Cycling in Sydney Australia
When we sell kids bikes, parents often ask for training wheels. In my experience of teaching kids (and adults) how to ride bikes, I've found that training wheels are a hindrance rather than a help - they encourage people to travel very slowly, leaning on them, instead of learning how to balance.
So I try to dissuade them, but I'm rarely successful.
Am I misguided, or is it good advice to dispense with training wheels?
Most kid's pedal bikes, which seriously weigh more than half the adult bikes out there. (Why is that??)
It is because most kids bikes are cheaply made and, as we all know when it comes to bikes, cheap = heavy and expensive = light :)
Yes, hard to find a lightish one which has gearing to suit a kiddy and not a yogi.
For some reason children grow so goodish bikes don’t have a long life but the better ones do get handed around family, friends, neighbors.
My youngest loves riding but watch out trees, dogs, walkers and her shins. I think "we" get about one bruise every kilometer. I now ride well back and just let her work it out, most footpath peds don’t seem to mind a maniac 9 yo. She was a rider that needed trainer wheels as the steer, stop and pedal thing did not come easy. Bike fit (reach to the handle bars) and tyre pressure are things to watch and adjust to how they ride.
2012 is the year I hope to move her from the 24 inch ss coaster brakes onto the 24 inch 18 speed ( 3rd real pedal bike)
I found that hand size and finger reach to the brakes are the sneaky ones.
My 9yo daughter is one of the tallest in her year. She fitted onto a 26" MTB, but her hands were only just big enough to grip and reach the brakes.
Some of the better bikes have brake levers with grub screws to adjust the reach of the lever.
Twist shifters are another thing - their little hands have to grip very tightly to twist them. My 7yo has regular shifters and finds it much easier than the 9yos twist shifters.
Those Islabikes look like racing bikes. I'd be looking for something more like this.
My 7yo's last bike was a 3rd hand me down Avanti Diana 20".
The bike is not heavy - aluminium frame and components apart from the cranks, seat post and steerer.
It still looks in really good shape after 3 sets of owners and abuse.
Not a bad first bike for a 5 - 6 - 7 yo girl. Certainly better than the Target/Kmart options.
Wow. Love these! Kids bike envy!
I agree that any way to get kids on bikes is cool and DamianM has already outlined our kids' experiences BUT can I add, the amount of bike shops that I've been into where all the kids bikes with training wheels are at the front of the store and the balance bikes are hidden behind them, under a shelf, still in a box with none on the floor - you might spy them IF you know what you're looking for. It's not the shop owners responsibility to educate or the parents to request it's just long term questioning of the traditional vs the modern and change is never immediately accepted, particularly by parents who can be pretty conservative when it comes to choices concerning their kids.
I didn't know anything about Balance Bikes when Damian suggested we try them for our little boy and I was sceptical but now I am a convert and recommend them to everyone. It doesn't mean that training wheels are bad - we'll all get to the destination, it's just how fast or how hard we make our journey.
Keep educating parents, and fight the good fight - they'll love it after they taste the kool aid! ;)
The mind boggles...
My three kids have all started on trainer wheels, balance bikes weren't really around/cheap enough for the first two and the lucky last is on a handed down bike.
Trainer wheels are fine for pottering around but kids don't learn to ride until you take them off, which we did when they were about 5 years old. Once the wheels are off it's a pretty quick process. A few sessions running along behind them correcting wobbles, and they're away. The trick seems to be not to hold them up, but just nudge them upright when they start to topple over; they soon get a feel for it. Much harder, I think, is convincing them to pedal up hills!
So a balance bike may well be better, but if you've got a bike with trainers it's not going to stop them riding... once the wheels come off. Ours were happy to start with trainers, and I don't think it retarded their eventual cycling development too much. Now it's great to have them all riding, there's nothing better than going for a family ride.