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La Grande Observer Daily paper 09/19/14

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Home arrow COMMUNITY arrow Columnists arrow NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Balance bikes offer an option for kids

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NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Balance bikes offer an option for kids

I, like most of my generation, am a product of training wheels. While they are still the most common way to teach your kid to ride a bike, another option to consider is a balance bike. 

Balance bikes are bikes that don’t have chains, cranks, pedals or training wheels. Kids learn to scoot around on these bikes and then gain confidence to run and glide with the bike effortlessly over most surfaces. 

Riding a bike requires balance, an element that isn’t necessarily learned with training wheels. The concept is that kids go from a balance bike to a regular pedal bike, skipping the training wheels altogether.  

Balance bikes have been around for years but really became popular when some entrepreneurs decided to perfect and market the idea. There are numerous companies that make them. On average they cost about $99 and fit kids from ages 2 to 5. 

Some balance bikes look like regular bikes while others have a nontraditional bike design. You can find balance bikes made from steel, aluminum, plastic, wood, bamboo and even carbon fiber. As a mom I personally prefer those that look like a real bike and adjust to fit a growing kid.

If having an extra bike around — or the expense doesn’t sound appealing  — then you can transform your kid’s bike into a balance bike. This website has great directions, http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-kids-bike-into-a-balance-bike/. 

The biggest advantage I’ve seen with purchased balance bikes is the weight difference. Most kid bikes practically weigh as much as the kid themselves, making it difficult to pedal for a youngster. My son has a Strider bike and it only weighs 6.5 pounds so it’s very easy for him to handle. 

I would also like to mention that balance bikes are great for kids who might struggle with balance because of autism or a disability.  Along with the experience of riding a bike, children can improve their balance, coordination and motor skills. My friend’s son, who has Down syndrome, can’t ride a regular two-wheel bicycle but he can ride a balance bike.

I’m a fan of balance bikes and have been since my son started riding one when he was 2 years old. There’s something to be said for their efficiency when a toddler can cruise faster on his bike than I can walk. If you are skeptical contact me via email and your kiddo can try out my son’s bike. 

Meg is a local mom of two boys. She has a degree in outdoor recreation and loves to be outside with her family and friends. You can contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  

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