A running bike, also known as push bike, or balance bike, would be the sort of prebike that is conceived for kids to ease into bicycling. We previously wrote about the benefits that biking brings to kids.

Traditionally, training wheels on regular pedal kid bikes were used. When they were taken off, it led to many falls and tears. Why? Because kids, while the training wheel phase, hadn’t learnt balance and steering. And that is something a running bike can teach them.

Balance bikes are becoming increasingly popular, since a few years ago, and that must mean something. But, like everything in this life, our needs aren’t universal. Keep reading to find out wether a running bike would fit your needs.

is it worth buying a running bike?

1. Is a running bike for your kid?

As we mentioned before, not all kids are the same, so, there’s no way to be 100% sure that they will make this purchase worth the money. However, there are a few facts that you should take into account when considering to buy one.

  • How sporty and fearless is your kid?

Rough and adventuresome children will quickly learn to ride a running bike. After all, the initial hesitation that regular children may have when trying something new, isn’t so present in them. However, it is possible that this kind of kids, once the balance bike challenge is overcome, will want to learn to ride a regular bike soon.

It is not possible to anticipate to this. Some kids ride their balance bikes for some years. Other, want to try a pedal bike soon after. It depends entirely on the kids and their circumstances.

But bear in mind: Balance bikes and pedal bikes can be used at the same stage, for different terrains.

Did you check our previous post on choosing the right balance bike for every kid’s personality? You may like it.

  • What kind of terrain is the running bike going to be used the most?

Even after children learn to ride a regular pedal bike, the balance bike won’t be left behind right after, for the non-urban trails. Kids will find paved paths safer to ride, but it is possible that for bike parks, and bmx trails, they will turn to the familiarity and safety of the balance bike.

  • Is your kid an only child?

If you have more than one kid, and you’re considering buying a running bike for the oldest one, chances are the bike can be shared among siblings. That will ensure that the bike gives you the best bang for your buck, allowing to use it to the maximum.

  • How old is your child?

If you’re concerned about the cost, I wouldn’t recommend buying a balance bike per se for older kids (over 6 years old), if you expect them to want a pedal bike soon.However, every kid is different and there even are running bikes conceived for adults.

Don’t pressure them into jumping too soon into a pedal bike if they don’t want to, because they won’t use it.

 

2. Recommendations for buying a balance bike

Decided to buy a running bike? Check out our previous post and infographic on choosing the right one.

  • Don’t buy an oversized bike

Think about “now“. Children should be able to plant their feet flat on the ground when sitting on the saddle. If they don’t feel safe in the balance bike, they won’t be eager to use it.

  • Transformable bikes for the win

Some bikes offer regulable bike seat height. Some others, like the Wishbone, can be transformed from trikes into balance bikes, being useful for a lot longer than other bikes.

Check out JD Bug Billy, pedals can be incorporated to it. Running bike and pedal bike all in one. Problem solved.

  • Forget about extras, but don’t forget about quality

If money is an issue, you could forget about brakes, and other features that kids don’t really use.

  • Consider the lightness of the bike

As children will feel more comfortable with a bike they can carry around with less effort.

choosing between balance bikes. metal balance bikes - first bike street.

First Bike is ultra light

 

3. Alternatives to buying a new running bike

If you’re still unsure of buying a balance bike, you could also:

  • Buy a second-hand balance bike

Check out craigslist.org, gumtree.co.ukebay.com, or any other second hand marketplace.

  • Training wheels on a pedal bike (stabilisers)

I used them for years, refusing to take them off. With them, I didn’t really learn balance, and, when my dad took them off, i fell, repeatedly.

They also make the bike bulkier and harder to carry around, and are not the best option for uneven ground.

However, installed on a 16 inch, or 20 inch pedal bike, you can make sure the bicycle will be used for a longer time. I have also heard of people installing them unevenly, speeding up the process, but I haven’t tried that, so far.

Check out this great post on how to properly install stabilisers on a kids bike.

  • Remove the pedal crank of a bike

For handy people, this can be another good option. For some of us, not talented in that department, not so much.

Check out this tutorial on how to remove a pedal crank.

Beware: the same rules to sizing, etc of a balance bike, should apply to a pedal bike that is going to have the pedal crank removed. Therefore, the lifespan of a bike (pedal or balance) depends more on your kids height than anything else.

  • Crafty? Build your own balance bike

There are many tutorials online that include balance bike plans.

But if you’re feeling especially crafty, and have a couple of spare Ikea frosta stools, check out this tutorial by le FabShop, that teaches you to build a balance bike with it. Not sure about the wheels, though!

 

 

Choosing guide balance bikes

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