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  1. #1
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    ... and if we just ... My experience with the balance bike concept.

    Came home this morning from a ride and it was such a nice morning that I pulled my sons' bikes out of the garage and they began their routine push-and-glide, push-and-glide. Now, a couple weeks back I converted their bikes to ghetto-strider by removing the pedals, zip-tieing the crank arms back, and slamming the seats. This morning, for the first time, I noticed one of my sons (I have 5 yr old twins) lift his legs and glide about 20 yards down our inclined street. When he reached me I asked if he'd like to put his pedals on. To my amazement he said 'yes'. He was going for it. Put the pedals back on, raised the seat and in about 10 minutes he was pedaling his little heart out, even turning unassisted. The other twin was having none of that, so he implored me to put the pedals back on his bike and in no time he was riding around too.

    I think I've just become a zealot for the b-b concept now. My daughter was on training wheels (several years ago) until she was seven years old, but I never even considered removing them to IMPROVE her riding development. Anyway, I'm a proud papa today and balance bike convert! The first boy even rode his bike into our rock front yard and said, "Look dad, I'm mountain biking".

    Here's a pic of them riding today, about four hours after the pedals went on:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails My experience with the balance bike concept.-first_ride.jpg  


  2. #2
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    That's similar to my experience.
    My son had no balance bike and even though I took the training wheels off his real bike, it took him months to learn to ride. My daughter's first 10 seconds on a real bike consisted of coasting down a hill, putting her feet on the pedals, and riding away.

  3. #3
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    I hear you coldbike.
    We bought an Islabikes Rothan for my boys 2nd birthday. He took a while to get interested but was soon coasting down hills and banking around corners. I remember the first time he locked the rear wheel braking on some loose gravel and fishtailed wildly. He held it together and his expression when I caught up with him was a mixture of shock and awe. When he turned three he started biking just under a mile each way to his nursery school. Saved me having to lug him on my bike.

    Then for his fourth birthday he got a Redline Pitboss, the "pedal bike" he'd been talking about for months. With the saddle dropped as far as it would go he could only just touch the ground tippy-toes, so I wasn't sure he was big enough. We went to the local park and I told him I'd hold him and push him along the path so he could try out the pedals. I started out gently and five seconds later he accelerated away from me. Right, that'll be pedaling sorted then.

    It seems that once little ones get the balance, adding in pedaling is pretty easy.
    And as you know CCMTB, a little bit of peer pressure is a powerful motivator for kids

  4. #4
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    @CaptainDecisive

    Don't you know it!

    Sent from my mountain bike while crashing
    Please donate to IMBA or your local IMBA chapter. It's trail karma.

  5. #5
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    As a parent and a physical therapist who treats balance disorders I have no
    Idea why these things didn't become popular earlier than they have. My 3 year
    Old son has been shredding it on his balance bike sine his 2nd bday. My 20 month
    old boy can't wait to ride it but he can't reach the ground from the seat yet. I already
    Cut the seat post down to fit my older boy when he first got it. I am pretty
    certain he is ready for pedals

  6. #6
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    I was reading an article by Sheldon the other day on teaching kids to ride. He noted that a lot of parents don't realize that training wheels should be slowly raised a bit at a time, making the bicycle "tippier." Thus forcing the child to start to balance.

  7. #7
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    I'm a balance bike convert and swear by it!

    When my oldest son was 4, after a lengthy hospital stay, we had bought him a balance bike as part of his "rehab" for scooting around in the house. After 1 week of getting used to it in the house and lifting his legs, we let him take it outside. After a week of that, I had asked if he wanted his training wheels off his pedal bike and to my surprise, he said 'yes'. I couldn't believe that all it took was 2 weeks and he was without training wheels!

    Well, my youngest (now 3, almost 4), started earlier this year, just when he could touch the ground. We had it in the house and it took a few weeks, but he was able to scoot around the house and turn with is feet up. He's been riding without training wheels on his 12" bike all through this past spring/summer.

    Totally sold on this concept....it's great since he learned balance and how to turn without the restrictive training wheels. Turning was a big deal since kids tend to turn very sharp with training wheels on.

    Now, if I can only get both kids to move up to the next sized bike (from 16" to 20" and from 12" to 16")....they still want to be able to touch the ground with their tippy toes.

    Now, I end up loaning the balance bike to friends who want their kids to learn to ride without training wheels.
    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 26
    1994 Specialized Hard Rock FS

  8. #8
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    We got a balance bike for my son a couple months before he turned 2. He will be 4 in December and is already pedaling off road. They work. Here's my proof.

    Elan's First Mountain Biking Ride - YouTube

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by julioardz View Post
    We got a balance bike for my son a couple months before he turned 2. He will be 4 in December and is already pedaling off road. They work. Here's my proof.

