Balance bikes are meant for kids. They are also called dandy horses, no-pedal bikes, or run bikes. Essentially, a balance bike is outdoor training equipment for kids to help them learn balancing and steering. This makes them transition to bikes later on easier.
A balance bike is powered by running with feet. There is a seat and steering but no pedals, drivetrain, chain, gears, gear shifting mechanism, derailleurs, or freewheel.
Many ask what the point of a balance bike is. Well, the primary purpose of a balance bike is to train a kid in balancing and steering.
The hardest part in learning to ride a bike for any kid is balancing it. Essentially, when someone starts riding a bike for the first time, the training wheels actively prevent them from even attempting to balance.
They will be off to a bad, off-balance start if they learn it this way.
If a kid learns to balance and steer beforehand, the transition to a normal kid’s bike becomes much easier. No training wheels are required either.
Balancing while sitting and in motion is a great way to learn to ride a bike.
The best balance bikes are exceptionally light, lower to the ground, and easy to maneuver. Consequently, they provide a great method of learning balance and steering early on. Your child will most probably not require training wheels or stabilizers when you get them a kid's bike later.
Balance bikes are good for kids from 18 months of age to 7 years old. If your child can walk, they can use a balance bike.
Usually, balance bikes are grouped as for toddlers 1-5 years old and 5+ years. However, it is better to search for balance bikes for your kid based on their exact age. For example, balance bikes for a 1-year-old are slightly different from balance bikes for 2 years old toddlers.
The major difference is the height and weight of the frame. When your child outgrows the balance bike you can always replace it with another or go with a kid’s bike with pedals.
There are not a lot of considerations while buying a balance bike for your kid. They are fairly straightforward. The first thing you need to look out for is the frame height. The weight comes a close second.
If you get the right height and weight, it will be more than enough.
A comfortable seat is also important. To develop the skill of balancing without pedaling, it is particularly important that kids can walk with the balance bikes for longer durations.
The frame, fork, wheels, and handlebars are the only other parts in a balance bike. So that is all you need to look out for.
Some balance bikes might also have brakes. It’s not really important to get your kid to start paying attention to brakes this early but can help nonetheless. Braking can be reserved for the pedaling experience.
There are a few methods you can try so that kids have a better time on a balance bike.
Striding and gliding are both techniques that you should ideally start with. Providing support is also important in the beginning until your child is completely confident in walking with the balance bike on their own.
Striding slowly leads to gliding by itself so there is not much work needed on that front.
Once they are good with a balance bike for several months, you can get a kid’s bicycle for them. When pedals are introduced, things are bound to get a little difficult but nothing uncontrollable as they would already know balancing and steering.
The ideal age for starting with a balance bike is typically 12-18 months. Do not worry if those little legs feel out of proportion with the bike’s frame. It is perfectly alright for the balance bike to feel proportionally bigger. With some practice, moving around on the balance bike will become smoother and effortless.
Do not push it if they scare your child. Wait a couple more months and then try again.
Balance bikes also come in various sizes. It might help to go for a smaller bike early on if your child is not physically strong enough to handle a bigger one. This happens more often with one year old kids. Balance bikes for 1-year old can be hard to handle. In this case, you can go for small ones. The only problem is that once they have learned maneuvering it, the bike will be too small. It is generally a good idea to get balance bikes for 2 years old toddlers when your child is 2, replacing the smaller one, before moving to a kid’s bike with pedals directly.
It is a general consensus that balance bikes are much better than training wheels. They make for a much smoother transition to learning to ride a bike. Steering and balancing are key aspects of riding a bike and if your child knows it beforehand, it makes for a much better experience.
Starting directly to pedal means your child will learn to ride a bike off-balance or on a tilt (as is the case with training wheels and stabilizers). That is not the ideal way and takes way more time to effectively learn the important skill.
A balance bike early on takes care of that problem.
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