Time to start a pedal bike or a bigger balance bike?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Time to start a pedal bike or a bigger balance bike?

    Hi everyone, don't think I've posted to mtbr since having kids but now I'm enjoying this sub forum immensely!

    My son is turning 5 next week. Due to a syndrome, he is very small (about 36" tall with a 14" inseam) and is developmentally and cognitively delayed. He's perhaps more like a typical 3 year old. He generally follows the typical progression of most kids just at his own, much slower pace. On the plus side, clothes and gear tend to fit him for years!

    He's been on a strider since about age 2.5 but didn't start sitting and coasting until this past winter around age 4. He's having a ton of fun riding for miles all over town, the pump track, and some mellow singletrack. The foam wheels are giving him trouble with traction and the lack of a brake is becoming an issue. Wish we'd gotten him a balance bike with brakes and air tires to begin with, but here we are. As far as pedals go, I'm not sure if he's ready. He won't pedal his tricycle, instead preferring to walk with it between his legs like he used to do the strider. His sister is typically developing and will be ready to steal the strider in a few months (It's going to be interesting as they'll be the same size in probably a couple years and then the tables will turn and she'll be the bigger one passing things down to him).

    He will just fit on a woom 1 plus, which is a 14" balance bike (using a strider seat and with surf deck removed) and I'd probably also swap the bars for less rise to start. He's tried one and loved it, here's a video:

    http://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipOYfeaFefrlOdlMkebT8GWVsETmoGuifOIsIZOHNoVafz 26UCdXlOYgxtES098zSg?key=NzVsdThibmRMbzBTUEUyUXY2N lpvV2dmeHMwN2Zn* *

    Or does it make more sense to get a 14" pedal bike like the Spawn Yoji 14 (may need to swap in a lower riser bar)? Other options might be the Park or Vitus but from what I've read on here the Spawn seems like the way to go. I could start him on it by taking the cranks and pedals off for him to enjoy it as a balance bike for a while.

    I'm guessing once I put the pedals on, he'll have a fairly long period where he wants to still use a balance bike on occasion and I don't want to be taking the pedals and cranks on and off all the time. Does the woom 1 plus fill a useful niche before I end up buying a pedal bike and while he learns to pedal? Not sure if his sister would use the woom 1 plus much as she'd have had plenty of time on the strider and could go to a pedal bike by then I'd hope (in which case maybe I should get my son a 12" balance bike with brakes that has a seat that can get high like the pello ripple so both kids can potentially benefit from it). For what it's worth, I don't think he'll fit on a Yoji 16 until around age 8 (in 3 yrs).

    Curious to hear any insights you all have. How long did your kids spend using both pedal and balance bikes or did they make the switch and never look back? My wife and I are very into mountain biking and hope to get our kids into it. So far so good as he loves it! Thanks.

    Here are some videos of him on his strider:

    http://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipP2oERGAW3P4WSTgnvKceFG49cjn8cPRAV1GTVeUXeSVN meyCigjS1g5mDFU839UQ?key=ZWhvSXQxc0M4S3RBU1dqdVV5T mczWUxGeGpvcmtn**

    http://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipN7SvZ9wH8ZWfS4CZaqhZNd1WXo_MsJ7Mdity4x4QME3l vaur0D1PFmYhg1OjfB5Q/photo/AF1QipO-yypnwzHigVqrIAg6qF-byUaCSbL8DiynXHt-?key=RDd0WENJakJtZExKNzJ2c3V1bERhMXZ4eDlodXF3*

  2. #2
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    I got my kid a strider with a fantasy of him learning at age 1.5, but he didn't really get it until 2 and not good until 2.5. And then he needed air tires and brakes at age 3. I got him a 12" bike and pulled off the crank, but a better balance bike would have been just as good as it turned out. He got good enough to really swoop around on that. Meanwhile as far as learning to pedal, he had tricycles at preschool, and a Big Wheel. He wasn't ready to pedal and balance together until 4 and big enough for a 16er. He didn't want to start on the 16er even though he obviously had the skill. We took away the balance bike and he rebelled, we probably could have done better but he's a contrary cuss Mom hectored him into doing it right and he's fine now!

  3. #3
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    Time to start a pedal bike or a bigger balance bike?

    My daughter at 4 went from cruzee (strider equiv) to Spawn banshee 16” I took the cranks and pedals off when she got onto the banshee and she had it like that for a few weeks getting used to brakes and coasting with feet off the ground. Then pedals and cranks back on and there they stayed.


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  4. #4
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    From another forum I posted in,

    We set up her 16” Spawn as a run bike for a week or so and then on again with the crank/pedals and she was away.

    The following is her progression over 4 weeks.







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  5. #5
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    We started my youngest on his 3rd birthday. Similar size as OP kid. I took a Spawn Yoji 16" and swapped the cranks and a smaller chainring that came with the smaller cranks. Put flat bars on it. Worked great as a pedal-starter-bike. I pulled the cranks for the first 15mins to see how he'd do riding it as a balance bike. Then I put them back on and in about 30mins he was pedaling around. YMMV but it worked ok as a balance bike. The 14" is quite small and will work at this size really well, then its definitely going to need to be ridden standing only as a BMX style bike.

    For us the 16" worked great as it fit more like a traditional pedal bike at first...then as he grew and started to grew, it fit like a rigid dirt jumper/off road BMX and has worked great. It wasn't a bad process and worked well. If I had to do it again, I'd do the same thing.

