I was recently down at the local BMX track when a couple of kids started whizzing about on their bikes…or at least one of them did. You see, one of them was on a traditional pedal bike and the other was on a balance bike.
While the guy on the balance bike had no trouble with the undulating and slippy gravel surface, his buddy kept toppling over, getting stuck on the humps and generally looked like a fish out of water. While the wee lad was very enthusiastic and just wanted to follow his friend, the issue was that he had stabilisers (AKA training wheels) fitted to his bike.
Of course, any bike time is great and will make kids happy, but there’s a few reasons why it’s best to forget about stabilisers and go for a great alternative option:
1. Stabilisers Don't Teach A Child Balance
2. They Make The Bike Less Agile
Stabilisers prevent the natural lean of the bike while cornering which reduces the bike’s manoeuvrability. A bike steers by leaning and since the stabilisers hold the bike vertically, the rider can’t steer the bike as easily. You only need to look at the guys in the Moto Grand Prix to see how much the riders lean while in fast corners.
3. Stabilisers Teach Kids Bad Habits
Before the stabilisers are removed completely, people often raise the stabilisers upwards to help the child develop their balance. With only one stabiliser on the ground, the bike will often lean the wrong way in a corner and jerk around as it tips from side to side. The child will naturally shift their weight the opposite way to counteract, something that will need to be re-trained as they progress to a normal bike.
4. The Little Wheels Can’t Be Used On Uneven Ground
Stabilisers will only keep the bike upright if they are on a flat, smooth surface. Gravel, rocky paths or soggy grass will cause the tiny plastic wheels to get stuck. Likewise, if the surface is banked to one side, the bike will easily topple over. This limits the terrain that your child can ride on and hinder their little adventures.
5....And Lots Of Other Drawbacks
Stabilisers add extra cost, weight and complexity. They’re also cumbersome, ugly, noisy and flimsy (one regularly bends more than the other so the bike leans more on one side). Once you’re finished with them they’ll go to the landfill with all the other junk.
Stabiliser graduates still have to learn the primary skill – balancing – with a sudden transition from being supported to unsupported, which can result in wobbles, crashes and loss of confidence.
There is another way – Balance Bikes!
By contrast, having learned to ride on on a balance bike riders will develop their coordination & motor skills and make a seamless transition to pedalling. Find out more about the benefits of balance bikes, how to choose one, and how to teach your child to ride a balance bike on our balance bike guide. With our LittleBig bike adaptable kids bike, it has a specially designed pedal kit, you don’t even need to change bikes. Oh, and it grows too! Just ask Esther in the UK who wrote to us a little while ago…
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 to 77 countries around the world giving thousands of kids the best start on two wheels.