When you have kiddo, there are plenty of things to think about— are they eating enough, am I a helicopter parent, a diaper warmer…really? And, speaking from experience, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of indecision as your child becomes a teen. But, one thing you don’t have to worry about is your child riding a bike, or, rather, how your child will learn to ride a bike. There are 2 options here, and both will result eventually in a kid who can ride.
Training wheels have been the long-standing option for getting kids out an on the go. They basically ensure that your kid doesn’t tip over. As they become more comfortable with riding, you can reposition the trainers higher up, eventually removing them all together. Training wheels are the most affordable option. They can be used on most bikes and there is no need for a new bike once the kids are ready for riding without support. If you are concerned that they will become dependent on the trainers, once the stabilizers have been moved up, make a game out of not letting the wheels touch the ground. Or, set a date for taking them off and celebrate.
The Specialized Riprock Coaster 12 is the perfect starter pedal bike with trainers (there is also a Riprock Coaster 16 available). It features cool specs that are easy for your little ones to use, like a coaster brake for simple stopping, wide 12×2.3″ tires that increase stability and confidence, and tough components that will stand up to years of abuse.
Teaches kids how to pedal early on
Safer-they are heavy so they roll more slowly and, obviously, can’t tip over as easily
No need to buy another bike when they are ready to remove trainers
Harder to ride over grass, uneven pavement due to weight and small wheels on the trainers
Starter bikes are larger, therefore kids start at an older age
Can create a false sense of security an inhibit learning to balance
Invented before the modern bike, balance bikes weren’t for kids at all. Now, these simple bikes, without pedals or a chain and often without brakes, are the newest way to introduce kids to cycling. The balance bike does exactly what it’s name implies—it gets the kid used to balancing (and steering) before they move onto a pedal bike. Kids will start off walking as they sit on the seat, then move to running, then start gliding. Once they get the hang of coasting and are big enough, it’s often a piece of cake to move on to a pedal bike.
If you decide to go the balance bike route, the Specialized Hotwalk is the one. Built for kids from 18 months through 4 years old, the Hotwalk features a lower standover height to accommodate little riders, as well as a longer wheelbase for more stable scooting. And, there isn’t much that can break should the bike hit the deck, so there’s less maintenance than with a “traditional” bike—like airless tires that’ll never go flat and an assembly of only two bolts.
If you want to go all out (Grandparent Alert!) check out the Hotwalk Carbon. The same tech behind Specialized’s world championship-winning bikes informs every detail of this beginners’ model—from 38% smaller diameter handlebar grips to a solid carbon layup. All aligned to create the ultimate first ride.
Light and easily maneuverable over many surfaces (and easy to carry along)
Kid’s can start as soon as they can walk
Balancing is the hardest part to learning to ride a bike and balance bikes help kids master that particular skill
In theory, because kids are going faster an over obstacles, there may be a greater opportunity for kids to get hurt
They are only available for smaller children, so older kids will have to find another way to learn
Cost-Graduates will need a pedal bike once they outgrow the striders
Whether to start with a balance bike or training wheels is a hotly contested one with avid supporters on both sides, but remember, getting your kids outside (and on a bike) with the family is the important part. There’s no wrong answer when you’re creating a lifelong love of being active.
– Judy Young