Balance bikes are an innovation that makes it easy to teach children how to ride a bike. Undeniably, balance bikes for toddlers are a better alternative to tricycles and training wheels. These bikes adequately equip toddlers and kids with cycling skills such as control, balance, and braking.
Most importantly, a balance bike has a high transition rate and efficiency to the use of regular bikes. The child builds independence and control as well as decision-making capabilities while training.
Depending on a child’s age, a balance bike is used for 2-3 years. However, if they began early, the period might last a while. Thus, at about their fourth birthday, a gift for a child would be a small regular bike their size.
Remember, when riding a bike, safety comes first. The kids should wear helmets, knee pads, and gloves as they train. This article gives you all the information you would want to know about balance bikes.
What is a Balance Bike?
Let us begin by deconstructing what a balance bike is. Well, a balance bike is simply a two-wheeled bike that has no pedal. Its beauty is that even 18 months old toddlers can learn to balance on two wheels when using a balance bike.
When you skip the tricycle and give your kid a balance bike instead, the payoff is terrific. First, you will realize that after the training period, the toddler or kid will have excellent riding skills. Furthermore, the kids or toddlers will easily jump and coast on their bicycles with no assistance from their parents.
This is probably the most significant thing a parent would do and be proud of; raising independent kids. Therefore, to achieve the benefits, most parents think of balance bikes as a replacement for training wheels and tricycles.
Well, from an expert point of view, we can tell you that tricycles and training wheels when used to train kids on riding bikes, delay learning.
Balance bikes are designed for kids at the age when they are likely to use training wheels or ride tricycles. Truthfully, a balance bike will make a three-year-old ride to transition quickly into using the regular bikes. It really motivates and satisfies a parent seeing their kid or toddler ride a bike without the need for training wheels.
Do balance bikes for toddlers ride like regular bikes? Yes, they do. They slide the ground pretty well and can take on hard terrains like gliding through rocky topography, curbs, dirt, and jumps.
It is common to find them being referred to as strider bikes, run bikes, pedal-less bikes, or glider bikes. Whichever one of the names is, it is always referring to a balance bike.
Pros of Balance Bikes
Every parent would wish well for their kid. Here are some reasons why you should go for a balance bike and ditch the idea of tricycles and training wheels:
1. On the parent’s side, a balance bike would save you money on buying a tricycle and training wheels.
2. A balance bike graduate pedals well in just 10 minutes on the lower margin and 15 minutes on the upper margin.
3. Balance bikes are lighter since they are pedal-less. Therefore, the kids can ride them with ease and less energy expense.
4. They are superior to the training wheels and tricycles as they have efficacy in training kids how to ride. In just 45 minutes, your kid will be riding down the terrains like a pro.
5. The bikes ride over different terrains like regular bikes and can quickly.
6. These bikes build independence and build the fun of riding before your toddler or kid transitions to a regular pedal bike. Solo-riding at 2-years is a great achievement.
7. Your child will learn how to increase their core strength ability and body awareness. It brings coordination and brain development altogether.
8. Most balance bike riders are kids who are confident. So if the child fears to ride, a balance bike can be a good option.
9. Balance bikes teach one skill at a time; they focus more on balancing rather than pedaling.
10. These bikes are also safe compared to training wheels (stabilizers) and tricycles. There are fewer chances of injuries as the kids use their feet to control the speed and brake the bikes.
Cons of Balance Bikes
Like any other bike, balance bikes also have their disadvantages. This does not mean that they are unsafe or inefficient. These disadvantages are just caution on what to do to achieve efficiency when training your child on a balance bike. There has been a growing concern and chatter on toddler bikes. Here are the cons:
1. Some parents feel that it is easier to outgrow bikes. This is true, but does it match the HUGE achievement of independence in learning how to ride a bike?
2. The wooden balance bike models, despite looking great, if not well maintained can rot or warp. Good maintenance can overcome this shortcoming.
3. They are costlier than the regular pedaled bikes. Well, expensive is relative. Compared to the achievements and milestones in a child, a balance bike any day and anytime over tricycles or training wheels.
4. Some parents argue that they learned to ride a bike on a regular pedaled bike thus balance bikes are useless. Well, it does not mean that you give your child the same treatment you had growing up. We should always provide the best for our children as parents.
Verdict: Balance bikes are a better option compared to training wheels and tricycles.
What is the best age for a child to ride a balance bike?
