Balance Bikes

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karlt
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Balance Bikes

Postby karlt » 28 Sep 2011, 10:31pm

Does anyone have any recommendations for a balance bike for a boy looking at his 5th birthday in a week? We've seen http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kettler-Speedy- ... roduct_top - the manufacturer recommends up to 4 years, but Boy is quite small for 5 and at least one reviewer said it fitted his 5 year old.

Budget is up to around £50

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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby Vorpal » 28 Sep 2011, 10:59pm

My daughter learned on a Hudora balance bike like this one http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001 ... eukusho-21. It would probably be sized appropriately for a small five year old. The recommended age is 3 - 6, but I would have thought it would be too small for an average 6 year old.

Advantages of the Hudora:
reasonable price
rear brake (with appropriately sized brake lever)
steel frame
adjustable seat & handlebars

Disadvantages:
the wheels are moulded plastic, so adjusting the brake is a bit fiddly
the hand grips are cheap & split (replaced within a couple of weeks of getting the bike)

All in all, I thought it was good value for money. My daughter learned to use the brake, which I felt was a distinct advantage over most of the other cheap balance bikes.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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karlt
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby karlt » 29 Sep 2011, 7:29am

Vorpal wrote:My daughter learned on a Hudora balance bike like this one http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001 ... eukusho-21. It would probably be sized appropriately for a small five year old. The recommended age is 3 - 6, but I would have thought it would be too small for an average 6 year old.

Advantages of the Hudora:
reasonable price
rear brake (with appropriately sized brake lever)
steel frame
adjustable seat & handlebars

Disadvantages:
the wheels are moulded plastic, so adjusting the brake is a bit fiddly
the hand grips are cheap & split (replaced within a couple of weeks of getting the bike)

All in all, I thought it was good value for money. My daughter learned to use the brake, which I felt was a distinct advantage over most of the other cheap balance bikes.


We'd been put off that one by the bad reviews. Will give it another look.

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Ash28
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby Ash28 » 29 Sep 2011, 8:11am

I took the chain wheel and chain off an ordinary childrens bike. Worked a treat and then I replaced them when she was able to pedal.
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Vorpal
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby Vorpal » 29 Sep 2011, 8:25am

karlt wrote:We'd been put off that one by the bad reviews. Will give it another look.


Hmm... I wasn't aware of the bad reviews. That seems to have occurred since I bought ours. And John Lewis (where I got ours) have stopped carrying them. On the other hand, Evans do carry them, so you might be able to get one form them set up, and save yourself the trouble of dealing with any problems that way?

I suspect that some of the 'wheels buckled' are people describing the problems that I think are due purely to the wheels being moulded plastic; that is, the innaccuracies inherent in using plastic make it hard to adjust the brakes. The reviews I found are not clear about how or if they solved the problem.
Last edited by Vorpal on 29 Sep 2011, 12:52pm, edited 1 time in total.
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531colin
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby 531colin » 29 Sep 2011, 8:49am

Bikes make lousy presents.

Shops get a stream of parents wanting to buy a bike for Christmas....so its a surprise, so the kid can't try it for size....and parents want plenty of growing room 'cos "the weather is awful this time of year, he won't be riding it till the spring"....its a total lottery....here's your present...a bike you can't ride, 'cos I got you a size up...

Remember the glorious weather we had in April?
That was the time to go to the local tip, slip the man a couple of quid, and come away with a bike thats been ridden about 5 times. Pump the tyres up, lube the brake cables, take the cranks, chain and bottom bracket off, and there you go, a balance bike. You might even find one that has ballbearings in the headset.
He would be up on 2 wheels by now.

Kids are ready for a new bike when they are ready for a new bike, it doesn't go by the calendar.

I would never "splash out" on a surprise kids bike....there are so many laying around unused, victims of our "cash rich time poor" society. Take the kid along and pick up a secondhand one cheap. After 2 kids, a lifetime of cycling, and working in 2 bike shops, I still can't tell if a kid will take to a particular bike or not.

Sorry, end of rant.

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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby Vorpal » 29 Sep 2011, 10:11am

I don't think there is anything wrong with bikes as gifts, though I agree that lots of kids get bikes that they aren't suited to. The person buying the bicycle needs to be knowledgeable about both bicycles and the child, and it still may go wrong.

My oldest received her first two bikes (balance bike & first pedal bike) as Christmas gifts, and loved them. She couldn't ride her pedal bike immediately (ability rather than size), but she kept trying until she could. Now that she is cycling independently, however, I would not buy another bike without trying it.

For something like a balance bike, I don't think it matters as much. Sizing is less critical, as long as there is plenty of adjustment. And they grow so fast when they're that little, even if you do try it, there's no knowing if it will still fit well after the next growth spurt, anyway.

I do agree about getting secondhand, if possible. I was unable to get a secondhand balance bike when my oldest was ready for one. Her first pedal bike, though, came from Freecycle. 8)

I know a couple of people who got decent balance bikes from police auctions for very little money (£ 5 or 10). I didn't think to suggest that until I read 531colin's post.
Last edited by Vorpal on 29 Sep 2011, 10:18am, edited 1 time in total.
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karlt
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby karlt » 29 Sep 2011, 10:16am

It just so happens that our conclusion that Boy needs a balance bike coincides with his birthday being due.

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meic
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby meic » 29 Sep 2011, 10:52am

My daughter had a balance bike because at three years old she was too short to fit on any child's bike with the pedals removed.

At five years of age, I imagine that bikes of the right size would be available and then remove the cranks and pedals to put on again in a very short time.

