Stabilisers are a thing of the past! The future of cycle-training hangs in the balance…bikes.
Do you remember the day you out-grew your training wheels? Off they came and for the first time it was just you versus gravity…and gravity probably won the first 50 rounds!
Now, your kids won’t have to go through the same torturous rite of passage. No more veering into bushes as they try to master the handlebars, no more scraped knees and tearful eyes as they limp home after a particularly nasty wipeout – now they can learn the art of perfect equilibrium with a balance bike.
Stripped down to the basics, a balance bike is notable for its lack of pedals, drivetrain and in some cases, even brakes. What you’re left with is the pure essence of the bike, letting your little rider fully concentrate on their balance before advancing to the next level.
By directing their focus to balance alone, kids are able to concentrate on staying upright – which in many ways is the hardest part. Once they have that mastered, they can graduate onto a pedal bike with confidence.
Intrigued? Of course you are! Let’s take a look at what’s on the market:
RRP: From £94.99
WHERE TO BUY: FirstBIKE
Built with an emphasis on safety and coming in a range of colours, this innovative bike ensures that your kids’ wellbeing comes first – right down to the saddle-style seat designed to prevent your little one from slipping off on downhill runs. The attention to detail really is something to behold.
The flexible glass fibre frame means that not only is it easy to carry (and let’s face it, that’s going to happen!), but also makes this bike virtually impervious to the elements. There’s no danger of swelling or rust at all so you can take it out all year round!
More importantly, the shock-absorption properties of this hi-tech material help to protect your child’s spine against heavy impact. That’s certainly going to come in handy for early learners.
Awarded our 2015 Best Value Award, the FirstBIKE is also available in a range of different models for a variety of terrains. All come equipped with a steering limiter, rear drum SafetyStop brake for better control and a hugely impressive lifetime warranty on frame and fork and a 5 year warranty on the other components.
Kiddimoto Super Junior Max
WHERE TO BUY: Kiddimoto
With its solid metal frame and no-nonsense single bar frame, you just know the Super Junior Max means business!
Durability is the defining feature of this bike, it’s tough, robust and built to take a beating – which is probably a good thing considering it’s for training.
But, should your little one ride it into the ground, it also comes with a generous five-year guarantee. So you’ll be covered right on through until they’re ready for a proper bike, which will be reassuring for dads with tiny tearaways!
The pneumatic tyres make for a silky smooth ride while the drum brakes ensure they come to a gradual and gentle stop every time…almost.
WHERE TO BUY: Townsend Cycles
As the name suggests, with the Townsend Duo you don’t just get one bike, but two!
The ingenious design means that the frame can be reversed and converted into two completely different sized bikes by increasing the saddle height and reach.
This all means that as your child grows, so does the bike. Factor in the puncture-proof tyres and you’ve got a bike that should last for years to come.
With its ergonomic handlebar grips and padded saddle, Townsend have made sure that the Duo is as comfortable as possible – pretty important as your kids will be spending hours gliding along by the seat of their pants!
WHERE TO BUY: Halfords
For a smooth ride, try this all-terrain model from Y Volution. The extra wide tyres mean that the Y Velo can go from the beaten track to the road less-travelled without sacrificing on comfort and control.
Speaking of control, the built-in steering limiter will help prevent your little hell’s angel from zig-zagging their way into the nearest bush. On top of that, it comes with ergonomic handlebars and adjustable seat.
The shock absorbing wheels are also ideal for off-road excursions, making this the perfect choice for the adventurous biker.
WHERE TO BUY: Trax Bikes
As close to an actual bike as you can get in the balance world, the Zooom (no, that’s not a typo!) boasts proper bearings and a functional v-brake that helps to recreate the experience of an advanced bicycle.
The rear brake is a nice touch that will teach your child an essential biking skill. By introducing them to this element early, they will be well-prepared for the sensation of braking when they do finally move on – and less likely to fly over the handlebars!
While the seat post isn’t adjustable, it does come with a larger replacement ready to sub-in when your not-so-little one grows out of it.
It goes without saying that safety is paramount when you’re teaching your kids to ride a bike.
Remember, they should always wear a helmet – especially at this early stage. While these training bikes may not seem as dangerous as their advanced counterparts, it‘s always better to be safe than sorry.
Find a nice, clear, enclosed space – maybe a park or even your back garden – to get them started. Once you have safety covered, make sure you take the time to really enjoy this hallmark parenting experience!