Balance Bikes vs Training Wheels : Which is Better?

Jan Poshenko
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Learn Balancing and Coordination

or Not?

When it comes to teaching your child how to ride a two-wheeled bike, do you go with training wheels or do you just let the kid use a balance bike? Which one will teach the child better? And most importantly, which one will be more fun for them? We’re going to look at each option in more detail.

First, let’s look at why balance bikes are so popular. When young children learn how to balance and steer without the added weight of training wheels, they also learn how to coordinate their balance and steering. As a result, they develop confidence in their control of the bike – a confidence that you can’t instill with training wheels. In addition, they learn to move at a very slow pace. This is very important because they need both time to learn how to balance the bike without tipping over, as well as time to learn how to master basic bike-handling skills such as stopping and turning.

Learn to Steer and Corner with Balance Bikes

Balance bikes are specifically designed for toddlers. They are almost the exact same as a regular bike, but they have been stripped down to a bare minimum.

These bikes weigh almost nothing, and they are much shorter than regular bikes. This is the best thing for a toddler who is learning how to balance. They will be able to ride the bike and learn how to pedal without having to worry about balance.

The main feature of these bikes is the frame. As you can see in the picture below, the frame is very long and includes a long seat post. Children sit a long ways from the ground. This is because it is the simplest way to learn how to balance.

A longer frame gives children a greater opportunity to put their feet on the ground and practice walking. As children get older, the seat is raised, and the handle bars are placed higher until they are permanently in place.

As mentioned previously, these bikes are by no means race bikes like you would see at a cycling event. In fact, they are absolutely terrible at going very fast.

The bikes are great for practicing balance. Like traditional bikes, children can easily steer and ride in a straight line.

The main difference between these two is that the balance bikes will not go very fast, but they are better for practicing developing your child’s sense of balance and ability to steer a bicycle.

Balance Bikes are Lightweight

Balance bikes offer your child freedom to explore the world around them in a unique manner. They are lightweight, easy to use, and encourage your kids to focus on developing their balance and coordination skills.

Balance bikes are not difficult to learn on; maneuvering them is quite a simple process. The best part is that they are less likely to get damaged as your child decides to take his new bike a little fast and slides along the pavement. They are a budget-friendly option for parents and their children alike.

In contrast to balance bikes, training wheels are difficult to assemble and can cause serious injuries and damage to your garden and your bike as well. They are designed for the 6 to 8-year-old set, but that doesn’t mean that younger kids won’t benefit from the training wheels. If you are working with a 3-year-old, then there is a chance that he will use the wheels for at least some time. However, if your child is 4 years or older, then training wheels are not necessary and can, in fact, be detrimental to his riding experience.

Training wheels are not very sturdy and may not support the growth spurts that your child will experience. The wheels can also get stuck in the middle of your yard, where you will waste time and energy trying to locate them.

Balance Bikes Provide More Fun and Freedom

One of the more important milestones in a child’s development is the first time he rides a bike. For many children, this is also a rite of passage that symbolizes the start of their independence. After all, it does take more effort to learn to ride without training wheels than with them. However, there are many advantages to forgoing training wheels.

Training Wheels Limit Skills

To begin with, training wheels continuously hold up your child as she rides back and forth on the sidewalk. In other words, she doesn’t really learn to balance the bike on her own. This means that when she finally does take off the training wheels, she has not acquired the fundamental skill of balancing her bike. That’s why many kids fall off the bike on the very first ride without training wheels. Even though they may have had the skill of balancing an unicycle since they were 3 years old, training wheels teach them nothing about how to balance a bike, a far more complicated skill.

Training Wheels Take Away Freedom

Sure, the training wheels may prevent your kids from crashing into a tree or other immovable object, but they also take away their freedom. After all, once they coast down the street using just their legs, they may feel like they want to go farther than the leash of their training wheels can allow.

It's Easier to Transition to Pedal Bikes Later

When it comes to buying a bike for your child, buying a balance bike versus a bike with training wheels may be one of the biggest choices you'll make.

Let''s take a look at both and figure out which one is the better choice for your child.

The Benefits of Having Training Wheels

Training wheels for a bike are just that – wheels that are attached to the bike that essentially help your child get used to balance a bike. When you hear "training wheels", you may think back to your own childhood riding with them. However, if you're dealing with an infant or toddler, training wheels are much more than that.

