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Getting Started:

Learning to ride a bicycle is one of the most exciting and exhilarating experiences of growing up. A bicycle can bring fun, freedom, and good health into your child's life. But what is the best way to teach your child to ride a bicycle? If you are anything like the folks here at Bike Kid Shop, there is a good chance that you learned to ride a bicycle with training wheels...and potentially a few scraped knees and tears along the way. These days, there are many options out there to choose from, what with tricycles, training wheels, and more recently, balance bikes. While there are certainly trade-offs with each method, we have recently been convinced that training wheels have become passe with the growing use of children's balance bikes. In chatting with family, friends, and customers, and trying them with our own kids, we've seen example after example of kids who go straight from riding a balance bike to a normal bike without ever needing training wheels!

A balance bike has no pedals, no gears, no brakes, and no training wheels. Kids use balance bikes by sitting in the saddle and pushing or running along the ground with their feet to propel the bike forward. As children get comfortable on a balance bike, they are able to lift their feet off the ground and coast along. A child's legs act as stabilizers when the bike starts to tip over, which has an effect similar to training wheels but without the bad habits. Meanwhile, kids learn the fundamentals of balance, control, steering, and coordination that they will need to ride a normal bicycle as they improve, taking the balance bike around corners and riding over diverse terrain from pavement to grass to dirt and even carpet...if you'll let them, of course. Balance bikes help to teach independence and instill confidence in your child. Not to mention, they are less likely to tip over than a bicycle with training wheels and generally produce fewer tears and less frustration throughout the learning process. Not only are balance bikes great for learning to ride, but they are also super fun for even very young kids. Children as young as even 2 or 3 are able to start playing around on balance bikes and develop cycling skills at a very young age.

There are a few important differences between learning to ride a bicycle using a tricycle, training wheels, or balance bike. A tricycle, which has three wheels, while very stable and great for very young children who are just learning to walk, does not require any effort to balance. Although children do develop some pedaling and steering skills on a tricycle, they must learn the fundamentals of balance another way. Training wheels, which are a set of two small wheels that are installed on each side of the rear wheel of a normal child's bike, are generally not level to the ground like a tricycle's wheels. Bicycles with training wheels tend to tip side-to-side ungracefully, which disables the natural feel of riding a bicycle and can teach bad cycling habits that can be hard to unlearn. The positive effects of learning to pedal and operate a bicycle with training wheels are likely outweighed by the negative aspect of not learning the feel of carving through turns or balancing independently. Balance bikes do not have pedals or brakes, so they do not teach your child these important aspects of riding a bicycle. However, there are many strategies for teaching your child to pedal and brake, and these actions tend to come very naturally once they have learned to balance. All-in-all, a balance bikes is the most effective, safe, and fun way for your child to learn to ride a bicycle.

Hopefully we have helped to convince you that balance bikes are a great way to teach your kid(s) to ride a bike. From here, choosing a balance bike is quite simple! Balance bikes come in two different flavors: metal frame, and wooden frame. The differences in frame material do not have much impact on the usability of your balance bike. However, some balance bikes, such as the Strider Balance Bike weigh very little (between 6.5 to 8.5 lbs.) and are easy for a very young child to navigate. Meanwhile, the Skuut is very durable and can carry somewhat older children. All of the bikes are adjustable as your child grows or have adjustability already built into them (ie. the long seat on the Skuut). Balance bikes also come in a range of fun colors to fit your kid(s)'s personality!

Adjustability

  • Saddle & Seat Post: Most balance bikes have some level of saddle and seat post adjustability to accommodate your child for as long as necessary. Some balance bikes, such as the YBike Balance Bike have a long saddle that your child can slide to the front of when he or she is young and slowly slide back on as he or she gets taller. The Strider Balance Bike and Skuut Balance Bike, on the other hand, feature a seat post and saddle that can be extended as your child grows. strider-green-croozing-rider
  • Handlebars: The Strider Balance Bike has extendable handlebars that can be moved up or down in order to fit children of varying heights. It is a great option if you are going to use the bike with more than one child.

Frame Material

  • Metal: Metal frame balance bikes, like the Strider Balance Bike and the YBike Extreme, most closely resemble a normal bicycle, just without the pedals and drivetrain, of course.
  • Wooden: Wooden balance bikes are both attractive and functional. The Skuut Balance Bike, for example, is constructed from birch wood and is great for the environmentally conscious.

Safety Considerations

    skuut-wooden-childs-balance-bike-side
  • Helmet: Your child's noggin should always be protected with a child's bike helmet when he or she is riding a balance bike. We have a wide range of fun, colorful helmets to choose from that fit toddlers, children, and youth.
  • Assembly: Most balance bikes require some minor assembly before they are ready for your kid(s) to hop on and ride. All of the balance bikes that we carry come with the necessary instructions and tools for assembly, but don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.
  • Periodic Check-Up's: You should inspect your child's balance bike periodically to make sure that all the bolts and screws are tight, the tires are aired up, and everything is functioning properly. Balance bikes are very low maintenance, but periodic check-up's will help to ensure that they are safe to ride and will prolong their life.

Is Your Child Ready for a Balance Bike?

  • Age: Balance bikes are great for children as young as the age of 2. They are great for older children up to 8 or 9 who are learning to ride a bicycle, as well. Balance bikes work well on many types of terrain, so you can start your child on a balance bike at a young age in a safe environment such as on a grassy field or even on the living room carpet.
  • strider-red-dirt-rider
  • Weight: All of our balance bikes have a specific load rating or maximum weight, so be sure to check the specific manufacturer and model specifications to make sure that your child is within the weight limit.

Our Brands:

Skuut: Kids love to "Skuut" on the beautifully constructed, wooden frame balance bikes from Skuut. Skuut is a company that is dedicated to balance bikes and to providing a great way for your child to learn to ride. So have a hoot with a Skuut!
Strider: Strider is a company run by bicycling enthusiasts, and you can tell from the high-quality children's balance bikes that they produce. Strider balance bikes are designed to provide a safe, fun experience for your child as he or she learns the fundamentals of bicycling.

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