Monday, December 3, 2012

Ditch Those Training Wheels

Tots, rejoice, for we have entered into an enlightened era with respect to your imminent bike riding lessons. Never again will you suffer the false security of training wheels, only to have balance ripped out from under you once you have learned to pedal. For today, we have come to the magnificent revelation that we ought to teach balance first.

We are discussing of course, balance bikes, small pedalless bicycles designed for older tots (think 2+). Here's the idea. You give a tot a little bike with enough clearance for him or her to sit on and walk with. She will walk herself around holding the handle bars and pushing the bike along. Next she will get a little braver and start to move a bit more quickly. Now for the kicker. She will start lifting her feet up and resting them on the small foot ledge that replaces a standard pedal. Ta daaa your toddler has just learned how to balance herself on a bicycle.

This makes for a seamless transition to a trainingwheel-less bike with pedals. Less of those traumatic crashes following "Mommy, promise you won't let go!" Learning the motor skills necessary for balance, that was the hard part. Learning to incorporate pedaling to these skills, not as tough.

Now, I sound like we have discovered some newfangled concept, but in reality this wave in kids bikes has its roots in the 19th century, in a contraption known as the Draisine. This early bicycle-esque machine was intended to move a pedestrian along faster than walking could carry them. It is one of many early designs that were the forefathers of our modern bikes. The Draisine however was unique in its reliance on balance, rather than a set of tricycle like double wheels.

The history and evolution of bicycles is really fascinating, especially in regards to children's bikes. If you would like to learn more, I really enjoyed the article "Down with Training Wheels" by Nicholas Day.

1 comment:

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