Sure, balance bikes are full of hype right now, but they are one of the rare things in life that deserve it. Beyond simply teaching kids to balance, here are five additional reasons why balance bikes are worth every penny.
1. Safety: Balance bikes are much safer and more practical than tricycles and training wheels. Tricycles are slow, awkward to maneuver and easily tip on uneven or angled surfaces. On a balance bike, children are focused on balancing, rather than pedaling. As a result, they are more prepared for unforeseen loses in balance and are much less likely to fall. Once they master balancing, kids can also completely skip training wheels and head straight for a standard bike. In doing so, the countless falls and skinned knees from learning to ride are greatly (if not completely) reduced.
2. More Economical: Many parents hesitate purchasing a balance bike because they consider them to be a waste of money, when in fact the opposite is true. One balance bike replaces the need for a tricycle and a 12″ bike with training wheels. In fact, for most kids 12″ bikes, the smallest pedal bike you can buy, are essentially not useable without training wheels (see Why You Should Never Buy a 12″ Bike (with one exception)). As a result, parents end up having to buy a 12″ bike and a 16″ or 20″ bike as compared to one balance bike and a 16″ or 20″ bike. The resale price of balance bikes is also quite high as compared to tricycles and 12″ bikes, making the overall investment of a balance bike minimal.
3. Encourage Kids to Get Outside and Play: Instead of bugging your kids to get outside and play, they will be bugging you to take them for a ride. Kids love the independence and sense of accomplishment they get from riding a balance bike. Whether it’s being stopped by strangers on a walk or bombarded by kids at the park, kids quickly realize that there is something cool about riding bikes and want to be part of the action. Balance bikes are simple. No batteries, no small pieces, no complicated instruction, just simple pure fun.
4. Improved Family Time: In a world of stay-at-home, couch-potato families, balance bikes are single-handedly reinvigorating families with soap-box-derby, go-outside-and-explore-your-world fun. Going on a walk with a three-year-old in a stroller or on a tricycle is not exactly “fun.” Strollers are heavy and get stuck on any imperfection in the road and tricycles are so painfully slow, parents dread walking more than a quarter-mile next to them. Balance bikes however, allow toddlers to easy cruise sidewalks and bikes paths at moderate speeds, pleasing parents and older siblings alike. In fact, beyond the mere neighborhood, balance bikes also allow families to explore the great outdoors, as demonstrated by the Bow Valley Balance Bike Gang.
5. Ride Pedal Bikes Sooner: Kids who ride balance bike generally ride pedal bikes independently at a younger age than those who use training wheels. It is not uncommon for balance bike riders to start riding a pedal bike at the age of three verses 5 or 6 with training wheels. In addition, transitioning an experienced balance biker to a pedal bike is a piece of cake. Simply give them a bike and let them ride. No running beside them, no holding their seat, no tears, simply give them the bike and watch in amazement as they ride off on their own.
Still not convinced? While this video promotes FirstBIKE balance bikes, it does a great job of demonstrating the difference between balance bikes and bikes with training wheels.
Like what you see? Read my FirstBIKE review to learn more about the bike as well as where to purchase it.