, this is the death knell to their riding career.
- Children are very choosy in what they want, so what you may think to be the best brand, may not appeal to the child at all.
- That option might be okay for clothes, but putting a kid on the wrong size bike can be a recipe for an out-of-control disaster.
- These balance bikes are typically made out of a heavy-duty composite plastic.
Go for the lightest one you can afford. The best thing is to let the child decide which the best brand is. Bike sizes are based on wheel diameter. Extremely durable, composite plastic balance bikes won’t crack, rot, or rust.Think about it! All you have to do is give the child a number of options, and let him or her choose which is best. The digits that matter are usually found on the bike wheels themselves, and will be in cm or inches depending on where the bike was made. They can be more expensive but it could be a wise investment if you’re planning to pass the bike down from child to child. o begin with, how do you know what’s the ideal seat height? A 25-pound bike is about right for a 200-pound human.
There are a few other things to consider when choosing the right bike for your child. Children’s bike sizes are referenced by wheel size diameter. To figure this out, ask your kid to hold a book between his legs and then you raise it upto his crotch; the distance between the ground and the book will give you the seat height. An 8-pound cycle for your 40-pound toddler would be like that adult riding a 40-pound bicycle! Materials (alloy or steel) can make a significant difference to the weight of the bike.
We can estimate a suggested wheel size for a child based on age, but it’s best to have them test ride a bike as obviously height will vary. And please measure while your kid isn’t wearing any shoe. Many of these have solid tires made from soft foam. It’s worth checking the weight of the bike is something you are confident your child will be able to handle. In general, the main difference you find in a larger wheel size is in the longer distance between the saddle and the handlebar, coupled with a longer wheelbase.
What the world follows is that the bike seat height has got be an inch to an inch and a half below their inseam. These are susceptible to wear, and I’ve seen a couple where tots wore the tires down to nubbins. Wheel sizes are you used to reference the size of kids bikes rather than frame sizes. If the bike is too long, when the child turns the handlebar, you will see they are forced to stretch too far, reducing control. Balance bikes are available with 10′ to 20″ tyres. Most bikes have 12″ tyres and the reason for this is they offer the widest range in terms of rider size. Bikes with 10″ tyres are generally only for toddlers up to 3 years old. Bikes with 14″ tyres or more, generally can’t be ridden by kids under 4. Bike with 12″ tyres and adjustable seats can be ridden by kids from about 18 months up to 6-7 years.