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Training Wheels or Not

Old 06-21-16, 08:18 PM
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BROOKLINEBIKER
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Training Wheels or Not

Hi everyone,
I have a daughter who is 4 years old & has a 12 inch pedal bike. She just got the bike. I'm trying to figure out if she should be using training wheels or not. She has been using a balance bike for a year & looks solid on it. She wants to pedal. On the pedal bike she can ride unaided for a couple seconds. I'm too tall/messed up physically to bend over & guide her while she learns to balance. She has no braking skills on the coaster brake & needs a lot of practice with it. The bike seems a bit big for her and her toes barely touch the ground, even after lowering the seat as much as possible. What do you all think/recommend?
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Old 06-22-16, 11:18 AM
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Assuming you don't want to shell out the money for an expensive bike without a coaster brake (Woom, Cleary Bike, Commencal Ramones) that she'll probably ride for a year or less, I would recommend:
(1) Try to find a used Specialized Hotrock 12. While they still have a coaster brake, they have great geometry for small starting riders and they're very lightweight.
(2) Get a balance buddy training handle so you don't have to bend over and can still skip the training wheels https://www.amazon.com/Balance-Buddy...=balance+buddy


If you haven't already, check out Two Wheeling Tots ? The Best in Bikes for Tikes They have lots of great information about different bikes.
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Old 06-22-16, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mel2012 View Post
Assuming you don't want to shell out the money for an expensive bike without a coaster brake (Woom, Cleary Bike, Commencal Ramones) that she'll probably ride for a year or less, I would recommend:
(1) Try to find a used Specialized Hotrock 12. While they still have a coaster brake, they have great geometry for small starting riders and they're very lightweight.
(2) Get a balance buddy training handle so you don't have to bend over and can still skip the training wheels https://www.amazon.com/Balance-Buddy...=balance+buddy


If you haven't already, check out Two Wheeling Tots ? The Best in Bikes for Tikes They have lots of great information about different bikes.
Hi,
Thanks for the tip on the training handles.
We actually have a Specialized 12 inch. It is an older bike possibly a predecessor of the Hotrock.
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Old 06-22-16, 03:20 PM
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For what it's worth, we teach one or more kids to ride virtually every week, usng our own balance bikes or, for taller kids, the tried and trusted pedals off their own bike method.

I can't speak to the Balance Buddy, but since many of our kids are 3 years old we're in the same position as you, re height. One thing we never do is hold the bike. We simply place a hand, often fingertips only, on the upper back. We find that this provides just enough control to give the learner confidence that they're not gong to be allowed to fall and then they're away. Even with a very light hold on the bike, there's a danger of the bike going where you're pushing it which may not be [I]quite[I] where they're steering it.
As for "training" wheels, they are an abomination and should be made illegal, since they don't train kids to ride. Good luck, whatever you do.
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Old 06-23-16, 08:11 AM
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(If you have to help her balance, she's not done with the balance bike yet )

I'd maybe keep her on the balance bike through the summer and just be patient. My 5 1/2 yr old was on a balance bike at 3 1/2 and while now can pedal all day long, she still struggles with using the coaster brake.

If she's too big for the balance bike, pull the pedals off the other one. No need to rush things...

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Old 06-24-16, 07:26 AM
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It doesn't matter; everyone learns to ride. Balance bikes are a fad. No one can't ride because they had training wheels, and in fact the great Amercan cycling boom of the '70s was built on training wheels, so it just doesn't matter if we're talking about learning how to ride a bike. And that happens instantly, by the way, when the kid wants to. You'll spend about 30 mins coaxing them along, then boom, they're off. Personally, I'm more concerned with kids having the intellectual development to be aware of what they're doing and their surroundings before they're zipping around the world on a bike. A suburban cul de sac is different from an urban sidewalk or a country road, so I'm not speaking categorically here, just noting I've seen some kids, including my own, riding in conditions they weren't ready for. Nothing bad has happened, but as a parent, you worry...about their safety, but not about learning to ride.
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Old 06-24-16, 10:20 AM
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My daughter has training wheels. Why? Because all her friends had them and she wanted to be just like them.

If she doesn't learn to ride without them until she's 5: she's still happy.
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Old 07-18-16, 09:09 PM
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Hi everyone,
Thanks for the continuing replies. This is all really good information.
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Old 07-21-16, 07:37 AM
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I'm not against balancing bikes but I don't think training wheels do any damage either and I don't see why it should be one or the other. The great advantage of training wheels imo is that they allow the child to cycle together with slightly older kids and cover some distance, set the training wheels a little bit of the ground and she can always practice balancing in a straight line by not letting the training wheels touch the ground.

