You can introduce your children to the wonderful skill of biking as early as 18months/2years with a balance bike. Start a long-term love of biking with a safe, fun and rewarding experience with your child riding the ‘right’ balance bike. A balance bike that fits your child, matches their capabilities and the type of riding they will do. One that will grow with them as they grow and develop until they are ready to move onto a regular pedal bike.
- Read the benefits of balance bikes – Embrace the balance bike.
- When is my child ready for a balance bike- Balance Bikes – How old should my child be?
- Tips on keeping everyone smiling as I learn to ride my balance bike – Learning to ride a balance bike
- Keep me safe on a balance bike – Balance bikes tips on safety
Lightweight Cruzee – for young or petite riders riding on footpaths, indoors and tarseal.
Robust ByK – for balance bike riding on all surfaces and terrain designed to make learning…easy.
Get the right balance bike.
Most importantly get the right SIZED balance bike
The right sized balance bike is a bike that has a seat height that allows your child to sit on the seat and be able to touch the ground with their fore foot right as they walk/run so they can push and propel the balance bike along with their legs.
Find the correct sized balance bike by measuring your childs inseam … Without shoes on, have the child stand against a wall, squeeze the book between their legs, and then slowly raise the book up until it hits their crotch. Level the book with the floor, then measure the distance between the top of the book to the ground.
Use this measurement to find the minimum seat height of the balance bike that will fit your child
Inseam measurement minus (–) 3cm. Why minus 3cm?
The inseam measurement is taken with straight knees. However when your child sits on a balance bike they will not have straight knees, they need soft knees (that is slightly bent) and they need to be able to touch the ground right through the can walk/run movement as they propel the bike safely and efficiently while on the seat. This height also allows them to comfortable stand over the balance bike
Get a balance bike that is ADJUSTABLE
As your child grows you will need to be able to adjust the seat height (and the handlebar height). So how much adjustment will you need.?
Take their minimum seat height and add (+) 3 cm for every year you hope they will be able to continue to ride their balance bike. Note this is a general rule. All kids will grow at different rates
Kids that choose to ride balance bike as a pre-bike will most likely be able to ride a regular pedal bike by the age of 4 years old. Note again this is a general rule. All kids development and confidence will be different.
goRides selected balance bike solutions the ByK offers good seat height adjustment to allow for your child’s growth and handle bar adjustment. See the sizing guide
Get the right weight of balance bike
Why is the right weight important? This balance bike needs to be lifted from the ground and placed upright on its wheels by your child. They need to be able to steep over the bike top tube to sit on the bike seat. A heavy bike will be harder for your child to manage. And it is likely at times you will need to carry that balance bike when they have decided …enough biking for today… and you are still a wee way from home.
A general rule is you do not want that bike to be more than 30% of their body weight. Therefore younger as well as petite and less coordinated children will benefit from a lighter bike. Balance bikes also have a maximum weight that your child should not exceed.
For example a lightweight bike will weigh 2-3kg and is suitable for children weighing greater than 6.6kg and has a maximum weight limit = 34kg.
The ByK weighs 4.3 kg making it suitable for kids greater than 13kg and has a maximum weight limit = 50kg.
Minimum seat height Cruzee
Maximum seat height Cruzee.
Get the right SHAPE balance bike and bike seat
Balance bikes, like bikes, vary in shape and design between brands. Some important things to consider for shape
- A shape or height of top tube that is easy to step over.
- Space between the seat and the handlebars. Balance bikes do not have pedals and are designed for your child will walk/run/glide on their bike. To achieve this efficiently there needs be space between the seat and handlebars to allow the child to lean forward. If it is too close the child is cramped and can’t get into an efficient position to get faster and more momentum on the bike.
- A shape that keeps the bike quite low. The lower they are the easier it is to learn to balance the bike.
- A seat shape that allows their legs to move freely forwards and backwards as they walk/run/glide.
The design of the ByK keeps the centre of gravity low, making it easier to learn to balance and thus ride the balance bike. With good space between the seat and handlebars… kids are off and enjoying biking in no time.
The additional features that are important for the right balance bike for your child will depend on where that bike will be ridden and how it is cared for
Get the right tyres for the type of riding your child will do
There are 2 main types of tires found on a balance bike.
