Balance Bike Hand Brakes
By now, through our busy parent’s guide to kids’ bikes you’ve probably heard of the whole balance bike phenomenon. Balance bikes are pedal-less cycles that serve as an alternative to training wheels. The idea is that toddlers just starting out can learn balance first, and then once they get their first pedal bike they’re good to go without the trainers. Well, in most cases no pedals means no brakes at least coaster-style foot brakes. Some models now come with hand brakes to shorten that learning curve as well since the little ones can practice braking while still having their feet to help as they get used to the levers.
How And Where We Tested
For our testing subjects, we enlisted our friends adventurous little kids, including 2-year-old Elle, 6-year-old Luke, and 7-year-old Fleet here in Charleston, South Carolina. We tried to have another friends son, Asher, who is almost 2, test bikes but he helped us realize balance bikes are not for all little kids . River, who is 3 and a proficient balance biker, took to our fleet with enthusiasm. My 8-year-old son, Fritz, is obviously out of the age and size range for this guide, but at 51 inches tall and 55 pounds , he could still rip around on several of the bikes on their highest settings and had plenty to say about how even the smallest bikes handled.
We tested the bikes around a flat neighborhood over a few weeks. During that time, 2-year-old Elle went from being a bit overwhelmed to quite comfortable striding around. We also did sprint races along my paved driveway and street and visited the James Island County Park, which has several miles of rolling paved and dirt bike trails that wind up and down through moss-draped Lowcountry oak forest and along the edge of Forrest Gumpian salt marsh.
Advantages Of Balance Bikes
Starting your child’s journey with a balance bicycle versus a tricycle offers several benefits. First, you can introduce them to it at a younger age. That can, in turn, steer brain development.
Second, it encourages physical activity at a time when children want to learn more about their world. It’s a natural segue to a habit that can last a lifetime leading to a better quality of life.
Finally, it allows the child to learn one skill at a time to give each one the proper focus. However, experts differ on whether they learn to ride faster. It comes down to mastery rather than timing.
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Best Balance Bikes: Eight Of The Best
Strider Bikes manufactures balance bikes for everyone: from children aged 18 months to adults. They also host balance bike races for children and create bikes for people with special needs. The brandâs top-selling model is the Strider Bikes Sport. With 12-inch wheels, itâs designed to fit children aged up to five years and comes in seven colours.
The tyres are made from EVA polymer, so you’re getting them light and puncture-proof, although they wonât maintain traction quite like rubber. This said, Strider provides the option to move on to pneumatic tyres as your child develops. Quick-release clamps adjust the seat post and handlebars, and no tools are required in assembly.
At 2.95kg, our tester found this bike easy to get to grips with, and their guardian was impressed with the light steering, as well as the saddle and thick tyres which made for a comfortable early ride experience. Our tester wanted to ride it straight away, so it won that early battle – and being easy to get on with, it quickly became a cherished you.
The Airo was easy to assemble, though adjustments do need an Allen key, and we did find that the paint scratched quite easily. Otherwise, it was perfect.
- Pedal-less bikes
Help Your Child Get Comfortable
Some kids will hop on a balance bike without any issues and take off right away. Others may need a little more support and encouragement.
While you don’t want to pressure your child to get on a balance bike before they are ready, you do want to empower them to give it a try. Do what you can to make them feel as comfortable as possible, even if that means walking or jogging alongside them at first.
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Is A Balance Bike Better Than A Conventional Childrens Bike
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A balance bike typically represents an easier first step into teaching your child to cycle for toddlers. As their motor skills and coordination develop, the child can learn how to balance and steer on the bike, without the distraction of learning how to pedal.As they typically feature a smaller wheel size, it is also easier to get a tot onto a bike at a younger age.
With time, a balance bike will give a child the confidence to step up to a pedal-powered bike and by now, theyll understand how to balance, manoeuvre and control the bike, with pedalling the final piece in the puzzle.
While one alternative is to buy a conventional 12- or 14-inch kids bike and remove the pedals, a balance bike will typically be lighter in weight, given there are fewer components, and some may have specific features such as a footrest.
Another alternative to a balance bike is to teach your child how to pedal straightaway. That way, there is one learning curve to cycling rather than two, but wed recommend a balance bike as the entry point for young children.
Weight And Frame Material
Weve hit on the fact that parents can get stuck carrying gear for their kids all the time. Maybe youre into getting the extra workout, but its probably more likely that you dont want to haul a 30-pound block of steel around unnecessarily.