I dont know if it is a good or bad thing but I paid £40 for the balance bike and sold it again shortly after for £20. I should be delighted that the thing did its job so quickly but I feel that I didnt get my money's worth. :?

Ours was a Kettler from the web.
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karlt
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby karlt » 29 Sep 2011, 10:57am

meic wrote:My daughter had a balance bike because at three years old she was too short to fit on any child's bike with the pedals removed.

At five years of age, I imagine that bikes of the right size would be available and then remove the cranks and pedals to put on again in a very short time.

I dont know if it is a good or bad thing but I paid £40 for the balance bike and sold it again shortly after for £20. I should be delighted that the thing did its job so quickly but I feel that I didnt get my money's worth. :?

Ours was a Kettler from the web.


Would be a good idea, but there's a lot of psychology here. Boy #2 is very nervous; we've tried a normal bike with cranks removed and he just couldn't get going; he's borrowed a balance bike from someone before and got on much better. You know it's much the same, I know it's much the same, but 4/5 year olds don't quite think as logically.

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531colin
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby 531colin » 29 Sep 2011, 11:24am

With a nervous kid you may be better off with a trick that's older than "balance bikes".
Get a bike from the tip thats about the right size.
Take a broom handle and slide it behind the seat tube of the bike. It needs to go in the triangle formed by the seaststays joining the seat tube, you normally need to shape the end a bit so it wedges in the space between the bottom bracket and the chainstays (and chainstay bridge, if present). Secure the broom handle firmly to the seat tube with toestraps, luggage elastics, zipties, gaffer tape, whatever comes to hand.
Now the child can ride the bike with you holding him up, the broom handle will be a convenient height for this.
Now you need some "quality time" without siblings, and of course, the patience of Job. At first, you will be doing ALL the holding up. As time goes on, you will be able to run behind, with your hands about a foot apart, ready to correct errors of balancing. Soon, you won't be able to run fast enough to keep up.....when the kid realises you are not there, they fall off. Guaranteed, every time, so its best to arrange for this phase to take place on grass.

Happy days! Seems like yesterday.

karlt
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby karlt » 29 Sep 2011, 11:34am

531colin wrote:With a nervous kid you may be better off with a trick that's older than "balance bikes".
Get a bike from the tip thats about the right size.
Take a broom handle and slide it behind the seat tube of the bike. It needs to go in the triangle formed by the seaststays joining the seat tube, you normally need to shape the end a bit so it wedges in the space between the bottom bracket and the chainstays (and chainstay bridge, if present). Secure the broom handle firmly to the seat tube with toestraps, luggage elastics, zipties, gaffer tape, whatever comes to hand.
Now the child can ride the bike with you holding him up, the broom handle will be a convenient height for this.
Now you need some "quality time" without siblings, and of course, the patience of Job. At first, you will be doing ALL the holding up. As time goes on, you will be able to run behind, with your hands about a foot apart, ready to correct errors of balancing. Soon, you won't be able to run fast enough to keep up.....when the kid realises you are not there, they fall off. Guaranteed, every time, so its best to arrange for this phase to take place on grass.

Happy days! Seems like yesterday.


You're leaving what the child thinks and wants out of this. It's important. He believes that a balance bike will get him cycling. I think it's 90% headology. That's why I'm going with it - if it's what he thinks will work, then it has the best chance.

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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby chrisc » 29 Sep 2011, 11:53am

Cool ! I never considered a broom handle with my kids .. not for bike control anyway. I doubt Trigger would have approved .. !
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby Vorpal » 29 Sep 2011, 11:56am

531colin wrote:With a nervous kid you may be better off with a trick that's older than "balance bikes".
Get a bike from the tip thats about the right size.
Take a broom handle and slide it behind the seat tube of the bike. It needs to go in the triangle formed by the seaststays joining the seat tube, you normally need to shape the end a bit so it wedges in the space between the bottom bracket and the chainstays (and chainstay bridge, if present). Secure the broom handle firmly to the seat tube with toestraps, luggage elastics, zipties, gaffer tape, whatever comes to hand.
Now the child can ride the bike with you holding him up, the broom handle will be a convenient height for this.
Now you need some "quality time" without siblings, and of course, the patience of Job. At first, you will be doing ALL the holding up. As time goes on, you will be able to run behind, with your hands about a foot apart, ready to correct errors of balancing. Soon, you won't be able to run fast enough to keep up.....when the kid realises you are not there, they fall off. Guaranteed, every time, so its best to arrange for this phase to take place on grass.

Happy days! Seems like yesterday.


My daughter didn't get it by the 'holding on' method. I held on and ran along behind her, and she just didn't get it. We tried it again and again and again and... I put the bike away for a few weeks, tried again... etc.

Then, I showed her how to push off with a foot on the ground and a foot on the pedal. I asked her not to scoot along, or pedal, but just to see how far she could go with the first push before she had to put her feet down. Once she got that, I aked her if she could put her second foot up on the pedal, as well. I was going to show her with my bike, what I wanted her to do, but when I looked up, she was pedalling off down the street. :mrgreen:

I have since taught other kids to ride fairly quickly, using the same method.
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fatboy
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Re: Balance Bikes

Postby fatboy » 29 Sep 2011, 12:13pm

Ash28 wrote:I took the chain wheel and chain off an ordinary childrens bike. Worked a treat and then I replaced them when she was able to pedal.


I didn't even take the chain wheel off (just the pedals) and taught my twins in a weekend.

Personally I think that balance bikes are unecessary and actually a bike with a chain is better and you can get one much cheaper.
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