If you are passionate about cycling and care even what brand of chain lube for your bike is the best you can get, you surely are as serious about this when it comes to teaching your kids this skill. The idea that only stabilizers can help a toddler learn how to cycle is now a thing of the past. Say ‘hello’ to balance bikes and all the things they can do to introduce kids to this pleasant activity.
As with anything new, there will be voices against balance bikes and others that say they are the best. Therefore, a good idea is to weigh all the arguments before making a choice.
How do balance bikes work?
The name says it all, but a closer look into how the thing actually works is highly recommended. A balance bike looks like a standard bike, only that it doesn’t come with wheels. The kid sits in the saddle and makes the bike move by pushing with his or her feet against the ground.
This movement propels the bike to move forward, and, with a bit of practice, your kid will start getting the hang of it so much that running while in the saddle comes naturally. The last bit of practice happens when the child can hold his or her feet off the ground, gliding but maintaining a good balance on the bike.
A balance training bike can be considered a better choice than training wheels because it teaches kids a skill essential for knowing how to cycle. This skill is balance, and it might not be helped the same when using a training bike with stabilizers.
Are balance bikes worth it?
Many parents may wonder if it’s a good idea to get a balance bike when they could just take a good look at the toddler bikes with training wheels available and pick one. In that case, the main advantage would be that once the kid knows how to pedal on his or her own, the parents only have to remove the training wheels. This way, they won’t have to spend twice.
However, there are aspects to bear in mind when comparing balance bikes and bikes with training wheels. One thing that some parents may already know is that bikes with stabilizers are not a good idea anytime earlier than when the kid turns 3 years of age.
On the other hand, balance bikes can be used by kids as young as 18 months old. This aspect makes a lot of difference. Your kid could be learning how to keep his or her balance on a bike a lot faster. For this reason, the correct answer to the above question is the following: yes, balance bikes are worth it since you offer your toddler the possibility to practice one and a half years in advance.
Other advantages must also be mentioned. For instance, you will notice that kids have a lot of fun on their balance bikes. For your peace of mind, a toddler on a balance bike cannot hurt himself or herself as often as when on a bike. That’s something that any parent wishes when children learn new things.
Do you need a helmet for a balance bike?
Even if balance bikes are different from regular bikes, that doesn’t mean that safety should fall on the second place. When riding a balance bike, kids should be adequately equipped to avoid accidents. For instance, it is essential that your kid wears good shoes that offer excellent stability.
The helmet is a must, regardless of the type of bike. Balance bike or regular bike, this rule stays the same, and you kid should wear one while riding. It is a good thing that such a requirement exists for multiple reasons. Besides keeping your child safe, it will also ensure that he or she learns about the importance of safety from a young age.
Kids may be fussy at first when you want to put their helmets on. But, with gentle insistence, you will manage to get them to accept it, and they will learn a good lesson for the future.
Balance bike vs. training wheels – which one is better for balance?
You may already know the answer, but to be fair toward the two elements of the comparison shown here, let’s see which one is considered better for developing a good balance in your kid.
A balance bike is designed specifically for teaching kids two essential skills: balancing and steering. Although pedaling is also necessary, it is a lot easier than maintaining balance, and toddlers progress faster once they master it. That means that pedaling can come later, and nothing will be lost.
Unfortunately, stabilizers don’t do as much good as one may think. They stabilize the bike, acting like crutches, but the problem is that many kids tend to lean on one side more than on the other, and that can cause trouble later. Once the stabilizers are gone, the kid will have to learn how to balance his or her body to keep the bike steady. Children may learn how to pedal, but the lesson on balance will come next, and it will be more difficult.
Which of the two gives better confidence?
If you are wondering about which option is better, training wheels or balance bike, you should know another thing that sets them apart. The training wheels tend to accompany bikes with inadequate quality gear. For this reason, getting the bike to start is a hassle for the toddler grabbing the handlebars. It is nothing out of the ordinary to see parents who have to give their kids a helping hand to start.
It is quite obvious what this constant help will do to the child’s confidence. When you remove the training wheels, your kid will notice right away that balance is an issue, even if he or she knows how to pedal. Add on top of that that the child is not sure he or she can get the bike to start, and you will get a kid who is fearful of using the bicycle.