Getting form training wheels to fully self balancing is usually done in one afternoon, if the kid is ready. I don't know about things like the balance buddy. Almost everybody here uses a scarf or a towel and put around the chest, under the arms and hold it loose but with a firm grip and jog next to the bike. Balancing is the child's job, the adult's job is to prevent the kid from falling so the learning process isn't interrupted and motivation disappears.
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Old 07-21-16, 07:51 AM
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I am not 'against' training wheels, but balance bikes (and regular bikes with cranks and chain removed) are superior for youngsters learning to ride. Another good option as a training tool, if you can find one cheap, is a scooter - the reflexes required to keep a scooter's wheels under it are identical to those for a bike.
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Old 07-25-16, 11:46 AM
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I found it easiest to start my boys off (post training wheels) on a bike that was slightly too small for them. On their proper sized bikes, they were just a little too scared (or something). I read a post here that gave me the idea and it worked wonders.

Good luck. Your child will figure it out eventually.
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Old 07-25-16, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by LiamSkymom View Post
I found it easiest to start my boys off (post training wheels) on a bike that was slightly too small for them. On their proper sized bikes, they were just a little too scared (or something). I read a post here that gave me the idea and it worked wonders.

Good luck. Your child will figure it out eventually.
Thank, that is a great tip.
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Old 08-04-16, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by atbman View Post
One thing we never do is hold the bike. We simply place a hand, often fingertips only, on the upper back. We find that this provides just enough control to give the learner confidence that they're not gong to be allowed to fall and then they're away.
As for "training" wheels, they are an abomination and should be made illegal, since they don't train kids to ride. Good luck, whatever you do.
I don't have nearly as much experience as atbman, but I agree, just a hold on the upper back and light pressure from two fingers on the neck was enough to teach my two to ride. They quickly learned to balance by how much pressure I had to apply. And I didn't have to kill my back by bending over to hold a 12" bike's handlebars. I disagree about training wheel though since they really do work fine and get kids out exercising. Once their legs are strong enough the balance part isn't that hard.
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Old 08-22-16, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
Hi everyone,
I have a daughter who is 4 years old & has a 12 inch pedal bike. She just got the bike. I'm trying to figure out if she should be using training wheels or not. She has been using a balance bike for a year & looks solid on it. She wants to pedal. On the pedal bike she can ride unaided for a couple seconds. I'm too tall/messed up physically to bend over & guide her while she learns to balance. She has no braking skills on the coaster brake & needs a lot of practice with it. The bike seems a bit big for her and her toes barely touch the ground, even after lowering the seat as much as possible. What do you all think/recommend?
Do the wheels have a brake track? If so, you could look into adding hand brakes to it.

Semi-relevant anecdote, I bought my son an Islabikes CNOC 14 which came with a front hand brake and a rear coaster. He wasn't ready (mentally) to start pedaling on it at age 3 but had grown out of his Strider so he coasted on the CNOC 14 for a few months. He really got to know how to use the front hand brake so when he finally tried out the pedals (and was pedaling in minutes at age 3.5) all the coaster brake did was get in the way. I wound up rebuilding his rear wheel with a freewheel hub to get rid of it and he's much happier now.

On the topic of balance bikes, I'm likely somewhat biased as my son was coasting on one at age 2 but having seen a variety of children (I have 19 nieces and nephews) learn to ride bikes, I've never seen a kid pick it up as quickly and confidently as my son who at the time was the only one to start on a balance bike and never touch training wheels.
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Old 08-22-16, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Balance bikes are a fad.
Calling 'balance bikes' a fad sounds like odd sour grapes. Why wouldn't you want kids to learn how to ride a bike for real quicker?

My son's Strider was 7 lbs. and he could maneuver around with it before the age of 2. Your basic training wheel equipped bike is barely worth owning as they don't even really fit the size of child they are supposedly designed for. For that reason alone I'm happy about the popularity of balance bikes.
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Old 08-22-16, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
Calling 'balance bikes' a fad sounds like odd sour grapes. Why wouldn't you want kids to learn how to ride a bike for real quicker?

My son's Strider was 7 lbs. and he could maneuver around with it before the age of 2. Your basic training wheel equipped bike is barely worth owning as they don't even really fit the size of child they are supposedly designed for. For that reason alone I'm happy about the popularity of balance bikes.
I don't have an objection to balance bikes, but they are definitely a fad despite protestations such as yours that training wheel equipped bikes are barely worth having. I explained that position addressed the question of why I wouldn't necessarily want kids to learn to "ride for real quicker" in my previous post, but I'll repeat it for you and try to clarify.

