Balance bikes are bicycles without pedals that kids as young as 18 months can ride by pushing with their feet. This method of learning to ride a e bike damen started in Europe and is slowly becoming more popular here in the United States. It’s a “balance first” philosophy that many parents are embracing.
Getting the right fit for your preschooler’s bike is as important as choosing a safe helmet. If the bike doesn’t fit the rider, they will struggle to learn how to ride on their new bike or you will be forced to postpone their bike riding education until they grow into the bike. Make sure you consider the following before you purchase your child’s bike.
The most important measurement to take is your child’s inseam. A little rider should be able to keep both feet flat on the ground when sitting on the saddle of the bicycle. Allow for a inch of clearance to make it easy for the child to get on and off the bike. So if your child has an inseam of 13″, you’ll want a bike with a seat that lowers to at least 12″. The lowest balance bikes on the market have seats that can be lowered to a height of 11 inches. The Strider preBike, Kinderbike Mini and Glide Bike Mini Glider all have seats a minimum seat height of 11″.
School age kids can learn on a balance bike too, though the selection for older kids is relatively small. One standout is the Go Glider from Glide Bikes which has 16″ wheels and accommodates rider that weigh up to 125 lbs. Another choice you’ll be faced with when purchasing the bicycle is whether you want a model with a hand brake. Some models include the brake, some do not. While kids will rarely use the brake for stopping, preferring to drag their feet along the ground, it does train them to position the hands for braking.
You’ll also have to decide whether you prefer a wooden balance bike or a metal/aluminum frame bike. The wooden bikes are charming and toy-like so many kids will enjoy them. Other kids may prefer a bike that looks more like what their older siblings and friends ride. You may find that the metal versions will stand up better to wear and tear and the elements.
Tires are another factor in choosing a balance bicycle. You’ll find bicycles with air tires (pneumatic tires) and some bikes with EVA solid foam tires. The air tires generally offer a smoother ride and better traction, but foam tires mean no flats and never having to put air air in them.
The final thing to consider when purchasing a balance bike is price. There are high-end models like the LikeaBike that run $300 or more. Other models are available for between $75-$100. Avoid balance bikes under $50 as they rely too much on plastic parts and poor quality design and just won’t last. There are a number of excellent bikes for around $100 like the Kinderbike that will last for generations if taken care of properly. The one thing that’s certain is that a decision to buy a balance bike over teaching your child to ride using training wheels is a great decision. Kids learn quickly and naturally on a balance bike and do so without fear.