Balance bikes are a unique type of bicycle that helps preschoolers and toddlers as young as 2 years old begin the process of learning how to ride a bike. They are designed to be low to the ground, making them easier to balance. Your child is less likely to fall off and get hurt, which can slow the entire process of learning to ride a bicycle if your child then refuses to get back on and try again.
Balance bikes have no pedals or chains. Instead, children use their feet to move the bike by pushing on the ground. They start by walking while sitting on the bike, and as their confidence grows, they move to running and then gliding with no need for training wheels.
Proponents of balance bikes say they build confidence, balance, coordination, steering skills, and strength. Once the child has the balancing and steering skills mastered, proponents claim that the transition to a pedal bike is easier. The only new skill is learning to pedal, which is much easier than learning to balance.
Already common in Europe, balance bikes are becoming more popular in the United States. One organization, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, encourages parents to teach their children with balance bikes. However, instead of buying a special balance bike, they tell parents how to make their own. Simply remove the pedals and training wheels from a standard bicycle, lower the seat, and let your child explore to world of bicycle riding.
Although they are growing in popularity, there is no evidence that balance bikes are better than pedal bikes for teaching children to ride. Children typically learn to ride by the time they are 5 years old, no matter what method is used. However, a balance bike may result in fewer injuries during the learning process.
Wall Street Journal. Look Ma, No Pedals!
Calderdale Council. The Balance Bike-Learning to Ride
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Parent Tip Sheet Freedom from Training Wheels.
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