Children’s bikes – pros and cons
CHILDREN’S BIKES – PROS AND CONS
All children’s bikes appear similar at first, but as soon as you look into them, you see how different each model is … There are a few decisions to be made when choosing a balance bike for your child, in order to protect their safety and comfort. In this article you’ll find the answer to the four most important questions, pointing out the pros and cons of different options.
FOAM OR INFLATABLE? PROS AND CONS OF WHEELS
“Foam or inflatable” – this is one of parents’ top concerns when looking for the perfect balance bike. That’s not surprising, since wheels are very important. Let’s see the pros and cons of these two options.
Foam tires are lighter than the inflatable ones and can’t be punctured, which makes the maintenance easier. However, their adhesion is much lower. Why? Wheels with foam tires are simply less flexible than the inflatable ones. This makes each ride more bumpy.
Foam tires are good for indoor use or very even surfaces outside. They perform noticeably worse on surfaces that are uneven, sandy, or grassy. This makes foam tires better for the youngest cyclists, who are only starting to learn and ride more slowly – without much risk of slipping. As soon as your child starts increasing his or her speed and becomes more independent, foam tires are no longer the safe choice.
Inflatable tires guarantee good adhesion and shock absorbance, ensuring high comfort and safety on uneven surfaces. This is why you’ll find rubber tires with inflatable tubes in bikes for more active children.
The inflatable tires in balance bikes are usually available in sizes of 10, 12, and 14 inches. If you want to control the speed of the bike or decrease its height, you can deflate the tires a little. As usual, there is a “but.” An inflatable tire can be punctured. Make sure your child’s route is free from sharp objects, such as glass shards. If the tube does get punctured, you can easily replace it.
WITH OR WITHOUT A BRAKE … WHICH BALANCE BIKE IS BEST?
This is another important question. Many balance bikes don’t have brakes at all – is it really necessary? If your child only walks with their bike, a brake will not be a requirement. However, we do recommend balance bikes with brakes for slightly older children who like to ride uphill and increase their speed.
A brake lets your child control their ride, so they can adjust the speed, slow down, and stop. Remember – these skills will come in handy once your little cyclist moves to a regular bike.
Once you decide on a bike with a brake, you’ll need to choose between a drum brake and a V-brake. Both of these are equally functional, but a V-brake requires more adjustment. A drum brake is more resistant to dirt and moisture. Don’t forget to check the material of the brake handle. The aluminum ones will obviously be more durable than the plastic ones.
HANDLEBAR LOCK IN A BALANCE BIKE. SAFE OR NOT? HOW TO CHOOSE
Will a balance bike with a handlebar lock (or a stop) help or hinder your little cyclist? There is no agreement. Some manufacturers do mount the lock, which prevents strong twisting of the handlebar, in order to protect your little one from twisting the handlebar uncontrollably and falling.
On the other hand, other manufacturers believe that a lock will only increase the risk, because the child can hit the front of the bike since it won’t twist naturally. What’s more, the opponents rightly point out that a balance bike with a lock is much more difficult to steer.
WOODEN OR METAL?
THAT IS THE QUESTION …
Wooden balance bikes are usually lighter than those made of metal. However, this is not the rule. Metal bikes are made of steel or aluminum. The latter is very lightweight, which makes the bikes’ weight similar to wooden ones.
Design is also very important here. Wooden bikes come in fancy shapes, so you can get one that looks like a motorcycle, for example.
They do, however, have a major flaw – wooden bikes rarely have brakes or handlebar adjustment.