    The only advice beyond that is to get them standing and pedaling sooner than later. Its the real game changer. Biking just isn't that amazing for kids until they can stand and jam. What worked best for us was just on pavement (with pads/gloves) and get them coasting while standing with flat pedals. Back and forth...ideally something with just a touch of slope to it. Then once they have the balance of flat pedal coasting while standing...they can sneak in a few pedal strokes. If you can bribe them etc. do it, as long as it works .

    Eitherway, he'll be riding the bike at somepoint, no harm in trying it out now. If it doesn't work, you can use it as a larger balance bike or shelve it for 6mo. He won't be close to being too big for it either. Good luck!

  6. #6
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    My 3.5yr old and 39” tall daughter loves her Yoji 14”. The fit is pretty spot on but I like to share some details.

    1. The stem is bmx style front load. You can lower the stack by reverse it and put it below all the spacers. However, I have to keep a 5mm spacer to avoid the headset interfering with the stem. I wish Spawn just makes the stem 1mm longer!

    2. The bar diameter is 19mm all the way, including the grip area. It provides proper grip and brake sizes for kid this age. However, changing bar likely requires new brake levers and grips. Yoji 16” uses normal 22.2mm grip diameter.

    3. The V-brake spring is stupidly strong. Bending the spring can lower the force required at lever. I cannot bent them identically left to right, but there are set screws to adjust the balance.

    4. If necessary, roll the bar backward to reduce both stack and reach. The sweep will be strange, but it works reasonably well for my daughter. She probably needs another 1-2” height for me to roll it back to normal. I use the “Ride Area Distance” concept by Lee McCormack to check her fit. Basically, the distance from hand to feet when standing, should be the same as the BB to bar distance. This allows maximum extension on bike without compromising movement. Be mindful that the formula on Lee’s website will not fit kid this age, since the body proportion is quite different comparing to adults.

  7. #7
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    Thanks everyone. The 14" options (woom 1 plus, yoji 14 with cranks removed) are now seeming a little on the big side for where he's at. Yes, he'll grow into the pedal bike but I'm thinking he could really benefit from a small bike like his strider but with brakes and air tires. He's just starting to work up to some bigger features in the pump track and I think he wouldn't be able to manage the big bike on that stuff yet. Remember he grows sooo slow.

  8. #8
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    Another option you might consider is a Cleary Gecko with 12" tires - our 5 year old who is 5th percentile got a lot of use out of it, first as a balance pike with pedals removed and then as a pedal bike. He then went straight to a 16". It will fit 12" x 2.25" Vee tire crown gems which makes it look like mini fat bike.

  9. #9
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    How high do you have the seatpost on the Strider currently?

    Spawn's recommendation are minimum 14" inseam / 35" height, which it sounds like your son is already at -- he actually looks pretty close to the same size my son was when he started on his Yoji last year at 3.

    Based on how high the seat is on his Strider in those videos, I don't think he'd have any problems riding the Yoji.

    As you look around, pay close attention to the geometry numbers -- some 12" bikes like the Gecko and most of the BMX bikes I've looked at actually have higher saddle heights than the Yoji (mostly due to Spawn using Pivotal saddles with a lower stack height).

    The list of adjustments that you can make make for fit, in approximate order of what I'd recommend trying:
    • Saddle all the way down with the optional 125mm seatpost
    • Stem flipped upside down
    • Spacers moved from below stem to above it (might need still need some below so prevent the stem from rubbing against the headtube)
    • Handlebars tilted slightly more backward
    • Flat bar from Cleary (sized to support the 19mm grips and brake levers on the Yoji): https://www.clearybikes.com/products...20208659955810
    • Stem reversed (clamp towards the seat instead of towards the front) w/ Cleary bars


    A big advantage of the Yoji vs. some of the other similar bikes is that it uses cassette cogs, which means you can start out with easier gearing (may be important if he's also behind in strength developmentally). Note that if you go much bigger than the stock cog, you'll also need to get a longer chain -- any standard 3/32" 7/8 speed chain will do.

  10. #10
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    My son went to a pedal bike on his 3rd birthday. Transition took a while (6 months to a year) but the strider style is a dead end for progression... As mentioned here, Yoji seems to have the lowest stand over. It's really light weight too.

  11. #11
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    Note that if you really do want to stick with a balance bike, we also liked the Joovy Bicycoo BMX:
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Joovy-Bic...-Blue/55378750

    It's taller than the Strider and has a hand brake and air tires -- like the Yoji, the minimum saddle height starts around 14".

    It's also about half the weight and a fraction of the price of the Yoji. Main downside to the design is that you can't really do much adjustment to the fit other than the saddle height.

    Even after starting to pedal, my son still preferred the balance bike for trips to the skatepark and pump track.

    I'd disagree that balance bikes are a dead end for progression -- with my son I've seen them as a good platform for trying out new things in a less intimidating way and practicing more aggressive riding like tighter leans into turns.

    The downside was forming habits that he needed to break, particularly riding sitting down with feet out to the sides to maintain balance downhill vs. standing up in an attack position.

  12. #12
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    I don't want to start an argument but the issue with balance bikes is the sitting down. Gotta start standing on the pedals to progress; otherwise you're just along for the ride. Then, learn to pump, which you can't do sitting down. I don't think all kids want to be hucking jumps, racing across gnar, and throwing whips like in Youtube videos, so you might be ok, but mine sure does and none of that's happening sitting down.

  13. #13
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    Thanks Tim, great feedback in both of your posts. The woom 1 plus has a skate deck that attaches to the underside to encourage putting feet there and perhaps eventually standing.
    Good to know I'm not way off on sizing.

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