The Balance Bike Is The Best Thing To Happen To Children’s Biking
But the surprise is that it’s not a new invention
Balance is the most important thing when learning to ride a bike. So it seems odd to teach kids to ride bikes with training wheels, which doesn’t promote balance at all.
But this is the way I learned to ride a bike and probably every other kid growing up in the 1980s.
That’s just how you learned. You rode a tricycle when you were a toddler. Then, you got a bike with training wheels for your seventh birthday. And then you scraped up your knees and fell so many times when you tried to transition to a bike without training wheels.
So imagine my surprise when I moved to Europe, and all around me were little Dutch toddlers on these new-fangled, two-wheeled bikes with no pedals. Two- and three-year-olds would zip past me on the sidewalk on these little bikes.
My partner is an engineer, and he quickly points out how flawed the method of teaching with training wheels is.
“Biking is all about countersteering,” my partner said as we observed one toddler on a balance bike.
To which I replied, “Huh?”
I am not a technical thinker, but Wikipedia explains the concept by saying that “countersteering is used to initiate a turn toward a given direction by momentarily steering counter to the desired direction.” I had never even thought of this or noticed it in all of my years riding a bike. Maybe that’s why I’m not an engineer, though.
My partner further explained, saying that when kids learn to ride a bike with training wheels, it stops them from leaning and they don’t countersteer. Kids on training wheels turn the handlebars the wrong way and they have to unlearn this when they transition to a bike with no training wheels.
Luckily, sometime in the early 2000s, the popularity of the balance bike grew among parents.
What is a balance bike?
Like the picture above, a balance bike is a small, lightweight bicycle with two wheels and no pedals. Kids propel themselves with their…