Our kiddo is in balance bike land still and not onto pedals yet, but I do have some thoughts:

  • Make the bike available This might mean, yes, having the bike indoors, especially at first. This gets them more exposure to it earlier on. If it's hidden away in the garage except when you bring it out, it can feel forced on the child. When it's available to them at any time, they can go check it out when they're interested, even if it's only to spin the wheels while it lays on the floor.
  • Be patient. No, really, be patient Many of my other parent friends comment that their kids are "only walking with the balance bike, they're not even sitting on the saddle". This is normal, they'll stand and walk, then sit and walk, and only then will they begin to experiment with picking up their feet. Let them learn on their own pace, and they will mostly teach themselves. This may take months to over a year. It feels slow in the moment, but by starting early, the end result is going to be full on bike riding well before they ever would be with training wheels. We started the whole process at about age 1.25, and only now at 2.5 is she really starting to glide much. Even if it takes another year to move onto pedals, that would still be a fully fledged biker at just age 3.5!!!
  • Avoid training wheels More than just not teaching balance, they can actively teach unbalance, so that when you take them off, a child has to unlearn before they can start learning the right way. Training wheels are a solution to a problem that didn't need to exist (poorly designed frames with seats too high off the ground and high centers of gravity), and are obsolete. They may have some uses for children with special needs, but I simply cannot endorse them for most kids.
  • Be a cyclist yourself / Focus on the fun It can be tempting to think of it as just teaching them a life skill, something that they should be learning only for the sake of learning it. Instead, keep it more to the tune of how the bike can take you on adventures, either faster than walking, or maybe even places you couldn't get to by walking. If they don't see you ever biking, why should they want to? Ride it to the park/playground, ride it to the beach, ride it to go watch some frogs in the pond. Kids also love riding bike/skate parks or "pump tracks" where there is undulating terrain, whether dirt or paved.
  • Bring snacks, but avoid bribing Snacks are so so important for any small kid outing, but they should want to ride their bike for biking itself, not as a means to an end.
  • Spend a little more This one is maybe a little controversial, and I know everyone's financial situation is different, but seriously, consider going a little higher budget than what you maybe initially think. A kid's bike isn't just a throwaway toy, it's a gateway to fun and independence that they crave. In particular go for something from a dedicated bike shop rather than Target or Walmart if you can. Your kids are worth it. More expensive bikes are generally more lightweight and better designed in the way they are shaped. A general guideline is that a bike shouldn't be any heavier than 30% of their weight. Can you imagine if me, a 200 lb. adult had to ride a 100 lb. non-electric bike (50%)? Yeah, not fun, and it's not so fun for the kids either, they just don't know any different if they've never experienced a bike truly designed for them. Check out this Instragram video where even proficient riders struggle with cheap bikes https://www.instagram.com/p/CH0IllxjLyT/.

    When your kid outgrows it and it's time to sell, more expensive bikes also hold their value better, so once you factor that in, you're also probably not spending all that much more net (compare getting an $80 bike that you end up having to give away free vs. a $250 bike that you sell for $150: in the end you've spent a little more, $20, but your kid has had a much better experience). Any bike is better than no bike, but if you can swing it I seriously have to urge going up a little in price.
  • Go give a look to twowheelingtots.com This is my ultimate resource for everything kids biking related. It is so comprehensive, unbiased, and thorough. Every review they have they have personally tested, and they have tested hundreds, maybe even thousands of bikes, bike trailers, and other bike accessories. The Instagram video above is from them.
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