Once your child has been riding a balance bike for a while and mastered the arts of steering and balance, they will eventually grow out of their balance bike and be ready to move on to a ‘normal’ pedal bike.
There is such a huge range of pedal bikes for younger children in the market that we won’t try to review or recommend all of them, but there are some general tips and advice that it may be worth bearing mind when you are looking for the next bike for your child.
No stabilisers or training wheels!
The first rule is – Don’t worry about stabilisers or training wheels! These were all the vogue in the 1980’s (before balance bikes were invented), but after mastering a balance bike the last thing that your child needs is help to keep their balance.
The main differences they will find between the balance bike and the ‘normal bike’ is the action of pedalling and the fact that pedal bikes will probably be heavier than a balance bike. This means that you should probably be looking for a bike that is light enough for them to handle, and of course the same rules regarding saddle height will also apply to balance bikes. Check out our guide to balance bike saddle heights here, so make sure that their feet can be flat on the floor and it is a comfortable ride.
It can be tempting to buy a much larger model as a first pedal bike in the hope they will grow into it, but if the bike is too heavy and cumbersome and the rider can’t operate the pedals this could result in a backwards step. There are plenty of bikes to suit all sizes and children’s pedal bikes will usually start from as small as 12 inch wheels – which is a similar size to many balance bikes.
Get ready for pedals
It may take some time for your child to get used to pedalling, so be prepared for a couple of falls and it may be worth practising on grass to start with. A smaller child may struggle with the extra leg strength required for pedalling, but it shouldn’t be long before a good balance bike rider masters the pedals and then there will be no stopping them!
One other thing about balance bikes is that they keep their value very well, so as long as the bike is not too battered after a couple of years of riding then you should be able to sell on your model – especially if it is one of the higher value brands.