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Training Wheels?

Training wheels

Do training wheels hurt the learning process?

This can be a loaded question, but I believe the answer is yes for almost everyone learning to bike.

First, it turns the bike into a tricycle and therefore its handling capabilities act more like a trike than a bike. Turning on a bike requires someone to commit to leaning into the turn. A trike, on the other hand, requires the biker to lean away from the turn. If you lean into the turn on a trike, you go over. I have some funny videos of adults trying to learn to trike after a life riding bikes. They get it after a while, but it is funny to see. When it comes to kids learning biking for the first time, training wheels create the wrong habits which the child has to unlearn later.

Figuring out balance first

What is the solution? A balance bike is a great way for a child to learn to bike…and a small hill with a gentle slope. This allows the child to first figure out how to balance and the gentle slope will give enough speed to stabilize the bike. After they start getting comfortable with balance and rolling down the hill for longer distances, they will be ready for pedaling. Training wheels will generally slow the learning process and lead to more wipe outs because they neutralize the need for the child to figure out balance FIRST.

The balance bike as a better tool

There is a place for a three wheeler in the learning process but it has been my experience that is more suited for students with motor function issues that affect their balance. If you are trying to decide between training wheels or not, perhaps a balance bike is a better tool in most situations.

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