Family Friday Favorites Obsessions

Going from Balance Bike to Pedal Bike without Training Wheels

Our son is 4 years old and can ride a bike. Like REALLY ride a bike – no training wheels, nada.  And the best part is there was maybe 5 falls in the one hour it took for him to ‘figure it out’ with barely any coaching from us.  Which is great, because riding a bike is one of those things you don’t realize is incredibly hard to teach.  It’s one of those things that despite how well you can ride a bike or how long you have been riding will ease, the best advice you can muster is – look in front of you, keep pedaling and stay straight.  Exactly how one does those things at the same time is pretty much a crap shoot of ‘eh figure it out kid’.

When Avery was 2 we got him his first bike.  A Yedoo Too Too balance bike.  After an insane amount of research (which you can read about here), we opted for a balance bike after researching promises that he would then go straight to a pedal bike.  It made sense.  The balance bike quickly taught him the innate skills necessary to stay on a bike (pedals or not).  He learned how to steer, balance and use a hand brake.  So when Christmas rolled around and he was getting tall for his balance bike, we decided to chance it with the pedal bike.

Again, I turned to Twowheelingtots.com for research.  This is the website we used to settle on the ‘right’ balance bike for Avery’s age, height and weight – which if you are in the market for a balance bike REALLY does make a difference in your kiddo’s success riding.

We ultimately decided we needed to find a lighter weight bike with 16 inch wheels, a hand brake and no reverse pedal brake. The most important of these being no reverse pedal brake – which is surprisingly hard to find. The reason a reverse pedal brake isn’t great is twofold: when kids are trying to learn how to pedal and coordinate that movement they inevitably will reverse and when there is a reverse pedal brake this will ultimately cause them to fall.  Also, it’s not intuitive, so when they actually need to brake and stop it’s not the obvious movement to do so.  Not to mention when they stop – they fall – so if their feet are busy back pedaling, they can’t put them down to keep from tipping over in a heap of scraped elbows and knees.

We opted for the Woom 3.  Yes, it is on the pricier side, but well worth every penny.  First of all the Woom Bikes are about 40% lighter than most which means easier to ride.  Since lighter bikes are easier to maneuver, kids are more confident, allowing them to learn to ride faster than on most other bikes.  This became apparent when our son, who has confidently been riding his Woom, borrowed a friend’s heavier reverse brake bike at the park and struggled A LOT to ride it.  Also, the bikes are insanely high quality – most of the parts are made exclusively for Woom and because it’s a family run business (which I always love supporting) there is a lot more care and attention to detail in everything from the construction of the bikes themselves to the customer service.  We opted for a model with 16 inch wheels so it will fit him for about 2-3 years – many store-bought starter bikes are 14 inch wheels which are cheaper but only last for a year or so until your child grows out of them.  The best part is after he grows out of it, we can hand it down to his brother OR use Woom Bike’s amazing UpCycle program which allows you to turn in the outgrown bike and put 40% of its value toward the purchase of a new one (which is pretty awesome).  We obviously went with red for our Spiderman loving little man and got the matching red helmet with white racing stripes.

We were nervously excited about Avery’s ‘big’ Christmas present when we ordered the bike. It all could have ended very very poorly.  I’m not going to lie if I didn’t say that Christmas Eve as we were setting it out to surprise him, my husband and I both had second thoughts.  What if he couldn’t ride it? What if basically the only thing under the tree for him other than clothes and a book was a frustrating reminder of something he couldn’t do.

But here’s the thing, he COULD do it.

Christmas day he couldn’t wait to go straight to the park and ride it.  We hopped in the car, bike in tow, and headed to the park with nervous excitement.  Within 3 tries he was off and riding.  The hardest part for him was figuring out how to get ‘started’.  It took a couple tries for him to coordinate pushing off, staying balanced and finding the pedals to start pedaling.  But within the two hours we were at the park he had it down.

Within a week he was riding his bike to and from the park, to the coffee shop, all around.  Now when he rides we often get people staring and asking how old he is – because it really is quite a sight to see a 35 lb, 4-year-old tearing around town on a pedal bike without training wheels.  Oh and as for being a confident rider – we had to institute a ‘tricks at the park only’ rule because he was riding out of the saddle, riding with one hand only, trying with no hands, and attempting to pop a wheelie.  Who knows maybe he will be a little BMX rider some day.  (Hopefully not – not sure my anxiety could handle him in extreme sports).  But either way – he is 4 years old and riding a pedal bike without spending a day on training wheels which is pretty awesome.

So…lessons learned:

  1. ABSOLUTELY get a balance bike as your kid’s first bike.
  2. Do your research on the ‘right’ bike for your child.  Height and weight matter – not all bikes are created equal and the weight and maneuverability of the bike will make a difference in your child’s success (or lack thereof.)
  3. The Woom bike is awesome.  It looks great, the quality is AMAZING (and at the price it should be), but seriously, it’s worth EVERY penny.  Not to mention you can retain 40% of the value by using the upcycle program when your child grows into the next size.

The price tag might give you a slight heart attack, BUT I will say that our son has ridden his bike (or BEGGED to) EVERY day since Christmas.  It’s one of those gifts (unlike many toys) that lasts and doesn’t lose it’s luster.  We are all super happy with it and can’t wait until Luca is a little older so he can start zooming around on Avery’s old balance bike alongside his big brother.  The only problem is how FAST he rides and how fast I have to walk/run to keep up (although a little extra jogging never hurts!)

 

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