Thankfully, bike technology dramatically improved with time, even in balance bikes for toddlers. Steel is still the most common material, but aluminum bikes are becoming more commonplace and tend to be a cheaper option.
In general, you dont want the bike to weigh any more than a third of your childs body weight. The kid-to-bike ratio helps determine one of the most important parts of riding a bike: being able to stop. A heavier bike will naturally move faster and take more force to slow down.
If youre going for a bike without a break and are incredibly worried about the stopping capacity of your childs legs, an aluminum frame will help take a lot of tension off your anxiety-riddled brain.
A bike like TheCrocois a fantastic ultralight option. In addition to the aluminum frame, it has foam tires that weigh a third of what normal tires can weigh.
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Air Is No Longer Rare
Direct and reliable feedback from a balance bikes steering can help a child feel immediately comfortable, so low-grip tires can make the learning process a little frightening. The most affordable balance bikes have hard plastic wheels, more or less as you remember from the Big Wheel trikes of the Seventies, with all the attendant drawbacks. Moving up to a foam tire on a plastic mag wheel, as found on the segment-defining Strider Classic, offers a bit more traction . More and more balance bikes are using a traditional pneumatic tube and tire, which improves the riding experience but increases the likelihood of maintenance.
More From Bicycling
Bottom Line On The Banana Bike Balance Bike
Better quality and a better design than most budget balance bikes, the Banana Bike balance bikes offer a great design at a family-friendly price. With air tires, the GT model really stands out compared to other balance bikes with foam tires.
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Bixe Aluminum Balance Bike
- Seat doesn’t have much padding
- Some kids find the footrests uncomfortable
- Tires may skid on smooth floors
With a total weight of just four pounds, the Bixe is one of the lightest balance bikes for toddlers and kids on our list. Unlike most of its competitors, this balance bike features a strong and lightweight aluminum frame to minimize excess weight. Many other balance bikes for toddlers have heftier steel frames.
This bike may be lighter than the rest, but its just as safe. For example, the clamps are tamper-proof. Parents also appreciate the sturdy foam tires, which provide solid traction outside and wont mark or scuff floors inside. Plus, the tires dont lose traction as they age. You also dont need to worry about monitoring and filling the tires with air.
The 12-inch Extreme Light balance bike has an adjustable seat. Depending on your kids height, you can adjust the seat as needed between 11 and 15 inches. You can also raise or lower the handlebars between 20 and 24 inches to find the appropriate height for your child. This toddler balance bike supports riders up to 60 pounds.
Hoozar Cruz 12 Balance Bike
The Hoozar Cruz 12 is a great option to consider if you’re looking for a balance bike with a brake, which can be helpful for transitioning from balance biking to pedalling.
Hoozar are a very new entrant into the balance bike market – two parents saw how much their three kids loved their balance bikes and decided to make one better and cheaper!
They’ve taken the best bits of other balance bikes and created the Cruz. It’s a lightweight balance bike that comes with a rear brake, footrest and proper tyres all at a mid range price.
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How Much Do People Spend On Balance Bikes
Just like adult bikes, childrenâs balance bikes vary dramatically in cost. The good news is weâre talking hundreds and not thousands. The cheapest balance bikes will be around Â£30/$50, but you can spend up to Â£170/$200.
The temptation to spend less rather than more is understandable if youâre worried about splashing out on an item that could end up gathering dust. However, itâs really worth remembering that the likelihood of this happening is slashed if the bike is fun to ride.
At the pricier end of the scale, bikes will be lighter, more durable, and will have components that are better designed for little bodies. Weâre not suggesting that you have to buy a model with all the bells and whistles, but spending around Â£80/$100 is a good idea.
Best Budget Balance Bike: Carrera Coast
Id be satisfied with this bike. It would more than adequately prepare a child to move on to a pedal bike. – Mumsnet user
The Carrera Coast is a well built balance bike with a price tag that won’t make you flinch.
Its mountain bike aesthetic, mainly the large wheels and sturdy steel rims, means it tackles off-road trails with ease. Yet, it also boasts a quick-release saddle adjuster, high-quality Tektro handbrake and relatively lightweight frame which differentiates it from other bikes of a similar budget-friendly price.
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My Child Wont Ride His Balance Bike Whats Wrong
Every child has a will of their own, and sometimes they just refuse to do what you want! It often takes younger toddlers several months to be consistently interested. For example, at 18 months, our toddler walked with her balance bike for about 2 weeks. And then for 5.5 months she wouldnt touch it! Miraculously one day, she just picked it up and started going. We havent been able to stop her since!
