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Encourage Toddler to Bike

Any tips to encourage a toddler (2 years old) to use their balance bike? I understand that toddlers generally only do what they want to do, but I’m looking for any tips or tricks to encourage more riding. 

9 Replies

Hey @Buzz281 aren't balance bikes the best, I've got my second son (3yo) on one now.  Last summer when we was two he wasn't super comfortable and didn't want to ride it much, but this year was a totally different story!  He is all about it and wants to ride everyday; so my advice is don't give up, he just might not be ready yet.  

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I would see two ways: one would be to get on your own bike. I think kids always want to be like their parents in some way.
Another one is if you have a friend with a child who balance bikes, it'll spur them on.

Be patient, and have the bike available to him/her on outings, etc. I think it'll come eventually!

My nephews all balance biked, and once they did it made walking with them much faster!


My toddler didn't get the memo on strider bikes.  But he loved riding a regular bike with training wheels.  Strider bikes aren't the only way to get kids into biking. The training wheels eventually came off, and hes was riding his 12 inch wheel bike around the pump track with confidence.  Now he is a competent mt biker at age 5.   The end goal was achieved even if he never got into his strider bike.    


Lots of folks are mentioning the strider bike and I agree with that. While at two, your toddler might be a little bit big but there is a rocking base that turns a strider bike into essentially a rocking horse (bike). Kids really like this as it takes less balance and is fun for them. After that, you pull the strider off the rocking base and let them rip around on their own.

The other main suggestion that I have is to make sure to do a bunch of fun cycling activities. If you have access to a pull behind trailer, pull them in that to the ice cream shop or to the playground. Attach their bike to it so they can attempt to ride a bit like the adults and older kids if they want. If others are having fun biking, they will want to too. The trailer and other activities reduces pressure on them to ride if they aren't comfortable right off and associates biking with fun.

paul trusty

I think the biggest thing you can do to encourage cycling in toddlers is to let them see you on your bike and involve them in cycling WITH you! 

Also, my #1 advice- get them a bell for the handlebars!!!  OMG, toddlers love to ring bells.  Also a fun helmet.

We have been pulling our daughter in a Burly trailer since she was old enough to sit up comfortably, so she has gotten used to being around bikes from an early age.  We got her a balance bike when she was about 18 months old- she walked around with it a few times, but wasn't very interested in it until she was closer to 2, and then she totally took off.  By the time she was 2.5, we upgraded from our Burly trailer to a Weehoo trailer- this is an open trailer where the kid sits in a recumbant seat and can pedal (or not) while no longer being enclosed.  This was great for us beacuse she could choose to pedal if she wanted to, but otherwise could simply sit and enjoy the ride (for the record, I also attached a bike bell to the handlebars of her trailer!).

We got my daughter a small mountain bike with training wheels around the same time that we bought the Weehoo (she is not 3 yet, but is taller than many 4 year olds, so she had outgrown her balance bike and needed something bigger anyway), and I think that having the foundation of comfortably pedalling on the Weehoo trailer really helped her jump right into riding the regular bike!  She's only 2 and 10months now, but she can rip up and down our street on her bike with pedals and training wheels so fast that I can hardly keep up with her running.

So, 1) keep it fun (and get a bell)!!, 2) have them ride WITH you and see you having fun while riding, and 3) don't try to force it.  I highly recommend the Weehoo trailer!




There are some cool videos out there of kids doing tricks on balance bikes, or there are even some balance bike races. Seeing some of that may get them excited about it. 


Our daughter only took to it around 2.5 years, but we kept it close by and easily accessible often until that time. We also have a Burley that got good use up to tha point, and even now for longer rides. 

Some kids seem to take to it sooner or later than that, but having managed bike shops for many years I saw a lot of kids who were aspiring riders, and the common theme seems to be keep the pressure off and it will come.


Smarties.  The colored candy that's in a roll.  Basically pure sugar?  I'd have my son do laps around the house (yes inside).  One lap, one smarty. Eventually two laps, two smarties.  We did a lot of riding inside then we was ready to go outside.



We started our daughter on a strider at about 2.5yrs. We took it with us whenever we went to the local parks, camping, mellow hikes, etc. She wasn't all that interested in riding it consistently (10 - 15min bursts) but it was there for her to use, no pressure. What really made things take off was her seeing other kids riding at the park and then ultimately, going to a local bike park with a kid-size pump track and small wooden features (teeter-totters, ramps, rollers, not BC-style hucks!). That was a total game changer and now she's obessed.

Small Pump tracks are great for scoot-type bikes since it will get your tyke learning to ride their bike up and down the small rollers and get them used to gliding.