Training Wheels Are Old School, Get The Kid A Balance Bike
Balance bicycles, also called run bikes, are training bicycles for children to learn balance and steering. Balance bikes are made of metal and wood and can be a normal bicycle with pedals, or a modified one with some parts removed. Some are even fitted with brakes.
The bike must be small enough for the rider to walk the bicycle while still sitting on the seat comfortably. The idea is for the child to become comfortable with scooting and running while riding, and eventually raising both feet to cruise while balancing.
Although pediatricians claim there is no evidence that kids learn to ride faster without training wheels, manufacturers claim balancing and countersteering skills are developed faster.
What Is The Safety Factor?
A toddler is usually safer riding a balance bike than a bicycle outfitted with training wheels. Besides teaching balance, balance bikes are free of cables, chains, and pedals which may hurt the child in the case of a spill.
At the first sense of tipping over, the child instinctively places both feet on the ground, giving the child new confidence.
The whole idea of balance bikes doesn’t sit well with some parents. It’s not the idea of using them to teach a kid to learn balance before trying a real bike, it’s the idea of spending $100 on a wooden bicycle.
It’s not rocket science to the parents who remember trying to learn to ride while crying and their dad yelling. If this is you, keep it simple — buy a 14” bike. Make the first parent/child project fun and remove the pedal and cranks. All that’s needed is a $15 crescent wrench. Store the parts in a ziplock baggie and then remove the chain with a hammer and punch.
Do all that and voila, you have your own balance bike — something you can transform into a real kids bike when the child learns to balance and scoot along the backyard or sidewalk.
TIP: Before you put the cranks back on, go to an auto store and buy lubricating grease to pack the bearings.
Pneumatic tires are inappropriate for a kid’s training bike. You want that thing to be ready the second they want it. It should not be dependent on an adult getting it ready.
Why not opt for a used balance bike? It’s nothing fancy, there are plenty of them out there, and this is probably the cheapest way to go. Weight is a non-issue. There are lighter ones, but toddler-sized ones weigh next to nothing.
With the success parents have had with their toddlers learning to ride with a balance bike, some are thinking of taking the family car’s pedals off when that same child turns 16.