Bikes are not one-size-fits-all. Balance bikes come in different sizes and materials; with some being wooden. Mainly, the smaller bikes are designed for 18-month toddlers. The largest bikes are designed for adults.
Between the age of 18 months and 5 years, most kids, as well as toddlers, enjoy riding balance bikes.
This answers those parents that ask: what is the best age for a child to ride a balance bike? It is between the age of 18 months and 5 years.
Balance bikes do not have the luxury of the push bar for assistance. Thus, they help toddlers and kids master bike riding. They build independence, coordination, and judgment capabilities of the children.
If your balance bike comes with brakes, eliminate them. Let the kids use their feet to control and stop the bikes - it is an important step in learning how to cycle.
Balance bikes can be chosen depending on the age. Our ultimate bike sizing guide can help. Even though they are balance bikes, one size cannot fit every toddler or a child.
It is advisable to have a balance bike sit that is an inch from the inseam of your child.
How long do kids ride balance bikes?
Comprehensively, most of the kids ride balance bikes for two to three years. Nevertheless, this will depend on the age they start riding.
If they start young, they will probably stay longer with their balance bikes until they outgrow them and transition to pedaled bikes.
Kids who master the balancing and control skills can transition to regular bikes when they are 4 years old. Spoiler alert: at 4 years or on their fourth birthday, you can buy your kid a regular bike. In this case, get a bike that is two inches above your child’s inseam to give them time to grow into regular bikes.
There are specific tell-tale signs that a kid is ready for a pedal bike, which is a must-know for every parent.
What is the Cost of a good balance bike?
There are different price ranges for balance bikes. However, they mostly range from 50 dollars onwards and can go beyond 200 dollars, for a good one. Nevertheless, it is good to keep in mind that balance bikes are a good option when teaching kids how to balance a bike.
The costs vary depending on the brand, quality, durability, material, and performance. Note: high-end bikes come with the advantage of being light, durable, and safe. Thus, for a parent who loves safety and efficiency, we advise that you go for the high-end balance bikes.
We have compiled a balance bike buying guide to help you make a choice. Ours is to advise parents on better options, so they are smart when purchasing.
Can a pedal-less regular bike be used as a balance bike?
An expert or a pro cyclist will tell you NOT to convert a regular bike into a balance bike. Remember, balance bikes are designed to teach the kids how to balance. They help your kid get independence and control of their bikes before learning to brake and pedal.
Typically, they are lighter and stable compared to regular bikes. When training a kid that is above 5 years of age, you can remove the pedals.
However, for preschoolers and toddlers, a balance bike is not substitutable. Unless you want to go the training wheel and tricycle way and take long training, stick to a balance bike for a toddler.
Kids Can Get used to other Bikes other than Balance Bikes
When you get your kid a balance bike, tricycle, scooter, and a bike with pedals at a go, they will never set foot on a balance bike. The reason is that learning to ride a balance bike takes longer.
You and I know it is beneficial, but the kids do not understand the benefits. However, if you can benevolently guide your child to adopting a balance bike as training gear for riding, the reverse is likely to happen.
Balance bikes might be a scare for parents because they lack footrest. Well, the idea is to have the kids use their legs to control the bike. However, the kids involuntarily pick their feet as they glide.
Not a single kid will ask you about footrest on a balance bike. However, most parents do. Just understand the concept behind the bike, and you will realize you do not need it either.
Balance Bike Success Stories
From observation, we can confidently assert that balance bikes are just a beautiful and assured way to help kids learn how to ride bikes. We have seen kids become good riders even before ditching diapers. The balance bike effect is slowly raising a cohort of cycling virtuoso.
Balance bikes were introduced into the United States by Strider in 2007. To date, Strider-bikes have replaced the training wheels, and more parents are joining the winning side. Strider bikes open a whole new world full of surprises, thrill, learning, and victory to kids.
To be sincere, balance bikes are an entry into the cycling freedom zone and more of entry-level to entry-level biking.
We have a few cases of success for kids who started with standard Strider balance bikes and are now shining their way to stardom. You can raise your child to a cycling prodigy by purchasing them a balance bike. Let us share David's, Ellie's, and Moses' story for inspiration.
Balance Bikes and Disabled Kids
Downs Syndrome sometimes limits what kids can do. However, for David Drolc, that is never going to be the case. Mona, his mom, was worried by the doctor’s comment that his son could not amount to something. She feared David could never swim, run, or ride bicycles.
Statistics indicate that only 10-12% of Downs Syndrome patients learn to ride bikes without training wheels. It is a known fact that such people have problems with balance and can start walking when between 3 and five years, not forgetting the delays in muscle development.
