What is a balance bike?

Balance bikes are a great teaching tool for helping kids learn how to ride a bike. They can build confidence and learn how to balance so that they'll be ready to make the step up to a pedal bike.

In this article, we'll cover:

  • What is a balance bike?
  • How to ride a balance bike
  • Balance bikes v bikes with stabilisers
  • Balance bike age recommendation

What is a balance bike?

The first thing you'll notice is that balance bikes don't have pedals, gears or, in many cases, even brakes.

Learning to ride a bike requires some serious coordination. There's pedalling, steering, balancing, and braking – and that's before they've even made it off the driveway.

Instead of overwhelming children with so many new skills, a balance bike focuses on just balance and steering - the two most challenging cycling skills to master.

They can glide along on balance bikes, enjoying the freedom of two wheels while building up the skills and confidence they need to ride a pedal bike.

How to ride a balance bike

When your little one gets their balance bike, they may 'walk' the bike - holding onto the handlebars and walking alongside it.

Over time they will learn to sit on the saddle and scoot with their feet. Eventually, your child will start to glide along, picking their feet up off the floor and balancing. Once they've mastered gliding and the ability to steer around obstacles, they're ready to transition to a pedal bike.

On balance bikes with no brakes, your child uses their feet to speed up and slow down.

Balance bikes vs stabilisers: what do I need?

Many of us learnt to ride a bike with stabilisers, and we're proof that they work! However, the problem with stabilisers is that many children become reliant on them, preventing kids from developing their balancing skills.

Counter steering is the correct way to steer a pedal bike. On paper, it sounds odd, but counter steering works by leaning into a corner and turning the handlebars the other way. It's efficient and effective, but it's a skill you need to master.

Many children lean on the stabilisers and aren't counter steering. When the stabilisers come off, kids must learn how to balance and steer all over again, which can be frustrating and dent their confidence.

Once a child is ready to transition from a balance bike to a pedal bike, the only skills they need learn are pedalling and braking. These skills are so easy to master that many kids complete this transition within a day. Many parents also argue that children who start out on balance bikes learn to ride a bike much earlier than children who begin with stabilisers.

Balance bikes are durable and reliable. They easily roll on tarmac or rougher surfaces, and they're an ideal way to help your child keep up on family outings. But what age kids are they suitable for?

Recommended balance bike age

Balance bikes are suitable as first bikes and are ideal for kids from 3 years old. They're also an excellent way for kids to find their feet before progressing to pedal bikes.

When shopping online or in store, you'll see that most of our 12-16" bikes come with stabilisers to provide support. Don't worry; it's safe and straightforward to remove the stabilisers with standards tools. It should take you a few minutes to remove them when your child is ready to ride without them.

Buy a balance bike at Halfords

Halfords is the ideal place to pick up a kid's balance bike. Check out our wide range of balance bikes and choose from the UK’s biggest brands, including Apollo and Carrera. Before buying, check out our Balance Bikes Buying Guide if you need more information.

We know you'll want to ensure the first bike you buy your child is the right bike. You can also visit your nearest Halfords, where one of our helpful bike technicians can chat you through our range and help you choose. Bring your little one along, and they can even take one for a test ride.

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