At Push me Home, we have a lot of parents who come to us asking whether balance bikes for toddlers are worth the money. In this blog post, we will be discussing some of the pros and cons of balance bikes to help you make an informed decision.
Before we get into this though, let’s start by looking at what exactly a kids balance bike is. Essentially, a balance bike is just like a regular pedal bike, only it has no pedals. Instead, the child keeps their feet on their ground, and simply runs along to get the bike to move. Because of this, balance bikes are sometimes also referred to as “strider bikes”, because the child essentially has to stride along to move them.
Kids balance bikes are often used by kids aged 18 months to two years, who are starting to learn to ride a bike for the first time. There are definitely some advantages of these bikes, when it comes to children who are learning how to ride.
For example, a balance bike teaches kids core skills like how to balance, stop, steer, and turn the bike first, without them having to worry about learning to pedal at the same time. This can make learning to ride a bike a much less overwhelming and frightening prospect for children who are nervous to start riding.
Riding balance bikes can also build other motor skills, such as strength, coordination, and agility – all of which are important skills that are developed during a child’s first few years of life. Balance bikes can provide your child with an opportunity to practice and continue to hone these skills during this important period of growth and development.
Many also consider balance bikes to be a safer alternative to pedal bikes, especially for very young children who are just getting in the saddle for the first time. This is because pedal bikes are lower to the ground than regular bikes, meaning children have less far to fall if they do have any tumbles, crashes, or falls. They are also easier for children to control, as they can only move as fast as the child is able to walk or run.
Finally, after they have been used for a while, balance bikes can help children to transition straight onto learning to ride a pedal bike, without the need to use the stabilisers or training wheels first. Because they will have mastered the balancing aspect first on the balance bike (which is what training wheels and stabilisers assist with), all they will need to do is learn how to pedal before being able to move on to a “big kid bike”.
As you can see, there are many benefits to using balance bikes. However, these bikes also have some drawbacks.
One of the biggest disadvantages to using a balance bike to teach your child to ride is that it deprives children of the opportunity to learn the other core skills they need for bike riding from day one. Although it is true that balance is a fundamental skill when it comes to riding a bike, pedaling is equally as important.
If you use a balance bike, your child will not have any opportunities to practice pedaling until they get into the saddle of their first “big bike”, at which point they will have a bit of catching up to do. Whereas children who start learning to ride on a pedal bike with stabilisers or training wheels have the opportunity to practice pedaling from day one, children who start learning on balance bikes do not have this opportunity to practice.
By the same token, balance bikes also do not have brakes. This means that children who start learning to ride on balanced bikes also do not have the opportunity to practice using the brakes to start and stop the bike until later in their learning-to-ride journey.
Because of this, we personally do not encourage the use of balance bikes. Instead, we recommend teaching your child how to ride on a pedal bike from day one, with training wheels or stabilisers and a bike assistance handle used to provide extra stability and security as needed.
With that being said, at Push me Home, we believe that the decision of whether or not to use a balance bike for your child learning to ride a bike is a personal one. Rather than attempting to convince you one way or the other, we instead strive to provide you with all the information you need to be able to make an informed decision about what is best for your family and child.
If you are still interested in purchasing a balance bike for your child to ride, it is important that you choose a balance bike that has a seat height and frame height that is right for your child. A bike that is the ideal height for your child will allow them to have their feet flat on the ground when they are sitting on the seat (something that is particularly important if you are going to be using a balance bike!)
If you choose a bike that is too big or too small, it may be harder to control and more difficult for them to ride. It can also make for a very uncomfortable riding experience! Fortunately, a wide range of balance bikes are available on the market, in a range of sizes and designs, so you’re sure to find one that suits your child.
Alternatively, if you are interested in going the pedal bike route, we offer a range of bike assistance products to help you teach your child to ride. In particular, we specialise in bike assistance handles that clip onto your child’s bike to help:
- Reassure your little one as they continue to grow their confidence on their first rides
- Keep their bike on course when they get distracted looking around at their surroundings, putting an end to crashes, tears, and grazed knees
- Put in the muscle on those rises where they need a little extra help and support
- Give them a hand braking on steep downward hills
- Control the speed they are riding at
- Provide that extra push where needed
You can shop our range of bike assistance handles here. We also have a range of other resources available on our website to help you and your child on their learning-to-ride journey, which you can find here.