Balance bike or training wheels - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-16-2009, 01:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DS1 (4yo) had a playdate last week with a friend at the playground. His friend brought his bike and DS1 brought his scooter. DS1 couldn't keep up and is now interested in a bike. But he's never been good at pedaling and never really took to his trike. So should I get a balance bike or a bike with training wheels? And if anyone has any experience with balance bikes, which one do you like?

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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Old 07-16-2009, 02:11 AM
 
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What we did that has worked out really well is to get a too-small bike for ds1's first bike. We took off the training wheels and the pedals, so it was, in essence, a balance bike because w/the seat all the way down, ds could touch the ground with both feet. He biked around on that for a few weeks, and when we could see that he had it down, we put the pedals on and he took off right away.

Before the 'balance bike' he was all about his big wheel, which he loved and could go very fast on. I think if it hadn't been for the big wheel though, we could've had him on that too-small bike much earlier.

~ Meredith, mom to dd(Jan '02), ds1(May '04) and ds2 (June '07) ~ :
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Old 07-16-2009, 02:13 AM
 
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We don't have a bike with training wheels, but my 4yo LOVES her balance bike. It's not good for the driveway (standard suburban, not cool and long) but when I take her out front she scoots and glides her way to the end of the block an can even turn around in a driveway by herself.

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Old 07-16-2009, 02:16 AM
 
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I've never tried a balance bike, but I can tell you that training wheels are a PIA. It is easy for the child to get high-centered and stuck, and the don't really help much with the balance needed to ride without them. My kids learned to ride 2-wheelers at age 4 - I realize that not every kid is ready at this age, but. . . we took the TW off their bikes and let them coast down a gentle grassy slope to practice balance, and then they would start pedaling at the bottom. They learned to ride in one afternoon that way, and they are twins with very different level of coordination. So, what I'm saying is, if you go the TW route, I would try to get them off the bike ASAP if the child is at all interested in trying two wheels.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:25 AM
 
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My 4 year old dd has both and she much prefers her balance bike. She has a Skuut bike.
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Old 07-16-2009, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She has a Skuut bike.
Is that one of the wood ones? Is it finished well? I'm in Seattle so I'm wondering how the wood will hold up in the damp weather...

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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Old 07-16-2009, 01:47 PM
 
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I'd check out the Kettler Sprint Bike:
http://www.amazon.com/KETTLER-Sprint...7759184&sr=8-2

-e

p.s. I'm another huge fan of balance bikes. DS went from balance bike straight to a two-wheeler, and now DD (who just turned 3) has learned to lift both feet up and glide on the balance bike.

Momma to 8 y.o. DS and 5 y.o. DD. Married to a Maker!

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Old 07-16-2009, 02:04 PM
 
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We love our training wheel bikes here. My four year old is extremely proficient on it, she can almost keep up with her big brother! We've had very easy transitions to a "regular" bike, no problems at all.

SANDRA, 41 year old VERY laid-back mama to VERY free range kids Brett (16), Justus (11), Autumn (4), and Ayla (1)... four perfect NCB's! :::
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Old 07-16-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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We live in Vancouver BC, almost the same climate as Seattle. The skuut has been great. We don't leave our bikes outside though.
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Old 07-16-2009, 03:29 PM
 
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I think balance bike vs bike w/training wheels is a personal choice, but I just wanted to address the OP's concern about past peddling difficulties.

DS got a two wheeler w/training wheels when he was 20 months old. He couldn't really ride a trike well but a bike was MUCH easier. I think that is because having your legs below you and moving is much more natural for humans (since we walk upright) then sitting and trying to move your legs. I would check out some stores and have DS try some and go with what he likes. If he is generally coordinated/well balanced (is his scooter two wheels--- if he's doing that well, he probably already has a good idea of how to balance) you might want to just try a small bike with no training wheels. You could always look on craigslist or freecycle for a 12" model to just try out. We've already passed on DS' or I would give you it.

 

 

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Old 07-16-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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I agree. Tricycles seem to be tougher. None of my three kids ever really got the hang of pedaling a trike until they were already riding a 2 wheeler.
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that is because having your legs below you and moving is much more natural for humans (since we walk upright) then sitting and trying to move your legs. I would check out some stores and have DS try some and go with what he likes.
Good point! It looks like REI sells the Kettler along with regular bikes with training wheels so maybe we'll take a trip down there and check them out!

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:29 AM
 
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Both my kids had training wheels first and learned to ride without them at 4 and 2.5 respectively. The trick is to have a bike that fits them-- they need to be able to put their feet flat on the ground. My son that didn't learn until 4 was on a 16" bike, and learned as soon as his feet could touch, and my little one had a 12" bike and the same thing happened, just earlier of course.
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:26 AM
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The other thing to consider is him wanting to ride bikes with another friend, so would a balance bike allow him to do that and keep up. I like the idea of the above poster who suggests a training wheel bike and then turning it into a balance bike when he is ready for the 2 wheel experience. My son started a training wheel bike at 3 and was really keen on keeping up with the neighbors. It is great exercise. I wonder how long you stay on a balance bike and keep interested, or is it just a 1-2 month thing until you get "used to" riding a bike.?.

