A lot has been written about the best way to teach kids to cycle. But it’s now pretty much accepted that kids who start out on a balance bike take to cycling independently a lot quicker and easier than those who learn by other methods.
But there’s one important stage that doesn’t get discussed very often. That’s the point at which a child transitions from a balance bike to a pedal bike.
Here we focus on that critical stage, and discusses the benefits of choosing a balance bike with pedals that can easily convert from a balance bike to pedal bike .
Why doesn’t a balance bike have pedals?
Balance bikes don’t have pedals so kids can put their feet on the ground while sitting in the saddle. To move forwards, kids push off the ground with their feet to run, glide and ride. This allows kids to learn balance, coordination and how to move their bodies before adding pedals.
All this being said, a convertible balance bike, has the option to fit the pedals too, converting the normal balance bike into a proper pedal bike.
Balance bikes are like bicycles stripped down to the bare minimum: no pedals, gears or suspension. These features get in the way of getting kids to balance and steer by themselves.
Why is a balance bike better for your child than fitting stabilisers to a pedal bike?
In the battle of balance bikes vs stabilisers (training wheels), balance bikes are a winner every time because kids can develop their confidence and coordination before progressing to pedalling. Balancing as a skill is more nuanced and tricky to master than pedalling, so it’s best to get this dialled before adding pedals into the mix.
If your child can glide along comfortably with their feet up, there is less urgency, as they can coast along while they figure out how to spin the pedals.
Can’t You Remove The Pedals From A Standard Bike To Turn It Into A Balance Bike?
It is possible to remove the pedals from a standard kid’s bike, which can work for taller kids. However, most pedal bikes are too big for smaller kids to use as a balance bike. This is because the saddle and bottom bracket (crank axle) need to be raised off the ground to provide ground clearance for the pedals, which is why they are unsuitable for smaller balance bikers.
Why not go for a bike that is designed to be both a balance bike and pedal bike, like the LittleBig bike?
How Do You Know When Your Child Is Ready To Move From A Balance Bike To Pedal Bike?
When your child can coast along on a balance bike with their feet off the ground, they have grasped the cycling fundamentals. Once mastering the skills like turning, braking and comfortably balancing while moving forward.
The next logical step is to move to a bike with pedals, or if it is an option, to add pedals to their LittleBig balance bike.
Can You Fit Pedals Onto A Standard Balance Bike?
Unless specifically designed for this, adding pedals will not be an option for the vast majority of balance bikes. A standard balance bike will not have mounting points for pedals, the rear wheel will not have a cog, and there is unlikely to be any clearance for a chain. A standard balance bike will probably have insufficient ground clearance to fit pedals underneath.
We have designed the LittleBig to grow from a little balance bike into a big pedal bike. Our unique design means that when you are ready to add the pedals, the frame will grow and make room for the pedals.
What Is a Convertible Balance Bike With Pedals?
The term convertible means that a balance bike can convert to or operate in different modes. Generally, it will relate to the bike’s ability to grow or adapt to a larger size and whether pedals can be fitted when your child has mastered the basics and is ready to start pedalling.
Is A ‘Convertible Balance Bike’ As Safe As A Regular Bike?
Most balance bikes may only have one brake or in some cases, none at all, requiring the child to slow themselves by dragging their feet on the ground. We have fitted the LittleBig with proper front and rear brakes, so when you add the pedals, your little one has already learned how to stop safely using the brakes.
Once your child starts pedalling and moving faster, safely stopping becomes critical. Some say you can only go as fast as you can stop!
What do the terms’ 2-in-1 balance bike’ and ‘3-in-1 balance bike’ mean?
The terms 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 mean that the balance bike in question can convert to another mode. Generally, this will mean the bike can get bigger as your child grows.
A 2-in-1 balance bike would have either a small and large mode OR the option to have pedals or no pedals.
A 3-in-1 kid’s bike will probably have a growing frame AND the option to add pedals.
What Are The Benefits Of Buying A Convertible Balance Bike With Pedals?
There are many benefits to buying a convertible balance bike with pedals. For your child, it means that when they are ready to progress from their balance bike to a pedal bike, they are comfortable on the bike already. Therefore the change involved is lessened, making the transition more fluid.
As a parent, there is financial value in choosing a convertible bike (see more below). However, there is also the environmental footprint to be considered. Choosing a convertible balance bike eliminates the need to buy a balance bike and a separate pedal bike.
One bike lasting for longer is more sustainable, reduces raw materials used, energy from production processes, and the amount of shipping involved.
How Does A Convertible Balance Bike Save You Money In The Long Run?
By choosing a convertible balance bike, you will buy just one bike instead of two. By comparison, buying a balance bike and a separate pedal bike, with a similar quality to the LittleBig convertible balance bike (€325), could cost you more than €700. Furthermore, choosing a convertible bike reduces costs associated with buying a second bike, such as your time spent shopping, travelling to and from a bike shop, or paying shipping costs twice.
If quality and longevity are concerns, the LittleBig is built from high-end components to ensure it will last the test of time, as backed up by the 5-year warranty on our frame.
This gives you peace of mind that the bike will be there for your child’s journey from balancing to properly pedalling.
What Is The Best Convertible Balance Bike On The Market?
While there is no world cup of balance bikes, we are proudly confident that the LittleBig is a winner here. We are parents and experienced cyclists, and our bike was designed around our core values of quality, functionality, sustainability and value. Don’t just take our word for it; take the time to look at our many customer reviews or any of the 3rd party glowing press reviews we have received in publications from every corner of the globe.
And just in case that doesn’t convince you, we have now sold almost 13,000 LittleBig convertible balance bikes, all of which have come with our 30 day money back guarantee. But nobody has ever asked for their money back!
Round the world cyclist, mountain bike racer, engineer and all round bike geek, Simon Evans clearly loves all things BIKE.
Simon worked as a Structural Engineer in Cambridge for a number of years before setting off on an 18 month, 30,000km cycle around the world, testing his bike, body and mind to the limit and giving a wealth of wonderful experiences.
Coming home in 2010, he wanted to combine his engineering with his love of bikes to create a better and more sustainable bike for kids. In 2015 he launched LittleBig bikes which have now been sold to 77 countries around the world giving thousands of kids the best start on two wheels.