Why A Reliable Toddler Bike is Key For Teaching Kids to Ride A Bike
Your little tyke is ready to start bike riding, but you’re not sure where to start with teaching them. Deciding between training wheels on a full-sized bike, a push bike that doesn’t have any pedals or a baby trike with three wheels can make your head spin with options. But since teaching your child the ins and outs of properly riding a bicycle is important, you want to do it right.
Keep reading for more information on what you should consider before making an official purchase and first, what a toddler bike is in the first place (because you may have never even heard of one). In this post we’ll go through the features of our smarTrike version of this bike without pedals, why it’s important to note your child’s age, height, and weight, and we’ll explain in more detail some of the finer points you may want to know before buying your child’s first training bike.
Here at smarTrike, we hope to provide you with as much knowledge about our products as possible, ensuring a positive experience for both you and your child. So, go ahead and read on!
To Begin With, What Is a Toddler Bike?
In the simplest terms, it’s a small bicycle without pedals. They solidify some major skills needed to ride a pedal bike -- skills that training wheels and tricycles don’t always account for. Instead of focusing on the motor skills needed for pedaling, a toddler bicycle hones in on balance.
Since riding one of these requires pushing off the ground and gliding along, your child practices steering and control while practicing staying balanced. Optimal balance is a skill often overlooked when teaching kids to ride a bike and is the most common reason children fall when they graduate from tricycles or training wheels to a bicycle.
Presenting Our Toddler Bike -- The smarTrike Balance Bike
At smarTrike, we have an extensive range of tricycles that evolve in stages, perfect for both parents’ wallets and growing children. But we also offer the Balance Bike, a bike without pedals for children who are ready to learn how to ride a bike with a focus on balancing skills.
Like our line of trikes, the Balance Bike grows with your kid as well. Instead of being a one-size-fits-all model, it has an adjustable seat and handlebar. Plus, with an exclusive flip frame feature, our Balance Bike goes from a push bike, where your child’s feet easily touch the ground, to a gliding balance bike, creating more of a challenge.
Which Is Better -- Tricycle or Toddler Bike?
The question shouldn’t be which is better between the two. Really, you should be asking, which product is best for my child? The choice depends on a few elements.
For example, how old is your child? If your child is three years old and has mastered walking and running, the next thing to note is whether or not they’re interested in learning to ride a bike. Most kids will be totally into the idea, but some tiny tots err more on the side of caution. That’s totally fine! But if they’re bugging you about two-wheeled fun, it’s time for their very own toddler bike.
If you’re looking for an option suitable to children well under two years of age, your best bet is buying a smarTrike tricycle first. As you’ll see, these products last from the time your little one is only ten months old, all the way until they’re over two years old. Plus, for much of that time, you’ll remain in control of their speed and direction, which can give you that little bit of extra peace of mind before they’re roaming on their own.
6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Toddler Bike
If you’ve decided your child is ready to learn how to ride a bike and work on their balance, there are a few things to consider before you dive in and purchase a toddler bike. Things like your child’s age, height, and weight will all come into play.
In the next section, we’ll be going into six things to consider before you buy a toddler bike to ensure your child has a safe and comfortable ride, without any potentially painful mishaps. We’ll explore the suggested age range for using our smarTrike Balance Bike, the reason why frame height is important, and other features that make for a smooth experience on a toddler bike.
How Old is Your Child?
The first thing to note is your child’s age. Our smarTrike Balance Bike is the best kids bike for ages three to five years old. This is the recommended age but parental discretion should also come into play.
Our rule of thumb -- the earlier, the better! Get your kid excited to ride a bike as early as possible. Most children get going at around three years old but you can certainly start practicing as early as age two, perhaps if you have a little one who started walking early or one who’s just super into bikes. The sooner they get the hang of their toddler bike, the sooner they’ll have an easy time transitioning to a pedal bike.
Will Your Child’s Feet Touch the Ground?
The length of your child’s inseam will determine whether or not a toddler bike will work for them. When sitting on the bike’s seat, your child’s feet should comfortably reach the ground with slightly bent knees. That way, they’ll be able to “walk” the bike and push off the ground without the bike teetering.
A properly fitted balance bike for toddler allows the seat height to be set between 1” and 1.5” less than a child’s inseam. In Stage 1, our smarTrike Balance Bike has a seat height of 11”, meaning your child’s inseam should be at least 10” in length to be tall enough for this particular toddler bike.
The inseam is the height of the inside of your leg, from crotch to foot. To measure the inseam of your little tyke, as suggested by Two Wheeling Tots, have them stand against a wall with a hardcover book between their legs, raised all the way up to their crotch. Keeping the book against the wall, your child can then move away. Using a measuring tape, calculate the length from the top of the book’s edge to the floor. This length represents your child’s inseam.
Can Your Child Comfortably Stand Over the Toddler Bike’s Frame?
The frame on a toddler bike connects everything together and the more sloped the frame is, the better. This makes it easy for your child to step over the frame and get situated for a fun ride. Most toddler bikes only have one tube that makes up its frame, but some have two, one sloping up and the other sloping down, offering more stability. You’ll know when a bicycle fits your child when they can comfortably stand over the frame.
One reason we have the best toddler bike on the market is that we feature an exclusive flip frame, as mentioned before. This allows for a low swooping tube in Stage 1 for younger riders, ages two to three, accounting for being less skilled at balancing, and therefore needing more stability. Then, as the toddler bike moves to Stage 2, for three-to five-year-old kids, the frame flips to a high swoop for more of a balance challenge.
Account for the Space Between the Seat and the Handlebars
The last thing you want is for your kid to be a) cramped, or b) unable to reach the handlebars. If there’s not enough space between the handlebars and the seat, your child clearly won’t be able to operate the bike properly. If this is the case, chances are they’ve already outgrown it and need another option.
Another thing to look out for is if your little one is having trouble reaching the handles from their seat. This is a safety concern and your child may fall and hurt themselves if they’re too small for the toddler bike. While it’s a good idea to start them off early and get them used to being on a bike from a young age, knowing when is too young will be imperative.
Bearings Can Make a Difference
Even on a bike without pedals, bearings affect how fast and smooth the wheels revolve. Any bicycle (toddler style or not) with sealed bearings, meaning they’re fortified with rubber, will have less friction due to outside dirt or water getting inside and affecting its function.
Sealed bearings do cost more though, and while it’ll be nice for your child to enjoy gentle riding on their toddler bike, it really won’t make all that much of a difference. It’s just something to consider if you prefer a more long-lasting, smooth ride for your young one.
The Importance of Handlebar Grips
Not to be ignored, handlebar grips are essential safety features on any pedal-less bike. Not only should the handles have a textured surface for a firm grip, but they should also have knobs at the end to protect tiny hands from crashes and falls.
If your child were to topple over while still keeping a firm grip on the handles of the toddler bike, the knobs stop their hand from being crushed. We can’t help with a crushed ego though -- but it’s all part of the learning process!
The Value of a Toddler Bike in Preparing for the Real Thing
As briefly mentioned above, tricycles and training wheels prepare children to steer and pedal on a full bicycle, but while being relevant and important skills, they completely disregard the aspect of balance. Balance remains the key to mastering bike riding, and learning on a balance bike is the fastest way for young tots to understand how it all works.
It has been proven that learning to ride a toddler bike ensures a more intuitive sense of balance and a successful transition to pedal bikes. After considering the points mentioned in this post, you’ll be ready to effectively teach your child to ride a bike. You might even be surprised at how fast your child adapts to their new big kid bicycle.
Happy biking from smarTrike!