For some years it is common to see young children with bikes without pedals, or balance bikes, as they are called officially. To learn more about these bikes and their advantages over classical learning (which passed through the training wheels) have asked an expert: Rafa Vidiella. This Madrid journalist is founder and director of Ciclosfera, the first and only Spanish urban cycling magazine, a community with more than 155,000 followers on Facebook. He is also the father of Teo, a small two-year always with his bike and you spend when you can, a fatherly blog. He will soon be the father of a girl, which also put on two wheels.
Why do you recommend that the kids learn to ride a bike with no pedals?
It is not a recommendation: it is a fact that children learn before to balance that coordinate pedaling or, of course, have enough leg strength to drive a bike through pedals. Balance bikes are much lighter: they are simply a box, a handle and two wheels. That lightness and simplicity is good for the child, but also for the father reduces maintenance, but above all is lighter and portable than any bike with pedals.
‘Since what age you can begin using one?
Brands usually recommend starting at the earliest, two years. Before, it is recommended that the child has practiced in some of the typical “motorcycle” very wide wheels and plastic. With them the child becomes familiar with the position of a bicycle, the handlebars, the braking feet and handle a bike like vehicle. But the bike without pedals (I insist, “bike balance”) goes far beyond the classic motorcycle wide wheels: is infinitely more agile, higher and requires stability. In fact, beyond that you have to push with your feet uphill, the feeling is the child is exactly like you have your bike with an adult.
What are those you recommend?
Here commercial interests (several of my magazine advertisers distribute) with personal tastes … So I prefer not to mix brands. But I would say, as in many other things (as with adult bicycles, too) cheap is expensive: there are models from 50 to 250 euros, and although everything depends on the family budget is better to be guided not only by the price. Something in between seems ideal: for about 150 euros can be achieved very light, durable and with a spectacular aesthetic mount. We speak of an object that can last around two years (and more, if it is inherited by siblings or similar) and will be used almost daily, so it seems more than reasonable investment.
‘What three things do you think are most important when choosing one?
Lightness. The less you weigh, the child will be more comfortable and less weight have to carry us when, around the small decides he is tired and you have to take the shoulder. 50 euros bikes can be heavy, a little “pots” so it is more likely that we and our son get tired before transporting and remain parked in a corner. It is very important that the bike weighs little.
Resistance. No need to tell you how much can be destructive a child 2-3 years … So either I would go to either extreme, bike or 50 euros or 300. The child will give blows , his friends will give the shock when the leave, and probably us, to load or unload the car, or raise or lower the ladder, too. The seat, handlebars, wheels themselves must be quality not to be a source of problems or be severely degraded in just a few months.
Finally, there is the aesthetic issue. Sorry, but usually 200 euros bikes are nicer than 50. Manufacturers have more careful design, painting or accessories for your product from the eyes of the child, but also the father. For a mid-priced (again, between 100 and 200 euros), there are lovely models: classical aesthetics (wood, for example), more racing (and materials like fiberglass, aluminum or even carbon fiber) or directly marvels of design that will appeal, at first, even a dwarf two years … I do not recommend bike department store whose main attraction is having the face of Pocoyo, Peppa Pig or Mickey Mouse, but one of a manufacturer / distributor specializing in bicycles , which apply much of his wisdom in adult bikes in this first step.
As a parent of a small two years, what is your experience with the bike without pedals?
Excellent. My son is quite high and was accustomed to child motorcycle, so he started using it when I was not even two years … And to this day. Now he has two years and three months, so using it takes about 6 months, and there has been no coup. It is impressive to see how he has learned to maneuver in standing, to adapt his body on the downhills, turning and even braking with his feet. Of course, we must be very aware of it: not yet understand the rudiments of traffic, when to stop because it can come a car, but how your bike works, and how fun it is to be autonomous, free, able to go from one point to another relative speed and everything depends on it. Fascinated by potholes, speed bumps, go downhill, sometimes even up hills … And, of course, cause admiration and envy among his friends: they see the bike of his minicolega is not a toy, not a pileup, but a fast, useful and well-designed vehicle. In short: a bicycle.