What is a Balance Bike?
The days of training wheels are long behind us. These days, there’s a newer, safer, and more effective way to teach your child how to ride a bicycle: the balance bike.
Balance bikes allow children to push off the ground with their feet. Because their feet can always touch the ground comfortably, this allows them to learn balancing on two wheels while they're still young - and at their own pace. Then, when they’ve mastered balancing, kids can graduate to their first pedal bike.
Not sure if a balance bike is right for your toddler? Read on for everything you need to know about this cycling innovation and check out our newest 12" Guardian Balance Bike.
How Do Balance Bikes Work?
The biggest difference between a balance bike and a pedal bike is the way it’s constructed. While a balance bike may look similar to a regular bike, there are a few key differences to note:
- No Pedals: The most distinctive feature of a balance bike is its lack of pedals! Essentially, a balance bike looks a bit like the skeleton of a regular bike.
- Small Frame: Balance bikes are smaller than pedal bikes. The frame on a balance bike is going to be shorter than the smallest pedal bike you can find. This is done for two reasons. First, a balance bike is intended for a toddler or those who are not tall enough for a standard pedal bike. Second, due to the lack of pedals, a balance bike needs to be short enough for your child’s feet to fully touch the ground so they can push themselves along.
A Balancing Act
Now that you understand the basic elements of a balance bike, it’s time to explain how they work.
Once your child gets comfortable with sitting on the bike and moving it around, they’ll begin to learn how to pick up speed. With speed, comes the ability to glide. As a parent, this may sound scary—but gliding on a balance bike actually isn’t as hard as it sounds. Children who ride balance bikes will often kick their feet up when they feel ready. This gives kids a chance to really understand the physics behind riding a two-wheeled bike, without relying on training wheels.
Once your child gets the hang of pushing and gliding, they’ll want to ride longer each time they use the balance bike. This will encourage independence, improve coordination, and result in an easier transition to a regular pedal bike.
Are Balance Bikes Better Than Training Wheels?
Yes, balance bikes are a better teaching aid than training wheels! The difference boils down to a few key factors:
- Balance: It’s right in the name. Balance bikes teach your child how to keep themselves from falling better than training wheels. In fact, training wheels actually hinder their ability to balance on a regular, two-wheeled bike by providing too much assistance.
- Simplicity: Trying to figure out the complex mechanisms of the pedals and brakes while also learning how to balance is a challenging task. A balance bike allows children to adjust to sitting on the bike, gaining speed, and keeping steady, without any extra hurdle.
- Steering: The simple design of a balance bike allows your child to get comfortable with holding the handlebars and steering themselves. With a balance bike, they’ll be able to ground themselves and move around more easily.
Balance bikes have been shown to shorten a child’s transition to a regular bicycle.
Children who start on balance bikes develop a strong grasp on how to keep themselves from falling over, without relying on training wheels. This makes the process of learning to ride a regular bike much shorter. In fact, one of the most time-consuming parts of teaching a kid to ride a bike is having them unlearn their instinct to rely on the added support of training wheels.
Transitioning from a balance bike to a regular bike will only require learning new skills, such as working the pedals, which is easier once they already know how to support themselves on two wheels. Learn more about how to determine when your child needs a bigger bike.
Make the Transition Even Smoother With Guardian Bikes
Once your child has mastered riding a balance bike, they’re already on their way to having the best possible biking experience. Make this transition even smoother by switching them to a pedal bike you can trust.
Guardian Bikes provide a safer bike riding experience for your child. This is due to a few unique features that will help your child ride with confidence:
- RideSizer®: After the small frame of a balance bike, you don’t want your child to switch to a pedal bike that’s too large for them. Our RideSizer® is a great way to prevent this. The RideSizer® takes your child’s height, age, and experience level into account, and determines the perfect frame and wheel size for their first pedal bike.
- SureStop Braking: Our patented SureStop brakes can make the transition from balance bike to pedal bike even safer and easier. Coaster brakes are difficult to use for a child just learning how to pedal. And two-lever hand brake systems can add unnecessary confusion to the equation. The SureStop technology combines the best aspects of a two-lever system into one easy-to-squeeze hand brake.
- Lightweight: Like balance bikes, Guardian bikes have a lightweight frame that’s easy for young children to handle.