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Balance bike or kids bike with peddles and stabilisers

lofty102lofty102 Posts: 174
I'm looking to buy my little boy (who is 3yrs old) his 1st bike for xmas, but im not sure if i should get him a balance bike or a kids bike with stabilisers, i was just wondering if anybody has any experience with balance bikes or buying there childs 1st bike. Thanks!
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  • Balance bike everytime! My 4 year old loved hers and quickly moved onto a normal bike, whereas my 5 year old & 9 year old had "normal" bikes & training wheels and it took ages to get rid of the training wheels!

    The only annoying thing is you end up with a hardly used balance bike when they're ready to progress!
  • Mike HealeyMike Healey Posts: 1,023
    Balance bike every time. We have 3 we use for teaching very young kids who come along with their bigger siblings. There's no pressure on them and they can scoot merrily along, getting hold of the idea of rolling along with their feet off the ground and steering.

    At which point....

    The their parents have a new one to worry about ;)
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
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  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    edited November 2010
    Balance bike. Thing1 was riding it from when she was around 3 (before that, just 'walking over it')

    She rode a pedaled bike the day before her 4th birthday. But, even now she's getting close to 5, her runbike is her preferred method to 'commute'.

    (And her balance on her pedaled bike is insane, and her ability to ride it very slowly really helps when starting/stopping).
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • fuelexfuelex Posts: 165
    As above, definitely balance bike. Our 1st did the normal stabilizers route and was upright by his 4th birthday. 2nd one is 3 next week and can ride properly already after one year of a balance bike.
  • baudman wrote:
    (And her balance on her pedaled bike is insane, and her ability to ride it very slowly really helps when starting/stopping).

    Tell me about it. Son the first was 4 in July and will often come to a complete halt for a couple of seconds before starting off again - all without putting his feet down! I wish I could track stand so well!

    Son the second was 2 in May and he is now transitioning from walking over the balance bike to scooting on it.

    Son the third isn't walking yet so it's probably a bit early for getting him on a bike!

    _

    P.S. In case it wasn't clear, another vote for balance bike.
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    Underscore wrote:
    Son the third isn't walking yet so it's probably a bit early for getting him on a bike!

    Not long after... ;)

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    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • lofty102lofty102 Posts: 174
    Thanks for the replies, an overwhelming vote for balance bikes! I'll start my search for one now, thanks again
    2010 Mondraker Factor RR
    2014 canyon ultimate cf 9.0 sl
    2016 Planet x pro carbon
    2017 Scott Spark 730
  • I have read some people buy a normal kids bike and remove the pedals and cranks but if my sons first proper bike is anything to go by it will weigh a ton. Proper balance bike is the best way to go.
    We got ours a balance bike at 18 months, and a proper bike for his 3rd birthday, now happily pedals along, he still has a soft spot for his balance bike though and often whizzes round the back garden on it.
    Good luck
    Steve
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    steve77345 wrote:
    I have read some people buy a normal kids bike and remove the pedals and cranks but if my sons first proper bike is anything to go by it will weigh a ton.

    Agree. And also, the geometry is often against you doing this, as the saddle won't go low enough because they design them to be used with stabilizers. :roll:

    Still, it is an option, and just removing the pedals for an arvo is a good way to transition to a pedaled bike, once coming off a runbike.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    wasn't much of a market in balance bikes when mine learnt so I did the pedals off trick with the last two and it worked a treat
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  • My twin girls are getting balance bikes for Christmas, they've just turned 3.

    We went for the Isla Bikes Rothan;

    http://www.islabikes.co.uk/bike_pages/rothan.html
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    Nice choice Happy.

    You have, however, set the bar pretty high for their next bike ;)
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • glenwattglenwatt Posts: 155
    I too am looking at getting balance bikes for 2 boys who are just 2 years old, from you're experiences is this too early or around the right age?
    Glen

    Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
  • jackmcdjackmcd Posts: 185
    Lots of opinions on this Glen and I am sure some will disagree. Childrens bodies change in proportions so much I think pushing them too early and they just need to readjust later - best to get them feeling confident and secure so my view was three wheels fine when younger.

