Learning to ride a bike used to include training wheels and bloody knees. Not anymore. With products like the Skuut bike, Strider, and Tag-a-Long, it’s easier than ever to get kids riding bikes. Each of these products allows kids to play with balance before they’re sent wobbling down the sidewalk solo, so that when it’s time to pedal – they already know what to do.
Here’s how to skip the training wheels altogether, and hopefully the bloody knees.
Get a Balance Bike: Companies such as Skuut and Strider make small, bikes for toddlers without pedals called balance bikes. Kids sit on the seat and scoot their feet – Flintstone style – to propel them forward. As they gain confidence, they begin to lift their feet in between glides and down hills, learning how to balance on their bikes.
After a year or so of doing this, they master the balance necessary to ride a bike. I’ve seen multiple kids under three, who began on a balance bike, simply pick up a pedal bike lying around and begin riding. The key is to make sure the seat is low enough that they can comfortably and easily touch the ground, flat-footed, when necessary.
Many companies make balance bikes and good ones run about $100 new. I think the best balance bike currently on the market is Strider, although my daughters had a Skuut (it was the first one on the market – trendsetters!) and a Specialized (it was handed down).
It’s never too early to introduce a kid to a balance bike. As soon as they can walk, they can begin playing with one, however around two years old seems to be when they start to really pick it up. Don’t be surprised if your child is ready for pedals around three.
Tag-A-Long: In addition to a balance bike, we picked up a Tag-A-Long bike for longer trips and to help our daughter learn to pedal. The Tag-A-Long connects to the back of an adult bike and allows kids to pedal with mom or dad without worrying about balance. When some kids go from the balance bike to a pedal bike, the “pedaling” can be confusing. They’ll get it eventually, and will probably ride the pedal bike like a balance bike for the first few days. We found the Tag-A-Long to be a good way to teach pedaling and let us get to longer destinations a little quicker.
Biking with our kids has been one of the most rewarding family activities we do together. Their bikes are essential items on every camp trip and vacation. And the looks and comments we get as our youngest scoots herself through town on her Strider are priceless.
Check out the video to see local kids rip it up on their bikes and how they make the progression from balance bike to pedals. Or if you’re a Telluride mom, enjoy, and look for your kid.
Summer Sunday is a weekly column by Jesse James McTigue and sponsored by Jagged Edge intended to deliver tips, news, musings and stories about the people, places, events and experiences that make the Telluride summer an epic adventure.