Part of the fad quality surrounding balance bikes is the belief they're "better" and that learning to ride at a younger age is "better," neither of which I'm 100% on board with. Firstly, as I said before, people have been learning to ride on training wheels for decades, so we all learn. I also don't see any evidence to suggest that people who started on balance bikes are, or become, better bike riders than those who used training wheels; balancing is great, but that's just a small part of riding a bike. So in the end, I consider it a wash; either method works.

It may be true that kids on balance bikes learn to ride earlier-- I really don't know, but will concede the possibility-- and I have no doubt that for some kids and their family, that's a good thing. However, as a parent of two children and someone who spends a fair amount of time with kids, I'm aware that they're typically capable of getting into enough trouble walking, for example out into streets and parking lots, or into people on sidewalks, because they're more capable of motion than rational thought.

From the perspective of protection, I'm not convinced that enabling a young kid to whisk away quickly out of reach is such a great thing...for me at least. I'm not into "helicopter" parenting, and think kids should play and learn without constant intervention, so I don't want them to be down the block/street/driveway/sidewalk in half the time they can be on their own two feet.

Granted, there is no epidemic of balance bike accidents, so I'm not saying that's the issue, merely that for those who parent as I do, or for some people in some situations, enabling the speed of child mobility could be problematic. Relatedly, I'm not particularly interested in getting a young kid into an activity which requires being helmeted any too soon; I have a good friend who uses a balance bike with one of their kids, and I've seen him crash, so a helmet is something I think is part-and-parcel here. The constant on and off, the kid's complaint they don't want a helmet...again, not universal issues for all kids and parents, but for me, I don't want or need the complexity, and if I can better explain to the kid the need for the helmet and they can better understand the relationship between riding with it and not riding if they don't wear it when they are 4 (on training wheels) compared to 2.5 (on the balance bike), I'm fine with that.

But these are all individual choices and issues that we each much address, and plenty of people are fine choosing differently than I did. That, let's say by 5yo, all the kids are in the same place, riding adeptly and having fun, validates the benefits of both ways to learn, and I don't see either as necessarily better.

And isn't the essence of a fad that it's popular without necessarily being better?

Now if that makes my perspective "odd sour grapes," color me purple!
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Old 08-22-16, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
I don't have an objection to balance bikes, but they are definitely a fad despite protestations such as yours that training wheel equipped bikes are barely worth having.
That statement wasn't as clear as it should have been. I was referring to 12" bikes in general, which from what I've seen and read, don't fit kids of the intended age.

Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
I explained that position addressed the question of why I wouldn't necessarily want kids to learn to "ride for real quicker" in my previous post, but I'll repeat it for you and try to clarify.

Part of the fad quality surrounding balance bikes is the belief they're "better" and that learning to ride at a younger age is "better," neither of which I'm 100% on board with. Firstly, as I said before, people have been learning to ride on training wheels for decades, so we all learn. I also don't see any evidence to suggest that people who started on balance bikes are, or become, better bike riders than those who used training wheels; balancing is great, but that's just a small part of riding a bike. So in the end, I consider it a wash; either method works.
My son learned a lot more than simple straight-line balance on his balance bike and pedals-removed bike. That's all one can ever possibly learn on a training wheel-equipped bike, though, assuming the parent set the training wheels high enough. Until those training wheels come off, the child never learns how to take a sharp corner or turn at all for that matter. Thanks to the hand brake on the CNOC 14, my son knows quite well how to modulate a front brake even in a panic stop.

Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
It may be true that kids on balance bikes learn to ride earlier-- I really don't know, but will concede the possibility-- and I have no doubt that for some kids and their family, that's a good thing. However, as a parent of two children and someone who spends a fair amount of time with kids, I'm aware that they're typically capable of getting into enough trouble walking, for example out into streets and parking lots, or into people on sidewalks, because they're more capable of motion than rational thought.

From the perspective of protection, I'm not convinced that enabling a young kid to whisk away quickly out of reach is such a great thing...for me at least. I'm not into "helicopter" parenting, and think kids should play and learn without constant intervention, so I don't want them to be down the block/street/driveway/sidewalk in half the time they can be on their own two feet.

Granted, there is no epidemic of balance bike accidents, so I'm not saying that's the issue, merely that for those who parent as I do, or for some people in some situations, enabling the speed of child mobility could be problematic. Relatedly, I'm not particularly interested in getting a young kid into an activity which requires being helmeted any too soon; I have a good friend who uses a balance bike with one of their kids, and I've seen him crash, so a helmet is something I think is part-and-parcel here. The constant on and off, the kid's complaint they don't want a helmet...again, not universal issues for all kids and parents, but for me, I don't want or need the complexity, and if I can better explain to the kid the need for the helmet and they can better understand the relationship between riding with it and not riding if they don't wear it when they are 4 (on training wheels) compared to 2.5 (on the balance bike), I'm fine with that.
My son moved barely faster than his running speed on his balance bike. The only difference is that he was less likely to trip and fall on the bike, and could go considerably further without exhausting himself. I also never bothered with a helmet for him. Perched atop his balance bike, he was closer to the ground than standing and as noted, he could run about as fast. He got some big bumps and bruises on his head and face between the ages of 2 and 3 but none while riding his balance bike.