    Some parents will be keen to join the 'my child could .... before he was ....' club. My third child I was most relaxed about and there were the least problems and not a single fall - waited till she was 5 before getting an isla bike and taking the peddles off. Within a week the peddles were on and she was away...
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    I agree, there's no rush.

    My first daughter had her runbike from about 18-20m (on sale), however she really wasn't interested until 3, and really was 3.5 before she could ride it.

    My second daughter had one from 6m (there was a sale, so grandfather's axe-esque upgrades to her older sister's gave her a modified runbike). She's very proud of it (shows it off to visitors), but is very rarely interested in riding it. That will come in time and I will remain (frustratingly) patient.

    However, on the flipside, as mentioned above by a few people in their experiences, my daughter has great balance on both her runbike and her pedal bike. I have no idea if that was innate, or if it was time on the runbike. But I think the latter. Whether that translates to abilities in later life, who knows.

    The one thing that is often overlooked with runbikes is it gives kids mobility. When we walk somewhere, she tends to ride her runbike. At our pace. And for that, it's certainly worth it. And your boys will turn to them when they're interested/able. In the meantime, they're a great 'ornament' around the house, for them to be proud of. "Just like Daddy's".
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • Start them on a balance bike as early as possible - if they can walk in a controlled manner, they can ride one. Strider Bikes UK sell them here in the UK. My son learnt on one - fantastic product!
  • jairajjairaj Posts: 3,009
    t4tomo wrote:
    wasn't much of a market in balance bikes when mine learnt so I did the pedals off trick with the last two and it worked a treat

    thats what I was thinking. Can't you just get a normal bike and take the cranks off? isn't that the same as a balance bike? Then when they are ready put the cranks back on ..
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    jairaj wrote:
    t4tomo wrote:
    wasn't much of a market in balance bikes when mine learnt so I did the pedals off trick with the last two and it worked a treat

    thats what I was thinking. Can't you just get a normal bike and take the cranks off? isn't that the same as a balance bike? Then when they are ready put the cranks back on ..

    You can, however :

    a) The geometry of the bike may not allow you to get the saddle low enough (they really need to be able to have their feet flat on the ground). Many kids bikes are built to be used with stabilizers only, unfortunately.

    b) Most (if not all) run/balance bikes are a helluva lot lighter than a normal kids bike, even with the pedals, cranks, chain etc all removed.

    On the other hand... if it works, it is a good/cheap option.

    However, if a child has learned on a runbike, I'm a big advocate for them having their first ride of a 'real' bike with the pedals off - just so they can transfer the skills base across easily. It may only take a few minutes, perhaps an afternoon, perhaps longer. For mine - about 15 mins.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • Mike HealeyMike Healey Posts: 1,023
    The other advantage is that most runbikes have limited handlebar movement. This rpevents the nipper turning it too far and coming to an abrupt halt, or splaaat! as we coaches call it
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
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  • inceince Posts: 289
    Big plus 1 for the balance/run bikes.

    My first lad had access from 18mths to his. Started to scoot at around 2yrs and was able to ride his first proper bike before his third birthday. I went for Islabikes for both the balance bike and his first real bike and cannot fault them. Cost might be more than some want to pay, all I would say is the quality and resale off set this.

    Dependent on how confident you are and how capable your child is you could go straight for a bike without the training wheels. Only you can judge this, be realistic if the child is not ready you don't want to put them off pushing them on too soon.

    If in doubt go for the balance bike you won't go wrong.
  • I bought my daughter a Kiddimoto and she loves the fact she 'has a big like daddys, but a princess one' in her words! We had a huge selection to choose from like superbikes, scramblers, choppers, scooters and heroes lol ahh so many! And mums...there are helmets and gloves as accessories and you can spend so long looking at colours and designs its crazy. I had my daughters personalisled with 'Rachel' and it just looked gorgeous. :) I was unsure at first but I would recommend. Matter of fact, we are getting on for my nephew for xmas. So I would recommend. I did look at LikeaBike and everyone but looked the uniqueness of these. Merry Christmas![/b]
  • All three of my sons learnt on balance bikes, a childs bike with the peds taken off, then put on when they could balance, this way they got used to the weight and handling, much better is how they found it, balance bike, another idea i suppose, don't know how we all managed fifty years ago!
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  • Ian SimsIan Sims Posts: 735
    Our childrens experience supports the balance bike (or removing pedals from small bike) method of getting them riding.

