Balance Bike vs. Training Wheels: Which is Best for Toddlers?


I can remember when my dad first traded my bike with training wheels for my arguably cooler, grown-up bike (I was 8) and teaching me to ride it. We were in the back yard, the ground was uneven and run through with roots from overhead trees, and before, all I had to do was peddle. Now, this man was pushing me, my legs absolutely wobbling, and then he lets go.

Needless to say, I hit the ground pretty hard.

He promised me five bucks if I learned how to ride though so, as most others are motivated by money to succeed, I eventually figured it out.

But why was it so difficult to graduate from my training wheels?

Plain and simple: I had no practice keeping my balance.

This is why on that fateful day (that I’m sure will come) when my kid wants a bike but is much too small, I will opt for a Mima Zoom balance bike.

What on Earth is a Balance Bike?

At mima kids, we make a version of the balance bike called the mima zoom, and essentially it teaches kids how to balance before they try a full-size bicycle, and hosts many other benefits over the archaic training wheels, such as adjustable height, so they will last throughout a toddler’s developmental years (and actually fit your child too!) The seat height adjusts up to 7 inches and the soft-grip handlebars adjust up to 8 inches!

Balance bikes make use of puncture-proof EVA tires to help children learn how to balance while moving and while sitting still. They’re also specifically made for kids; the frame is lightweight and durable, it fits underneath the child much more comfortably than a bike with training wheels.

But Why a Balance Bike v.s. Training Wheels? Really?

Balance Bikes Run Better on Uneven Terrain

Training wheels have a hard time navigating uneven terrain (like in my anecdote about my backyard full of exposed roots). Meanwhile, a balance bike like the one Mima makes can move effortlessly over such terrain, allowing the child to go faster than a training bike and, ultimately, helps the transition to a legitimate bicycle much smoother. This “learning by doing” way of experimenting with weight and how a two-wheeled bike works on uneven ground will allow your child to learn self-dependency and congratulate themselves when they succeed.

Balance Bikes Are Lightweight

While a bicycle with training wheels could weigh up to 15 pounds while the Mima Zoom only weighs around 7! So your child will have a much easier time maneuvering a Zoom versus a hefty bicycle with attached training wheels. (This also makes tipping accidents virtually pain-free versus if a bicycle fell over.) Also, if you want to pack it up for a trip, hauling it around will be easier on you and your vehicle.

Balance Bikes Will Last You for Years

A bike with training wheels may not be suitable for your child until they’re at least three just based on the size of the thing. You’ll find you’ve graduated to a bicycle and never truly got your money’s worth out of the bike with training.

However, because of their adjustable settings, a Mima bike can be used for a variety of ages, from 18 months to the time they ride their first full-size bicycle. They’re made of durable, aesthetic materials, meaning they will look good and last well for the full length of their use.

The Transition to Bicycles is MUCH Smoother!

As I illustrated at the beginning, the transition from a bike with training wheels to the real deal is shaky, to say the least. A child who has used a balance bike to train with will be almost instantly acclimated (and acclimated sooner) to the feel, weight, and balance of a full bicycle. Because of this, your child will feel much more confident in themselves, and you won’t be left to bandage wounds and, you know, bribe them with money to learn the darn thing.

To Conclude

Training bikes had their day. The janky, half-attached training wheels have been around for forever, but all things must eventually evolve, and that is what Mima did with their Balance Bike. The mima zoom is sleek, looks amazing, rides great, and effortlessly translates to a full bicycle when your child is ready. I would recommend one, and maybe one day when I have a kid old enough, I’ll have them start on their own Balance Bike.


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