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Student on Strider Balance Bike during All Kids Bike Kindergarten PE Program

Balance Bike vs. Training Wheels — Which Is Best?

When it comes to learning to ride a bike, parents, caregivers, and instructors have two prominent options: balance bikes and training wheels. But which is the best approach for your child? In this article, we dive into the debate of balance bikes vs. training wheels, highlighting what each option involves and why one is superior to the other.

What Are Training Wheels?

Training wheels are an extra pair of small wheels attached to the rear wheel of a traditional bicycle. They provide additional balance, allowing kids to focus on pedaling and steering without worrying about falling over. Over time, as children gain confidence and skill, the training wheels can be gradually lifted or removed entirely.

What Are Balance Bikes?

A balance bike is a two-wheeled bike without pedals, often also referred to as a Strider or a Strider balance bike — which are the ones we use at All Kids Bike. It is designed to help children focus on balancing and steering before introducing the complexity of pedaling. By learning balance first, many children find it easier to transition to a pedal bike without ever needing training wheels.

Why Balance Bikes Are the Better Option

When comparing balance bikes vs. training wheels, there is often debate about which option is better. Here are some of the reasons why balance bikes offer more advantages when learning to ride a bike than training wheels do:

  • Mastery of Balance – Balance bikes focus on teaching children the essential skill of balance right from the start. By separating balance from pedaling, kids can focus on mastering one skill at a time. When they are ready to progress to a pedal bike, they already have a strong foundation of balance. This can lead to a smoother and less stressful transition to pedal bikes. Training wheels don’t teach balance, which can prolong the learning period and keep kids from advancing to a real bike.
  • Confidence Building – Children on balance bikes control the bike with their feet, a motion that is already familiar to them from walking and running. This immediate control can help children feel more secure and confident, fostering a positive attitude toward biking. This confidence can be particularly important when they transition to a bike with pedals, as they’ll have a solid understanding of their own balance and steering capabilities. It can also ensure that they make it through the entire learning process instead of giving up because of difficulties with balancing and staying upright on their own.
  • Physical Exercise – Riding a balance bike can provide a great source of physical exercise. As mentioned above, children use their legs to propel themselves forward and to stop, which can help build muscle strength and endurance. In addition, the constant adjustment of balance can promote core strength and coordination. Plus, making exercise fun can help children develop a healthy attitude toward physical activity.
  • Longevity – Many balance bikes come with adjustable seats and handlebars, which allows the bike to grow with your child. This adjustable feature means that children can use the same balance bike as long as they need to and the bikes can be adjusted for different children as well, providing excellent value for money and a familiar platform for developing skills.

At All Kids Bike, we use Strider bikes to teach children how to ride bikes in schools all across the country. This provides them with a simple introduction to the mechanics and skills involved with riding a bike.

Making the Choice: Balance Bike or Training Wheels?

As you can see, balance bikes offer many advantages over training wheels. However, the choice between a balance bike and training wheels is often up to parents. While many people grew up learning to ride a bike using training wheels, studies suggest that balance bikes can provide more opportunities for children to improve motor skills, balance, and physical fitness faster. 

Researchers believe that using balance bikes in a progressive training model focused on balance first is the best method for most children. Balancing is the single most important aspect of riding a bike, so it only makes sense that mastering that skill first on a balance bike helps children learn how to ride a bike faster and more naturally. It’s important to choose the best bike for kids that will enable them to enjoy the benefits of bicycle riding for years to come.

All Kids Bike is a national movement dedicated to bringing the mental and physical benefits of bike riding to every kid in America. Led by the Strider Education Foundation, our mission is to make bicycling skills an integral part of kids’ elementary school education. Our Kindergarten PE Program provides the curriculum, bikes, and safety equipment needed to teach every kindergartner how to ride at no cost to the school itself.

All Kids Bike and the Strider Education Foundation depend on generous contributions from the community to do the important work that we do. Consider donating to a school in your area to support our vision of making this milestone skill accessible to children across the country. Contact us to learn more or check us out on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube!