Wearing a helmet on a balance bike—as on any other bike—is another must. The sooner your child gets used to it, the better. Shop for a helmet together, and let the little biker express his or her opinion. Make it a treat!
Wearing bright colors or a safety vest is also recommended, ideally with reflective elements so he is readily visible. As for shoes, balance bikes are called “run bikes” in many languages, which means that flip-flops will not do—her toes should be covered and ankles fixed.
Tips for Using a Balance Bike
What are some tips to help my child master riding a balance bike?
Keep in mind that we are talking about children between 2 and 5 years old, so the ideal place to ride a balance bike is a park or a neighborhood with little to no traffic. Begin on flat terrain and gradually upgrade to small hills. Although braking with his own feet is very intuitive, always guide him and remind him to slow down if necessary.
Around the age of 2½ to 3 years, children are able to operate a hand brake provided it is gentle enough for their little fingers. Show her how it works and motivate her to practice braking (e.g. draw a line on a street and tell her to stop on it).
When should my child transition from a balance bike to a regular pedaled bike?
The transition usually happens at age 4 or 5 when kids are stronger and taller. Pedal bikes are two to three times heavier than balance bikes and children need more power to ride them as smoothly as balance bikes.
From a balance bike, such as FirstBIKE, children learn how to balance and use a hand brake. The only skill they still need to learn is pedaling, however, at the age of 4 or 5, it is a natural transition.
What are the benefits of bike riding as a family?
There are a number of sporting activities that can engage even the youngest children. These activities generally fall into two categories: those that demand too much in terms of time and money, making them less accessible to most families, such as tennis or skiing, and those that are natural, easy, and socially open activities, which almost every family can frequently enjoy, such as cycling.
Riding a bicycle is one of the basic physical activities most children learn from a young age and further build on in the future. In the past, biking was part of the physical literacy of almost every child. In the same way we want our kids to be able to run, jump, throw a ball, or swim, we want them to learn to ride a bike.
Cycling is not only a lot of fun, it also connects people and fosters relationships—children love to explore the outdoors on bikes with their parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. The magic of biking is that it puts the entire family in motion—little bikers often encourage adults to get up and moving, too.
Joseph Rumley is chief marketing officer of FirstBIKE, a Netherlands-based balance bike manufacturing company. FirstBIKE was developed by Ralf Coerschulte, an avid German cyclist, product designer, and father of three, with the goal to build the best balance bike for younger children, allowing them to learn to ride a bike intuitively and without stress.