When it comes to learning to ride a bike, training wheels are totally out. Did you know this? I didn't either -- until I had the chance to check out a Strider PREbike. The Strider PREbike is actually a no-pedal bike. With the PREbike, you can skip the training wheels entirely -- kids learn to ride on two wheels from the start.
The PREbike isn't a tricycle -- but it also isn't your typical beginner bike. The bike is low to the ground and has no peddles. The PREbike adjusts easily and can accommodate kids from 30-42 inches. The basic idea is that kids work on their balance and coordination before they have to worry about peddling. Makes sense, right?
Ryan McFarland, the Founder of Strider Sports (and a father of two) sent me a Strider PREbike for my boys (ages 18 months and 4 years-old) to check out. Yes, kids as young as 18 months can learn to ride on two wheels. Isn't that crazy?
The bike arrived in a big box and my four-year-old son Brendan was eager
to try it
out. My husband assembled the bike easily and Brendan jumped
right on it. Until this point, Brendan has been riding a bike with
training wheels. We were anticipating that he would be ready to give it a
go without his training wheels sometime this summer.
In the few weeks
that he has been using the PREbike, his balance has noticeably improved.
He is a big guy so he is at the upper size limit for this bike. He is
able to lift his feet off the ground and place them on the footrest as
he glides for extended periods of time. And he has a big, huge grin on
his face while he is doing it. When we head out for family bike rides
throughout the neighborhood, he now grabs for his PREbike, rather than
his old bike.
When I was reading over the literature that came with the bike, a few
points jumped out at me. First, the instructions encourage parents to
just let kids try the bike out with minimal coaching so that they can go
at their own pace and avoid any potentially scary moments that might
shake their confidence. Secondly, the instructions note that parents
should support the child and not the bike. Parents want
to help their child by holding onto the bike to keep it from falling.
This approach actually hinders the child's ability to learn how to
balance the bike. Kids need to feel the bike tipping so that they can
learn how to control it. Instead, parents should support their child's
body -- not the bike itself. Doesn't that make so much sense?
My 18 month-old Colin has been watching his older brother with a great
deal of interest. He doesn't quite have the physical coordination
necessary to keep the bike upright, but he will soon. He picks the
bike up and tries to throw his leg over the bar. The biggest obstacle so
far has been that he freaks out when I try to put a bike helmet on him
-- so we are working on that part first. There is no doubt that he is
learning from watching his big brother in action. When Brendan
transitions to a two-wheel
bike, I am confident that Colin will happily take over ownership of the
Now, I am no biking expert. I am just a mom who
wants her kids to learn how to ride confidently and safely. Based on our
experience, I want to focus on two aspects of the Strider PREbike.
First, because the bike is small, lightweight, and low to the ground,
kids feel in control of the bike. I can literally see that Brendan is
more confident as he navigates his way down the sidewalk. Secondly, I
think that it is interesting that kids instinctively know what to do
with this bike -- they really don't need any coaching or instruction.
The bike is designed to work with them. The PREbike seems to build on
the basic balance skills that they have developed as they learn to walk
Want to know more about the Prebike? Think this might be something your
child would like? Have a look at the photo gallery to see my son in
action on the Strider PREbike. FYI, the PREbike is available from Roscoe Village Bikes.
Disclosure: Strider Sports provided me with a PREbike at no charge
for my boys to check out.