Balance bikes: the new rite of passage

Learning to ride a bike without training wheels is a rite of passage for many of us. This journey for most comes with many falls, cuts and bruises even with our helmets, elbow and knee pads on. Though there is not a way to completely bypass falling off our first bike, there is a steadier way to explore the fundamental movement skills and gross motor skills it takes to ride a bike.

The steadier option is balance bikes, which provide kids a way to learn how to ride bikes earlier and more effectively. Balance bikes or run bikes have no pedals or breaks and they are made smaller, narrower and lighter so children as young as 18 months old.

This year, Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s Recreation Department will be debuting a no cost loan program so that anyone who wishes to can test out these run bikes. Find more information on the bike loan program at CBRM’s facebook page.

There are many benefits to balance bikes:

  1. Affordability: Most children explore riding a bike around the ages of 3 to 8 years old. Whereas children starting from 18 months old (as long as they can walk steadily) can ride balance bikes. A balance bike can last a child for 2-3 years depending on when a child starts with the balance bike. A child who uses balance bikes can completely skip using tricycles and a small bike equipped with training wheels. Another option, removing the pedals and chains from a  12’’ Bikes, the smallest bike available.
  1. Safety: As the bikes are sized properly for smaller children, children can then focus on balancing while keeping their feet on the ground. Once they become more comfortable they naturally kick and pick up their feet while still being able to run or walk while balancing. They say balance bike users can learn to pedal in as little as 15 minutes when the time to transition to pedal bikes comes along.
  1. Independence: Balance bikes bring fun and independence before they fit the smallest pedal bike. Balance bike users can typically go much farther than those without the experience. This gives the child more independence on a family bike ride or even just out in the driveway. This, in turn, allows the child to gain more confidence in their process of learning to cycle, without the frustration of trying to control a tricycle or training wheels. For that reason, they’re accessible to any child that can walk.
  1. Health: These bikes allow children to engage in the benefits of being outdoors. Whether biking in town or on trails the terrain will enhance your toddler’s problem-solving ability through bumps, turns and more. Biking is an excellent source of exercise and allows your child to experience the joys of cycling.
  1. Fun: This introduction to the sport of cycling opens the doors to a lifetime of camaraderie, team bonding, skill building, and entertainment.


For more information on the benefits of balance bikes, see the following:

Kristen. (2019). 7 reasons your toddler needs a balance bike. Rascal Rides. Kids. Bikes. Family 

Lance Frazier. (2016). The benefits of balance bikes. Intermountain Healthcare.

Martins, N. (2019). Why a balance bike is the best bike for your toddler? Two Wheeling Tots.

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