They actually help the child get used to balancing a bike … without falling over! So if there are training wheels on the bike, then your child can't fall over. Your child can start riding on the training wheels, and he or she will see how a bike works.

Learning to balance a bike is just like learning to walk for your child. However, once they're ready to ride without training wheels, they can simply lift one of them off of the wheel, and they're good to go!

So training wheels are a great way for a child to learn to balance while also learning to ride a bike. If this is what you're thinking of getting, it's the better option for you.

Balance Bikes FAQ

When it comes to the topic of bicycle training, you’ll find more questions than answers. One of the most pressing concerns is the difference between 2-wheel balance bikes and training wheels.

By definition, a balance bike is a small bike that has no pedals and can be ridden solely by balancing it on two wheels. These bikes are recommended for toddlers and children as they help them develop balance and coordination on two wheels without the complication of pedals.

This concept may seem pretty basic and obvious, yet it’s extremely effective and makes a whole lot of sense. What’s even better is that balance bikes are available in a range of options and price points.

Training wheels are perhaps one of the best examples of a product that’s become a necessity without having undergone any real testing or thorough research. They have been considered to be a requirement for kids to learn to bike ride.

Testing reveals that a child can learn to ride without the assistance of training wheels, but most parents still consider training wheels to be a safer and more reliable option.

So, is it possible to become a pro in bike riding without training wheels? The answer is that training wheels do not help your child learn balance. They only assist in keeping the bike upright while the kid applies his/her own force to move the bike forward.

What age is best for a balance bike?

If you’re looking to introduce your child to the wonderful world of riding bicycles without training wheels, then the best time to start is between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old. Of course, we say this with a lot of caveats, because it’s really more important to look at individual cases as well. If your child is already walking, then there is no need to wait for 18 months.

On the other hand, if your child is 3 years old and is still not walking well, then you should wait with the bike a little longer.

In addition to physical maturity, there are other factors to consider: strength, muscle tone, and balance. If your child can already ride the hobby horse, spin bike, or ride-on toys, then she is probably ready for a balance bike.

A balance bike lets your toddler practice balancing and learn to control her bike riding independently without any assistance. Your child will still fall down a lot in the beginning, but the idea is to make progress towards learning to ride by herself.

A good balance bike for a 2-year-old is one that has a maximum weight capacity of 50 pounds. Ideally, the bike should also have adjustable handlebars, a removable seat, and a footrest. Some also have a seatbelt to keep your child securely in the seat.

Can I just remove the bike pedals?

Some parents will purchase a balance bike and then remove the pedals and replace them with training wheels. They reason that training wheels are easier for kids to learn to ride a bike with and just take the pedals off. Why would they want to spend the extra money on a balance bike?

Training wheels are huge and cover a large portion of the bike. Your kid will quickly learn how to balance when using one, but they will be less confident riding bikes without them.

They will also find that they won’t be able to ride through all the terrains. Pruning through fences, curbs, and other natural obstacles will be too high for the training wheels to clear and you’ll find yourself picking up your bike again and again.

Balance bikes have a smaller wheel base. This makes it easier for them to balance. So it’s crucial to start off with the balance bikes.

They also have built in stabilizing handles that help stabilize your child while they learn to balance. Your child will also learn sooner how to balance a bike by using a smaller sized bike.

One of the most appealing parts about a balance bike is that they are designed to glide better than a tricycle.

It won’t take as long for them to learn how to ride a bike without a balancing bar.

How will my child learn to pedal?

Who says training wheels are the best option? Balance bikes are gaining popularity as a way to teach kids how to ride a bike without training wheels. They are lighter and easier to assemble than training wheels and are compatible with most bikes.

This way of learning might be faster, but it might not work for every child.

If you’re going to give this a shot, make sure that your child is old enough. Some balance bikes may be suitable for as young as 18 months, while others are recommended for ages 3 and older. You’ll want to give it a try when it’s time for it.

Although the child will be moving off of the training wheels quickly, this is no reason to put them away. The child is still better off with a bike that has a large wheel in the front and a small wheel in the back instead of a bike without the training wheels in their first couple of months of learning to ride.

There is a bike route just for kids who have graduated from training wheels. This is a safe cycling route between Mexico Beach and Flamingo along U.S. 98 and County Road 30-A.