For many parents, having your kids learn how to ride a bike is a big milestone. While exciting, it can also be terrifying! You already spend your day running after your child, now imagine that on two wheels!
There are dozens of choices out there, but choosing the right first bike for your child doesn’t have to be difficult. An increasing number of parents are opting for Balance Bikes as a training wheel alternative.
Where do you weigh in on the balance bike versus training wheel debate?
Read on to find out more about the benefits of Balance bikes.
First off, every child is different. There is no “one size fits all” for children’s bikes. Only you and your child know what the best option is – and sometimes that means trying out a buffet of bikes. For many children, learning to ride a bike is downright scary. Exhilarating – but terrifying! Balancing on two wheels feels nothing like the walking your toddler just got used to!
Balance Bikes are suitable for children as young as 17 months, and as old as ten years. The goal of a Balance Bike is to get your child used to nothing but balancing. From balancing, they’ll start gliding, steering, and coordinating themselves around objects. These ultra light bikes give your child a sense of independence while learning new skills.
While there are many differences between Balance Bikes – wooden ones, metal ones, ones with streamers on the handles, they all have three things in common:
- No Pedals
- No Chains
- No Training Wheels
Without pedals, or chains, or training wheels your little one can focus simply on balancing. Balance Bike experts agree that pedalling is a skill that can be easily learned once the fine art of balancing has been achieved.
While a Balance Bike is inherently a simple structure, there is a considerable amount of variety between them. Below is a list of features to bear in mind when choosing the right Balance Bike for your child.
Adjustable Seat – the minimum saddle height of the bike should be 1” – 1.5” less than their inseam. This will help them get on and off the bike without falling. Opt for a bike that doesn’t require tools to adjust the seat – or have the tool box handy for your quickly growing child!
Frame Materials – Balance Bikes are available in metal, wood, or composite. Metal frames may be built from steel (heavier in weight, 100lb limit), or aluminum (lighter in weight, 75lb limit). Wood Balance Bikes are an environmentally conscious decision, but are often limited in their seat and handlebar adjustments. Lastly, composite frames which are new to the market, are suitable to a higher weight capacity while also being lightweight to carry. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the bike itself weighs no more than 30% of your child’s weight!
Brakes – According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, most children 5 years and under, do not have the motor skills nor hand strength to operate hand brakes. As a result, many Balance Bikes don’t come with hand brakes.
The Tires – Balance Bikes have six kinds of tires available:
- Fat Boy – These extra cushioned tires are wider, and hold more air than regular tires. Not recommended for Ages 3+
- Standard Air – These Pneumatic tires are the most universal. While comfortable to ride, they are prone to flats
- Rubber Honeycomb – New to the Bike world, these tires provide the traction of an air tire with the “zero-flat” risk associated with foam tires
- EVA Foam – These are the lightest, and puncture proof! The downside is that they do not offer traction or cushioning. Not recommended for Ages 3+
- Solid Rubber – Also puncture proof! More traction than foam tires, but without the cushioning. Not recommended for Ages 3+
- Hard Plastic – This type of tire is usually used for indoor toys as opposed to bikes. Not recommended for Ages 3+
In addition to the many benefits your child will get from zooming around on their Balance Bike, many parents find that the transition from Balance Bike to a pedal bike is much faster, usually allowing them to skip the training wheel phase!
Balance Bikes allow your child to focus on one skill at a time, using a safe and customizable bike. Choosing your child’s first bike doesn’t have to difficult when you know the benefits! Speak to other parents of Balance Bikers, or comment below with your experiences.
Now if only they made adult sized Balance Bikes….