In most cases, such children skip learning how to ride bikes part and reside inside the walls of fear. Now 12 years, David Drolc always showed his love for bikes and motorcycles.
His first one was a tricycle, and then when he turned 6 when attending a Downs Syndrome Conference in Denver, he fell in love with Strider 16. It was pure bliss and joy when Mona Drolc, the mother, saw her child speed with the bike by just gliding and pushing.
Weeks later, the mother surprised David with a Strider Pro, and just a few hours he was a pro on pedals.
The exposure and triumph over the fear to learn and ride gave David a chance to engage in other sports. Today he loves the electric-powered dirt bike that he spends most of his time with.
Moses De Groot- Commuting Escapades Inspired by Balance Bikes
If you love following news around you, you might have noticed the child who made headlines by being ambitious to cycle to school daily. Well, an interview with the parents revealed that Moses De Groot fell in love with his Strider-12 Sport Balance bike when he was only two years old.
Already at 11 years, the early orientation to biking has stuck with him. It is said that neither wind, ice, nor snow has stopped the ambitious Moses De Groot. As a student at the Sioux Center Christian School, he shocked his parents when he resolved to bike to school daily. At fifth grade, this speaks volumes on how early orientation to biking can be beneficial.
Well, do we need to train and lead the way for our kids to bike to school? Certainly, it is the way to go. Amidst the rising cases of diabetes and childhood obesity, it seems like the only choice we as parents have.
With school being 1.5 miles away from home, Moses De Groot does 3 miles daily, and you can calculate what miles he would have covered by the end of just one year.
At the age, Moses also confesses to having met the crazy text-driving drivers who would not give way for a young cyclist. He has also had an encounter with a leashed dog while cycling. He thanks his parents for starting him early on balance bikes and instilling the biking passion.
Well, you have your chance to get your kid a balance bike.
Ellie Carey- from Strider Bike Toddler to a World Champion
Ellie Carey, just like Moses De Groot, also rode a strider bike at just the age of 2. After mastering the art of balance, coordination, and control, she begged for her first real bike.
Her third birthday wish was met when her parents purchased her a pink Strawberry Shortcake bike hooked to a trainer.
Was it one of us at KiddingZone, we would have advised the parents on either a pedal bike or a balance bike with a slightly higher size.
You can check our size comparison biking chart. Nevertheless, the trainer taught her how to pedal, and the story has never been the same.
As she grew, the mother, LeNesha, spiced the love for bikes for her 4-year old by buying her a BMX.
At only eight years when we were writing this article, she is not once but twice a World BMX Champion. Trust me, she has graced the occasions in podiums in both the United States and abroad, some of which we only hear and imagine of follow on TV.
Note that the Strider balance bike was the starting point for a career nobody could foretell. Get your sons and daughters a balance bike already.
A Balance Bike Any Day for your Toddler- This is Our Verdict!
By now, you know that training wheels and tricycles cannot be a good training line. Evidently, balance bikes for toddlers efficiently train your kids to learn how to ride a bike. Toddler bikes or balance bikes are practical for 18 months to 5-year-old babies. That settles out the balance bike vs training wheels debate.
When you are sure your child has mastered the skills of control, braking, balance, and confidence independently, it is time to get them a regular pedaled kids' bike.
Although you can convert a bike into a balance bike by removing a pedal, only do so for a child over 5. However, toddlers and babies below five years and above 18 months should learn how to ride strictly through a balance bike.
A tricycle is awkward, slow, and can tip easily, but a balance bike has stability. Finally, when buying a good balance bike for your toddler, go for high-end bikes. They always have the best material, are lighter, and have a beautiful range of colors.
We are for balance bikes because:
- They are better than size 12 bikes with training wheels, among the top reasons is that size 12 bikes are limiting to their fun.
- Kids can maneuver uneven surfaces on balance bikes.
- Balance bike graduates never need training wheels; they go straight to first starter bikes (mostly size 14-inch bikes).
- Balance bikes train kids for independence, control, balance, and coordination.
- Balance bike graduates are daredevils on two wheels. They explore the bike world better.
- These bikes are lighter and easy to ride. Kids tend to perform better with balance bikes than bikes with training wheels, even when out for family rides.
If you are interested in scooters, here is a guide on choosing the best kids' scooters. We hope it comes in handy. You can also check these three-wheel kids' scooter reviews to know what to get them.