Balance Bikes vs Training Wheels: Which One Is Better for Your Child?

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This is the Scooter Dojo guide to Balance Bikes vs Training Wheels.

In this article we will help you make the decision to use training wheels or get your child started off with just two wheels on a balance bike. As you continue reading you’ll start to see quickly our thoughts on what’s the best way to teach your child to ride a bike.

3 Reasons Why Balance Bikes are Better than Training Wheels

If you are considering introducing your child to bike riding, you might be wondering which route to take…to choose a balance bike or just go with good old fashioned training wheels. While training wheels have been the traditional method for teaching kids to ride a bike, in fact you probably learned to ride a bike using training wheels. However, over the past 16 years balance bikes have become increasingly popular. If you aren’t familiar with balance bikes here are three reasons why we think balance bikes are better alternative to training wheels.

1. Easier to Ride/Better Ergonomics

Balance bikes are much lighter than bikes with training wheels, in fact they’re typically half the weight of a comparable pedal bike with training wheels! OK so we established that they are significantly lighter, but balance bikes are also more efficient than bikes with training wheels, the reason being is that a balance bike typically sits much lower.

When a child starts to feel uncomfortable on a bike what is the first thing that they do? Put their feet down. The ergonomics of a balance bike makes that process much easier because that is the functionality and design. Because it’s self propelled in a comfortable position kids can typically ride their balance bike for miles with their family without getting tired and throwing tantrums they might on a bike with training wheels.

2. Balance Bikes Can Go Everywhere

A balance bike offers distinct advantages over the pedal bike with training wheels installed. Not only is it lighter and more compact, a balance bike can easily fit into the trunk of just about any car.

They mostly use foam or EVA tires that eliminates any concerns associated with flat tires and having to reinflate tires. Also you get rid of the general bulkiness often seen in traditional bikes with training wheels. A lighter more compact bike is easier to control and ride for a child and it makes taking the bike to the local park or riding trail that much easier for parents.

3. Transitioning to a Pedal Bike is Fast

The real value of a Balance bike is that once a child get comfortable riding one they are usually immediately ready to ride a traditional bike. This is because a “balance” bike teaches a child balance which is the hardest part about riding a bike. While most parents believe that training wheels teach kids balance but they don’t. Training wheels really only teach pedaling, which is much easier to learn once the concept of balancing is conquered.

In fact a Balance bike gets children used to every aspect of bike riding except pedaling. Most have a steering limited to teach steering, speed control with the ability to place their feet down at anytime to slow down, and the same aerodynamics and geometry of a bike to get comfortable with the feeling of leaning and riding over various terrains and obstacles.

Lastly, it’s interesting that when you put an experienced balance bike rider on a pedal bike it only takes 10 minutes or less and they are off and riding by themselves. Less falls, less holding on the seat behind the rear wheel, and much more confidence!

It’s a fact that kids who ride balances bikes transition to a traditional bike much faster than kids who use training wheels.

Balance Bike vs Training Wheels Pros & Cons

Training Wheel Pros & Cons

Pros

  • training wheels can be removed

Cons

  • add extra weight

Balance Bike Pros & Cons

Pros

  • feet on the ground
  • learn balance
  • steer

Cons

Is a Balance Bike a Waste of Money if You Eventually Have to Buy a Pedal Bike Anyways?

No, a balance bike is not a waste of money, even if you eventually have to buy a pedal bike. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Age: You can start a child on a balance bike as early as 18 months, while most kids won’t fit on a 12″ pedal bike until they are 3. This means that kids generally get many more years out of a balance bike than they do a 12″ pedal bike.
  • Cost: Balance bikes are often cheaper than pedal bikes, so you can save money by starting your child on a balance bike first and then transitioning to a pedal bike later.
  • Weight: Balance bikes are lighter than pedal bikes, which makes them easier for young children to handle and ride. This can help build confidence and make the transition to a pedal bike smoother.
  • Fun: Kids love the adventure and independence of balance bikes and often continue to ride them until they transition to a 16″ pedal bike, completely skipping the 12″ pedal bike stage. Even if your child doesn’t get on a balance bike until they’re a little older, the time they do have on the balance bike will be exponentially more enjoyable than if you try to put them on a 12″ pedal bike with training wheels.
  • Transition: Even if your child starts on a balance bike later (let’s say, at 3), you can buy a balance bike with a larger frame and your child can enjoy that bike for 2 years and then transition straight to a 16″ or 20″ pedal bike when they are 5 or 6.

