Stabilisers on Kids Bikes. Why they don’t Work!
Stabilisers hinder a child learning to ride a bike.
A big statement considering how many kids’s bikes come fitted with them for young children. We explore why we are firm believers it is time to “Ditch the kids stabilisers”.
Skills needed to ride a bike.
When learning to ride a pedal bike there are two basic skills you must master; pedaling and balance. Traditionally the kids bike industry used two extra small wheels fitted to the rear wheel, to support the bike upright, whilst the child learned to use the pedals.
Reasons to avoid!
- They don’t teach a child to balance.
A bicycle with two wheels is unstable, it will not hold itself up. This is where the concept of fitting two small extra wheels, came from. To keep the bike held upright allowing the child to focus on pedalling whilst not tipping over. When you take the support away, you are back to square one. Tipping over.
- Bikes become too heavy and hard to move along.
A pedal bike needs pedals, cranks, a chain, chain-guard etc. These all add a lot of weight so starter bikes are heavy. Far too heavy in proportion to the child using them. They add cost, look ugly and are impossible to carry home from nursery or if your child doesn’t want to ride.
- Stabilisers teach bad habits.
To balance a child needs to feel the shift in the bike as it falls to one side and learn too counteract it. A rider will change their own position to bring the bike back up-right. Stabilisers don’t allow this as they act to support the bike instead. Worse, the rider normally has to lean in the wrong direction, to counteract the stabilisers tilting the bike at an angle, as pavements are rarely horizontal.
- Bikes fitted with stabilisers, make the ride slow are no fun!
Check out any park and you see always see some child pedalling a bike with stabilisers around the paths. They can’t go quickly, they can’t go over grass and they certainly can’t go off road. Skatepark and cycle trails through woods are definitely out. It’s not a lot of fun, hence they get fed up and won’t go long distances on family bike rides.
- Once you remove them, you still have to learn to balance.
One minute the child is supported upright on a bike. Then you remove the supports but as no balance has been learnt, then inevitably the child still can’t ride. Crashes, frustration, wobbles all lead to a lack of confidence and reluctance to want to cycle.
A better way. Teach balance first, pedalling later.
Turning two pedals is easy. If you can get harder skill of learning to balance nailed first, when you then fit pedals they will just cycle off..
How do we do that? Easy, with a balance bike. Balance bikes are as simple as they sound, they have no pedals, no chain, no way to propel and gain momentum other than using your feet. What is a balance bike?
Children learning to ride on a balance bike solve the balancing problem first. Kids naturally interact with a balance bike because their feet can always stay on the ground, the seat is low, giving a lower point of gravity and a more secure feeling. Why buy a balance bike?
Most parents remember their experience of learning to ride a bike, and for most, it includes painful memories with those stabilisers. It’s a new generation and a new way to teach kids but it works. Balance bike vs a bike with stabilisers.. and the winner is…the Balance Bike