Every kid should learn how to ride a bike. Not only is it an essential skill to have, but balance is such an important concept for young children to be able to grasp. But what’s the best way to teach your kids to ride? Tricycles? Training wheels? Lock them outside until they can ride? Well, maybe not that last one, but balance bikes are the latest craze in how to teach kids to ride, with the companies producing them calling them the greatest thing since sliced bread. Balance bikes aren’t much to look at – they’ve got no pedals, and no drivetrain or brakes, so why buy one instead of a standard kids bike?
Balance bikes were actually invented before standard bicycles, with the original versions, the Laufmaschine, being patented 30 years before the first bike. It’s only recently however, that they have really come into vogue. Balance bikes claim to be a better way to get your child out on a bike by teaching them to ride better, quicker.
And according to the data, they do just that.
Companies have been touting the so-called benefits of balance bikes for years now, but understandably, the science surrounding them remains particularly sparse. According to a study conducted in 2015, there were ‘significant changes in the trial group after three weeks, when compared to the control (normal bikes) group,’ with improvement visible as early as the second week of learning to ride. In reality, balance bikes are cheaper, quicker and safer for your child to learn how to ride a bike. But what’s so special about them? How do they increase the rate at which you can learn to ride a bike?
A child’s brain is an amazing thing, soaking up so much information about the world around it. However, they can only do so many things at once, and learning to ride a bike is a great number of things at once. There are two major parts to riding a bike: staying upright, and turning the pedals. If a child is attempting to learn on a conventional bike, they have to learn these two skill simultaneously, whereas on a balance bike they can solely focus on the more difficult of the two, the balancing. Learning to balance is the important part of learning to ride, and because the child’s feet are closer to the ground, and because the bike is lighter and easier to control, a balance bike allows a child to focus on this skill without fear of falling,
Once your child is able to balance on the bike, swapping them to a standard bike is an easy transition. Pedaling is a much easier skill to learn, and it will come naturally to the child.
So if you’re looking to get your child on two wheels, a balance bike is a great option, and they come in a variety of fun colour and design options, such as the Kiddimoto Chopper pictured in the top of this article. However, if your child already knows how to balance or you’re ready to make the jump to a conventional bike, check out our guide on choosing the right size bike for your child.
Shim, A. L., & Norman, S. (2015). Incorporating Pedal-less Bicycles into a Pre-K through Third-grade Curriculum to Improve Stability in Children: Editor: Ferman Konukman. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 86(1), 50-51.
1 – Gun Powder Ma