In Praise Of Balance Bikes
DD1 didn’t learn to ride a bike until she was 6 years old.
We had gone on an Esprit holiday to the Alps and one of the options was a very mild version of mountain biking. She hadn’t been able to take part and had had to stay behind with the younger children, which didn’t go down terribly well at all.
To be honest, I had been putting this task off as I hated the thought of having to run behind a child screeching and wobbling around a playground. ‘There must be an easier way’, I thought.
Apparently there was. According to Google, the best way to for a child to ride a 2 wheeler was not to add a couple of wheels, but to take away the pedals instead. So when we got home, once all the back to school stuff had settled down, we bought a couple of balance/running bikes and took the older two girls out on them.
We went to a nearby park that has a little slope, as the Internet said that the easiest way for kids to learn to balance on these things is to freewheel down a hill. It was suggested you pick a grassy hill for their first couple of runs.
DD1 was (and is) tall, so we had to ramp up her seat as far as it would go. She still was a bit too big for the bike, but this doesn’t do any harm when they are first learning on these bikes. She coped and it all went pretty well.
DD1 was exhilarated after her first run. DD2 wasn’t so sure, but went back for more.
After about a month mucking around on a balance bike, we put DD1 on a pedal bike, and off she went. No running behind, no holding on to seats; she scooted along on the bike for a bit, then put her feet on the pedals and she was away.
I would definitely rate balance bikes as a way of getting your children onto a pedal bike. Training wheels are complete waste of time and money. The most important thing a child needs to learn before they can ride a 2 wheeler is balance and training wheels teach a child the exact opposite.
We moved DD2 up to the larger balance bike and let DD3, who was not yet 3, have a go on the smaller one. She loved it and spent that autumn terrorising the dog with it.
Our smaller bike was a Push-N-Go bike. These are lovely light little bikes without any extras that might distract kids while they are learning to balance. The company also provide fantastic customer service and replaced the entire seat of ours without a murmur when The Puppy Lurcher inexplicably ate it! We’ve had our Push-N-Go for 4 years now and it’s been used by 3 children. The cheaper balance bike we bought has long since fallen apart.
Then winter came, and it snowed and the bikes were put away until spring.
When spring rolled around, we bought a pedal bike for DD2 which she took to like a duck to water.
The girls spent hours biking up and down the pavement outside our house. Of course, none of them were particularly road savvy so I had to be out there too. This was best done when DS was asleep; I’d leave the front door open, put a chair on the path up to our house and keep an eye on them.
The next year, we went to Esprit again and this time both the older girls were able to join in the mountain biking. They were so proud of themselves!
And the year after that, we got DD3 onto a pedal bike and DS onto the remaining running bike.
We had gone from having no bike-riding kids to having 4 in the space of a couple of years!
Now, DS has just about outgrown the running bike and is about to move on to a little pedal bike of his own.
It’s the end of (another) era.
Unfortunately we can’t really give him his sister’s very-pink-with-daisies hand me down to be getting on with, can we? He’s still happily wearing the pink helmet.
Does anyone know where we can get a cheap, but not too heavy, boy’s bike from?