    Elan's First Mountain Biking Ride - YouTube
    No FS rig?

    Also - NICE!!

  10. #10
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    What did I say? Balance bikes are as good as training wheels are bad.

    In fact, balance bikes are such good tools that they're not really needed for a long time.

    Congrats!

    fc

  11. #11
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    Well, my 15month old is big enough for a balance bike. Looks like the little monster will be getting one soon or for christmas. We were thinking of going the way of a 12" wheel pedal bike and taking the pedals off and slamming the seat and doing that in the spring, but he's got another couple inches to go.

    Plus we got to stick the kid on on of the 12" wheeled balance bikes at performance today and he could sit on it with the seat all the way down and his feet flat on the ground. He got upset when we had to pry him off to go home.

  12. #12
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    I too am looking into (wooden) balance bikes for my soon-to-be 1 year old. Now, I know it will be some time before he'll be able to use it, but do any of you have experience (or thoughts) about the convertible 3-in-1 models (such as the "Wishbone bike" which offer the initial stability of a trike?

    Or is this a feature that is decidely limited in function?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rho View Post
    Well, my 15month old is big enough for a balance bike. Looks like the little monster will be getting one soon or for christmas. We were thinking of going the way of a 12" wheel pedal bike and taking the pedals off and slamming the seat and doing that in the spring, but he's got another couple inches to go.

    Plus we got to stick the kid on on of the 12" wheeled balance bikes at performance today and he could sit on it with the seat all the way down and his feet flat on the ground. He got upset when we had to pry him off to go home.
    Note that most 12" pedal bikes have a much higher minimum 'saddle to ground' measurement than a balance bike. It has to be higher to accomdate the crank. If your kid needed the balance bike seat almost all the way down, a normal 12" pedal bike will be too large.

    I had the same thoughts for my 2 year old son. I was planning to get him a 12" pedal bike, but they were all way too large. I ended up 'pimping' his big sister's old pink Strider bike out for him with a new paint job, flames and a new seat - and it works much better. He's fully balancing on his own now and really enjoys it.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  14. #14
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    Balance bikes seem to be the coming thing. I'd caution that all kids are different and it's not always obvious what's going to work. My 8-y-o grandson has eyesight issues (aka "lazy eye" in olden times) and learned late. Trying to transition from training wheels was a disaster, so I did the ghetto balance bike thing and it didn't seem to catch fire. What finally worked was several months of razor scootering to help him get his sense of balance. That and the promise of a new helmet and gloves did the trick. YMMV !

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFitz View Post
    ...and the promise of a new helmet and gloves did the trick.
    That was a big motivator for my son to make the switch from a balance bike to a pedal bike as well. I told him we could get a new helmet when he learned to ride his new bike.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal View Post
    Note that most 12" pedal bikes have a much higher minimum 'saddle to ground' measurement than a balance bike. It has to be higher to accomdate the crank. If your kid needed the balance bike seat almost all the way down, a normal 12" pedal bike will be too large.
    That was my thought as well. My son got the Specialized Hotwalk balance bike. He has long legs, but I had to modify it by cutting the seatube and a piece of the saddle so it could drop even lower. He was 1, going on 2, at the time and there's no way he could have started on a pedal bike with the pedals removed at such an early age, at least not with the ones we saw around. He wouldn't have been able to reach the floor. Now for older kids or kids with really long legs, removing the pedals of a 12" bike may work.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by julioardz View Post
    Now for older kids or kids with really long legs, removing the pedals of a 12" bike may work.
    My son just turned 4. I had him on a Specialized 16 with training wheels. However, it is a bit too big to use as a balance bike. Then I bought him a Novara 12 bike and took the crank, training wheels off and the size is right, but it does still weigh about 14 lbs.

    He is only interested in riding his 12 inch modified Novara balance bike with me when I go riding on bumpy, cobbly trails. He did fine one time I took him.

    When I take him to the park or try to get him to use his modified balance bike in the neighborhood he will use it for about 1 or 2 minutes, he just isn't interested. I tried to get him to coast down a grassy hill and he insisted on going to the top and was a little scared going down and then lost interest.

    A couple of times he said he wanted the pedals put on. When I put the pedals on he will pedal about 30 feet and then stop and say he is done. He has not crashed, and he seems coordinated to do it, but he just doesn't want to yet.

    I don't think it makes much difference whether his bike weighs 14 pounds or if I got him a Strider that weighs 7 pounds. I also got him a push scooter and he was really interested in it at first, but now is not very interested at all.

