A child’s first bike is a great birthday present, and something of a rite of passage for a youngster and the parent who assists them when they ride it for the first time. However, when it comes to training wheels (or stabilizers, as they are known in the UK) there seems to be something of a divide between those who think they are a good idea on kid’s bikes, and those that do not. This article weighs up the pros and cons of training wheels.
One of the arguments in favour of training wheels, and no doubt a reason for their popularity, is because they make the prospect of clambering onto the bike easier for the child. With the assistance of training wheels or stabilizers it is likely that a child will be more eager to hop onto a bike on their own, especially in comparison to if they are faced with just two wheels.
However, once a child is on the bike, the first argument against the use of training wheels is evident. Blogger, Jezra (at jezra.net) described what he considers the basic principals of riding a bike, i.e. pedalling, steering, balancing and stopping. He notes that after arranging this list in order of importance, with balancing being the most important and pedalling being the least important, training wheels really only teach the young rider the latter skill.
Yet, those who oppose this notion highlight the added safety which comes with training wheels – especially when kids don’t want to (or can’t) be assisted by a parent. They argue that once the child is used to the first step of sitting in the saddle and peddling, it’s likely that they will soon request to remove the training wheels when they are comfortable to do so – instead of being thrown in at the deep end.
Another argument against training wheels is that once the child comes to riding without them, they will likely have picked up a few bad habits – most notably not putting their feet down when they come to a stop. An alternative which ensures children are used to putting their feet down when they need to comes from teaching the ‘Dandy Horse’ method based upon 1800’s design when riders propelled themselves with their feet. Balance bicycles promote this method of learning.