Anyway, seems like a better investment to have a training wheel bike that then turns into his 2 wheeler. Have fun!

Single mom, raising a spirited boy (6yo) superhero.gifin the middle of the farms outside the city.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:44 AM
 
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ITA with TiredX2 that a bike is much easier to peddle that a trike. My ds hardly used his trike. I picked up a used bike with training wheels and he really preferred that. Training wheels vs balance bike is really a personal preference. I don't think my ds would have liked a balance bike. He enjoyed the mechanics of the bike (chain, gears, etc).

One of his favorite things to do was to prop up the training wheels so the back wheel was off the ground. Then he'd peddle like mad going no where on his "exercise" bike. It's very exciting to do that with the back wheel in a puddle. Ds can make a huge fountain that is higher than his head by peddling.

What happened was over time the training wheels bent up. I bent them back on his request the first time or two. After that, he just started balancing. It was a completely painless way to learn.

If your ds wants to keep up with friends, that might be difficult on a balance bike.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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Old 07-17-2009, 01:54 PM
 
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My son on his balance bike (Strider) can easily keep up with my daughter on her two wheeler, in our cul-de-sac. It is much faster than using training wheels, and can go over bumps and irregular terrain unlike a bike with training wheels.

My daughter had training wheels and rode that way for a year without learning to ride without them. She decided to try DS's Strider balance bike, and was riding her two-wheeler without training wheels is about two weeks.

DS is getting ready to outgrow his Strider, and I'm looking forward to passing it down to my youngest DS, who is two. I got DS1 a Trek 16" bike that has pedals that are easily removable (it's made to be a balance bike and two-wheeler). We've been taking them off and on for a few weeks now, but he SO loves his Strider that he's not wanting to change over to the bigger bike.

Stacy-- Wife to my DH, mom to three: noodle girl:, Lego boy , little guy :
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:10 PM
 
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I'd check out the Kettler Sprint Bike:
http://www.amazon.com/KETTLER-Sprint...7759184&sr=8-2

-e

p.s. I'm another huge fan of balance bikes. DS went from balance bike straight to a two-wheeler, and now DD (who just turned 3) has learned to lift both feet up and glide on the balance bike.
We have hte Kettler Sprint Bike, its very well built, I personally like that its metal, built like a regular bike - I'm not a huge fan of the wooden ones, since the goal is to ride a bike and bikes aren't made of wood.

Anyway, DD had this for about a year and got really good at it, zooming down the hill in our driveway, etc. This year for her birthday she wanted a real bike, so we got her one, no training wheels. She was riding great within two days, the only thing that got in her way was starting, mostly because I bought her a bike with a big frame, since I wanted her to be able to ride it a long time and she couldn't touch the ground as well (it was actually perfectly sized, but for learning it was tough), so starting was tricky, but once she was going she did great since she already knew how to balance.

I wouldn't do it any other way!

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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I have to vote for the balance bike too. My son can go as fast as the bike riders on that thing. His feet barely touch the ground except to kick off.

Our children make a study of us in a way no one else ever will.  If we don't act according to our values, they will know.~Starhawk Rainbow.gif  New  User Agreement! http://www.mothering.com/community/wiki/user-agreement

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Old 07-17-2009, 03:08 PM
 
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Is that one of the wood ones? Is it finished well? I'm in Seattle so I'm wondering how the wood will hold up in the damp weather...
We have had the wooden balance bike from One Step Ahead for about 1.5 years (got it in March, so still wet for a few months, then a whole winter). The finish on the wood is holding up just fine so far, although I suspect that it will barely make it through my second child. There are some other things on it that aren't taking abuse well. If I had it to do over again, I would modify a 12" bike into a balance bike.

As for the concept of balance bike, though, we LOVE it! DS has training wheels on a 12" bike and a balance bike, and he prefers the balance bike because he can go SOooooooo much faster!

Mama to DS 3/05 and DD 1/08
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:41 AM
 
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JMO - If your child is having trouble pedaling, I would get a bike with training wheels. Balance bikes are to help with the balance issue of riding a bike. The idea behind them is that you work on the idea of balance and pedaling as 2 separate things. If your child already rides on a 2 wheel scooter, he can probably balance pretty well already. In fact, as soon as he was comfortable with the pedaling, you might be able to take off the training wheels all together. The whole point is to eventually have a kid on a "real bike"...right? LOL

Also, if he wants a bike because he "can't keep up", I don't think the balance bike will help with that. Have him try a few at the store and see what he wants?
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Old 07-18-2009, 01:32 PM
 
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We just got ds a bike with training wheels and he's doing great. I like training wheels because you can slowly move the wheels up as the kid gets accustomed to being on the bike. In the beginning they hold you up and overtime they're just there to catch you if you need it. It's a nice transition.

