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What is a Balance Bike?

Balance bikes are fast becoming the new way to teach children to learn to ride a bike. To keep you in the loop, we've put together this handy introduction to balance bikes to discover why they've gained so much popularity.

Getting down to the basics

As the name suggests, a balance bike is a bike for tots that teaches the art of balance. Also known as a training bike, they are bikes at their most basic level, without pedals, a drivetrain, and sometimes brakes.

Learning to ride a bike requires a lot of coordination. There's pedalling, steering, balancing, braking, and that's before we've even gotten out of the garden! Instead of overwhelming children with so many new skills, a balance bike focuses on just balance and steering - the two hardest cycling skills to master.

But what about stabilisers?

Many of us learnt to ride a bike with stabilisers, and we're proof that they work! However, the problem with stabilisers is that many children become reliant on them, preventing kids from developing their balancing skills. Many children end up leaning on the stabilisers, and they also prevent countersteering. Countersteering is how you steer a pedal bike - leaning into the turn whilst turning the handlebars the opposite way. When the stabilisers come off, kids have to learn how to balance and steer all over again.

Once a child is ready to transition from a balance bike to a pedal bike, the only skills they need to worry about are pedalling and braking. These skills are so easy to master that many kids complete this transition within a day. Many parents argue that children who start out on balance bikes learn to ride a bike much earlier than children who begin with stabilisers.

A great way to start

Thanks to being so simple, balance bikes are both durable and reliable. They easily roll on tarmac or rougher surfaces, and they're an ideal way to help your child keep up on family outings.

Balance bikes are suitable as a first bike. If you choose one with an adjustable saddle and handlebars, a balance bike is a trike, a 12" and sometimes even a 14" bike in one. When your little one first gets their balance bike, they may 'walk' the bike - holding onto the handlebars and walking alongside it. Over time they will learn to sit on the saddle and scoot with their feet. Eventually, your child will start to glide along, picking their feet up off the floor and balancing. Once they've mastered gliding as well as the ability to steer around obstacles, they're ready to make the transition to a pedal bike - one without stabilisers.

Balance bikes at Halfords

Convinced? If so, take a look at our wide range of balance bikes and choose from a bike made of wood, steel, aluminium or plastic, and with or without brakes. If you order online and collect the bike in store you can even get it built for free by one of our professional bike mechanics!