If you’re on the lookout for your child's first bike, chances are you’ve come across the term ‘balance bike’.
But you're probably wondering what are balance bikes exactly? And should why should you get one? 🤷♀️
At the Bike Club, we take pride in helping our members teach their children to cycle, so they can live a fun, healthy and eco-friendly life. So, keep reading to find out what balance bikes are, and why they should be the go-to first bike for any child.
What is a Balance Bike?
Put simply, a balance bike is a bike without pedals🙅♀️, designed for children aged between 12 months - 5 years to help them get to grips with cycling.
Because it doesn't have pedals, little cyclists use their feet to move, or 'glide', along the ground.👣
By doing this, children are able to develop their sense of balance and coordination on a bicycle. Once they have mastered these skills, they are then able to upgrade straight to a pedal bike and be a much more confident cyclist.
What age are Balance Bikes designed for?
Balance bikes are perfect for any young child, whether 12 months or 5 years, who are taking their first steps on their cycling journey. 👶
Like normal pedal bikes, balance bikes can also come in a range of sizes to fit the size of your child. For example, one of our favourite brands - Strider balance bikes - come in an array of sizes, with easily-adjustable seats and handlebars.
How Long Will my Child Need a Balance Bike for?
It goes without saying that children grow very fast! Your child will probably need to upgrade their first bike within 12 – 18 months due to either size or ability. 👦
This is exactly why the Bike Club exists: with our bikes you can simply exchange as they grow, so you never have to worry about paying full price for a bike which will end up rusting away in the garage. Plus, you can feel good in knowing that your child’s first bike will be refurbished and sent out to be enjoyed by another Bike Club family.
Balance Bikes vs Stabilisers
Stabilisers (otherwise known as training wheels) are designed to simply help a child to be able to cycle, yet they don’t teach them the most vital thing: balance! ⚖️
Balance isn’t only important for cycling, but also for a child’s overall growth. According to Balance Ability, without learning basic balance and sensory integration, “learning and reading development can be significantly delayed”.
If you teach a child how to cycle by using stabilisers, they’ll begin falling over once you take them off because they haven’t yet grasped the ability to balance whilst on a bike.
Once children have mastered the fundamental step of balance, they will be able to complete more physical activities, increase their confidence, and develop motor skills as well.
Buying a Balance Bike vs Removing the Pedals from a Normal Bike
Because children grow in the blink of an eye, some parents prefer to buy a pedal bike and simply remove the pedals to transform it into a balance bike.
Whilst this can work, balance bikes are specifically designed and manufactured in a way to support young, first-time cyclists.
If you are worried about spending money on multiple bikes for your child, check out our range of balance bikes which you can lease for a little as £3.50 per month, and exchange for a pedal bike when they become a more able little cyclist.
Do Balance Bikes Have Brakes?
Depending on which one you buy, your bike could either have no brakes, a rear brake only, or both front and rear brakes.
Balance bikes without brakes require the child to slow the bike down by using their feet against the floor.
Do Balance Bikes Need Brakes?
When children are young (around 18 months), and new to cycling, brakes may not be necessary. This is because they are unlikely to be travelling at speeds where they will be unable to use their feet to stop them. 💨
When children get a little more confident, having at least a rear brake can help as they will be travelling at faster speeds and this can help them to slow down safely.
How to Teach Your Child to Ride a Balance Bike
Seeing your child first begin cycling is a memory that sticks with us forever, so it's important to make it a fun experience for the whole family!
Whilst balance bikes are relatively self-explanatory, here’s some general guidance on how to get your child going:
1 – Striding🦶
When your child first gets on their new balance bike, allow them to get used to using their feet to get the bike moving.
After a short while, they’ll slowly begin to grow in confidence.
2 – Gliding 🌬
Once they’ve got the hang of striding, your child will then learn that they are able to take their feet off the ground to ‘glide’ for a few seconds. This stage is crucial for the child to develop their balance and coordination before moving onto a pedal bike.
3 – Practice Makes Perfect 🔁
Allow your child the opportunity to make mistakes, as this is how they will learn to cycle!
There is no rush when it comes to learning how to cycle, let your child take it at the pace they enjoy.
... in no time, your child will be able to upgrade to pedals! 🙌
What to Look out for When Buying a Balance Bike
As with any bike, there are certain factors you should take into account when shopping for a balance bike:
1 - Size 📏
This is crucial! Buying a bike too small or too big for your child can harm the experience they have with learning to cycle. Most bikes are measured by your child’s inside leg length.
2 - Weight 🏋️♀️
Weight is important not only for your child, but also for you as the parent who will inevitably have to carry it! Make sure the bike you go for is lightweight to please the whole family.
3 - Brakes ✋
If you expect your child to be gliding at fast speeds on their bike, it may be wise to shop for one that has at least a rear brake.
4 - Cost 💰
Balance bikes can range anywhere from £40 to over £1,000.
At the Bike Club, we make children cycling affordable by offering monthly subscriptions so your child can begin cycling for as little as £3.50 a month!
5 - Quality 📝
As with most purchases, you want to get the best-value balance bike - right? Some extra things to look out for when deciding what bike to get your child is how much attention has been put into the materials. Is the seat comfy? Are the handlebars soft? Are the tyres designed to withstand the movement from a toddler?
What is the Best Balance Bike?
So now you know everything about balance bikes, what is the best one you can buy?
Strider 12 Sport ✅
Strider shares our goal of inspiring young children to gain a sense of freedom & adventure by setting off on two wheels.
Their balance bikes are extremely lightweight, weighing only 2.9kg. They are also completely made with the child in mind.
Aside from the materials of the bike, the Strider 12 Sport is designed with easy-adjust clamps, making the bike adjustable for any child within the age ranges of 18 month – 5 years. To read our full review on the Strider 12 Sport, click here.
Get a Strider 12 Sport for £3.50 a month
Balance bikes are a great way to get your child learning how to cycle, whilst encouraging their physical development and increasing their confidence. 😁
At the Bike Club, we have a dedicated team of kids bikes experts. Our mission is to encourage the next generation of cyclists by making kids bikes affordable and helping the environment in the process by reducing the number of bikes that end up in landfill each year.
To join our mission, become a member & get your hands on one of our balance bikes here 👈