Advocates of balance bikes believe that training wheels force the child to rely too much on them which in turn hinders their ability to learn how to ride and stabilize themselves on their own. On the other hand, skeptics of these newer models believe that training wheels are just as good as they have taught millions of children from around the world how to ride pedaled versions properly.
So, which method is best when teaching children how to ride? Before diving into the differences, lets consider some of the similarities.
Whether attempting to learn to ride by using one or the other, a parent needs to consider several things such as:
How good the child is at walking. To learn with training wheels, the child must have sufficient leg power to pedal. Second, regardless which bike is chosen, parents and children should expect for at least one major fall. Neither method is guaranteed to be fall or injury free, but the strength and current motor abilities of the child will go a long way into how often this occurs. Some may say that a child on a balance bike is better prepared at catching themselves as their feet are already against the ground anyways.
- Is the child ready to learn how to ride? Learning to ride isn’t a challenge and could be intimidating to some children. At the other end of the spectrum some children may have no interest in touching a bicycle. In all honesty, like many other parenting aspects, if the child has no interest to learn then the learning process cannot begin. If the child has no interest or is pushed into something they don’t want to do it could make for some unpleasantness. Regardless of which method is used, parents should gauge how ready their children are to learning and trying new things.
We have seen over time that age beings to make things obsolete. There are many people who believe that balance bikes may be the next big learning tool for bicycle riding therefore rendering training wheels obsolete. One of the many reasons for this belief is that they tend to be more versatile and are able to adapt to the needs of the rider. Because they are in their infancy there are still many new features being developed everyday to this growing trend. I can’t imagine what they will look like 10 years from now.
That being said one of the main advantages of using these assisted wheels are that they do not require parents to purchase an additional bike. So when the child is ready to bike on their own with pedals, simply remove the aids and be done with it. Parents opting for balance bikes will eventually need to replace it with a pedaled bicycle when their child is ready. Here is another great article highlighting the differences.