Nothing quite sums up childhood like riding a bike. But before they can taste that sweet sweet freedom that is cruising down the street, they’ve got to learn how to balance on two wheels ⏤ and damn that is tough. And not just for the kid learning to pedal. Teaching a child to ride a bike can be so, so, frustrating. It doesn’t matter if you’re on ‘Team Training Wheels’ or ‘Team Balance Bike,’ the challenges remain the same. Fortunately, there are some additional training tools out there to help create a comfortable environment for and encourage kids to push off on their own. Here are six of our favorites to help kids gain confidence and eventually take those first pedals into bicycle independence.
Essentially a tow-bar that connects your bike to your kid’s tricycle or bicycle, the Trail-Gator will help familiarize your child with the basics. With training wheels attached, they can simply ride behind you and get comfortable with sitting on a bike and feeling the ground move beneath them. They can practice pedaling and gripping the handlebars without having to worry about stability just yet ⏤ and they can’t run you off the road since the front wheel is off the ground. When they’re finally ready to give riding on their own a shot, simply detach the bike and fold the bar up and out of the way.
Yeah, it sort of resembles like one of those old-timey workout machines that jiggled the bellies of bald men with handlebar mustaches. But the Balance Belt is really helpful in teaching kids how to ride. Basically, you hold your kid steady with the belt while they figure out how to balance the bike. Prepare for a lot of wiggling and a good arm workout, but at the end of the day, you’ll have a kid that has a much better sense of the balancing act of keeping a bike rolling than you would have had otherwise. The belt is also a good compromise for folks who aren’t necessarily handy enough to tinker with their bike wheels, since you can just pick it up and use it. The makers of the Balance Belt are so confident your child will learn with their product they even offer a money-back guarantee.
Schwinn Protective Gear
Without overcomplicating things, some kids just worry about getting hurt. It’s natural they might be a bit sheepish. Protective gear (especially a helmet) should be mandatory, but suiting them up with additional armor should help ease their mind and overcome their fear of getting hurt. These pads from Schwinn are pretty universal too, so you can reuse them for your kid’s scooter, skateboard, or superhero dress-up time.
The Balance Buddy is another attachable riding aid that lets parents hold on to the bike while kids get a feel for riding. Simply lock the U-shaped handle to the back of the bike and use it to guide the child along as they roll. This solution works because it’s a hybrid between training wheels and the Balance Belt. You’re still close enough to feel which way they’re leaning and adjust accordingly, yet they aren’t relying on wheels too much either. Plus, you can help them as much or as little as they need. And once you sense they’ve got the hang of it, let go entirely.
Once balance is no longer an issue, a big element of biking is maintaining speed. An audio-visual aid, like a noisemaker on a bike’s spokes, can help kids recognize when they aren’t moving fast enough and get them to pedal faster. While in the old days kids just put pinwheels on their bikes, this airplane makes for a pretty cool replacement. If they want the airplane to ‘fly’ then it needs wind rushing through the propellers ⏤ and the only way to do that is to keep pedaling. It also adds an element of fun to the ride.
Wald Training Wheels
Finally, the quintessential (and somewhat debated) learning aid. Training wheels have been around forever, and while many parents eschew them now in favor of balance bikes, they’re classic for a reason ⏤ they work. Training wheels help kids get a feel for riding a bike while slowly easing them onto two wheels as their balance develops. Simply adjust the training wheels higher and higher until they’re no longer needed. Just make sure to buy the right size wheels for the right size tire ⏤ there are two variants for 12″-16″ wheels and another for 16″-20″ wheels.