If your tot is dragging his heels on the ground but clinging steadfastly to the four-wheeled comfort of the Bugaboo, you might be thinking it’s time to get them some independent wheels.
‘The balance bike is the better option than stabilisers’ say the experts at Evans. ‘Some balance bikes have a short rubber strap that connects the fork to the frame and keeps the handlebars facing forward. This is really useful as it means that steering is also taken out of the equation until your little cyclist is ready and the strap can be removed.The benefit is that balance bikes enable your young rider to learn to scoot along using their feet while getting to grips with the basics of balancing, free from other complications. Take a look at the Pinnacle Tineo for a good example of a balance bike.’
For very young children try the adorable Juno Early Rider Spherovelo: described as
SM Tip: don’t leave wooden frame balance bikes outdoors as they’ll rot in the rain, sounds obvious, I know, but easily done!
Slightly older toddler? Evans say ‘The first golden rule is to ensure that you buy a bike that fits your child properly. It also needs to be suitable for their abilities so try to avoid getting something that they will grow into. The danger of buying something too big for them is that until they get big enough, your child will be attempting to ride a bike that will be too heavy, difficult or dangerous for them to use.The second golden rule is to buy the best children’s bike you can. A good quality bike will last for many years, be light and manoeuvrable and made using decent parts that need don’t need constant attention. You want to get your child a bike they won’t want to stop riding.Children’s bike sizes are referenced by wheel size diameter. We can estimate a suggested wheel size for a child based on age, but it’s best to have them test ride a bike as obviously height will vary. In general, the main difference you find in a larger wheel size is in the longer distance between the saddle and the handlebar, coupled with a longer wheelbase. If the bike is too long, when the child turns the handlebar, you will see they are forced to stretch too far, reducing control.’
Now you have the wheels, how to get them motivated? Bikehub suggests either running alongside the little cyclist or using a stick to support the bike and thus save your back… They also suggest letting the child coast along and then let go – a method they call ‘scoot scoot weeeeee’. Bikehub’s Number One tip: Do. Not. Use. Stabilisers.
The best place to teach them, according to David Dansky from Cycle Training UK, is somewhere with lots of room. ‘Go for a wide, flat expanse of tarmac, rather than grass,’ he says. ‘You might be tempted to use grass because you’re afraid he’ll fall, but grass is much harder to ride on than tarmac…’
Editor’s tip: check out the range of Father and Baby cycle wear from Plain Lazy