Balance Bike or Bike with Training Wheels for 4 Year Old?

Updated on May 25, 2010
L.F. asks from Saint Paul, MN
14 answers

My daughter is turning 4 next month. She's been riding a trike for 2 years now and we want to move on. I've heard great things about balance bikes or gliders, bur most people I know are buying them for 2 - 3 year olds. Would it be a waste of time/money for a 4 year old? Should I just get her a bike with training wheels? I'm not sure if it matters, but here is the background on my daughter. She is small for her age, so most 2 - 3 year olds are as big as her. She is very athletic and coordinated. She got a scooter for her birthday last year and she is amazing on it. (Don't worry, she always wears a helmet!) She is also adventurous and a dare devil.

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answers from Provo on

There are different sizes of bikes with training wheels. Maybe you might try a 12' with training wheels.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Get her a small 2 wheeler with training wheels but try taking the training wheels off very, VERY soon! You can even remove the pedals and violå--a balance bike at half the cost! My son just turned 7 and he is so reliant on his training wheels I don't think we'll ever get them off!
You're better off buying a bike on the small side to she can "balance" and then moving up to a little larger bike.....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We just love our kids' balance bikes!! My daughter got one last year when she was 3, but definitely didn't master it in any way last year. However, she mastered her 2-wheeled Razor scooter by the end of last summer. This year, she is definitely understanding the connection between her movement, steering, speed and balance with her balance bike. It's quite amazing to watch everything "click" together! So I'm hoping she will be ready for a real bike (no training wheels, of course!!) next year when she's 5. (She will have spent 2 years on the balance bike.) But I'm not counting on it -- you never know how long each child will take to master bike riding.

My son, just 3, started his balance bike this season. Unlike his sister, he's a daredevil and highly gross-motor coordinated...but the bike definitely hasn't clicked for him yet. I'll bet he will need another year on it next year. Even so, he is having a blast on his bike. He is doing MUCH better on his balance bike than on his 2-wheel Razor scooter. (Then again, he just turned 3 last week -- he's young!)

I wish I could tell you the answer -- whether or not your daughter will need one year or two on a balance bike. However, I think your best bet would be to get the balance bike. Since she's already small in stature, you'll have to buy her a small bike either way -- and replace it with a bigger in a year or two. So go with the balance bike! Look on Craigslist if you want to buy used.



answers from Indianapolis on

Our son is also almost 4 (June birthday as well), and he's been riding a bike with training wheels since last summer. I'd make that recommendation personally after watching several of the kids on our street (all about the same age) make the transition well once their confidence was up to par.

In our son's case, he has the skill, he doesn't have the confidence, and he's easily distracted, so we're taking baby steps. Last year, he'd get off the bike anytime he wanted to go from the street to the sidewalk/driveway. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac, so we have no problem letting him be in the street when we're out there to monitor (isn't it awful we have to explain ourselves in this day and age?)



answers from Raleigh on

WE took pedals off our son's bike.... it took him 2 days to learn to balance. We put the pedals back on and now he is riding a 2 wheel like a champ:)
PS make sure that the bike is not heavy, we tried with shwin and their bikes are too heavy to balance,other brands are usually work.



answers from Tulsa on

Training wheels. You say she has the coordination, and that's what it takes.



answers from Atlanta on

Bike with training wheels! My 4 year old loves his and all the kids I see at the park and in the neighborhood love theirs too.



answers from Los Angeles on

Don't waste your money on a balance bike. Buy her a regular bike and you have two choices:
1. Put training wheels on
2. Take the pedals off. Then you essentially have a balance bike, but can add the pedals back on and have a normal bike later. No need to buy the extra balance bike that she'll only use for a short time.

Have fun!



answers from Anchorage on

We got a bike with training wheels last year for our 3 year old, and this year have taken them off and he is riding his 2 wheeler fine.



answers from Portland on

We bought a skuut bike last summer and my son was turning four in August. He has had a blast on it and I'm sure he will use it this summer. He is also small for his age. I would definitely recommend it over training wheels. The balance comes quickly and then they just go straight to a two wheeler when they are ready. Good luck



answers from Dubuque on

I have three boys ages 9, 7 and almost 3. Both my older boys really struggled to get away from training wheels. It was only this spring that they finally got it and they are quite a bit older. I decided my youngest will get a balance bike for his birthday. (When my 9 year old did finally get bike riding he taught himself by balancing). After some research I found a balance bike that has a removable pedal system. It is an aluminum bike so it is light and it will transition as they learn to ride so it will last longer. It is the Hobby Balance Bike. Good luck with your decision.



answers from Minneapolis on

Our son started riding a bike with training wheels at 4. He was very determined to ride it, so he figured it out pretty fast.

Raising the seat he is still riding the same bike this year (he turned 5 in March). We started by lifting the training wheels up off the ground so he had to balance to ride it... then one of the training wheels came unbolted and my husband just left it off. Then, we took the other training wheel off right at his 5th birthday.

I'd think she'd be fine on a regular bike... then work on getting the training wheels off when you think she's ready.

Those balance bikes are expensive - regular bikes for little kids are a dime a dozen at garage sales.




answers from Huntsville on

My daughter turned 4 in February. She has a trike, and we also got her a 10" inch (not 12! Toys R Us was the only place we could find it). When we put together the bike, we left off the pedals & training wheels, so it's a balance bike. The point of a balance bike is to let them learn to balance while they can still comfortably put their feet down if they start to fall. The child should be able to sit on the bike while also being able to put both feet flat on the ground. They start out walking with it to get the feel, and will work their way up to "gliding" while holding both feet up off the ground.

Once they master that, stick the pedals on! Now they are riding a "big kid" bike! :)

With training wheels, to me it's just like a trike. They know the training wheels are there to catch them, so they don't need to worry with balance! So when you take the training wheels off, it's like jumping from riding a trike to all of a sudden having to learn to balance.

By buying a regular bike & leaving off the pedals & training wheels, it saves you $$ versus buying a balance bike (twice the cost) and THEN buying a regular bike. :)



answers from Omaha on

We had training wheels for one child and a balance bike with the second. The balance bike was an easier transition to a real bike and we would do it again. The bike has been passed around to all the cousins and was a gift, so that was a help expense-wise. She learned faster than I thought and it was a natural transition. If you don't want to spend the money, get a traditional bike with training wheels. Either way, she will be biking away in no time. Good luck!