In recent years, we’ve see more and more children riding balance bikes. Is there a real benefit to starting off on balance bikes or does it have any disadvantages?
The German manufacturer Kokua started things off when they released onto the market the very first learning bicycle of this kind in 1997: the LikeaBike. Since then, several other manufacturers have also started producing this type bike for young children, which has the distinctive feature of not having any pedals.
The history of the balance bike
Are balance bikes a brand new idea? Perhaps not totally new, since it is indeed similar to the draisienne: a wooden car without pedals, invented by Karl Von Drais in 1817. This form of “balance bike” with versions also know as “velocipede” in France and ” hobby horse ” in England, is considered to be the ancestor of the bike, the goal being to propel yourself forward with your legs by pushing with your feet on the ground.
Although this early balance bike was successful in its creation, it was quickly forgotten when the velocipede pedal on the wheel appeared, a few years later.
The Bicycle With Many Names
Th balance bike has been given several names over the years: learning bike , balance bike , bike without pedals … most people now know it as the balance bike , and it seems that this nickname is indeed the most appropriate, since it is precisely this sense of balance that the child will develop while riding this type of bicycle. This can be a useful skill to develop first, as balance remains the most important concept for riding a full pedal bike.
Much more than just a passing fad or pointless fun, the balance bike has real advantages and allows the child to develop certain skills that will facilitate his or her progression to a fully pedal powered bicycle.
- Easy to maneuver: the child just has to propel himself with his legs, which allows him to ride from the early age of 2 years. You do not even need to show him how this bike works: instinctively, the child will manage to maneuver it and quickly get a feel for how to balance.
- Confidence: The fact that the child is in perfect control of his speed, and that he can brake easily with his feet allows him to be more confident.
- Fun Activity: Balance bikes provide active transportation: young children may be reluctant to walk, but will want to travel longer distances with this bike.
- Lightweight: Balance bikes are usually made from lightweight materials. Some models even have a handle for easy transport.
- Designed for the little ones: the lowered frame make balance bikes suitable for even small children.
- Prepares a child to ride a bike with pedals.
- Ecological: Hey, cycling is environmentally friendly! Why not start early.
- Unfortunately, the use of this bike does not always last very long. Indeed, most models are not adjustable and we can not add pedals, so that the child will rarely do more than one or two seasons with his bike without pedals. Plus, this is a pretty big expense, especially if you are considering natural wood models. There is always the possibility of reselling it on classifieds, and balance bikes tend to retain a good resale value compared to their original price.
- And that’s about it for the cons!
If you’re thinking about buying a balance bike, check out our range of childrens’ bikes here.