If you’re the parent to a toddler, it’s likely you’ve heard all about balance bikes. But what exactly are they and how to they compare to a traditional bike with stabilisers? Keep reading for the answers to all your questions.
A balance bike is like any other child’s bike in the way it looks, but with just one main difference – it doesn’t have pedals! Children use their feet to push themselves forwards (like a scooter) whilst sitting on the saddle.
Since children have their feet on the ground, they can begin to develop their balance, coordination, and motor skills as they are not supported by stabilisers. This allows children to develop their balance first, prior to progressing to a larger bike with pedals.
What age are balance bikes suitable from?
It’s recommended that balance bikes should be used from around 18 months old, right up to the age of 7. A rule of thumb is that if your child can walk, they can use a balance bike.
As balance bikes don’t feature any gears, pedals, or chains, they are much lower to the ground than a typical bicycle with training wheels. They are also incredibly lightweight making them a great option for your little one.
I have a toddler; would a balance bike be suitable for them?
Of course! Balance bikes are great for toddlers as it helps develop all the essential skills needed to upgrade to a pedal bike.
Balance bikes sound great, but are they safe?
While it’s worth reiterating that no toy is truly safe without adult supervision, balance bikes are one of the safer things your child can own.
We always recommend your child wears a helmet when learning how to ride, but balance bikes are incredibly easy for your child to learn and understand.
Are balance bikes better than stabilisers?
If you’re debating buying your little one a bike for Christmas, you’re probably wondering which one is better – one with pedals and stabilisers or a balance bike. Truth is, they’re both incredibly different.
A traditional bike with pedals and stabilisers is held upright by the training wheels on the back, as great as these bikes are, they can sometimes be unstable as they can tip from side to side as your child’s weight transfers from one wheel to the other.
Because of this, traditional pedal bikes with stabilisers typically cannot be used on sloped surfaces as it will cause your child to lose balance and come off their bike, which can leave your child feeling less confident in their bike riding abilities.
Balance bikes, on the other hand, allow your child to lean whichever way they like without the fear of coming off as their weight is distributed evenly.
Boosts your child’s development
Balance bikes are one of the best toys out there for helping your child develop their gross motor skills.
Learning to balance, understanding how to avoid obstacles, and learning how to manoeuvre are all skills your child needs to develop early on in life so that they avoid injuries as they grow.
Balance bikes also help your child to build up the muscles in their legs too!
Easy to use
Learning how to ride a bike isn’t easy. We all have stories of falling off and grazing our knees or elbows, don’t we?
But did you know that children who learn to ride on a balance bike find it much easier to upgrade to a two-wheeler than those that learn using stabilisers?
This not only helps with their confidence but also makes them want to take the next step!
We’re all guilty of spending large amounts of money on our children at Christmas. Sadly, most of these toys end up not being played with due to them having too much choice.
Although balance bikes are an expensive investment, they will last your child years and provide them with many memories – especially if you opt for one that grows with your child.
Opting for a bike with adjustable handlebars or saddle will ensure you get years of use out of your child’s bike, and, if it’s been looked after well you can sell it on for a good price on eBay or Facebook marketplace once your child has outgrown it.
Gets your child exercising
Fortunately, most children don’t see riding a bike as exercise. They see it as a fun activity to do with family or friends.
Getting your child out for the recommended 60 minutes of activity each day has never been easier than with a balance bike.
In fact, if you can walk to school or nursery, you can get your little ones to ride there instead!
Helps your child master the art of riding a bike
Learning to pedal, balance, steer, and look out for obstacles can be extremely overwhelming for your little one, but with balance bikes, your child only needs to master one skill at a time making it a much easier process for them to learn.
First, they learn to sit on the bike and find their balance, and as they progress, they learn to develop their confidence and steer all whilst looking out for potential obstacles.
Tips for purchasing a balance bike
Balance bikes are a great investment for the mini cyclists in your lives, but there are a few things to consider before diving in head-first and purchasing one.
Firstly, you want to make sure that you purchase the right height for your child – many specialist bicycle stores can help you with this, but if you’re doing it yourself you want to ensure that when your child is seated that their feet are safely on the ground.
We can all be tempted to buy things bigger that our children can grow into but trust us on this one, your child will have a much more enjoyable experience If they have the right-sized bike.
Secondly, you want to look at the tyre size on the bike. Smaller tyres are great for younger children as they’re lighter, making it easier for your child to steer.
Last, but by no means least, you want to consider the weight of your child and bike. A rule of thumb is that the lighter the bike, the better – especially as it’s likely you will be carrying the bike at some point too!
Learning to ride a bike is an incredibly exciting time for your child, which is exactly why balance bikes are so great. Once they’re ready, you just add pedals and they’re ready to go!