What is a balance bike?
A Balance Bike is an innovative new bicycle that is designed to help children learn how to balance and steer a bike before ever having to worry about pedals and brakes.
It has no pedals and by simply pushing their feet on the ground, children can propel themselves forward avoiding the “Pat yourself on the head, while rubbing your tummy” frustration that a child tends to get when being focused on more than one thing at a time.
There are no stabilizers or training wheels. With no pedals to get between your children’s feet and the ground, there really is no need for any special add-ons, they simply balance with their feet.
The other big difference is there are no brakes. As the child is using their feet for propulsion, they are also using their feet for braking. As the child is usually walking or running to move it forward, stopping is as simple as standing still.
Are balance bikes better than training wheels?
While training wheels were a great invention and are really helpful with children that have trouble maintaining their balance on a regular bike, these bikes don’t need them. As the balance of the bike is maintained by your child and is as simple as walking, your child gets to focus more on the smaller muscle control that helps maintain it. While children who learn to ride a bike with training wheels practically need to relearn how to ride once the training wheels are removed. As a matter of fact, it is even harder for children who have ridden with training wheels for an extended period, as they have begun to rely solely on the training wheels for balance and have no concept of what it is to maintain their own coordination.
How old does my child have to be?
They are designed for children as young as 2. If they are old enough to walk, and their feet can reach the ground from our seats, then they are old enough to be using a balance bike. They will learn to move with the bike almost immediately and the seat support can even help those who have a tougher time balancing when they walk, and will give them the confidence boost they need to really start moving.
Are wooden or metal bikes better?
While the question of wood vs metal (or even composite) is a good one, the answer is very much dependent on the rider. While wood is lightweight, and generally less expensive than metal framed, it is also prone to greater wear and easier to damage. Metal frames have a much higher weight tolerance while the wood frames are better suited for smaller riders. Composite frames are neither weather or rust affected, where a metal frame should be more rust resistant, than rustproof, and in the same vein, wood can take damage from excessive wear and weathering.
So they all have their issues, but which one is the best for you? If the rider is a small child, a wooden version is probably a safe bet. Lighter and less expensive it allows for the rider to get his or her “riding legs” without the upfront cost, and extra weight with metal and composites. If your rider is a little heavier but requires something light, a composite bike would be ideal. Lighter material and strong construction make it ideal for mid-range riders. For older children up to adults, the metal frames offer weight support up to 100lbs, which is more than enough for most riders.
Are balance bikes better than tricycles?
While some people would have you believe tricycles are better, the truth is, this new style of bicycle gives children better movement and control. Whereas the child sitting on a tricycle doesn’t have to worry about balance, they do have to pedal and steer at the same time, and that can be a little too much for some kids. A Balance Bike does help a child learn to balance quickly, and prepares them for the step to a pedal version quite effectively, while the tricycle teaches them how to pedal, but gives no balance whatsoever. Most tricycle riding children need training wheels to re-learn balance before transitioning to an unsupported 2 wheel bike.
Are balance bikes safe?
Truthfully, they are almost as safe as walking or running. As the only forward momentum is self-generated, the only difference to walking is the frame of the bike itself, being lower to the ground, even a severe fall will only cause minimal injuries in comparison to a pedal bike which can take you many times faster than the walking speed of a Balance Bike. Of course, you should also check with your local law enforcement as to whether or not extra safety equipment is required in your area. Helmets and knees pads can take even the slight risks down to a minimum.
How do balance bikes benefit my child?
They have several advantages over other bike types, as they allow you to focus on steering and coordination skills while keeping you as safe as possible as you train to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
The sizes vary enough that kids from two years old and up can get on and learn quickly, while even a lot of tricycles have a 3 to 4 year age minimum on them. When you are old enough you are able to transfer directly to a pedal bike with no need for training wheels and none of the scary problems that make starting on a pedal bike so dangerous.
These bikes are great on and off the pavement, so if you want to start out on the lawn, you can do it. If you have a fun dirt trail nearby, it will run just as well. Pretty much anywhere you can run, you can use these bikes.
The biggest advantage is honestly getting outside and getting some fresh air and exercise.
How much do balance bikes cost?
They vary in cost based on several factors, from inexpensive lightweight wooden models to the more expensive metal and composite models, there is a price point to suit any need.
Basically, the wooden models tend to be the least expensive, some having been made only to last one to two years, and their price point reflects it.
Some of the composites though can last a lifetime if given proper care and maintenance, these ones tend to be the highest price range, and there are mixtures and variations all the way through.
How tall does my child need to be?
A child’s height doesn’t matter quite as much as their inseam when it comes to sizing. The minimum seat height of the bike should be between 1 and 1.5” below the child’s inseam, with their feet planted flat on the ground. Any higher and they will be on tip-toe and it will affect their coordination dramatically. As the minimum seat height starts at 10” a child with an 11” inseam would be pretty small already. The largest models that are normally on the market run up to 26.5” in height, which would be about as high as an average adult would need to ride. Truthfully, it covers pretty much everyone and if you cannot find one to suit, there are custom options available.
What is the maximum weight?
Each bike has its own maximum weight. While wooden models have the lightest maximum load, several of the standard metal and composite models can handle over 100 lbs. There are custom options available if needed that can bring that even higher. Make sure to check the weight restrictions before you try one just to be safe.