As you may have heard in my recent Spring Bucket List post or from our instagram and facebook updates, WE HAVE A NEW BIKE RIDER in the family! Yes, in just a matter of a couple of weeks Bergen (our 4-year old) has mastered pedal bike riding, and is now riding his bike to school, riding on our daily afternoon walks (up to 3.5 miles), and just generally having fun tooling around the neighborhood!
Now that we are on the other side of it, I will say that the transition from balance bike to pedal bike is fairly quick and easy. But at the same time, I want everyone to understand that the transition for our child did not happen overnight, and it didn’t happen without a lot of hard work and practice, and unfortunately a few tears.
Based on our experience, here’s what seemed to work well with the transition from balance bike to pedal bike. Be sure to continue reading until the end to watch the whole process in action with our quick video!
First of all, Bergen was ready, and motivated make the big move from balance biker to pedal biker. In addition to mastering the balance bike, the fact that he had actually outgrown the KaZam after two and a half years of riding let us know that it was time to graduate and move on!
Unlike so many other kids that seem to make the transition in 15 minutes or so, despite being excited to ride, Bergen hadn’t quite picked up the skills after the first try. We didn’t push it though, and just asked that he work on it for a few minutes at a time. And okay, I admit it, sometimes I offered him a special treat (maybe a cookie or two?) for putting in those practice minutes. It was worth it!
- First he just walked the bike around as though it was still a balance bike.
- Then once he got comfortable handling that, I asked him to try picking up his feet.
- After maintaining balance for a while, then I asked him to start trying to pedal. After getting those first hints of what pedaling a bike felt like, I made sure that he practiced A TON after that. Having him push off the ground with one foot also helped in gaining momentum to start. Just like with learning to balance bike, the slightest incline (down) can help in gaining just a little bit of speed to get the bike going.
In about a week’s time, he was a confident, independent (as much as you can be at 4.5 years) bike rider!
Although it was risky and difficult at times, I found that just going for it, and having Bergen take a 2-mile round trip ride to the park and back made a huge difference in his confidence and motivation. On the way to the park since there is a hilly section, I ended up having to carry his bike for a few blocks, but the whole ordeal not only gave him a ton of practice in stopping and starting (since he had to pause at every block to check for cars), it allowed him to realize the the freedom and exhilaration of riding!
We were very intentional with our choice of bikes for Bergen’s transition from balance bike to pedal bike. We did our research, and found what we felt was the best bike available for young riders. The Woom 3 bike (16-inch model for children 4 to 6 years old) is specifically designed for kids. The following features were important to us, and definitely aided in his quick progress:
- Weight: The Woom 3 weighs just 13 pounds!
- Hand Brakes: Hand brakes give kids better control, and prevent the sudden stop that happens when kids pedal backwards (something they tend to do as they learn to pedal).
- Steering delimiter: Prevents the hand bars from completely spinning around, and limits the amount of steering space thus stabilizing the bike and encouraging proper positioning/riding in a straight line!
What was learning to ride a bike like for you or your kids? Anything in particular that helped make the transition to pedal bike? Please share your tips for other readers to gain from your insights!