Brake or no brake? That is often one of the questions when you are trying to decide upon the best balance bike for you and your child!
The purpose of balance bikes is to help children learn to ride, balance and steer before they graduate to larger, heavier pedal bikes. Balance bikes are lightweight, easy to transport and maintain so they are the perfect introduction to cycling.
The natural way for children to stop themselves on a balance bike is to put their feet on the floor, and this will also happen if they find they are losing their balance to stop them from falling.
This means that there often is not the need for a brake on balance bikes, especially bikes for younger children aged from 18 months – 3 years. Children of this age also lack the ability and don’t have big enough hands to use a brake, so many of the smaller models will come without one as it is not necessary.
As your child becomes a more confident rider, then it is worth considering buying a balance bike with a brake or fitting a brake to their existing bike. A confident rider can gain a decent amount of speed, especially if they are going downhill so it would be useful to have a brake in these situations where it is not practical to use their feet to stop.
Another argument for buying a balance bike with a brake is that this will help children with the transition from a balance bike to a normal pedal bike, that will be fitted with a brake. It can be difficult for children to change their habits if they are used to stopping themselves with their feet, and it can be dangerous to be dragging your feet along when riding a pedal bike.
A good example of brakes on balance bikes is to look at the Puky range of bikes. Puky offer several models of balance bikes in their range, and the smallest two models are the Puky LRM Learner bike and the LR1L Learner bike. The Puky LRM model is aimed at the youngest children aged 2 and upwards, and does not come with any sort of brake as it would not be used.
The LR1L bike has the option of a rear drum brake, and the largest model in their range is the Puky LR XL Learner bike, aimed at older children and comes equipped with a rear V-brake.
Deciding on a balance bike with or without a brake is another factor when you are looking for your preferred balance bike – however it is probably far more important to find a bike that is the right size, style and colour for your child and most importantly helps them to get on their bike!