I am totally overwhelmed by bike options for my 3.5-year-old son. He outgrew his tricycle in minutes and now I’m wondering what to get next … balance bike or a regular bike with training wheels? Just want something he can enjoy this summer and that will work for his younger sister in a year or two. – Aleca
If your son is the type to really practice something until he masters it, you should look into a balance bike, like the Tyke Rider (at top) for these early stages. Our Publisher, Kristen swears by it– her oldest daughter used to dutifully practice on her balance bike which can even come indoors in bad weather.
If your son really likes to zoom around, he’s going to want to get speed, and he’ll get that with pedals on a regular two-wheeler with training wheels. For the very first two-wheeler that I knew my kids would outgrow in about 10 minutes, I got a secondhand 12″ but the kids hardly ever used it (we’re a tall family). When we moved up to a 16″, I went with a Trek bike
seven years ago and it still is going strong. (hint: Find a gently-used pair of training wheels on Freecycle
instead of buying them new)
A more high-tech, albeit pricier, option than training wheels is the Gyrowheel which
replaces the front wheel of a traditional bike and provides stability that I could actually feel myself when I tried it out at Toy Fair earlier this year. Once your son can ride his bike confidently, you can turn off the stabilizing mechanism, and the Gyro Wheel just becomes a cool-looking wheel.
While this isn’t a bike, I’ve found that another way to help young kids learn better balance and confidence on wheels is to grab a kid-friendly scooter like the Mini Kick scooter
. I can’t be sure if this is just coincidence, but my son had one at a very early age, and he was also the youngest of my three to ditch training wheels—his balance is incredible and I think his time scootering around helped him feel more confident on his bike.