If you’re a parent to a little one, you’ve likely heard all about the balance bike craze. These compact, pedal-free bikes have taken the world by storm in recent years, overtaking training wheels as the number one choice for first-time riders. But what exactly are balance bikes, and why are they becoming the go-to for many parents?
Balance bikes were initially designed to help children master the art of riding a pedal bike without training wheels. As they don’t have stabilisers, children have to push off the ground with their feet (similar to a scooter) to move forwards.
Since children have their feet on the ground, they can begin to advance their balance, coordination and motor skills as they are not supported by training wheels.
This allows children to develop their balance first before progressing to a bike with pedals. Below we outline the top reasons why your kid needs a balance bike.
Easy to use
Learning biking skills is no easy task. We all have memories and stories of falling off and hurting ourselves in some shape or form!
Young children who learn to ride on a balance bike usually find the transition to a pedal bike much more comfortable than those who use stabilisers.
Children who start learning early (around 18 months old) can often transition to a two-wheeled pedal bike before their 5th birthday.
Build strength and coordination
Your child will not only learn how to balance on one of these bikes, but they will also build up their strength, motor skills, coordination and agility as it encourages them to use their legs and core muscles to steer.
Safe and fun
Balance bikes are a safe and fun way for your kid to teach themselves how to gain confidence on a bike. As the balance bike seat is closer to the ground than a regular bike, if your kid should fall, they don’t have far to go.
As balance bikes don’t have gears, your child can only go as fast as their legs can push, meaning you won’t have to worry about any high-speed collisions!
Balance bikes are also fun to whizz around on and will help your child with the confidence needed to transition to a two-wheeler.
Its a great form of exercise
We all understand how much of an issue childhood obesity is – kids worldwide are frighteningly overweight, and a staggering one-third of children don’t achieve 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
Fortunately, when it comes to toddlers, they don’t view riding a bike as exercise; they view it as fun, meaning it’s a brilliant activity for your kids.
Once you’ve invested in a balance bike, it costs very little but provides many benefits, including:
- You can easily incorporate it into your everyday routine, such as riding to school
- It gives your child independence
- Increases blood supply to muscles, strengthening your child’s body
- Improves physical and mental endurance
- Many teachers report that kids who walk and cycle to school are more alert and ready to learn than those who arrive by car
- Fun and, for many kids, can feel much more exciting than travelling by car.
Many of us spend an inordinate amount of money on toys for our kids. Most of these toys end up in the trash after a few months of play in favour of something new.
A balance bike can be used by your child for many years, especially if you purchase one that is adjustable.
Opting for a bike with an adjustable saddle height or handlebars will make your child’s bike last much longer and ensure it can be tailored to suit their needs.
Plus, if kept well, will retain its value should you wish to eBay it once your kid has outgrown it.
Do toddlers need a balance bike?
Balance bikes are great for young kids as they help your child develop one essential skill – balance. Learned early, this can have a significant impact on their confidence when it comes to riding a pedal bike unsupported. A balance bike is also instrumental in teaching your child to control the movement of the bike with their body.
Are balance bikes good for 2-year-olds?
Balance bikes are great for toddlers and preschool children alike as they help your child to master the bike handling skills needed to make the jump to a pedal bike. Balance bikes are easy for your toddler to get to grips with and are a great way to promote exercise and independence in your 2 year old.
Are balance bikes better than training wheels?
Stabilisers have been used for decades and have been instrumental for many of us that learned to ride a bike as a child. As great as they are, they do have their drawbacks. A bike that uses stabilisers doesn’t steer the same way as a balance bike.
When a child reaches a corner with training wheels, their weight is supported by the outer wheel, meaning the bike leans away from the corner and your child leans the wrong way. Balance bikes offer much more than traditional pedal bikes as your child is free to lean towards the inside corner, how pedal bikes operate.
Most kids’ bike brands that still use stabilisers also have bad gearing on their bikes. Gearing the bike too high can make it challenging to start pedalling, like trying to start a car in 5th gear. On the other hand, a balance bike equates to their natural progression of crawling, walking and running.
What age is a balance bike for?
Although most balance bikes are designed for toddlers, children up to 7 years old can use them. The best balance bikes available on the market typically include adjustable seats, wider handlebars and longer wheelbases to make learning how to ride a bike comfortable for your child throughout their cycling journey.