With spring (slooowwwwly) approaching, DD has shown an intense urge to bicycle.
Her Grandparents gave her this hot pink tricycle but she never got the hang of it last season, and now it's far too large.
I want to get her something she can practice on, but that's perhaps not junky and will last? Are balance bikes worth it? I would love suggestions...
Last Spring I got my ds a very worn two wheeler from a garage sale for $3. Took off the pedals making it a "balance bike" let him scoot around on that for 2 weeks and then put the pedals back. Viola! He was riding a two wheeler a few weeks before his 4th bday. So for his birthday he got a larger two wheeler. It worked well for us because he is very tall, might not work for a smaller child. I'm considering getting my almost 3 year old a balance bike for her birthday because I don't think I will be able to find a 2 wheeler that is small enough for her.
I was also going to post to suggest finding a little two wheeler and taking the pedals off to make a balance bike. This is what we did with dd. Also, small two wheelers come with training wheels anyway so you could see what she likes better - riding it as is (w/training wheels) or as a balance bike.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
I found a small bike with training wheels at the thrift store for under 20 (was brand new though). He rode it with the training wheels for two years and just learned to ride a two wheel bike last year at 4.5 yrs. He was getting too big for the small one and I found him a larger bike at a garage sale for $7. I told him they didn't make training wheels for the big bike
We got DS a 16 inch bike for Christmas (2 weeks after his 3rd birthday). He rides it great with the training wheels on, and will be able to ride it for a few years before outgrowing it. We had him fitted at the bike shop and they agreed that the smaller 14 inch bikes were almost too small for him already, and not worth spending the money on. I suppose if you found one at a garage sale, that'd be fine, but if you spend much money, make sure you get something that will last.
I think balance bikes are TOTALLY worth it. Resale value is good, or you can keep it for younger DC. Both of my kids really, truly loved theirs, and most every kid who visits our house loves it. Even the seven-year-olds will still hop on. Seriously, it's hilarious.
Both of my kids went straight from a balance bike to a 16" two-wheeler with no training wheels. Both had less than 10 minutes of holding on to the seat before they were riding their two-wheelers (before age 5).
Balance bikes are fun. Kids can really fly on them once they get going. So that's my vote for sure!
Momma to 8 y.o. DS and 5 y.o. DD. Married to a Maker!
Check at your local cycling store. Ours has a deal where you buy the balance bike ($95), and then return it to the store when your child is done with it and they give you a $95 credit toward a 2 wheeled bike.
My DD has had a balance bike since she could walk (her Dad's big into mountain biking) and she loves it. Man, can she go fast on that sucker! She's ready for a two wheeler this spring (she'll just have turned 4), and won't have to go through the training wheel process.
I'm a huge fan of training wheels. Everyone I know learned to ride a bike using them and so did my kids. They were both riding without trainers less than a year after getting their first training wheel bike (riding without at 4.5 and 2.5). The trick is to get the right sized bike-- you don't want a bike they can "grow into", you want a bike where they can put their feet flat on the ground with their knees slightly bent. Both of my boys learned to ride a bike without any adult help. I just don't get balance bikes... training wheels work, they've always worked, why buy a whole extra product?
DS is almost 3 and he loves his balance bike... we have a strider and it looks just like a regular bike. Having seen lots of little kids on bikes with training wheels, I think the balance bikes look way more fun... DS really gets to going on his (although he hasn't started picking his feet up, yet)... and I've seen videos of little kids riding around on skate parks and bmx tracks... I don't think that's something that can really be done with training wheels. That said, a kid who can ride a balance bike on bmx tracks can probably handle a regular bike... although in our case, DS is tiny, and I don't think there would be a regular bike that he could actually use if he were to that point.
DD got a KaZAM balance bike for Christmas. It's gotten great reviews and she LOVES it. My 6 1/2-year-old DS also loves riding it. The company has great customer service. DD's bike arrived damaged and I didn't know it until late Christmas Eve. I left a message on their Facebook page on Christmas morning and received an e-mail from a company rep on Christmas afternoon.