Recommended Balance Bikes

If you’re convinced that a balance bike is the direction that you want to go, for introducing your child to bike riding. Here are three of the best balance bikes that we recommend.

Top Pick
gomo balance bike pink

GOMO Balance Bike

The GOMO balance bike is a fun bike that children seem to gravitate towards. This bike has everything that a learner needs foam wheels, footrest, proper ergonomics, with adjustable handlebar and seat heights.

ImageProductDetailPrice
Strider Bike

Strider Bike

  • The original balance bike.
Buy Now
Chillafish Bike

Chillafish Bike

  • A modern twist to the balance bike.
Buy Now

What if Your Child Insists on a Bike with Training Wheels?

We understand that some kids may insist on having a bike with training wheels, even though balance bikes are a better option. In such cases, there are a few bikes that come with training wheels or are training wheel compatible that you can consider.

Recommended Bikes with Training Wheels

Check out our list of recommended 12″ bikes with training wheels below:

ImageProductDetailPrice
Schwinn Koen

Schwinn Koen

  • removable training wheels
Buy Now
RoyalBaby Honey

RoyalBaby Honey

  • adjustable seat and handlebars
Buy Now
Huffy Rock It

Huffy Rock It

  • training wheels, coaster brake and kickstand
Buy Now
Dynacraft Magna

Dynacraft Magna

  • training wheels, adjustable seat and handlebars
Buy Now

If you do choose to go the traditional bike with training wheels route keep in mind that training wheels could potentially delay the process of learning to ride a bike. They can also instill bad habits into your young rider such as relying on the training wheels for balance instead of developing it themselves.

Both solutions will work, they just take different routes to get there. No matter what you decide remember to keep your child safe by getting the right size bike and providing the necessary protective gear most importantly a helmet. If you still more information we curated a collection of frequently asked questions below.

Balance Bike or Training Wheels FAQ

1. What are the pros and cons of using training wheels for children learning to ride a bike?

We went into this in more detail above, but in short training wheels can provide stability and support for young riders, helping them gain confidence and learn the basics of cycling. However, they might hinder the development of balance and coordination skills. Some children tend to start relying on the training wheels versus actually learning to balance.

2. What are the benefits of using training wheels for kids learning to ride?

Training wheels can make it easier for kids to learn and develop confidence because they know that won’t fall. They also help with some cycling skills, especially pedaling.

3. Are there any drawbacks to using training wheels?

Yes, training wheels may hinder the development of balance. They can also become a mental crutch creating a sense of false security, as kids will think they can’t balance a bike on their own. Additionally, the process of removing the training wheels can create a whole new challenge to overcome.

4. Why are balance bikes important in a child’s cycling development?

Balance bikes allow children to learn every single skill required except probably the easiest one pedaling. Balance and steering are usually the most difficult things to master both of which are made much easier on a balance bike. This is why the transition from balance bike to pedal bike is much easier because the only thing left to learn is how to pedal. The confidence, balance, steering, and depth perception have been honed the whole time on the balance bike.

5. When should training wheels be removed and the transition to a regular bike be made?

The appropriate time to remove training wheels and transition to a regular bike can vary from child to child. However, It is important to consider the child’s confidence and skill level. We’ve seen kids as young as 2 years old already riding a bike with no assistance after riding a balance bike for 6 or so months.

Balance Bikes vs Training Wheels Summary

balance bikes vs training wheels

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