New bike!December 31, 2012 at 14:31 | Posted in bicycles | 3 Comments
Tags: balance bike, bicycle, bike, learn to ride, mental scarring, stablisers, toddler, training wheels, weeride
Christmas was a very exciting time in the Chillikebab household. A new bike was waiting underneath the Christmas tree! Unfortunately, it was not for me – but for my daughter, who has now reached an age where her full indoctrination can begin. Actually, in many ways I was more excited than if it had been for me.
She was very excited by her new balance bike, and had several goes – although was rather disconcerted that it didn’t stay up on it’s own. ‘It’s a bit wobbly,’ she kept saying, as it leaned one way then the other. Hopefully she’ll soon get the hang of it and be scooting along.
Balance bikes are the new way to teach kids to ride. Apparently giving them a bike with stabilisers (training wheels) creates a dependence on them, which is then very traumatic when they are removed. Reading some web sites you’d think that no-one ever learned to ride in the 1970s and 80s without significant mental scarring. Frankly I don’t really remember that going from stabilisers to no stabilisers was that big a deal, but balance bikes are the modern thing – they can learn to balance and steer first, and then add the pedalling later. I’m not so bothered about the metal scarring (harden up, toddler!), but when I see small kids scooting along on their balance bikes they look like they are having a ton of fun (compared to frantically pedalling some tiny bike and getting nowhere) so we gave it a go.
The balance bike I bought was a ‘Weeride’. I chose it for three reasons – because it is small (my daughter is small for her age), that it had pneumatic tyres, and that it was quite light and easy to carry. This last point is important; there are lots of very cool wooden balance bikes out there, but they are heavy and hard to carry. And as I realised when reading about other families’ experiences with these bikes you are going to end up carrying it quite often when little legs get tired on the way back from the park.
It also has a brake, which is a complete waste of time. Kids use their feet to slow and stop, and in any case the brake lever is a full sized-affair, meaning my daughter can’t get her fingers anywhere near it when she’s holding the handlebars. That notwithstanding, I felt obliged to spend half an hour on Christmas Eve adjusting so it worked reasonably well. I should have just taken it off.
So how has she taken to it? Well, she loves having a bike of her own, but I think is a little put off by how hard it is to ride. It does take some practise. Still, she has a little go most days, so I’m sure it won’t be long before she’s scooting along with confidence. At least, I hope so. The alternative is that she’ll be mentally scarred and traumatised by the thing, and will refuse to ever ride a proper bike – stabilisers or no.