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 (check out this little lad using his brakes effectively). 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!). Having both front and rear brakes allows kids to get confident slowing and stopping the bike before progressing to pedals. This means that they can focus on learning to pedal, safe in the knowledge they know how to stop safely, meaning more confidence and peace of mind.
Do you need brakes on a balance bike?
Some balance bikes have no brakes, these are fine for lower speeds but do not offer control as your child gets faster. Having a rear brake or both front and rear brakes (like the LittleBig), is preferable for safety, coordination and development of their motor skills.