A balance bike is a small bicycle that comes without stabilisers or pedals (or drivetrain), and is designed to allow toddlers and children to learn how to balance and ride a bike without having to worry about pedalling.
A balance bike is a great place for a child to start on their cycling life. They simply sit on the saddle with feet on the ground and scoot along. As their confidence grows, they will start to lift their feet off the ground and their speed will increase. They will naturally learn to weight themselves as they turn and move about. It’s possible for children as young as 18-months to be able to use a balance bike.
The benefits of learning on a balance bike
A balance bike is a safe and practical way to learn to ride a bike. Traditionally children’s bikes have come fitted with stabilisers (or training wheels as they are sometimes known), but this is very much now thought of as being an outdated way for a child to learn to ride. Stabilisers act like a prop or a crutch, not really teaching your child how to ride. They also allow children to lean too much, so much so that when the stabilisers are removed they more often than not have difficulties.
Push and glide
As the name suggest, a balance bike actually allows young children to learn how to balance. By mastering this skill early on they should have no problems when it comes to transitioning to pedalling, and will usually take to it easily. Whilst learning to balance bike they may start off with tentative steps, but they will soon be walking with the bike, then before you know it they’ll be pushing and gliding, gaining speed and taking control. Most balance bikes don’t have any brakes, which we feel is dangerous. Some come with just a back brake, which is better than nothing, but our bikes come with both brakes, front and rear. Not only does this mean that your child can stop without destroying their shoes, it also means that they are learning how to use a bike properly at a very early age. And again, this will help when they transition to pedals.
Learning to steer and control the bike
Your child will soon learn the fundamentals of steering and how that feels as they balance, which will allow them to gain full control. Those skills will aid a natural progression as they move on to a bike with pedals, it will come naturally to them – especially if they have chosen one of our bikes because it will pretty much be the same bike. Balance bikes also teach children that they need to turn-into a fall and not away from it. If they have been riding a bike with stabilisers they will have to learn this skill from scratch. Take our word for it, don’t bother with stabilisers.
Balance bikes also allow your child to be independent so you don’t have to help them as much. This means no more or running along behind and holding them and their bike. They should be safe as they are simply walking while sat on the saddle. Scooting along by themselves they will be able to ride for longer, which will build their confidence.
A bit of history
For many people balance bikes are still quite a new idea. In truth they have been around for well over 20 years, but it is only recently that they have really hit the mainstream. I guess if you want to go way back you could say that the first ever real ‘bike’ was a balance bike. Invented over 200 years ago in 1817 by German Karl Drais, the ‘Dandy Horse’ was basically a grown-up wooden balance bike. Depending on who you talk to, or where you look, the modern-day balance bike dates back to around 1997. Numerous companies and individuals claim to have invented the balance bike, but in truth parents have secretly been taking the pedals off their kids bikes for years!
Can’t I just remove the pedals?
You can go down the route of removing the pedals, but in reality this is not ideal. The cranks (the metal arms that the pedals attach on to) are usually left in place, these can get in the way and possibly cause injury. Specific balance bikes are the way to go. They are simply, clean in design and light in weight. Of course with our little PINTO bike you also have the extra advantage that you can swap from a balance bike to a small pedal bike and then a large pedal bike. It is also worth noting that most balance bikes come with small wheels, usually 14” and smaller. The great thing about our SKØG is that it uses 16” wheels, which means that children in the 5 to 7 year old age bracket (approx.) can learn to ride a bike by using a balance bike first.