Bikes represent freedom and fun and mobility for just about all of us and I for one look back on my first bike with a fond nostalgia. Knowing that you're about to pick something, which by default, will hold an honoured place in your child's memory, can make the decision slightly daunting. Balance bikes have been growing in popularity steadily and now you may find yourself spoiled for choices, and even unsure if a balance bike is the way to go. I thought I may be able to help by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about balance bikes.
Won't my child out grow it quickly?
A balance bike can be used at the earliest when a child is very confident walker,
and can be used until about 4 (even 5) years old. In fact local BMX race tracks
hold races and events for young ones on balance bikes.
Will it be too slow?
Kids on a balance bike can go about as fast as a child on a 12" pedal bike (short
crank length and low gear ratio means the smaller pedal bikes aren't very fast) there
is no reason to be concerned your little one won't be able to keep up with friends.
Isn't a tricycle a better choice, because it's easier?
With the final goal being riding a two wheeler with pedals, a tricycle gives mobility,
but does not encourage the child to learn balance, which is the most difficult part
of riding a bike. Trikes are really fun and can be a great way to get around they
aren't really comparable to a balance bike in the same way they aren't comparable
a two wheeler
What is the advantage of no pedals?
Learning to ride a bike is a exercise in coordination and a combination of movements,
the hardest of which is learning to balance. Becoming proficient at riding a balance
bike lays the foundation for riding a two wheeler with pedals.
Can't my child just use training wheels?
Of course they can and maybe you did too, but there are plenty of advantages of
starting with a balance bike. Balance bikes give you more flexibility over varied
terrain where training wheels might not provide enough stability. They also teach
the more difficult of the fundamentals of riding a bike, which is balancing.
So maybe now you've decided you want to get one.... How to choose? Consider a company that specializes in balance bikes or a true bicycle manufacturer. As a rule I would avoid toy companies, especially if you're hoping to get longevity out of your balance bike. True bicycle companies will put more thought into the geometry (comfort and usability and stability, will they be able to use their legs efficiently? etc) and also have higher quality components such as bearings and brakes. We chose the Kinderbike Laufrad for our little guy. It's been a constant source of entertainment for him, whether he's trying to "fix it" just like Daddy or showing off and riding it... that is if "Daddy" let's him have a turn! (as you can see it's very sturdy!)