There are two main things to riding a bike, balance is one of them, but being able to pedal fast enough to maintain that balance is a big part too.
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Old 07-18-2009, 07:39 PM
 
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I think balance bike vs bike w/training wheels is a personal choice, but I just wanted to address the OP's concern about past peddling difficulties.

DS got a two wheeler w/training wheels when he was 20 months old. He couldn't really ride a trike well but a bike was MUCH easier. I think that is because having your legs below you and moving is much more natural for humans (since we walk upright) then sitting and trying to move your legs.
See, and my DD (almost 4) is just the opposite. She can easily pedal a trike as the pedals are in front of her, but her two-wheel bike with training wheels, she pushes down and back, which engages the brake.

Jill stillheart.gif Chris (7/96), mommy to 3 sweet redheads: jumpers.gif Matthew autismribbon.gif (12/02), Michelle (8/05) and Marissa (1/10). Nursing since 2002.
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We just got ds a bike with training wheels and he's doing great. I like training wheels because you can slowly move the wheels up as the kid gets accustomed to being on the bike. In the beginning they hold you up and overtime they're just there to catch you if you need it. It's a nice transition.
Oh I didn't know that about training wheels!

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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Old 07-19-2009, 03:13 AM
 
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We have found that the transition from training wheels to no training wheels to be really difficult for my older two kids. It took a long time and was really frustrating for them. My oldest is not terribly coordinated, so I wasn't surprised that it was hard for him, but ds2 is very coordinated and has great balance for lots of things (like using the railing of a high playground as a balance beam for example ). It has been hard for him (he is nearly 6).

We went with the Skuut for dd1 for her 4th birthday. She was having a hard time with figuring out pedals on the tricycle. My nephew had a balance bike and was doing well with it so I figured it couldn't hurt. It has been great! She can keep up with her big brothers pretty well (better than she could with a bike with training wheels). She is balancing well on it and loves that she has a "big bike" that she can use.

Just today we gave my dd2 a balance bike for her second birthday (Adams run bike). Her first time on it she could walk it around. It is a tiny bit tall for her but she has the right idea. She couldn't peddle a tricycle so we thought this would be a great way to keep up with her siblings. And after the great experience her sister is having with the Skuut we figured it was a good way to go. We didn't go with the Skuut with her because the lowest seat height was too tall (the run bike has a seat height low enough for newly 2 year old).

I should also mention that my 5.5 and 8 year old boys also LOVE the balance bikes. They are always tearing around on their sister's bike and they go FAST. No worries about keeping up with other kids


 

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Old 07-19-2009, 11:12 PM
 
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Another vote for the balance bike. My youngest zoomed around as fast on the balance bike as the bigger kids on their 2-wheelers and he was soooo proud! Often he'd go down the whole block without his feet ever touching the ground. When we got him a 2-wheeler he didn't have to learn to balance at all. However, he did have more trouble learning to handle the bike (start up, steer, brake) than my older two, who started with training wheels.

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Old 07-20-2009, 02:18 AM
 
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Just wondering if you can take the wheels off a two wheeler to make a balance bike? Or no?
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Old 07-20-2009, 07:47 AM
 
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Take the wheels off? Did you mean take the pedals off? Yes, you can. My neighbor took the whole pedal assembly, chain and everything, off his kid's bike and it worked great. We followed a different strategy: we begged Grandma to buy our little guy a Kettler.

16yo DS; 13yo DD; 9yo DS

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Old 07-20-2009, 08:35 AM
 
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We did a strider balance bike because DS was too short for even the 12" bike. We're hoping by his 3rd birthday (9 months away) that he will be able to reach and we can move up to a pedal bike. I don't think he will need training wheels for long though given how well he glides on the strider now.
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Old 07-20-2009, 10:58 AM
 
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What age are the balance bikes for? My husband is from Germany, where balance bikes are very common. When I suggested getting one for my dd (3 1/2) as a way to transition her from a trike to a 2-wheeler, my MIL was extremely dismissive, saying that balance bikes are for toddlers, not children.
I wouldn't want to buy it and then need to replace it with a bike after a few weeks. Any thoughts on the appropriate age? My dd trikes like a pro, if that makes a difference.
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Old 07-20-2009, 11:51 AM
 
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we also turned a small bike with training wheels into a balance bike by removing the pedals....ds is 3 will be 4 in oct and has been riding it as a balance bike for a couple of months now, and we're starting to consider putting the pedals back on

he rides with his older sister and neighborhood kids and keeps up pretty well...though his 9yr old sister does complain that he slows her down some
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