Nothing like this happens when a balance bike is involved. So far, many parents have noticed how quickly the children take to pedaling once they know how to keep their balance. The moment you switch from a balance bike to a regular model, you will be surprised how fast your toddler begins to ride his or her bicycle without fear.
Learning how to take corners – is the balance bike better?
Several points make an absolute difference between training wheels and balance bikes. One of them is the ability to take corners. When riding a balance bike, kids have a ton of fun, and one of the things you notice is how they are able to steer and take corners without a problem.
Training wheels, however, are not as helpful. Actually, they get in the way, and the skill that won’t get developed when using a bike with stabilizers is cornering. The training wheels are needed to keep the bike in an upright position all the time. But, when taking corners, a bike needs to lean a little, and that isn’t easy with training wheels attached.
An essential difference in weight
Balance bikes have a simplistic design, and that works to their advantage. Manufacturers can use lighter materials when making them, so it is much more common to see a model made of aluminum rather than steel. A regular bike needs to come with a heavier frame, and when you add the extra stabilizers on top of it all, you’ll get a heavy object that’s not convenient to move around.
That means that it will fall on your shoulders, as a parent, to carry it. Your toddler won’t have the same sense of responsibility as when playing with a balance bike. Since this type of bike is considerably lighter, you could allow your kid, from a certain age onward, to handle it. You will find your child more attached to a balance bike that’s always in his or her care than to one that’s impossible to carry by someone this small.
Wandering off on a balance bike is possible
Whenever comparing products intended for children, one cannot help but take the fun factor into consideration. Take bikes with training wheels for toddlers, for starters. They are bulky, heavy, and awkward to manipulate. Even more, riding on even surfaces is essential as they cannot handle bumpy terrain too well.
Balance bikes are a different matter. Kids can take them anywhere, over the grass, uneven terrain, and bumpy roads. You will notice your baby riding happily, and that counts a lot toward learning the important skill of riding a bike.
Balance bikes – a way to have fun and spend energy
Toddlers are full of energy, and parents are in a continuous search for toys and activities that can help them spend this energy so that they can develop healthily and sleep well at night. Not all kids take well to a bicycle with training wheels for toddlers because this type of vehicle is not too much fun.
It’s nothing unusual to hear your kids complaining about how bored they get when riding on a bike with stabilizers. Because they are heavy and clunky, children cannot ride them far and fast, and that takes from the sense of adventure and fun.
When on a balance bike, kids get the gist of it quickly. They see how easy it is to propel the bike onward, and from walking, they take to running, and then even gliding. As the balance bike goes as far as they can push it, they are motivated to do more, and that’s something they’re willing to put their energy into. At the end of the day, you will have a tired but happy toddler who is also on the path of learning a crucial skill.
Balance bikes are safer than bikes with stabilizers
Here’s another aspect that will convince you to consider a balance bike for your toddler. These bikes are safer than regular models that come with training wheels. As shown earlier, they are a good choice for young kids, and they have a low saddle. This aspect counts toward the overall safety they present.
When falling off a bike, injuries can be very unpleasant. However, when falling from a shorter distance, like from the saddle of a balance bike, they are a lot less harmful. Also, when a child falls from a bike with pedals, these can get in the way and add more injuries, as well. Nothing like that happens when your toddler rides a balance bike.
There is also the possibility for the rider to adjust his or her position by planting the feet firmly on the ground. Since a regular bike doesn’t allow riders to keep the feet stable in the same manner, it is quite clear why balance bikes are still the safest.
Is it possible to turn a regular bike into a balance bike?
Since the difference is made by the presence of pedals, you may think that cutting corners and detaching the pedals from a bike would work. The idea is not far-fetched, but, unfortunately, there are some things that make it a not so great idea.
One difference often mentioned by any balance bike vs. bike with training wheels comparison is the saddle height. A balance bike comes with a low saddle. The toddler must be capable of touching the ground with his or her feet, hence the necessity of a saddle positioned in such a way that makes it possible and comfortable.
A regular bike doesn’t offer the same advantage. Because the pedals need to have proper clearance from the ground, the saddle is placed higher. As a result, removing the pedals from a regular bike to turn it into a balance bike is never a good idea. Investing in a good quality balance bike remains the most comfortable and safest option.