Balance Bike or Training Wheels for 4-Year-Old | Which Is Better?

  • By: Kevinsmak
  • Date: September 15, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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When growing up, you probably had a bike with training wheels. You might have even gotten rid of the training wheels and started riding on two wheels when you were around four or five years old.

But what if your child wants to start biking at four years old? Is a balance bike or training wheels better for a four-year-old? Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so deciding which option is best for your child can be challenging.

The balance bikes are better than the training wheels for several reasons. The balance bike will teach your child how to balance on two wheels from the beginning. Balance bikes also fit kids much better than the 12-inch training wheels bikes. The seat is lower to the ground, so kids can touch their feet on the ground when they need to.

What is a Balance Bike?

A balance bike is a bike without pedals that helps your child learn how to balance on two wheels. The child propels the bike by walking or running. Balance bikes don’t have stabilizers (aka training wheels).

Kids have their feet on the ground to develop balance and coordination without needing stabilizers. Once the child has learned how to balance, they can transition to a regular bike with pedals.

What is a Training Bike?

A training bike is a bike that has two wheels of the same size and is ridden without pedals. Training bikes help kids learn how to ride a bike without pedals.

They are also called strider bikes or balance bikes. Training bikes have several benefits over traditional pedal bikes.

Why are Balance Bikes Better than Training Bikes

There are several benefits of balance bikes over training wheels.

Trains the Kids to Balance

Training wheels can give kids a false sense of security and don’t teach them how to balance. With training wheels, kids learn to pedal first and balance.

This can be difficult for some kids because they have to relearn how to ride a bike without the training wheels once they are ready to transition to a pedal bike.

With a balance bike, kids learn to balance first, and then they learn to pedal. This is the natural order of things, and it’s much easier for kids to transition to a pedal bike once they’ve mastered balancing.

Size

Another benefit of balance bikes is that they fit kids much better than training wheels bikes. Training wheels bikes are often too big for kids, and they have difficulty reaching the pedals.

The seat is also higher off the ground, so it can be difficult for kids to touch their feet on the ground when they need to. This can make it hard for them to stop the bike or get back on if they fall off.

Balance bikes are much smaller, and the seat is lower to the ground, so kids can touch their feet on the ground when they need to. This makes it easier for them to stop the bike or get back on if they fall off.

Uneven Surfaces

Training wheels can make it difficult for kids to ride on uneven surfaces like gravel or grass. The training wheels can get caught on uneven surfaces and cause the bike to tip over.

Kids can easily ride on uneven surfaces with a balance bike because their feet are on the ground. This helps them develop the coordination and skills they need to ride a bike on all types of surfaces.

Light and Easy to Ride

Balance bikes are light and easy for kids to ride. Training wheels bikes are often heavy and hard for kids to pedal.

This can make it difficult for them to ride the bike and discourage them from biking.

With a balance bike, kids can easily ride the bike and have fun. This helps them develop a love for biking at an early age.

Fun and independent Riding

Children who ride balance bikes are more independent and have more fun than children who ride training wheels bikes. With training wheels, kids often need help from adults to get on and off the bike or to keep the bike upright. 

With a balance bike, kids can get on and off the bike by themselves and don’t need help from adults. They can also ride the bike independently and have more fun.

Transition to a Pedal Bike is Easy

Balance bikes make it easy for kids to transition to pedal bikes. Once they’ve mastered balancing, they can easily add pedals and start riding a pedal bike.

This is not the case with training wheels bikes. Kids often have difficulty transitioning from training wheels to pedal bikes because they must relearn how to ride without the wheels.

Drawbacks of Balance Bikes

You should be aware of a few drawbacks of balance bikes.

Initial Cost

Balance bikes can be more expensive than training wheels bikes because they are specialty bikes. You can often find training wheels bikes on sale at big box stores for around $50.

Balance bikes can start at around $100 and go up from there.

If you have more than one child, you might want to consider buying a used balance bike. You can often find them for sale on classified sites or garage sale groups on social media.

Assembly

Balance bikes often come unassembled, and you have to put them together yourself. This can be a challenge if you’re not mechanically inclined.

If you’re not comfortable putting the bike together, you can take it to a local bike shop and pay them to assemble it. This will add to the cost of the bike, but it might be worth it if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of putting it together yourself.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bike for Your 4-Year-Old

Before you decide whether a balance bike or training wheels bike is right for your child, you should consider a few factors.

Your Child’s Skill Level

A balance bike might be the best option if your child is just starting to learn how to ride a bike. Balance bikes help kids develop the coordination and skills they need to ride a bike.

If your child is already proficient at riding a bike, you might want to consider a traditional pedal bike with training wheels. This will help them transition to a pedal bike more easily.

Your Child’s Age

Most balance bikes are designed for kids ages two to five. If your child is older than five, you might want to consider a traditional pedal bike.

Your Child’s Size

Balance bikes come in different sizes, so you can find one that’s the right fit for your child. Training wheels bikes often have adjustable seat posts and handlebars, so they can grow with your child.

Safety and Convenience

Balance bikes are generally safer and more convenient than training wheels bikes. With a balance bike, your child can easily get on and off the bike without help from an adult.

They can also ride the bike independently.

With training wheels, your child often needs help from an adult to get on and off the bike or to keep the bike upright.

Fun and Adventure

Kids always want to have a bike they will have fun riding. A balance bike can provide your child with hours of fun and adventure. 

Kids often have more fun with balance bikes because they can ride them independently and explore their surroundings. Training wheels can limit a child’s ability to explore and adventure.

Kids often become bored because they feel like they’re not really riding a bike.

Balance Bikes vs. Training Bikes| Which is Better?

The balance bikes are better suited for kids just starting to learn how to ride a bike. They are also safer and more convenient than training wheels bikes.

I would recommend that you buy a balance bike for your child.

If you are looking for an adventurous bike for your kid, then go with the balance bike. The training wheels will limit the ability to explore and have fun.

Choose the balance bike! It is worth every penny.

Kids Bikes FAQs

How much does a balance bike cost?

Balance bikes can start at around $100 and go up from there.

Can I put training wheels on a balance bike?

Yes, you can put training wheels on most kids’ bikes, including balance bikes. However, I would advise against that because it defeats the purpose of having a balance bike in the first place.

What is the best age for a child to learn to ride a bike?

There is no definitive answer, but most experts agree that kids between the ages of three and five are usually ready to start learning.

Should a 4-year-old child be able to pedal a bike?

Most four-year-olds are not able to pedal a bike independently. They usually need help from an adult to get started.

Final Thoughts

For a 4-year-old, a balance bike is the most appropriate because they are just starting to learn how to ride. Your kid will learn how to balance and steer with a balance bike before they start worrying about pedaling.

This will make it much easier for them to learn how to ride a pedal bike when they’re ready. On the other hand, training bikes are more limited in what they can offer and are not as safe.

I would recommend getting a balance bike for your child.


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