Balance Bikes perfect for your child
Most of us learned to ride a bike as a child, at 5 or 6 years of age, with training wheel. Remember? You hopped on the bike, pedaled around for a couple of months, then when the training wheels came off, you soon realized you had not developed the primary skills needed to ride a bike, balance. Ok, you did not realize it but your knees and elbows certainly did. So get rid of those old fashion training wheel bikes and join the hottest bike teaching trend, balance bikes. A balance bike is a bicycle that trains a child on how to balance and steer. It has no pedals, chains, or training wheels. Most parents can start their child on a balance bike as young as 18 months to 2 years of age but they make balance bikes for all ages. So you might ask can a two year old really ride a bike? Absolutely! So here ‘s how it works. They ‘ll start off straddling the bike and walk around with it. Then they will sit on the seat with both feet on the ground and walk it from a seated position. Then they will get more adventurous and start pushing the bike finally lifting their feet off the ground. This is the start of balancing. And here’s the good part, they can learn it on their own without any pushes from you! It is self paced.
Are you skeptical? Well the nice folks at www.balancebikeshop.com have hooked my 2 year old with a Strider Bike and my 4 year old with a Kazam Balance Bike. Look for my Strider Bike Review and my Kazam Bike Review in an upcoming post. So back to the balance bike.
So you might be asking yourself, if not you should, are there any other benefits?
Why yes....balance bikes provides developmental benefits to children. The skill of balance is not only used for bike riding but also for bilateral coordination. When a child starts mastering balance they start to gain physical self-confidence. Plus and this is a big plus, it gets them active!
Balance bikes come in both wooden and metal options. So which is best?
This is a matter of preference.
Wood balance bikes are mostly made from baltic birch plywood of various layers glued together. Birch is light yet durable. Wood balance bikes can range from 9-12 lbs. The construction of these bikes protect if from mild exposure to water and should not warp easily. These bikes should not be left out in the rain.
Metal balance bikes are usually made from lightweight steel or aluminum. The bikes either use tube steel or aluminum and are welded together to form a frame. These bikes can weigh from 7-12 lbs. Do not leave steel bikes out in the rain for extended time or you risk corrosion.
Composite bikes and Plastic balance bikes. Made up of plastic resins and in some cases mesh material for strength. These bikes will resist warping, cracking and corrosion and will weigh slightly less then a wood or metal bike.
What is the most important features to look for in a balance bike?
1st - The fit. You want to find a bike that fits your child. Measure inseam and compare to the bikes seat range. Child should have 1" of clearance below their crotch area and the seat.
2nd - The weight. If your child is young - 18 months to 3 years - weight should be your number one feature to consider. Heavy bikes will be harder to use and could be dangerous. Look for a bike that weights 7 to 8 pounds for younger riders.
3rd - Brakes. For older children, brakes can be a nice addition. It gives them something else to learn that they will eventually use with a pedal bike.
4th - Wheels. They come in air or airless tires. Air tires give you a smoother ride and look more like a bike. However they do require maintenance and add weight to a bike. Airless tires are maintenance free, lightweight and very durable.
How long do these bikes take to learn?
Children have been able to walk/ride on them the first time they sat down. After 1-2 weeks they are able to coast with their feet up. This may vary with different children, however, within 2 to 3 months you will see significant progress. The key is let them do it. This is a self paced learning tool. Get out and ride with them and encourage but don’t push them.
Balance bikes provide a great transition to a pedal bike. It’s also something they can master at a young age when a pedal bike would be inappropriate. So get a balance bike and get them moving.