A balance bike or trike followed by a pedal bike with stabilisers before removal of the stabilisers and pedalling independently . . .
Well, that’s what I thought . . . But I was wrong and pre-kids, I definitely underestimated how integral a balance bike can be to get little ones riding confidently and younger!
Balance Bikes are in simple terms a bike without the pedal system attached - meaning little ones can use their legs to propel forwards and also put their feet down to act as a break to stop where necessary.
It’s is important to mention that whilst the ‘Balance Bike’ concept as a whole is a great one, there are a variety of bikes in the market of varying shapes, sizes, designs and weight. It is essential to do your research and try some out before you purchase . . . whilst some may look great, in practise they can be heavy to hold, hard to manoeuvre and almost impossible to adjust the seat and handlebar heights to grow with children.
First things first . . . when it comes to balance bikes, for a lot of parents at least, there will be a little persistence required! They are of course ‘wobbly’, take a little while for some children to gain some confidence and will at times ‘fall down’ . . . and all of this is completely fine and in-fact part of the learning process but little ones will need some reassurance and encouragement to continue!
Honestly though it is worth it, because as their confidence and skill level grows, they are learning the art of maintaining their own balance to control a bike and they are well on their way towards pedalling independently.
One of the most common questions that I hear from parents is normally something along the lines of ‘Do you have classes with stabilisers . . . My child can pedal so they don’t need a balance bike’.
This is a tricky one, as at CYCLEme TOTS we do not encourage the use of stabilisers at all!
In fact, we genuinely believe that gone are the days when parents remove stabilisers and children spend the rest of their time riding panicking that parents will ‘let go’.
Now I am not saying that there are not some pro’s to a stabiliser bike - children can build speed relatively quickly making it easier to cover larger distances, not to mention the fact that they can be relatively cheap and come in a vast array of designs including your kids favourite cartoon characters! But . . . the bikes are often much heavier and research coupled with our personal experience suggests that balance bikes make the learning process a much quicker and smoother one.
Part of this is because stabilisers on a bike can encourage children to become reliant on them for support, often throwing their upper body in opposite directions (especially when cornering) which effectively will need to be corrected or unlearnt before conquering pedals independently.
One of the key things to consider is that pedalling isn’t normally the hardest thing for children to learn when riding, maintaining their balance independently is. By adding stabilisers into the process you are actually removing the chance for them to build their own confidence and develop their balance . . . and this can actually make the process harder, in-fact having the very opposite effect to that intended.
So, are balance bikes worth the investment and ‘hype’ . . . We definitely think so!
So much so that we have created our whole business around giving children the opportunity to learn to ride using them at our structured and educational activity sessions.
Some things in life are hard . . . but teaching your little ones the life skill of riding a bike doesn’t have to be . . . make it exciting, shower them with praise, keep them active and above all JUST HAVE FUN!