Bicycles are characterized as two-wheeled vehicles with pedals, but is there a kind of bike that does not have pedals? Yes, it is. Balance bikes are those that do not need pedals to drive.
So are you curious about “what is a balance bike?” and how do you use it correctly? Let’s check out the best balance bikes and activities to do with them!
What Is A Balance Bike?
Balance bikes, as it is, are the ones that have everything like a bike, from frame, wheels, saddle, and handlebar, but minor to the pedals. Some models can have the pedals reinstalled for other riding methods. Still, they are generally small bikes for children to get familiar with cycling.
The frame of balance bikes is small and near the ground so that kids’ feet can touch the surface even when they are on the bike saddle. The structure also needs to be lightweight so the kids can withstand the bike’s weight, so wood and metals like aluminum are preferred materials.
The riders of balance bikes are small kids, so air tires or foam tires can either be used, and straight handlebars are far easier to control for these young cyclists. No gear or drivetrain is included in the balance bike because the purpose of this type of bike is not for proper cycling.
Let’s gliding along to see what exactly is this pedal-less bike here:
How Does A Balance Work?
The method of the balance bike is simple: “scooting” to move forwards. As the bikes are for toddlers who can barely run, riding a balance bike for kids is simply to get them to be used to sitting on the bike saddle and balancing on it. That’s where the name comes from.
A balance bike resembles a real bike, but it omits the troublesome parts – the pedals. The main target of using the balance bike is to help children get accustomed to the seat height of real bikes and work with the handlebar and hand brakes.
Usually, toddlers will sit on the balance bike, with both feet firmly on the ground, and start walking to move the bike. When they feel more natural on the balance bike, they can learn how to steer the handlebar, stop the bike with the hand brake, or scooting and cruising on it.
A balance bike is an ultimate choice for young beginners, even better than kid bikes with training wheels. Since you can take step by step to get used to bike riding and it does not involve the complicated act of pedaling, things are far easier for children to work with.
Top Three Best Activities Of Balance bikes
Balance bikes are not solely for the purpose of cycling learning, and you can employ them in different methods. It is true that this simple vehicle was made for cycling education, but you can use it to help with your children’s fitness and mental health.
A Start For Cycling
The most popular choice of activities with a balance bike is, of course, learning how to ride a bike. Riding a balance bike helps children to get used to the riding posture, where to sit, where to put your hand on, and feel the way how the bike weight syncs with your own.
Furthermore, this type of bike can help your kid with bike handlebar control. Toddlers can figure out how to turn the bike left or right and stop and power their bike in the most basic way. That is an excellent foundation for cycling passion later on.
If your family are all bike lovers, the small kids would feel left out if they don’t have their bike. But at such a young age, they may not be able to handle a standard bike properly. Therefore, you need a balance bike.
You can take a short trip on the neighborhood pavement road with your kids side by side, cruising around and exploring things together. Or you can conquer the dirt trails and watch your kids do the same, giving words of encouragement for them to push forwards.
Cycling With Friends
In case your resident places, or your kid’s schools, happen to have a bike race for those little cyclists, let’s sign in with a balance bike. This is a good way for the children to play together, learn things together and have a good memory to remember.
Moreover, riding a balance bike is also valuable for exercising the kid’s body. The task of a balance bike is just suitable for the physique of toddlers, so frequent races with friends will keep them in good shape.
For more idea on how you can set up activities with a balance bike, let’s turn to this:
Unique Features Of Balance Bikes
The lack of pedals is the most prominent trait of a balance bike, but it is not all. Compared to regular bikes, there are a lot more about this particular type of bike.
First of all, the pedals are nowhere to be found on the balance bike. Pedaling is considered a complicated movement and deemed unsuitable for the early stage of cycling learning. Instead of circling the pedals, kids will learn other things with a balance bike.
The size of balance bikes is always small. As the primary age group of balance bike users is young, the bikes are always tiny to fit in with their height. Besides, the seat height range is also lower to the ground so that the kids can half-sit, half-stand on the balance bike comfortably.
