The key to teaching kids to ride a bike without training wheels

August 19, 2016 No Comments »
The key to teaching kids to ride a bike without training wheels

Our little secret is that both of our kids have been on their bikes since they were about 18 months. We’ve never used training wheels. Starting from a run bike (aka balance bike), there simply wasn’t a need to. We allowed both of our kids to find their balance at their own pace. With their feet firmly planted on the ground, kids feel secure, and they are able to proceed from there.

Around the neighbourhood, I watched a lot of other kids with bikes that were too heavy for them try to get started. Many of them were frustrated and ready to give up even after just one try. They had a hard time getting their bikes started because pushing the pedals on a bike that is way too heavy is really difficult. Most parents just threw training wheels onto the bikes thinking it would help. On trails this just seemed to bog them down further.

Don’t get me started on pushing sticks on the back of bikes! I want my kids to get on, and ride under their own steam. Not only does this create active kids — it also allows you to bike with them, enjoying the activity. If you’re having to push, you might as well go back to a stroller.

If you’re trying to ride using the training wheels, our recommendation is to ditch the heavy bike and pick up a lighter version, like Woom 2.

Why does weight matter so much?

Imagine trying to learn on a bike that weighs half of what you do! Such a heavy bike (most conventional ones) make it incredibly hard to balance, which is key to moving forward with a pedal bike. If you’re like us and between a run bike and a pedal bike, picking one that provides the light weight of a run bike with detachable pedals is a great place to start.

Enter the Woom Bike. The Woom 2 is just over 15 lbs, which was one of the lightest we came across. With a 14″ frame, it is certainly taller than a run bike. The flat seat angle, short cranks (the bar the pedals are attached to) and the low bottom bracket enable your child to always put their feet on the ground without them losing balance. This bike represents the ideal link between the balance bike and a pedal bike and enables fast learning of the movement process – even without training wheels.

Mr. J was zooming through jumps and the pump track on his very first visit to the Bike Park. (I admit it, he tried things that made me go “EEEK” a little in my head).

One of the other best features of the Woom 2 bike is the fork on the front; there is an elastic that helps prevent kids from overcorrecting. (This happened frequently on our run bike and usually involved bailing into bushes.) It gives the bike a little resistance when you turn and helps when kids jerk the handlebars and overcorrect.

Woom 2 comes with coaster brakes (the kind where they push pedals backwards and it brakes) AND hand brakes. Since Mr. J wasn’t quite ready for the pedals yet, we stuck with just the two hand brakes. I was pleasantly surprised that it stopped the speed demon short and we had no more bailing into the bushes.

Don’t take my word for it…

Just ask Mr. J — our number one product tester on this front. Below is a video he shot entirely on his own using our GoPro camera. He even added the captions and music with a little help.

Get pedalling!

Woom 2 offers the flexibility to grow with your little mountain biker. Although it is meant as a light pedal bike, you can also take the pedals on or off depending on what level your child is at. Mr. J was able to do it all by himself in about four minutes after I lined up the bolt for him. They simply screw on or off, depending on what you need. Since he already had his balance, away we went on the driveway. After one session, he had gotten a solid grasp of how to do it. (Although we had the freewheeling kit, we hadn’t yet installed it, however, before we try again I will make sure I do so as the coaster brake is hard to explain).

Final notes

At $339, in comparison to similar bikes of this quality, we believe this is a fair price, especially when you consider both of my kids will ride it. Woom Bikes also have a great UpCycle program which allows you to get 40% back on your original bike purchase when you buy the next size up within 24 months. All the details are here.

If you want your child to continue to love biking, the small size of the Woom 2, with easy to use hand brakes and easy turn handlebars, make it a winner in our books.

We were provided a Woom 2 to facilitate our review, however, our opinions — as always — are ours.

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