Balance Bike vs Bike With Training Wheels: Why I LOVE the Strider

kid learning to ride a bike on a balance bike

Learn to Ride a Bike

Have you heard the great debate on a balance bike vs bike with training wheels?

Many wonder which is better. I say the balance bike!

Before my 5 year old daughter turned 2, my girlfriend sent me a video of her 3 year old son speeding down hills with amazing balance and form on his Strider bike (a popular balance bike).

I couldn’t believe my eyes! To see such a young person balancing on a bike with no training wheels was amazing. That was the first time I learned about Strider Bikes.

And, that was all I needed to see to determine balance bikes are the way to go. When our children turned 2 years old, they each got their own Strider Bike for their birthday present.

The transition of going from a balance bike to a bike with pedals (and no training wheels) couldn’t have been easier. It was wild! We skipped training wheels altogether!

Whoever invented balance bikes struck gold.

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5 Reasons to Love Balance Bikes

1. Learning to ride a bike is essentially self taught.

kid riding a balance bike to a woman

There is a gradual transition with balance bikes. First, your child will hold onto the handle bars and walk with the bike straddled between their legs.

I remember worrying whether that was normal and going to Strider’s website to see that it is, especially if your little tike is on the younger side (balance bikes can be given to someone as young as 18 months old).

When your child is ready, they naturally start to sit on the bike seat and move their legs. This can be a slow process at first; each child moves at their own pace.

Next, your child will start to move their legs faster. They will have fast “Flintstone feet” to get around on their balance bike.

Last, your child will begin to pick their feet up for short bursts and glide. My kids both did this with their knees up and out, feet not touching the ground, before they learned to rest their feet on the bike as they glide.

Once your little one can glide for long periods with feet resting on the bike as they turn and go up and down curbs or hills, they are ready for pedals!

The whole process happens naturally and at your child’s own speed, all the while having a blast. It’s amazing what kids can do on their own and how little we have to step in with teaching balance.

2. Learning balance takes time and dedication, but balance bikes make it so natural and stress free.

kid learning to ride a bike on a balance bike

Some of my favorite memories with my kids are of them eagerly asking to “ride” their bikes. I put ride in quotation marks because those early days of riding were simply holding the handle bars and walking with the bike straddled between their legs.

But they LOVED it. We would “ride” down our street and have the best time outside. I spent more time teaching them street etiquette like staying close to the curb and stopping for cars, etc. than I did with, “This is how you ride a bike.”

Balance bikes simply make the process simple, fun, and stress free.

I remember being nervous to learn to ride without training wheels and falling off my bike many times when I was a kid.

That doesn’t happen with balance bikes.

3. Balance bikes instill confidence.

boy on a bike

My 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son have two very different personalities. Our daughter is fearless and thrill seeking. Our son is cautious and careful.

Both love to have fun and both beg to have pedals on their bikes. I think that is so cool!

Our 5 year old could have started riding a bike with pedals probably much sooner, but just with the business of life, we didn’t make getting a new bike a priority.

When she did get her big girl bike, to see her excitement, pride, and confidence shine was a moment I’ll never forget. Seeing her smile–recognizing her own sense of strength and capabilities as she pedaled down the street–was simply the best.

I know we will have the same experience with our son.

4. Riding with pedals is learned in a matter of minutes.

dad teaching daughter to ride a bike with pedals in an article on balance bike vs bike with training wheels

When our daughter got on her bike with pedals, my husband and I took turns holding onto the back of her seat as she practiced getting used to the feeling of pedaling.

But, we barely held on because her balance was so great. And, we did this for not even 5 minutes I don’t think. I want to say we each held onto the back of her seat only for maybe 5 times total. It was quick! We got to SKIP riding with training wheels.

We stayed outside for 4 hours that day (not all at once and with breaks 🙂 ). All our daughter wanted to do that day was ride, ride, ride.

Are Balance Bikes Worth It?

YES! Absolutely, yes! They are Forbes vetted, too! But if you’d like a further breakdown, here are detailed pros and cons of learning to ride a bike via a balance bike vs with training wheels.

Pros & Cons: Balance Bike vs Bike with Training Wheels

When it comes to how to teach your child to ride a bike, parents often find themselves faced with a decision: Should they start with a balance bike or training wheels? Both options have their own advantages and drawbacks, and understanding these can help you make the best choice for your little rider.

4 Balance Bike Pros

family cheering boy on a balance bike

1. Balance Development

Strider bikes, also known as balance bikes, focus on teaching children how to balance on two wheels from the get-go. Without the distraction of pedals, kids can concentrate on balancing, which is the core skill of cycling.

2. Smooth Transition to Pedal Bikes

Children who start with Strider Bikes often transition to pedal bikes more smoothly. Once they master balancing, they only need to learn how to pedal, which typically comes quickly.

3. Increased Confidence and Independence

As kids learn to balance and steer on their own, they gain confidence. Strider Bikes encourage them to take control, helping build their independence.

4. Better Coordination

Strider Bikes help improve overall coordination. Kids learn to steer, balance, and navigate obstacles all at once, which are crucial skills for cycling and other physical activities.

2 Balance Bike Cons

toddler girl on a balance bike in an article on balance bike vs bike with training wheels

1. Initial Learning Curve

Some children may find it challenging to start on a balance bike, especially if they are used to more stable, supported movement.

2. Limited Use Period

Once children are ready for a pedal bike, they will outgrow their Strider Bike. This could make the initial investment feel short-lived.

But for us, this was not the case. Our daughter rode her Strider for 3 years, and our son for 2.

3 Training Wheels Pros

girl riding bike with training wheels

1. Immediate Stability

Training wheels provide immediate stability, allowing children to pedal and move without worrying about balance. This can be less intimidating for beginners.

2. Familiar Bicycle Structure

Training wheels maintain the traditional bicycle structure, making it easier for children to transition to a standard bike when they are ready.

3. Pedal Practice

Kids can start learning how to pedal from the beginning, which can be advantageous for developing leg strength and understanding the mechanics of cycling.

4 Training Wheels Cons

girl riding bike with training wheels

1. Delayed Balance Skills

Training wheels can delay the development of balance, making the process to learn to ride a bike more drawn out. Children rely on the wheels for support, which means they don’t learn to balance until the training wheels are removed.

2. False Sense of Security

Training wheels can create a false sense of security. Kids might become too comfortable and dependent on them, making the transition to a two-wheeler more difficult and sometimes intimidating.

3. Difficulty Transitioning

The transition from training wheels to a two-wheeler can be challenging. Children often have to relearn how to balance, which can be frustrating and lead to a loss of confidence.

Final Thoughts

mom kissing boy on head as he stands to ride his balance bike

While balance bikes and training wheels have their own sets of benefits and drawbacks, Strider Bikes easily are the best way to go. They offer a more natural progression to pedal bikes.

Your child will learn to ride a bike with confidence, fun, and ease with a Strider, all the while establishing early balance and coordination, two essential skills for cycling and beyond.

Are balance bikes worth it? 100%! Click here to get yours today!

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