My kids are all pretty young, but I’d like to think I’ve instilled in them a love for bikes at their young ages. Well, potentially they came pre-programmed as mountain bikers in their DNA? Either way, riding bikes in around the house has been something they have thoroughly enjoyed and something I’m looking forward to as they grow. When my oldest daughter turned four last Summer, I decided it was time to ditch the training wheels, but instead of dealing with the inevitable scraped knees and all the rest that comes with learning how to ride without training wheels, I opted to try a balance bike.
Balance bikes come in different shapes and sizes with some of the first ones on the market being made of wood. Yeah, you could just go to a thrift store, buy a kids bike and remove the crankset and chain, but at some point you’ll have to re-assemble it. And, in my case that would mean disassembling and re-assembling 4 times over the next 4 years. So, I ordered up the Performance Kids Balance bike because it’s built solid, yet lightweight and it’s white with boy or girl sticker options so my boy won’t have to ride around with a pink bike with tassles.
Getting the bike out of the box and ready to ride was easy. Just insert the stem and bars, put on the front wheel, pump up the tires and then insert the seatpost/saddle combo and that’s it.
The First Few Rides
For the first few days, my 4-yr-old daughter would keep saying, “Daddy… the bike is broken… can I ride my other bike? The other bike had pedals and training wheels, so I talked her out of it saying, “This is your new bike… it’s fun, right? Get back on it and you’ll soon be scooting all over the place.” To this, her response was always, “OK, Daddy.” and off she went struggling her way along the sidewalk.
After a couple of days, she began to get the hang of it and could at least keep the bike upright. After a week, she was comfortable enough to lift her feet off the ground for a few feet at a time and just coast. And, after two weeks, she was pushing herself around so fast on that bike, it was crazy. She’d put her feet on top of the forks and just coast for 50 feet or more.
The Transition to Big Kid Bike
Once she became all-to-comfortable with the balance bike and could steer and coast without a problem (she was riding pretty darn fast around the block with her feet up in the air), it was time to remove the training wheels of her 12″-wheeled bike and have a go at it. Of course, I talked it all up and helped her feel confident she could do it.
The moment of truth came and all it took was one lap around the neighbors houses with me holding onto her seat, then she was pretty much off on her own. It took a few days for her to get the whole stopping and starting processes dialed in, but she learned how to ride without training wheels in 2 weeks–almost completely on her own.
I highly recommend the use of balance bikes to teach your kids how to ride. They are fun, lightweight and teach them balance in a non-threatening way. The bike feels very sturdy and is actually built by Raleigh Bicycles, so the welds and construction is a billion times better than any Huffy or Murray bike on the market. It feels lightweight too, which is a plus for kids who will have to pick it up and push it around.
The $79 price (current price may be lower or higher) is also reasonable–especially for me since I’ll have 4 kids using it in the coming years.