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Thread: For the wee-riders- what's the next bike after a balance bike?

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    Default For the wee-riders- what's the next bike after a balance bike?

    I get the sense that there are lots of crazy cyclist parents on this forum that intend on bringing their progeny into cycling as soon as possible. Thus, I hope that some folks have some "lessons learned" about phase 2: the pedal bike.

    My little guy is thoroughly rocking the Skuut but has become so dang fast that I honestly and truly can't catch him on a proper downhill (terrifying for me when he gets a lead on). It's time to introduce pedals and (importantly) brakes. Is there a product that has worked particularly well for the 3' crowd? Any technique that helped the transition? I want to avoid training wheels if I can.

    I may have failed him here a bit- he doesn't pedal at all on trikes or on his Wee-hoo so we are starting from scratch.

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    I am in the same boat. I pretty much used this technique with my older two, but they were 4 and a half.
    http://video.bicycling.com/video/Tea...-Ride-a-Bike-2

    The only obstacle I see for a 3 year old is that a bike is going to be way heavier than most balance bikes. Right now for hills she either does really long curves if the road is clear or just grinds down the soles of her shoes.

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    My kids aren't at this point yet, but I'm going to want to check back on this thread in a few years.

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    I just started on a cheap, size-appropriate bike after the push bike (because I'm cheap and kids grow fast). I got my daughter an 18" bike (though 16" would have been better), and held onto the seat while she pedalled. I'd let go a little at a time without saying anything, increasing frequency and length as appropriate. It took several practice sessions, but she started to get the hang of it pretty quickly. But she does like her trail-a bike better than her own bike, so maybe that's the way to go.

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    I'ld start them out on coaster brake pieces of crap of whatever appropriate wheel size and run them around on the sidewalk or parking lot. Until they are of a certain age, they probably don't care about the niceties of equipment. Buy and sell used kids bikes on CL. Move on to hand brakes during the transition from 16" to 20" wheels. Don't expect them necessarily to have interest in riding bicycles over tricycles, particularly without training wheels. It helps when you have multiple kids because they can be competitive. They don't want to be the kid unable to ride a bike like their sister or brother.

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    mstone is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    First, remember that every kid is different, and there are no rules. Next, better too small a bike than too big a bike. That said, I personally wouldn't spend money on a bike less than 16" (kids grow really fast when they're small, and I waited until they were big enough). I see some kids riding around on a 12" or whatever, so I guess that works for some. I started them out on a trike rather than a bike--pedal motion first, balance later. Both our older kids went through a training wheel stage on the 16" bikes. I tried to keep that as short as possible, but it depends on the kid. One lost the training wheels right about 5 years, the other more like 5.5. They'll know when they're ready. Even before he lost the training wheels the second one was doing 5-6 miles, building strength and allowing more interesting trips than a trike or balance bike. Even a 16" these days should come with a hand brake. Make sure they're checked out on that before moving off coaster brakes. I just this past weekend moved the oldest from twist shift to thumb shift on her 20" bike, and I should have done that a long time ago. (A lot of 7/8 year olds don't have a strong enough grip to use the twist shift properly.) It's an easy swap, and I'd recommend doing that right off. I'd also recommend avoiding anything with gears until they've been on a single speed for a couple of years--develop basic reflexes before adding more distractions. That said, once they're on a multispeed it's easier to go further & faster, which is nice. The most important thing is to let them set their pace, and keep it fun. I just got back from a seven or eight mile family ride (cut short by darkening skies) with the 8 year old, the 6 year old, and the 2 year old in the wee-hoo, and we all had a blast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    First, remember that every kid is different, and there are no rules. Next, better too small a bike than too big a bike. That said, I personally wouldn't spend money on a bike less than 16" (kids grow really fast when they're small, and I waited until they were big enough). I see some kids riding around on a 12" or whatever, so I guess that works for some. I started them out on a trike rather than a bike--pedal motion first, balance later. Both our older kids went through a training wheel stage on the 16" bikes. I tried to keep that as short as possible, but it depends on the kid. One lost the training wheels right about 5 years, the other more like 5.5. They'll know when they're ready. Even before he lost the training wheels the second one was doing 5-6 miles, building strength and allowing more interesting trips than a trike or balance bike. Even a 16" these days should come with a hand brake. Make sure they're checked out on that before moving off coaster brakes. I just this past weekend moved the oldest from twist shift to thumb shift on her 20" bike, and I should have done that a long time ago. (A lot of 7/8 year olds don't have a strong enough grip to use the twist shift properly.) It's an easy swap, and I'd recommend doing that right off. I'd also recommend avoiding anything with gears until they've been on a single speed for a couple of years--develop basic reflexes before adding more distractions. That said, once they're on a multispeed it's easier to go further & faster, which is nice. The most important thing is to let them set their pace, and keep it fun. I just got back from a seven or eight mile family ride (cut short by darkening skies) with the 8 year old, the 6 year old, and the 2 year old in the wee-hoo, and we all had a blast.
    16" or bust. Also, I really like the idea of single speeds to start out, coaster brakes can be confusing though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pfunkallstar View Post
    16" or bust. Also, I really like the idea of single speeds to start out, coaster brakes can be confusing though.
    Oh, yeah, start somewhere flat. If they already know how to pedal, the idea of pedaling backward to stop is fairly intuitive; the hard part is modulation. (We burned through one back tire pretty fast...) In my experience it can take a while before they have the simple strength to make the handbrake work, and hands large enough to get more than fingertips around the lever. The really nice thing about ditching the coaster brakes is how much less time you spend on pedal positioning with each stop.

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    If anybody has a Skuut type bike suitable for a 6 year old (that I could also use by the time my younger daughter turns 3 or so) let me know. I started my oldest daughter, now 6, on the more traditional training wheel bike. She is very good at handling and turning on our concrete patio or on a quiet street but way too absent minded for longer rides. I tried to get her to go without training wheels once and she got very panicky so back on with the training wheels. My youngest is still on a trike.

    From what I have read recently, I think it is better to teach balance first on a skuut and then pedaling on a regular bike but I cannot go back now. Unfortunately, my wife puts this all on me and does nothing to teack biking skills.

    I'm pondering buying a kids razor type scooter hoping that might teach balance as well. Anybody have experiece with that teaching balance to kids and crossing over to bikes?

    A friend of mine with kids hypothesized that boys take more readily to biking as a daredevelish type thing whereas girls tend to learn when there is some peer pressure involved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffC View Post
    If anybody has a Skuut type bike suitable for a 6 year old (that I could also use by the time my younger daughter turns 3 or so) let me know.
    Clearly I'm no expert- but if you want to try the balance bike thing why not just pull the pedals/crank/BB from her current bike?

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