By Katy Killilea
When experienced neighbors have seen our kids, teetering on their bicycles and alighting in tangles of weeds and brambles, this wisdom bubbles up: take the pedals off of the bike. Lower the seat so your child's feet can easily reach the ground. Let them scoot along, and before long, they'll be balancing. Then they can learn to pedal.
For the youngest cyclists-in-training, pedal-less bikes are available in teeny sizes. Kids who start off by learning to walk and then getting on a tiny pedal-less bike will likely never need training wheels. These bikes come in eye-candy colors and designs, and kids and parents will agree that they are a fine thing to have around the house or driveway.
Strider Balance Bike
This bike is light and small enough to pop in the car, and can fit a child aged 1 to 5 years. (Click here for short films of kids cruising along on their bikes–funnier than a chipmunk singing Christmas carols!) The seat is only eleven inches off the ground, so if someone were to, say, fall off the bike, no major harm would be done. This is the only bike of its type that has built-in foot rests (such as you would find on a Harley, but way tiny) to encourage young riders to lift their feet up from the ground and coast. It's tough enough to fling around, and if you leave it outside in the rain, no harm done.
The details: Available at Strider Sports. For kids up to 50 pounds. Available in a rainbow of pleasing colors. $98.
Would Charles and Ray Eames have festooned their bent plywood chairs with flames if they had seen this? Not just beautiful to behold, this little wooden treat is also sturdy and easy to ride. The seat is covered with a supple leather cushion, about the size of a small loaf of naan, that keeps a child's tush comfortable. This bike is so well-designed, we like it enough not to be annoyed when it brings its rider racing through the kitchen over and over, and over again. Although this is an English bicycle, it should not go out in the rain.
The details: Available in the U.S. online at the Early Rider Store.
$179.99 Classic (for kids ages 2 to 5). $159.99 Lite (for smaller riders, ages 2 to 4)