We got DS (3) the same balance bike Polliwog posted about. He LOVES it. It took all of about 5 minutes for him to figure out how to go fast enough to pick his feet up off the ground. He's tiny (like the size of most 2-year-olds) so we couldn't go the route of buying a pedal bike and taking the pedals off. If that is an option for your DD, I'd say go for it. Get a used bike and remove the pedals and make a cheaper balance bike til she gets the hang of it. Then you can raise the seat a bit and put the pedals back on.
My hubby knows how to tinker on stuff but he likes to buy new bikes from walmart and then check them over to be sure they were assembled properly. We buy em new and wear em out! That way we can get bikes that are exactly the right size and by the time the kid grows out of it we've worn it out anyhow.
I double, triple, quadruple this advice.
Plus this. Proper size is EVERYTHING. A bike they can "grow into" only means something to wieldy for them to be able to control. No control = no learning to bike, with or without training wheels.
FWIW: My DS learned to use a proper bike, without training wheels, at age 5. My DD learned to use a proper bike without training wheels by 38 months. By 3.5 she was a "pro" biker, biking a mile a day in all terrain and weather. The difference was huge. DS had a regular bike with training wheels. So when the training wheels came off, he he had to re-learn how to pedal and balance and it took a few weeks of practice before he could bike properly without the training wheels. However, DD had a balance bike.Then she went right to a regular bike and we never put the training wheels on them and she just biked from day 1. So I think training wheels were counter productive. I do think the proper sized bike makes a huge difference though, in how fast and how well they learn to bike.
We brought our balance bike back from Germany, but it was just a cheap one and it's still in great condition. Hopefully DS2 will choose to ride it this year.
I don't even know what a balance bike is, but I do second/third/fourth? what the others said about buying a bike that fits the kid. My youngest was riding a regular walmart bike without training wheels when he was three years old. My oldest was 5. I have videos of the three year old riding without training wheels! Hmm, I should post one!...
Did she learn to peddle? DS is almost four and still can't master the peddles on his trike. We bought a balance bike because I thought maybe he could work on balance instead and he terrified of it... =(
Last year (when she was three) I got my daughter a regular two wheeler and a friend of ours took the pedals off for her. Now she has an inexpensive run bike to learn about balance on and as soon as she is ready we can put the pedals back on and watch her take off.
My suggestion would be to set the seat as low as possible or to where he can sit with knees bent when the bike is not moving.
Another vote for a balance bike here! 100+% worth it! My DD used a balance bike the summer she was 3, and was riding a 2-wheeler the following summer. DS (3) is now using it and loves it as well. The pedaling will come naturally. I have a friend who's kid never "got" pedaling on a trike, but after one summer on a balance bike was riding a 2-wheeler at the age of 4.
My DS had a balance bike and a trike. He got the pedaling down on the trike and learned to ride the balance bike and when a friend let him borrow a little 2 wheeler with pedals, he hopped on and took off after about 5 minutes of trying. I went out the next day and bought him a used Specialized Hot Rock 16 that I found used for under $25. He loves that thing and can keep up with me on my adult bike easily. He learned to ride 3 months after his 3rd birthday and was using the balance bike at 2, going down hills, picking his feet up for extended periods of time, etc.
I will say it can be hard to watch them learn to use a balance bike. I have seen friend's kids try to use DS's balance bike and they tend to freak out a bit at first and get discouraged very quickly when they can't keep up with DS who is flying around on his pedal bike. It does take practice, and it goes from very slow walking to faster walking to running and picking their feet up eventually.
That wasn't my DD's experience at all. Or that of the kids at the park who've borrowed it. I've found that kids can go way faster than the kids on pedaled bikes. Really quickly. That's a big reason that my 6 1/2-year-old likes to ride DD's KaZAM.
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