    My son, now seven, used training wheels. He was very reluctant to have them removed, but finally they "disappeared" when he was six. My daughter got a balance bike when she was three and now, just before her fourth birthday, has started riding a bike. It took her about five minutes to add pedalling to her balancing and not much longer to get the hang of starting off on her own too.

    I realise that all children are different, but I can't help felling that if my son had had a balance bike, he would have been up and riding much sooner.

    Ian
  • My firm opinion is that balance bikes are a waste of time and money as a means of preparing a child for a "real" bike. I am sure that they are great fun in themselves but that is not what they are sold as.

    Our two sons learned to ride a Raleigh Buzzer bike, purchased 2nd hand for £8, at the ages of 4 and 3 1/2. The older one would have learned sooner but it was winter!

    They both rode with stabilisers for about a year before they were removed, and they had no problems starting, stopping or keeping going.

    The limiting factor in getting a small child to ride a bike is strength - they will gain as much of this on a bike with stabilisers as they will on a balance bike.

    After all, how many of us old enough to read this forum used a balance bike and how many of us still need stabilisers?
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    I'd always recommend to parents a balance bike, because it teaches the steering which you cannot do on stabilisers.
  • Not sure about that - I remember the boys going round corners on their stabilised bikes!
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    But not the same way as you do without stabilisers. On a regular bike you turn through countersteer and lean, which you cannot really learn whilst on stabilisers. The children i've seen (after selling their parents balance bikes) are much more competent at turning (and braking if they've had a brake) than those on stabilisers or those who've had stabilisers.

    The transition is also much easier for the vast majority of kids.
  • Ah, that's where the magic technique comes in......

    It's natural for kids (and everyone else) to steer away from a fall but to balance you need to steer into it.

    5 minutes (literally, that is all) of having the boys sit with their feet on the pedals and having me tilt the bike and telling them which way to steer did the trick. Tilt the bike to one side then the other at first, returning to vertical each time. After a few minutes make it fun by tilting randomly.

    Each time they were away within 5 minutes of me taking off the stabilisers.

    They were used to the action of pedalling and were strong enough to start off (seat set very low) and keep going.

    I have tried this with neighbours' kids as well and it seems to work!
  • fuelexfuelex Posts: 165
    Teaching children to ride a bike with stabilizers is effectively just teaching them to pedal a tricycle or equivalent.
    They can gain far more balance skills from even riding a 2 wheeled scooter.
    Balance bike every time.
  • Mike HealeyMike Healey Posts: 1,023
    My firm opinion is that balance bikes are a waste of time and money as a means of preparing a child for a "real" bike. I am sure that they are great fun in themselves but that is not what they are sold as.

    Our two sons learned to ride a Raleigh Buzzer bike, purchased 2nd hand for £8, at the ages of 4 and 3 1/2. The older one would have learned sooner but it was winter!

    They both rode with stabilisers for about a year before they were removed, and they had no problems starting, stopping or keeping going.

    The limiting factor in getting a small child to ride a bike is strength - they will gain as much of this on a bike with stabilisers as they will on a balance bike.

    After all, how many of us old enough to read this forum used a balance bike and how many of us still need stabilisers?

    We teach in the region of 40-50 kids a year to ride and we use either our balance bikes or taking off the pedals of their own bikes. It takes between 5 minutes and a 2 hour session for the more nervous kids and they take away their Learned to Ride My Bike Today certificate that morning.

    Any child who can run around has the strength to pedal - that's not the limiting factor - it's the balance/steering thing. Once that's under reasonable control, doing it while pedalling is a piece of cake(ish)

    If you had taken the pedals off and got them to treat it as a balance bike, they'd not have needed a year on stabilisers before riding unasisted.
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
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