Moreover, the bike geometry of balance bikes is different from the adult ones. The frames are lightweight, narrow, and slim, so they fit perfectly with the toddlers’ slight build. As a result, balance bikes feel closer to children, and they can fit themselves on the bike without any problem.
What Age Is A Balance Bike For?
As said before, balance bikes are not for the grown-ups; they are specially made for kids, but not all ages. Children can get on a balance bike at a really young age, but there is an age limit for a balance bike after all.
Ideally, children who are at least 18 months old can hop on a balance bike, as long as the bike size is correct. Nevertheless, seven years old is the average age for kids to graduate from this type of bike and starting to learn how to pedal.
For children of different ages, the size of balance bikes should also be following. You can check with the bike shop owner to see which one suits your toddlers the most.
Teaching Your Child To Quickly Ride A Balance Bike: The Important Steps
Using a balance bike is possible for any kids who can walk properly; the process is purely simple. However, many people follow the wrong method, thus making the ride more arduous for the small ones. Therefore, let’s learn how to ride a balance bike in the right way:
Where Would You Like To Ride?
The first and foremost thing for the parents to do is to choose a good riding ground for their kids. The balance bike has no problem with cruising on bumpy areas. Still, a vast and relatively flat surface is much more manageable for your kids.
So, ground clearance should be the criteria for balance bike riding. The route should be open with a broad view, so parents can spectate better when their kids ride the bike.
The ground should be of little rocks and bumps, as smooth as possible. Pavement routes are preferred over grass or dirt trails.
Put On The Proper Attire
As the saddle of the balance, the bike is lower to the ground, and kids can literally sit on and glide the bike; the safety of balance bikes is relatively high, but it is better for parents to prepare suitable clothes and gear to protect the little riders.
Helmets and elbow pads are the most common choices for protective gears. They will keep your kids away from scratch and injury when they fall down and will also cushion a lot of impact from the accidents, so small riders will not get hurt.
Check On The Saddle
Next, you should check the height of the saddle. The seat height range will affect the kids greatly, as the too high or too low seat will make it uncomfortable for the kids to ride on. Check and adjust the saddle carefully before starting.
The Right Posture
You can help your toddlers to get on the bike by now and instruct them how to do it in the right way. Help them to sit on the saddle, with both feet firmly on the ground. Their back should be straight and relaxing, and their hands are on the handlebar naturally.
How Can I Stop The Bike
Instinctively, kids will stamp their feet on the road to stop the balance bike, so you should teach them how to use the hand brake because real bikes use them to stop. Show them how they can grip on the brake slowly to stop the bike, and remind them about the brake when needed.
Let’s Go Riding
By now, your kids are ready to ride. You can start with instructing them how to balance the bike while standing and then walking with it. If they are more familiar with a balance bike, try running while still sitting on the saddle.
When your children are good with keeping balance on the bike, you can teach them how to scoot, cruise, and glide on balance bikes. You can give them a little push at first so they can have a rough idea about that, and let’s encourage them to ride the bike on their own.
The balance bike is relatively safe for small children, but parents should always keep an eye on the little riders when they are in full swing. Falling and tripping over is expected, so you need to be there right away to check out if your kids are still good to go for another round.
For more information, you can watch this video to know the method of riding a balance bike:
Do Balance Bikes Need Brake?
In principle, there is no need for a balance bike to have brakes since the design of this type of bike is peculiar and simple. Moreover, kids do not really ride or pedal the bike; they use their feet to power it, so they can stop the bike by stamping it on the ground at once.
However, having a handbrake is recommended because the brake adds a layer for safety and gives children another option to stop their bikes.
Furthermore, adult bikes have brakes, and sooner or later, you will need to know how to use them. So having brakes on the balance bike can help them to learn the way to use the brake at an early age.
Are balance bikes worth the money?
Yes, balance bikes are more suitable for small children than bikes with training wheels.
What are the benefits of a balance bike for toddlers?
Balance bikes are safer, easier to control, better for toddlers to get familiar with a bike.
Can I use a regular bike as a balance bike?
You can use a regular bike as a balance bike if you take off the pedals, drivetrain, and other gears. However, the seat height may not always be suitable.