How do balance bikes work
What is a balance bike?
A wooden balance bike is a two-wheeled bike without peddles and are essentially a training bike for children and an alternative to a trike or pedal bike with stabilisers. Although adult versions are also available and in fact the first balance bike the “dandy horse” was built for adults.
Balance bikes can be made from wood or metal, both are popular for children, and while none have pedals or gears they may or may not have a brake.
How do balance bikes work?
Balance bikes don't work in the same way as a traditional bike as there are no pedals or gears. Instead, forward motion comes from your child's feet on the ground, or gravity if they are going down a hill.
For a balance bike to work it needs to be light enough for your child to easily manoeuvre with the saddle adjusted so they can sit with their feet comfortably on the ground. Weight is particularly important when buying for a younger child as they will have difficulty pushing a heavy bike up hills and manoeuvring it. This becomes less of an issue as they get bigger and stronger.
Children then use their feet to walk, run or scoot and propel the bike along and slow their walking/running or place their feet on the ground to act as the brakes.
Because they are using already familiar motions to get the bike moving children learn to balance and instinctively figure out how their weight and body position affects the movement of the bike.
Balance bikes are much safer than a tricycle as they are much less likely to tip over on any uneven ground, despite the fact that children can travel further and at greater speeds.
Learning to ride a balance bike
Before you hand over the bike make sure the seat is low enough that your little one can have both feet comfortably flat on the ground.
Choose a flat, even surface to begin with and let your child have a go, they probably won’t get it straight away but that's ok.
Most children will begin by straddling the bike and pushing it along without putting their bum on the seat. Encourage them to sit down or better still let them watch other kids doing it.
Once they have mastered sitting and moving at the same time running and scooting will come pretty quickly as they want to build up speed. This is a good time to introduce a few gentle slopes as it encourages gliding and this is where they really get the hang of balancing.
And that’s it. Once children have learnt to glide and balance they've learnt to ride a balance bike. Children can happily ride balance bikes for years and will find the transition to a pedal cycle easier as a result.
That's just one of the benefits of balance bikes.