If your child doesnt seem interested, keep the bike around so they can see it and use it when they feel the time is right. Resist the temptation to pressure them. Weve seen time and again that kids will be interested when they want to be interested.
It can also be helpful to take your child somewhere that they can see other kids riding balance bikes. When they see other kids doing it, they realize that its not that hard and they want to be in on the fun!
Kids who have tricycles, scooters, or bikes with training wheels can be more resistant to ride a balance bike. Why? Balance bikes require a little more effort to learn but offer far greater rewards in return. If you think this might be the problem, remove these other distractions and only offer up the balance bike as a possibility.
Best case scenario, we encourage parents to not introduce a tricycle, training wheels, or scooter until after a child has mastered a balance bike.
Why Buy A Balance Bike
Many parents discover that confident balance bikers get the hang of pedalling far quicker than if they were using stabilisers, taking all the pain out of the process and setting them up to stick with cycling long-term.
Even older children struggling to make the transition can use balance bikes to gain the final push they need.
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Vitus Nippy Superlight Balance Bike
Like the Strider, the Vitus Nippy is great for a introductory balance bike for the littlest of riders. The difference here is it is extremely light and well priced. Yes, you will probably upgrade to a premium balance bike if there is interest by your child, but for 50 bucks…that makes the decision easy.
Weight: 4.2 lbs | MSRP: $49 USD | Min-Max seat heigt: 12″-15″ | Where to buy: Chain Reaction
Balance Bike Riding & Safety Tips For Kids
- Select a safe area where your child will learn to ride a bike. Make sure they are playing nearby. If they are riding outside, choose a surface that is covered with grass.
- Make sure the size of the bike is appropriate for your childs height and weight, in order to avoid any inconvenience.
- Get your child a good quality helmet to ensure his safety. A helmet will protect your child from head injury in case he falls down.
- Teach your kid to sit in the most comfortable position. Make sure the handlebars are set in a proper position within a comfortable reach of your childs hand.
- Dont let your child wear sandals or open-toe shoes while riding a balance bike. Its better if they wear sports shoes.
- When your child is just beginning to ride, dont hold the bike. Rather hold onto the back of your childs shirt/jacket.
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Chillafish Charlie Toddler Balance Bike
- Can’t install pedals
- Seat isn’t padded
With features from no-puncture tires to an integrated carrying handle, its hard to beat the overall value of the Chillafish Charlie. This adorable balance bike caters to kids as young as 18 months old and is a stable option for little ones who are just learning to ride.
The Chillafish Charlie balance bike is fully adjustable to accommodate growing kids. The seat adjusts between 11 and 14.5 inches and the handlebars can be raised from 18.7 to 19.8 inches. This is definitely a starter bike for little ones to grow into, as its well suited for kids up to four years old.
Despite its budget-friendly price tag, the Chillafish features a sturdy steel frame thats built to withstand the most eager beginning riders and children up to 77 pounds. The bike weighs just 5.5 pounds and even has its own carrying handle. Every Chillafish bike comes with a two-year warranty thats automatically extended to five years when you register your bike with the manufacturer.
Comfort is just as important as performance. Charlie doesnt disappoint with its plush custom-molded seat.
If youre worried this bike might be too small, check out the Chillafish Bmxie² Lightweight Balance Bike for kids ages two to five years.
Always Consider The Tire Size And Its Weight
Tires play a very critical part in balance bikes, so you have to consider them before making the purchase. Tire sizes are available in three different sizes:
Okay so, the most popular and normal size that the bikes come in is the 12 tires, they are for toddlers aged till 4. The bigger tires are then suited best for preschoolers. Having this information will help you in making the perfect choice for your kids.
Another thing that you need to worry about is the weight of the bike. The normal weight for these bikes is 10 lbs and that is without pedals. .
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Q: What Is A Balance Bike
As the name implies, balance bikes are designed to teach children how to balance on a bicycle. They look a lot like regular bikes, with a few key differences: No Pedals balance bikes are powered by the feet this ensures that kids have some contact with the ground as they learn to balance on two wheelsSolid Tires balance bikes tend to have solid, puncture-proof tires rather than conventional air-filled tires, for easier maintenanceLower Center of Gravity because theyre for beginners, balance bikes have a lower center of gravity than pedal bikes, making them easier to rideAge Appropriate Size the handlebars on balance bikes are usually positioned lower than those on a pedal bike, so its easier for children to hang onLightweight balance bikes are designed to be as lightweight as possible, making it easier for small children to ride them