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Remember when we used to learn bikes and kept falling over again and again? Yeah, that was definitely not fun.
Even if you have a pair of sturdy stabilizers, all it takes is one wrong turn, and you tumble down with your bike.
Kids nowadays are luckier because they can get balance bikes instead. Although balance bikes aren’t a new concept, they’ve only become common recently. Here’s everything you may need to know about them.
What Is a Balance Bike for Kids?
In the simplest way possible, a balance bike is a bike with no drivetrain, pedals, or brakes. The bike only consists of a frame, a pair of wheels, a fork, a seat, and a handle. It’s designed so that the kids have their feet on the ground at all times—for safety and learning purposes.
Balance bikes teach kids how to balance themselves on a bike before learning to ride an actual one. They also teach kids how to steer, improving their basic skills before upgrading to pedaling.
Although riding a bike with your feet on the ground doesn’t sound appealing, it is for kids. It lets them develop their balance naturally without using stabilizers or similar teaching methods.
Why Are Balance Bikes Good for Kids?
Balance bikes are ideal for kids still learning how to ride. Here are a couple of reasons it’s a good idea to invest in one for your kid.
They Gain Control of the Bike
When teaching kids riding, parents tend to keep holding the frame or steering with one hand. While that’s good to keep the kids safe, it won’t be of much help if you want to teach your child how to ride independently.
Balance bikes are good because they give your kid complete control over the bike. That way, he can steer and glide with it entirely on his own. Even if he falls or cannot drive at first, he’ll learn how to do it because he has enough control.
They Learn Step by Step
Conventional bikes can be tricky to learn because you have to learn everything at once—balancing, steering, and pedaling. Each of these skills needs enough time to learn on its own. When you have to learn them all at once, you’re bound to have some setbacks.
Balance bikes are suitable for kids because they let them learn step by step. The kid will first learn how to balance himself on the bike. Then, when he gets the hang of it, he’ll start steering right and left and learning to go about his directions.
They Stay Safe
Falling is one of the worst parts of learning how to ride a bike. Anybody in the learning phase will inevitably fall, except if they ride a balance bike.
These bikes are safe for kids because their saddles are positioned low near the ground. So, there’s no way for the kid to fall. That prevents the children from developing injuries and keeps your mind at ease that there won’t be any falling.
Are Balance Bikes Better Than Bikes With Stabilizers?
I learned to ride on a bike with a stabilizer, and I got to say, that wasn’t a fun experience.
Stabilizers don’t actually do anything to teach you how to ride a bike because they don’t teach you the primary biking skill: steering. They’re only good for one thing, which is safety. But since balance bikes are safe too, stabilizers have no leverage.
While riding a bike, your kid needs to lean his weight to one side and steer in that direction. A stabilizer doesn’t teach them to do that because when they lean their weight, they lean it on the stabilizer.
They don’t learn how to balance themselves or how to counter-steer. And, without these skills, riding a bike is uncanny.
There’s also one more downside to stabilizers: they can’t be ridden on rough surfaces. The bike will swing from one side to the other because the stabilizers are naturally higher than the wheels. Of course, that’s not convenient.
If your kid uses a stabilizer to learn and removes them afterward, he’ll have to learn all over again. Needless to say, balance bikes are better.
Do Balance Bikes Come With Brakes?
Some balance bikes come with only rear brakes, and some don’t. Some rare models have both front and rear brakes, but those are hard to come by.
When your kid is still in the starting phase, it’s better to go without brakes. That way, he gets to learn step by step. Then, when he gets the hang of balancing and steering, he can learn how to use the brakes.
If you want your kid to ride at high speeds, giving them balance bikes with brakes is better. That way, you’ll rest assured that they’ll be able to stop the bike while speeding. Plus, brakes are good because they’ll keep the kids’ feet off the ground for some time.
How Do Kids Sit on Balance Bikes?
Balance bikes are designed with low saddles closer to the ground. The kids sit on them, putting their feet flat on the ground. Then, they reach their arms forward to hold the handlebars and steer the bike in any direction.
The correct seating position has the feet flat on the ground and the torso leaning forward just a bit. If the kid’s back is too straight, he won’t be able to reach for the handlebars and steer them comfortably.
Balance bikes are bikes without pedals, drivetrains, or brakes. Some of them come with rear brakes, but the majority of them come with none.
These bikes are ideal for kids learning how to ride because they’re safe. On top of that, they let the kids learn step by step instead of taking falls repeatedly.
If you’re choosing between a balance bike and a bike with a stabilizer, go for the former. Stabilizers don’t teach kids much riding, and they mostly have to learn all over again when they take them off.