Balance Bikes, often called Running Bikes or Pre Bikes, are very simply bikes with no pedals. Designed for young children, their aim is to give the child an opportunity to learn how to ride without the complications which come with traditional toddlers bikes. They provide a fun and relaxed approach to what can often be a difficult skill to master.
The Benefit of Balance Bikes - The theory behind a Balance Bike is to focus on learning how to balance and then letting steering come naturally. Once these two concepts are mastered, children will find it far easier to learn how to pedal at the same time, and because of this, balance bikes have no pedals. This leaves the child free to concentrate on learning the art of balancing by sitting on the seat and propelling themselves forward, keeping one or two feet on the ground at all times. Additionally, this style of training bike has no stabilizers, a device considered by the designers of Balance Bikes to hinder a child's ability to learn because stabilizers alter the movement of a kids bike to resemble a tricycle making the balancing technique different to an ordinary toddlers bike.
There are additional benefits to a kids prebike as well. Simple things, like the fact that it doesn't have a chain which means no messy oil stains on clothing. Also, bikes with no pedals are much easier to put into the boot of a standard family car, and parents won't have to worry so much about maintenance of their child's training bike because there are so few moving parts.
The History of Balance Bikes - The original balance bike UK was invented by a German woodworker called Rolf Mertens, which explains why the original design was made from wood. His concept in bikes, which he branded LIKEaBIKE, has been manufactured by a company called Kokua based in Roetgen, Germany since 1997. This German idea for training bikes took off across Europe and then reached as far as the USA and China. Today, these prebikes are still making headlines worldwide, with major brands like Specialized and Norco jumping at the chance to add a running bike UK to their kids range.
Types and Brands of Balance Bikes Available in the UK - The original training bike from LIKEaBIKE was made from wood but increasingly designers and manufacturers are turning to tubular steel frames for the construction of these bikes for two very important reasons. Firstly, kids bikes need to be durable and hardwearing, and secondly they need to be lightweight. Toddlers can have difficulty learning to manoeuvre a heavy prebike, and it's important that their first learning experience is as enjoyable as possible.
The choice of balance bike available to the UK market is still fairly limited. You can find a kids bike with no pedals through manufacturers such as Hudora, Islabikes and Norco but there are still a large number of bigger named companies like GIANT who don't market a running bike in the UK. Plus, although many of the bigger brands have designed a training bike of their own, there are very few companies who specialize in first bikes for kids. One company which does provide this service, and which produces one of the most advanced kids training bikes on the market, is Strider Sports, a USA based company with sales in the UK via it's sister website http://www.stridersports.co.uk. It's version, the Strider PREbike, is perfectly designed to achieve its aim of helping children teach themselves how to ride a bike.
Strider PREbike - The Strider PREbike is the most unique design for a toddlers running bike on the UK market today. Designed by Ryan McFarland, a father and keen biker himself, this enhanced style is lighter than every other well-known manufacturer's design available to buy in the UK and comes with some distinctive features. Whilst other training bikes either have hand brakes or no brakes at all, the Strider PREbike has a foot brake. Ryan McFarland worked from the principle that when children panic they are much more likely to stamp down with their feet than grab a brake with their hands. This design allows kids to stop their training bike swiftly and safely, without crashing over the handlebars.
Another important element is the use of footrests. Some toddlers bikes either have no place for kids to put their feet or have space in front of the seat like a moped. Neither of these designs teach kids the ability to balance on a bike in the way a Strider PREbike does. This design has footrests directly beneath the seat so that kids can stand up when they like, in much the same way as you can on an ordinary bike. It gives kids that little bit more control over their training bike.
And then there are the puncture proof tires. The Strider PREbike has foam filled tires designed to cope with off road terrain, a design which surpasses the traditional pneumatic tire and gives the functionality you really want with in a Toddlers first bike.
Melanie Thomas (CEO Melrose Kids Ltd) is a mother of two boys and lives in London, England. Melrose Kids Ltd are the official distributor of the Strider balance bikes in the UK and Ireland. The Stride PREbike™ bike is a revolutionary new learning vehicle for 1-5 year old children. It provides great fun and exercise, teaches steering, balance, and co-ordination and builds self-confidence. It comes in 6 great colours.
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