Trike or Balance Bike?

by Stacey on May 5, 2010

Nate is 2 1/2 years old and could handle the Strider independently on his first try. Doesn't he look proud?

Today a lot of thoughts have gone through my mind about Tricycles verses Balance Bikes.  Of course I am a big advocate of Balance Bikes after seeing the beaming faces on the hundreds of children we have sold to locally and the many happy emails from parents all over the US who have purchased online.    One reason this is on my mind is that my 4 1/2 year old  son has been encouraged to ride a trike for physical therapy after recent hip surgery.   He has been on a balance bike 2 years and has been able to ride a pedal bike with no training wheels for a year.  But this early after surgery, bike riding is too risky, but pedaling is good therapy.  So out comes the trike…. and the reminder of the dangers of trikes has been plaguing our household!

However,   buying a tricycle as a first toddler bike has been a tradition right?  Kind of a “right of passage” almost.    I remember with my first child (pre balance bike Era) how excited I was when my child was almost 2 and I could run out and get a tricycle.   What most parents don’t expect is the let down that follows….     ALOT of kids 2 1/2 and under do not have the strength or coodination to propel a tricycle forward.  Alot of kids this age try and move the trike forward with their feet as parents watch painfully as the child’s shins hit the pedals over and over and the kids only inch forward at a very slow speed.     Once the child does learn to ride the trike, then come the tip overs and spills.   Why they designed a child’s ride on toy with only one wheel in the front is beyond me!   Two  in front and two in back would be so much safer!  Another let down about tricycles is that you really need to ride on smooth flat surfaces.    That really limits the playing field!

A Balance Bike can go over bumps and cracks, onto dirt paths, grass, bark,  and all without tipping over!      Another danger with tricycles is that if your child starts going down a hill, there is really no way to stop – often leading to a crash or tip over.    Balance Bikes are easy to stop with your feet, even on a steep incline, even without a handbrake.  If you haven’t checked the first part this youtube video put together by Strider International on the dangers of trikes and bikes with training wheels you should take a minute to do so.  This is not an exaggeration and my family has experienced these types of crashes with the older kids with both trikes and training wheels.  That is one reason we retired training wheels quite awhile ago.

Balance bikes are the new generation first toddler bike and kids are not minding this at all!   You can see those young kids with the glean in their eyes on how daring they plan to be on their new big boy or girl bike!   That is why you always want a helmet right from day one!   And that is just what Nate’s mom (in the picture above) was on her way to do after buying their Strider today!   After seeing what her little 2 1/2 year old could do after 10 minutes on the Strider, it was really amazing and exciting.

Some parents wonder if it is worth the money.     I think it definately is.  I know kids who are on these bikes for 1-3 years.   How many toys have parents bought for kids that they play with for days, weeks, or months at most?   If you have ever had an older child (4-7) addicted to training wheels – then you probably do not need any convincing that this is the way to go!  Your child will be riding a pedal bike without ever even seeing training wheels (when they give the green light!)  within minutes to hours – instead of months to years without balance bike experience.

Please let us know YOUR experience with older or younger kids getting on pedal bikes with or without training wheels or skipping tricycles all together!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dianne June 1, 2011 at 10:08 am

is there a wooden balance bike that goes from balance to trike to bike?

Stacey June 2, 2011 at 10:57 am

Yes, the Wishbone wooden bike and trike is an excellent quality bike that can be used starting around 12 months old and up to 5 years old. You start out in the trike version and then it converts to a small balance bike, then the body flips over into a larger balance bike.

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