Learning to Ride a Balance Bike

by This is Carrie on May 28, 2010

After struggling to teach Pumpkin how to ride a two-wheel bike using the traditional “training wheels” route and then finding almost immediate success with a homemade pedal-less bike, we knew we would never see another set of training wheels around our house.

For Baby Brother’s second birthday we knew we wanted to get him his first balance bike (aka: run bike, PREbike, no pedal bike).  Todd did his research and decided upon the Strider.  It’s low stand over height paired with a highly adjustable seat, sturdy design and integrated footrest made it seem like the perfect first bike.  We were so excited to give it him.  We had visions of him immediately jumping on it, riding around the neighborhood and loving every minute of it.

Imagine our disappointment when he refused to straddle the bike at all that day, opting to walk it around for a bit, trying to fit in  with the other kids on their bikes.

Before he ditched his new gift, he fell to the ground a few times yelling “I CRASH!” (he’s Daddy boy).

For the next month, he refused to even come near the bike.  But, even so, we made sure his bike and his helmet were always available to him when we went outside.

Then at the beginning of last week, he brought me his helmet, ran to the side of the house and grabbed his bike and jumped on.  It has been so excited to watch his progress in one short week.  Now we are hearing “Woo hoo!” intstead of “No, Noooo!”

YouTube Preview Image

Disclosure: Strider provided us with a free bike to try out. The honest truth is that we had already decided to purchase a Strider for Baby Brother right before they made us the gracious offer.  I love pedal-less bikes and think it is the one and only way kids should learn to ride a bike. Without training wheels, they have the opportunity to learn balance.  Without pedals, there have confidence to test their balance skills without the fear of tipping over.  And they can start learning it all as young as 18months old.  I recieve no compensation from anyone for saying that.

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{ 6 trackbacks }

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

elise May 28, 2010 at 7:36 am

i’ve honestly never even heard of a pedal-less bike!
He is so adorable:OD

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Rebecca May 28, 2010 at 9:48 am

We’re in the process with our 3 year old Bean trying to build her confidence with a run-bike, as well! Way to go Baby Brother!

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Gloria May 28, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I’ve been looking into a pedalless bike for my boy who’s turning three, but was scared of investing too much money into something he may not like or use that much. I found one from Wal-Mart (not a huge fan, but…) called a Wee-Ride for $29, online only (free shipping). So, for those with less cash there is an option. It’s still in the box for now, waiting for next month. I can hardly wait to see what he does with it since he really enjoys riding his trike everywhere.

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Syl May 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm

We’re huge fans too. We used a Skuut with my 4 yr old. He got it for his birthday last fall but wasn’t so inclined to try it out until this spring. He went from nothing to riding a regular old two wheeler in less than a month. He’s had one crash on the “real” bike in the process of learning to turn (going too slow) and is pretty confident at this point. I would say he’s pretty average for gross motor skills too. He’s VERY proud of his independent self when his friends are still struggling along with training wheels!

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Eileen May 28, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Would have loved to have one of these for my kids but couldn’t come up with the cash. Glad to hear it’s working out so well for you. Training wheels really do seem to make it that much harder.

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Amy May 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm

We should really get one of these for Austin. He’s still pretty content on his Big Wheel and doesn’t even want to try training wheels.

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Sara May 28, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Oh Baby Brother, you are so darn adorable with your helmet and pedaless bike. I am loving that bike, btw. I think something like that would be perfect for Sophie, but since she already has a bike I’m thinking of just losing the training wheels – same thing we did with Simon.

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Misha May 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Ok, that settles it. I am going to get our four year old one for Christmas. For sure. I had been spying them out a little unsure…decision is made! Thank you :)

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mommymita May 29, 2010 at 5:04 am

Can’t even get my 2 & 3 on a bike with training wheels. Maybe we’ll just take off the training wheels and pedals – is that how you did your homemade version?

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Rob from Balance Bikes 4 Kids May 29, 2010 at 8:05 am

Thanks for advocating the use of balance bikes for learning to ride. The Strider bike is a great bike for the 2 1/2 and under set. It’s the only one our store recommends for kids that age.

One tip for parents who’s children may be over 6 and still trying to learn to ride – if your child has outgrown a balance bike or already has a bicycle. Do the the following:

1. Lower the seat low enough for them to put their feet flat.
2. Remove the training wheels and the pedals (easy to do with a wrench).
3. Find a gradual, smooth hill on the grass if possible that flattens out at the end.
4. Let them coast, skimming their feet down the hill.

Once they’ve gained their sense of balance and can make it down the hill, they can push themselves along with their feet for a little while. Put the pedals back on and they should be riding in no time.

If you’re thinking about getting your child a balance bike, you can check out our balance bike sizing guide to find the right bike.

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kelly jo May 29, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Awesome for him!! My daughter got her Strider around 20 months or so and took a while to warm up to it, but now she’s flying down hills, feet up the whole way! We can hardly keep up with her on foot. It’s such an amazing concept! She rode it today and introduced her new little friend to it (she’s now 2 1/2) and I think her parents will be getting her one soon too!

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Allison May 29, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Just for the sake of the other side – my oldest just learned how to ride a two wheeler. We simply removed her training wheels, and within a few days she was doing great. It wasn’t a big deal for us at all, worked great and now she is a two wheel rider.

My main question about these, is when I look at the video of your adorable boy, it doesn’t look very fun. For instance, if we were going for a family ride around the block, unless we were going downhill, my child on that bike would not be able to keep up. How do you handle that? Is it just more for around the driveway and not for longer rides?

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sara May 31, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I found that my 3 year old on a pedal-less bike was keeping up just fine with us — MUCH better than he would on a bike with training wheels. Training wheels basically ruined family bike rides. The pedal-less bike made it so that we could all go more or less together (oldest child is 9). Sure, he was at times slower than the other kids because he was 3. But he kept up much better on the pedal-less. And now he is a fearless and fast rider of a 12-inch regular bike (no training wheels).

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sara May 31, 2010 at 9:35 pm

one more note about my above comment — those family bike rides my 3 year old participated in were up to 3 miles long and included mountain biking on rocky trails!! that’s impossible on training wheels. we love the pedal-less bike at our house!

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Laura D June 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm

We ended up getting a Strider for Charlie (2 1/2) and he took right off! The older kids at the park on training wheels always whine to their parents “that little boy is on two wheels!” after he flies past them. Only problem is he complains about a sore bum – need to look into a seat pad or thicker diapers.

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Tanya June 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm

This post caught my eye when I was looking at your current blog post. My 6 year old still rides with his training wheels. We’ve tried taking them off once and he was just not confident enough. Thanks so much Rob from Balance Bikes 4 Kids for the suggestion. I’m going to try this with him.

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