    I think he will get there, maybe a few more months or a year. He loves!!! the idea of riding with me, but not enough to really try.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks
    Bill

  18. #18
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    Have you tried some sort of reinforcer? My son did and still does anything for stickers. I tell him he can have stickers after a long ride. We get home and I'll let him have some stickers which he sticks on his bike. This also worked to get him potty trained before he was 2. Offering to get him a new helmet when he transitioned from a balance to a pedal bike also helped. The trick is to find something that your child is really interested in. Stickers, a small toy, a handful of M&M's or Goldfish, whatever will motivate him, and of course, lots of verbal praise for his hard work.

    This and some time should do the trick. They'll do it when they're ready.

  19. #19
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    You can't push them too hard. I made that mistake with my daughter. She's an incredible little athlete, and was riding her 12" bike like a pro at age 3, until she had one bad crash. She refused to get back on the bike - which made me upset - which made me push her to get back on - which solidified her resolve not to. She spent almost 2 years not riding at all, until one day she pops up and says 'I want to ride again'. We'd gotten rid of the 12" and replaced it with a 16" Hotrock. It took her about 15 seconds to get used to it and she's back to being a little pro - did her first mtb race back last summer and beat a lot of boys that were older than her. She's since moved on to a nice geared 20" bike.

    It's still frustrating at times as she'll decide she'd rather ride her scooter, or climb trees, or play Frisbee or whatever - than ride her bike. I just have to keep reminding myself she's a small kid and she's doing what she enjoys - not what I enjoy. So encourage, but don't mandate and back off and give them some room. It's got to be a positive, fun experience for them if they're going to develop a love for it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by julioardz View Post
    Have you tried some sort of reinforcer?
    Not really, except to tell him he can ride with me and his sister "where there are rattlesnakes" when he can pedal. I can't think of any bigger encentive than the adventure of biking alongside rattlesnakes .

    Quote Originally Posted by julioardz View Post
    This and some time should do the trick. They'll do it when they're ready.
    Yes time and patience for me

    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal View Post
    You can't push them too hard. I made that mistake with my daughter. She's an incredible little athlete, and was riding her 12" bike like a pro at age 3, until she had one bad crash. She refused to get back on the bike - which made me upset - which made me push her to get back on - which solidified her resolve not to.
    Sounds like me

    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal View Post
    It's still frustrating at times as she'll decide she'd rather ride her scooter, or climb trees, or play Frisbee or whatever - than ride her bike. I just have to keep reminding myself she's a small kid and she's doing what she enjoys - not what I enjoy.
    Yep, sounds like my son and his 8 year old sister.

    I am buying my son some Bell brand Spiderman gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads He said he would like some protection.

    Yesterday I brought my dog along on my bike ride with my daughter and she REALLY enjoyed that!!!!

    Thanks Bill

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCMTB View Post
    The first boy even rode his bike into our rock front yard and said, "Look dad, I'm mountain biking".
    My 3 year old rides up to curbs and smashes into them, than lifts his strider up and walks up the curb.

    I assume he saw me riding over curbs on my bike and now he thinks it's cool. It cracks me up...he goes totally out of his way to do it!

  22. #22
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    I have been working with my 4 year daughter. She is riding the balance bike pretty well, but hasnt made any long glides yet. We are on the cusp of pedaling so I am now on the look out for a 12''er and a tag a long. With the tag we can go for longer rides that currently we are just using a trailer for. It will be great when she can pedal on her own and we use the trailer for "picnic".


    Our balance bike is wooden. I liked the look of it more than the metal models.
    Northern Virginia.

  23. #23
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    My son made some huge gains recently. I realized he was not ready for pedals, so I took of the crank, chain, etc. I took him to the trailhead where I usually ride and he was gliding his bike a little on the asphalt road into the parking lot. Then he started gliding down a really long hill and was having a blast!!! He was holding his feet up and insisted on going back up the hill several times. He begged to go back the next day and we did and he had fun. He had a bit of a problem with going to fast and I tought him to his the rear hand brake. Tonight he wants to go to a nearby park and bring his bike and I will. I'm not sure when he will be ready for pedals or will want them, but I will let him decide and do what he wants to on his bike!!

    No going back to training wheels for me and I wish I had never put them on his bike.
    Life is good....
    Bill

  24. #24
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    My oldest was similar, scooted for a while, then (FINALLY, I tried really hard not to push her) she asked me to put the pedals on. In about 10 minutes she was riding up and down the driveway without stopping to turn around, then pulled a perfect power-slide! That's now her younger sister's bike and she's getting a 20" soon.

  25. #25
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    My boy is 2 and loves his bike. I put pegs on the front and he just puts his feet up there and coasts. I've taken him everywhere to ride that thing. My experience with the balance bike concept.-imageuploadedbytapatalk1355611329.109096.jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails My experience with the balance bike concept.-imageuploadedbytapatalk1355611249.158478.jpg  


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