5 Quick Tips for New Balance Bikers

Bergen (just over 2 years old)  is a new balance biker.  He received a balance bike for his 2nd birthday from our generous family and has been cruising around the neighborhood, in his own little way, ever since.  It’s been fascinating to sit back and watch his interest and skills develop over just a short period of time.  If you haven’t noticed already, our little guy is a big bundle of energy, so it’s nice to have one more tool in the box to channel it all, and wear him out for bedtime.  

While we sit back (sort of) and watch his progress, we’ve noticed a few little things have helped move him into the direction of being a full on balance biker.  He’s not quite zipping and whizzing up and down pathways, but he’s close, and certainly in a whole different category from where he started, which was not even being able to hold the bike up!

5 Quick Tips for New Balance Bikers | WildTalesof.com

1. Consistent Opportunities for Practice. 

If possible, offer balance biking as an activity choice everyday.  The great thing about balance biking (and I’m sure other activities too) is that you don’t need tons of time for each session, if it’s practiced consistently.  I’m talking even just 5 minutes.  What worked for us was trying it out every evening when we returned from walking the dog.  Sometimes Bergen would want to go for 15 minutes, sometimes he’d decline the offer to try, but at least we were getting out there.

The consistent practice also got Bergen into the routine of wearing his helmet every time we got the bike out.  At first he would squirm, scream, cry, and laugh hysterically because the strap tickled his neck.  Just to put the helmet on took more time than we were actually balance biking! Now he just sticks his chin out and lets me clip it on.

2. Huge Patience. 

This is the hard part. I feel like the biggest nag and nit-picker that ever lived because I’m constantly saying, “keep your hands on the handle bars”, “look ahead”, “don’t ride in the neighbor’s lawn”, “peddle your feet faster” and on and on.  I have to remember to sit back a bit, relax, and allow Bergen to figure out somethings on his own.

I also learned to be okay with stopping even if we only went out for 3 minutes.  It’s actually harder for these little guys than it might look, which I didn’t realize at first.  I noticed this when after just going 6 blocks or so, Bergen was starting to break a sweat!

3. Make it Fun!

I’m always reminding myself that riding a bike is supposed to be a source of joy, and I don’t need to take it so seriously.  Just by accident, we came up with little games that help to motivate Bergen, get him to move along, and sometimes get him to ride faster.

  • Race ahead and have your balance biker try to “catch” you.  Kind of like tag, but one of you is on a bike!
  • Ride to a special destination.  There is a chestnut tree 2 blocks from our house that Bergen calls the “nut tree”.  He likes to collect the nuts and throw them into the street.  There is also a small park just 4 blocks or so away that we’ll make a goal of riding to.
  • Think of fun obstacles to ride through.  Bergen loves riding through rocks & big collections of leaves.

4. Continue (if possible) Family Bike Rides

Nothing motivates Bergen to ride on his own more than after we’ve taken a bike ride together as a family.  We’ve had some good success capitalizing on this (and he’s got his helmet on already, so why not?) and always give him a chance to ride when we return from our outing. Kids seem to want to copy what their parents do, so it’s also been really motivating for us to get out and ride more.  Win/Win.

5. Parks.

We haven’t utilized this enough because it’s just so much easier to leave straight from our house, but when we take the bike to a big open park with pathways and trails, it’s so much less stressful! Trails and grass are a lot more forgiving on falls, we don’t have to worry about crossing streets, and “accidentally” riding on neighbor’s property isn’t an issue.

***Bonus Tip: You are never supposed to balance bike on hills, BUT once your tyke is comfortable with walking with the bike, if you happen to find a street or pathway that has just the slightest, slightest incline, it may just help speed them up a bit, and thus get practice with balance.***

5 Quick Tips for New Balance Bikers | WildTalesof.com

Do you have a balance biker in your life?

What tips do you have to share?

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12 thoughts on “5 Quick Tips for New Balance Bikers

    • You bet! Thanks for stopping by, Cathy. Good luck with the balance bike purchase. Bergen’s bike is made by KaZam. Our local bike shop recommended it and we’re really happy with the quality…love the built in platform for his feet too!

  1. Kate: you have to try and get your kid to bike FASTER? That’s nuts! With mine, I’m always having to jog alongside to make sure they don’t ride their bikes right into the middle of the street or plow into innocent pedestrians. My best advice if you have speed demons is to practice on a weekend in a school playground or some other place where they have secure fences and comparatively gentle terrain.

    • That’s awesome, Nina! Yeah, B just isn’t quite there yet with his skills–still a newbie. I can’t wait for him to start zipping around (or should I be terrified?) Good tip on the school playgrounds after hours—we have big play field near us with artificial turf that makes it great place to practice.

    • What a great idea, Colleen! I love that because once he’s ready for pedals, you don’t have to go out and purchase a whole new bike. Yup, it’s amazing what just a few minutes of practice a day will do for confidence, interest & skill.

  2. This great! The biggest thing like you mentioned are patience and encouragement. My little boy says to me ( when I tell him don’t know how to do something) ” you gotta keep practicing like I did when was learning to ride my bike until you get good at it , like me on my bike now”.
    I personally love the balance bikes! They truly work!

    http://www.aznannies.com

  3. Great post! Both my children started on balance bikes from age 3 (my son was riding with pedals by 4 – he was fine with balance just couldn’t turn the pedals and my daughter was riding with pedals by about 3 yrs and 2 months) and the best fun they found (and they still ask me to do it though they are both season riders) is to draw a town for them. We live in a cul-de-sac and I would draw streets for them and houses and shops. My son was a little reluctant when he first got the bike to go far and this was a great way to explore. We would draw a house and a shop and we would “drive” from the house to the shop, park the bike in the parking lot, go shopping and then “drive” somewhere else. I would make the paths curve so he didn’t just go straight but learnt to turn the handlebars. They were quite fancy when he was younger with beaches and churches and fish and chip shops, toy shops, flower shops, balloon shops etc, now I just draw the paths and my children draw the shops and houses and it was great for early writing practice as they would draw arrows and then my son would write speed limits or house numbers or even stop signs or traffic lights.

  4. We borrowed a friends balance bike and we went over to the bike track where there’s tons of whoops it’s like a box racing type track my son ever since loves it and goes on the little kid track by the way he is two. This year for Christmas we. Bought him one I’m so excited to watch him open it he is going to flip. When the snow melts it’s going to be impossible to keep him close by.

  5. Great post! We purchased a Strider bike for my son when he was 2, and he LOVED it. By his 3rd birthday he was riding a traditional bike. Your tips are super helpful and I would agree with them all. The only thing I would add? Don’t be quick to get rid of the balance bike once they’re ready to ride a traditional bike. We promptly sold ours to a friend, and to this day my son (he’s 6 now) still comments on how he wishes he still had it. Once they get proficient on it, they can do some really fun tricks and maneuvers that just don’t translate as well to traditional bikes. I think that’s great news, though, as you can appreciate what a return on investment you get for a balance bike!

    • Thank you so much!
      I LOVE your suggestion for keeping the balance bike around–such good advice, and we will definitely keep that in mind as Bergen transitions into a pedal bike.
      So glad you stopped by the blog today!

  6. Pingback: Every Kid Should Learn to Bike - May is Bike Month! | Tales of a Mountain Mama

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