Chances are that if you opened up the archives of your memory and thought back to how you learned to ride a bike, a pair of training wheels would come to mind. These popular contraptions caused many a scrape and scar or a little scare with tetanus, thanks to the rusted sharp edges common on a twisted pair of hand-me-down training wheels. So why do some continue to suffer through this method of teaching children to ride a bike? We have learned the wonder of the balance bike and we can say, full steam ahead with the balance bike brigade! Why do we prefer them over the methods of the past? Here are a few of the reasons we joined Team Balance Bike to help you decide what method is right for you.
The biggest skill required to ride a bike is balance. If a child learns to pedal but doesn’t learn to balance, the minute you take the training wheels off, it’s like learning a completely new skill. Training wheels don’t actually train your child how to bike. If anything, a bike with training wheels on it is something completely separate from a bike. Alternatively, with a balance bike, kids are learning to balance first and foremost. When they’re ready to put the pedal to the metal, the foundational knowledge is there, not to mention, they know if they start to tip, they can just put their feet out.
Opportunity to explore different terrain
Training wheels aren’t very manoeuvrable. Even the slightest change in terrain or uneven ground can cause the bike to tip or the wheels to bend and get damaged. With a balance bike, a child is learning to steer and lean naturally without being hindered by the stabilizers, or training wheels, getting in their way. When it comes to dirt or grass or even uneven asphalt, a balance bike will be able to handle it, whereas a bike with training wheels will be held back by the very wheels that are supposed to be helping. A balance bike allows kids to explore other terrain and doesn’t limit them to a flat area of cement. Falling on grass is also a lot nicer — too bad training wheels and grass don’t seem to mix. Oh well, another win for balance bikes!
When a child learns to bike with training wheels, they develop a bit of dependency, which acts as a crutch. The minute it’s time to take those wheels off and they find themselves tipping a bit or even falling, their confidence is shattered. Because a child on a balance bike has been balancing and steering in the same manner, the transition is a lot less daunting and foreign. Biking with kids on balance bikes feels a lot less stressful to us as parents, too. They’re always hopping on and off and running around unhindered because the bikes are low enough for them to touch the ground. This makes riding our bikes around with them, no matter what terrain, a lot more enjoyable.
We’re huge fans of balance bikes as the method of teaching kids to ride a bike. By using a child's bike seat to help our children understand the feeling of a bike in motion, and then a balance bike when they were a bit older, our kids were excited to start pedalling on their own and felt more prepared and at ease. Balance bikes may look like little baby bikes, but they’re effective ways of teaching your child to be independent and confident when it comes to biking on their own. So, are you ready to step away from the training wheels? We’d highly recommend it.
If your child is interested in getting out on biking adventures with you and a balance bike won't cut it for a long day of adventure, try out a Mac Ride seat and bring them along for the ride. Using a child's bike seat, like Mac Ride, along with a balance bike for shorter, more independent riding was a great way for us to get our kids biking.