Lucas is now riding a two-wheeler! It’s such an exciting milestone, and he’s so proud of himself. He lagged a bit behind his daredevil brother who was riding at age 4, but given that he didn’t walk until he was 20 months, it’s pretty good!
I have to share how I got my boys to ride a bike. When we bought the little 12″ bike from a bike store when William was little, the clerk gave us a great idea. He suggested that we forgo training wheels and simply take the pedals off the bike. This let him learn how to balance, and we didn’t have to shell out the extra money for a special “balance bike.” Brilliant!
At three years old, William was zipping around town on that little bike. He balanced perfectly, and he could go pretty fast. Once he was comfortable riding this way for several months, we realized that he was ready for pedals. So we put them back on, and after a two-minute tutorial on how to push yourself off first, he was riding!
It went exactly the same way for Lucas. It took a little longer for Lucas to get comfortable riding the bike without pedals. He’s quite a bit shorter than his brother, and I realized that once his feet were firmly planted on the ground, he was more confident. Also, by nature, Lucas is a much more cautious child.
I cannot tell you how great this method is. I have watched a couple neighbor kids learn to ride bikes. One learned with her grandpa holding her and running alongside. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely not my preferred method. Another family left training wheels on, but took one of them off. That way, she learned how to balance, but whenever I saw her ride, I wondered if she was going to end up riding lopsided. It didn’t look natural.
The balance bike method is much better, whether you use a true balance bike or take the pedals off the child’s bike.
If you’re going to go this route with your child, I recommend getting a bike that is small enough so that the child can place his feet comfortably (or flat) on the ground. You can always raise the seat later to get more life out of it. As you can see, Lucas is getting a little big for the 12″, but he’s not super confident on the 16″ so I’ll give it another couple weeks until we switch.
Oh, and I’m a big proponent of quality bike shop bikes and helmets. We bought a bike at Target once, and William ended up with a fat lip after falling over the handlebars. And the one helmet we bought at Target lost its visor not long after we bought it. Bike stores cost a bit more, but it’s a safety issue, in my opinion. You can’t put a price on that. To save money, you might check Craigslist for quality bikes. We bought William’s Trek bike on Craigslist and saved about $100-150. Keep an eye out for bikes made by Trek, Giant, and Specialized.
While you’re out shopping, and if you’re a big bike-riding family, you might consider getting a trailer bike like the one pictured here. We went riding just the other day, even after Lucas learned how to ride, and we still used the thing. We can go longer distances at a faster pace if we’re not going at his 5-year-old pace. They aren’t cheap, so again, check Craigslist. People don’t use them for long, so they’re easier to find used. We bought ours from a friend.