I don't helicopter parent either but I also wouldn't let my son play unattended next to a busy street or in an active parking lot regardless of being on a bike or not. It was easy enough for me to pick locations to play (some of which we traveled to with him on his bike) where he could go off on his own and I didn't have to constantly watch. He's now well versed in traffic signs and crossing busy streets on foot and on his bike, not that he's doing it alone any time soon. But I won't have to try and teach an older kid who 'knows it all' how to do those things. At the age of 4, he's much more likely to take my advice


Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
But these are all individual choices and issues that we each much address, and plenty of people are fine choosing differently than I did. That, let's say by 5yo, all the kids are in the same place, riding adeptly and having fun, validates the benefits of both ways to learn, and I don't see either as necessarily better.

And isn't the essence of a fad that it's popular without necessarily being better?

Now if that makes my perspective "odd sour grapes," color me purple!
I just attended a criterium this past weekend prior to which a kids' 'race' was held with three age groups, 3-4 (my son's group), 5-6, and 7-8. No doubt my kid could out-ride many of the 5-6 year olds some of which were still on training wheels. The only other boy his age riding as well as him 'raced' against my son a few months prior at another criterium while on a balance bike. It wasn't a small sample either with there being ~30 kids in his age group and even more in the 5-6 group.

I'm not saying my experience is universal, but I can undoubtedly say that balance bikes are better.
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Old 08-22-16, 09:22 PM
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So, my little guy was stupid aggressive on his balance bike. He was basically doing down-hill MTB (on a smaller scale) on the thing. Got him a peddle bike and he just couldn't do the two things together (balance and propel). On went the training wheels for a little while and then one day, off they came. Like a couple people have said, it happen all of a sudden when he was ready and it was done. He was six.
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Old 08-23-16, 11:08 AM
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Obviously both method work. There are at least 5 skills: balance, pedaling, braking, steering abd situational awareness. I think the strider have the potential to be better with balacing and steering. I think situational awareness is easier on training wheels but it should be about the same.

I think that the problem with training wheels is when people leave them on for too long. I have also witnessed where kids misuse the balance bike they put their feet down or are constantly pushing off rather than ever coasting and balancing using that method isn't teaching much.

If you are doing the run with the kid I recommend the balance buddy. It puts you behind the kid rather than next to them. You can also vary your input without the kid knowing
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Old 08-23-16, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidney Porter View Post
I have also witnessed where kids misuse the balance bike they put their feet down or are constantly pushing off rather than ever coasting and balancing using that method isn't teaching much.
Do you mean like this?:
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Old 08-23-16, 01:33 PM
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I can only speak from personal experience. I learned to ride a bike late as a kid. I was 10 and decided that it was way past time to learn, so I used my cousin's 20" girls bike for practice. Her parent's driveway had a gentle slope, so I used that as a launch point. About 30 minutes later I was pedaling and had the balance skills. I didn't have a bike until I was twelve, and that was my older sister's 26" bike that I had to fix up.
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Old 08-23-16, 01:50 PM
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My suggestion would be to find a gentle slope, grass covered. If she is good on the balance bike, she should be able to coast down the hill and get a feel for balancing the new bike. Then encourage her to pedal a bit and coast a bit. She might crash, but that's why you're doing this on a gentle, grass covered slope.
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Old 08-23-16, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
Do you mean like this?: https://youtu.be/dtdT7GGvr3Y
that kid was getting a little bit of coasting so probably learning some balancing
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Old 08-23-16, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Sidney Porter View Post
that kid was getting a little bit of coasting so probably learning some balancing
That was my son, age 2 (almost 3). He rode his Strider like that sometimes, and like this other times (taken a few days after the first video but he was coasting like this well before):
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Old 08-24-16, 05:04 AM
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Sidney Porter
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Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
That was my son, age 2 (almost 3). He rode his Strider like that sometimes, and like this other times (taken a few days after the first video but he was coasting like this well before): https://youtu.be/KUsIQBw09Zg
looks like he was using it right and learning from it. I had a neighbor who's kid always had one foot on the ground for 2 years. When the kid attempted to switch to a pedal bike she still could not balance and still needed to learn pedaling and braking. Ended up doing the hold on to the bike method. This probably would have been solved if the parents encouraged her to lift her legs on the striider
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