1. Air tyres are the basically the same tyres that would be found on an early regular 12 inch bike (with pedals). These tyres offer good cushioning and the tread will provide good traction. They can puncture and can be repaired in the same way you repair a bike tyre puncture. Air tyres will allow your child to have a comfortable ride on all types of surfaces/terrain. These types of tyres are heavier when compared to the other common type of tyre used on balance bikes – foam tyres. The ByK has air tyres.
2. Foam tyres. These tyres are lightweight so they do not have the cushioning and traction air tyres have. Bikes with these tyres are more suited to indoor, footpath, tar seal riding and for younger, lighter kids. These tyres are puncture proof and will not require any maintenance.
3. Tyres with spokes (like a traditional bike wheel) roll faster and will help kids get up to speed easier making learning to ride a balance bike “one step easier”
The size of the tyre is also important. Most balance bikes will generally have a 12- inch tyre. This size of tire is appropriate for a young child’s leg size – keeping the bike low and thus making the learning of balance easier. Only if a child continues to require a balance bike as they get older (5-6 plus) would you need a balance bike with a larger tyre size.
Air Tyres. Like the traditional tyres on a kids bike. Good traction and cushioning
Foam Tyres. Light weight puncture free. Not as good traction and cushioning when compared to air tyres
What materials should it be made of?
The frames on balance bikes are generally made of metal or wood.
Metal frames are either aluminium offering a lightweight bike or steel which is a slightly heavier option. Metal frames offer good durability and more adjustment of the seat and the handlebars compared to wooden bikes. Metal can be moulded to provide a balance bike that is shaped to suit the movement children need to do efficiently to get the most out of the balance bike.
Wooden frames bikes can be more environmentally friendly but are less adjustable than metal bikes. They are frequently less durable and especially if they are not cared for eg. left outside in the rain. The limitations of wood mean that you often end with the shape or geometry of bike that a younger and smaller rider can be challenged by. For example, high frame compared to the lower step through of a metal balance bike.
The bolts and bearings
Preferable all the bolts helping to hold the balance bike together should be covered, rounded or recessed rather than exposed to prevent scratching of legs and walls (if ridden indoors).
Recessed flat bolts make it ideal for using indoors. Rounded bolts minimise scratching.
Sealed bearings prevent anything external like dust, water, dirt entering into parts of the bike that rotate and move. This minimises friction and offers a lasting, smoother ride. Sealed bearings reduce the effects of wear and tear on the balance bike. Generally sealed bearings are only found on the more expensive balance bikes.
A brake, yes or no?
Brakes offer another layer of complexity to the balance bike. Remember in Embrace the balance bike we learnt the reason – why we love balance bikes. They simplify the motor skills needed to learn to ride a bike by targeting the most important, most essential initial skill – BALANCE. Do you want to complicate that? However, a brake can offer some benefits to the 3.5 year old+ rider. If the rider has mastered the balance bike – walking, running, turning and stopping, the hand brake can improve the safety of riding by aiding them in stopping (rather than relying fully on their legs). If they begin to enjoy some more challenging terrain- slopes etc and bringing them one step closer to the skills required when transitioning to a regular pedal bike.
If you say yes to this option, for when they are older and grow, you also need to ensure the brake is designed to accommodate small hands. Can you adjust the lever so they can actually reach the brake to use it?
The right sized and style of grips for the right balance bike
The diameter of the grips is important to ensure kids small hands can safely grip the handle bars. The other important feature is having a fatter or flanged end. This is important for safety protecting kids hands when the handlebars run into a wall, (not forgetting to mention your walls), trees, fences etc., and it also protects their hands from the ground during falls if they haven’t let go.
Does the balance bike need turning limiters or footrests for it to be the right balance bike?
The purpose of a turning limiter is to prevent the young inexperienced rider from doing a sharp turn. It will also prevent the brake cable from getting twisted if the bike has one. There are positives and negatives to turning limiter’s, however, their overall effect is minor and it should not be a determining factor in your preference.
Footrests allow the rider to have somewhere to put their feet in the gliding stage. Do they really need them? How long will they be gliding for before they need those legs for propelling again. If you choose a balance bike with footrests be weary as unless they are designed well they can impede the forward and backward motion of the legs when walking and running on a balance bike which is not a desired outcome.
Understanding the features of a balance bike and what you want from a balance bike will help you get the right balance bike. So you and your family can SMILE when you goRide.
get Ready and goRide – The right Balance Bike
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