Balance Biking

Or, how to teach children how to ride a bike (safely).

I learned something interesting the other day.

Learning to ride a bike with training wheels are apparently, a bad idea. Learning to ride a bike with balance bikes, are a better idea. Personally, I like to call it a butt-scooter, but I digress. (Note to reader: I’m not an expert on this whatsoever, links to real experts are below)

The general hypothesis is, learning to a ride a bike is all about splitting up the problem into parts. You really only have two issues any newcomer has to iron out:

  1. Balancing
  2. Pedaling

Which really comes down to two different learning models:

  1. Learn to balance on a balance bike (playing with a butt-scooter)
  2. Then one learns to pedal on a real bike (multi-tasking pedaling and balancing)

Breaking the problem into two steps seems easy… too easy.

Basically, step one is: trick kids into learning how to balance (it’s a butt-scooter for christ’s sake) on their own before he/she learns how to pedal. A child falling over on a balance is less likely to happen as well. Their feet always hang off the side, ready to catch themselves. There’s no pedals, so you they can only ride as fast as they can waddle with the butt-scooter in hand.

Balancing on any bike is basically all about inertia and movement. So just leave that up the children to decide what feels comfortable.

If you throw training-wheels on a bike and hand it off, a child immediately loses the ability to feel the inertia of the bike and more importantly — they lose the ability to correct. Which could be dangerous when it comes time to remove the training wheels. While they’re learning all about pedaling and multi-tasking with training-wheels on, it becomes super apparent why it’s not ideal to take those training wheels off. Because, well… gravity.

The poor kids that had training wheels have never experienced it before! No wonder kids fall down when you take them off!

A typical balance bike

Balance bikes are an absolutely brilliant idea. The additional upshot with these little inventions (apart from saving your kids knees and elbows from certain duress) is kids can begin playing with balance bikes at a much younger age bicycles with training wheels. That’s just my opinion. The example above is very tiny. Designed for children of 2 years aged, at the earliest. Given its construction, it could even be used indoors on carpet. Because, I mean — c’mon lets be honest. Balance bikes are basically just butt scooters for kids.

Again, I’m not a parent (yet) and nor am I an expert on how to raise kids. But there are seasoned authors out there who are. Such as CyclingUK, which has a great blog post on where to start with balance bikes and when to transition to pedals.

2 Comments

Mary Job January 19, 2019 Reply

Aaah… thanks for writing this.

Stephen Petrey January 20, 2019 Reply

No problem! 🙂

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