So if you’ve been shopping around for balance bikes you’ll no doubt be dazzled by the array of shapes and sizes out there. Some balance bikes have no brakes, others just a rear brake and in the case of the LittleBig, both front and rear brakes. So, which is best?
Well it partly depends on the size and age of your child. If they’re starting really early (around 18 months old) then it’s probably best to go for one with no brakes to keep the weight low and so they can focus on learning to balance and steer. At that age they normally don’t have the co-ordination to use the brakes and will intuitively stop by dragging their feet off the ground (you can use old shoes or a cheap pair of wellies to avoid wearing out their trainers).
At around two to three years old, kids should have the strength and coordination to use hand brakes. As their confidence increases they will get up to higher speeds and will start going down inclines, so having a balance bike with brakes will help to control their speed. Dragging their feet probably won’t slow them down sufficiently.
At this stage a rear brake will definitely help but having both brakes will help them stop more quickly. As balance bikes have a low saddle and lower center of gravity than a pedal bike, it should prevent them from going over the handlebars (but always wear a helmet, just in case!). All kids pedal bikes come with a front brake so it helps to learn how to use it safely while on a balance bike when kids have their feet comfortably on the ground. Just look at how well the 4 year old below is using his brakes!!