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Child is 2 years 8 months old. She was very much interested in getting a cycle so we bought a balance bike for her.

All other kids here have pedal bikes with training wheels.

My child doesn't seem to be too interested in riding a balance bike since it seems there is too much work from her side to push the cycle with feet.

We have shown her how to ride, but it doesn't seem to be as easy as shown in the youtube videos.

What can I do to encourage her or generate interest?

  • Question: Is this her first bike experience ever? Has she had the opportunity to ride a three wheeled bike yet? If I recall, they don't recommend putting a toddler on a balance bike until they've been able to ride with training wheels first. Not sure, maybe it's changed. – Dejah Roman Feb 23 '16 at 15:01
  • We had to go through this decision a few years ago when my kids became of age to ride. The few local kids who had balance bikes did not seem to enjoy them. So we got our kids the smallest bikes we could get with training wheels. From what I have experienced, balance bikes don't seem to generate the excitement that bikes do. You might want to look into upgrading to a real bike with training wheels in another 3-4 months? – WestOfPecos Feb 23 '16 at 23:16
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    Strider bikes are great for teaching balance. When they have the solid balance, the pedaling is much less complex. Also, they tend to go slower at first, and have more ability to mitigate falls/crashes, so less pain is associated with learning. I know several little tikes that got good starts on one. – EngrStudent Feb 25 '16 at 3:21
  • @DejahRoman Balance bikes are used before pedal bikes. They mean you can SKIP training wheels and tricycles. Our kids learned to ride on balance bikes, no training wheels. – Ida Feb 25 '16 at 16:35
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My second son had little interest in cycling at all and it took a bit of effort to get him involved.

Shiny bike Make sure the bike is appealing to the child. Involving her in choosing the bike is a good first step but if the bike has already been bought (or brought by Santa), they can still be decorated with simple charms or stickers.

Praise This is the perennial advice, which works for reinforcing any behaviour. Praise any success and doubly praise any failures which are overcome. For instance, it's hard to synchronise the use of the pedal, or even to keep your feet -on- the pedals, so initially make a big deal of those.

Cycle in nice locations Whilst cycling up and down the garden path is all well and good, it's not particularly inspiring. Imagine if you were able to pedal around a local park or (as we did) the local zoo! It's not only a treat to go there but your daughter is doing so in a novel way. I'd definitely recommend this.

Picture the future My son saw no benefit in cycling. He could walk to school and Daddy and mummy would drive him to far away places if he had to go there. So why cycle?

I told him all the cool things we -could- do, if only he could cycle. After all, we'd never get our little Mazda up a volcano but we -could- cycle up! Or we could camp in the woods and cycle across rope bridges!

That sort of thing. I'm hoping that he forgets about the volcano bit...

  • +1 For pimping her ride. This is a great idea. Get her to help out with adding the bling, and she'll be wanting to ride at every opportunity. – user1751825 Feb 23 '16 at 22:12
  • @user1751825 I would suggest letting her take the charge and help her to decorate. – rom016 Feb 27 '16 at 14:09
  • "My son saw no benefit in cycling" counter this with a family walk were a parent zips off and retrieves the days treat. For example getting ice-cream. This can backfire if the child enjoys choosing their flavour or toppings, but can be used to encourage learning as they could be there to choose if only they could ride their bike. – rom016 Feb 27 '16 at 14:49
  • @rom016 I'd totally agree if the child was a bit older. A 2 year old though would typically need a fair bit more guidance, and is very unlikely to want to take charge. Their dexterity also isn't very well developed at that age, and so they may get frustrated with trying to attach stickers to a bike. Even if she's only doing a small part herself, she'd still get a great deal of satisfaction from it. – user1751825 Feb 28 '16 at 0:49
  • @user1751825 Depends on the child. If they don't want to take charge and leave it to you that is still their decision. – rom016 Feb 28 '16 at 13:26
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I would suggest giving her a lot of help to start with. If she finds it very difficult then she probably won't feel like trying. Once she gets the feel of it, she might start to realise that it can be fun. Then you can gradually give less help.

I also have a two year old and I guess it's the same for any age that an activity needs to be not too easy and not too hard for them to take an interest.

We got a scooter for our son and he doesn't want to try it himself at all at the moment. But he's already looking a lot more comfortable and feels better balanced on it when we pull him along. We use a strap to pull the scooter and when he's doing well we can allow it to slacken a bit so he gets less help. You could try something equivalent by taking her to ride down a gentle slope. If she gets a chance to lift her feet for a short amount of time and feel the bike roll then she gets to experience the fun part.

We've not tried our son on any type of bike yet but I've read a bit about balance bikes and I like the sound of them. It makes sense that they would give the child the idea of learning to balance more than relying on training wheels to hold them up.

  • I have seen children have accidents once the training wheels are removed as they instinctively lean to one side to turn their bike into a tricycle whilst they are stationary, or even when they have a wobble. – rom016 Feb 27 '16 at 14:39
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Balance bikes are great! Both our kids love them. Our oldest moved to pedal bike at 3, no training wheels. from the beginning he was able to go very fast.

He was VERY excited about biking, because dad bikes a lot, and got the balance bike at 18 months (much advertising say you can ride it 'as soon as you can walk' - this is false). He was able to use it at 22 months. What made him use it was:

Motivation

His dad mountain bikes a lot. He would ride around with our son on his big fancy bikes. He goes biking almost every weekend. Son really wants to do the fun things dad does! Be an example! Do fun biking things.

Other kids

When it comes to learning to ride a balance bike, I found the thing that helped the most was watching another kid use the bike. We had an older toddler over, and he showed our son how to use it. He had mostly been walking around with it, then suddenly he was using it correctly, just from a quick show. If you have any friends whose kids uses balance bikes, have them come over and show.

Be sure the balance bike is lightweight too, and the wheels turns easily. The best I have seen are Strider, or some from actual bike companies like Giant.

I think balance bikes are a really good way to learn to bike. Training wheels really slow you down, and can make it really hard to enjoy biking.

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As a cyclist and parent, some things come to mind.

1) Since you say she's not keen on pushing with her feet, find somewhere with a gentle slope, so the child doesn't have to push to get rolling. A park with some undulating grassy surface is ideal, and you can make a family picnic out of it, so you're there for a couple hours, and there's not a focus on going there to ride. Don't make it a big deal, but also consider taking a scooter or your own bike and lead by example. Grass works well because it slows the balance bike and limits the maximum speed while acting as a cushion for the inevitable tumbles.
An Asphelt surface would work, but the damage of a fall will be higher, which is critically off-putting for a beginner.

2) Don't rush it. My boy was 10 and one day went from a 16" wheel bike with training wheels, straight onto a 26" wheel on a smallish kid's MTB frame, without training wheels.

3) Some kids prefer scooters, you might try your child on a standing scooter and see how they like it. Much easier to step off, but 2 and 2/3 is probably a bit small for the coordination required.

4) Finally, you know your kid - perhaps you're overdoing the elbow/knee pads and making them apprehensive? Or possibly the opposite and your child wants some more cossiting before trying ?

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