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Look, Ma! No Pedals!

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.strider-kids-running-bike-green

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.
earlyrider
Early Rider

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)

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21 comments
  • This is the first unkind words I have ever read on this website. I have a total grip and made the bike comments because I found your comments about how other mothers did things judgmental and was just trying to show a different point. Guess you can’t handle a difference of opinion. Sad to say such unkind words as a fellow Mom.

  • We bent the training wheels up on my sons’ bike (bought from a yard sale) so they got used to riding their bikes with less fear of falling over yet giving them the confidence to try “balancing”. We kept bending up the training wheels and soon the boys were riding their bikes without the training wheels ever touching the ground. Once we took off the training wheels it was no big deal. This way worked for us.

  • There are many children with gross motor skill development issues that these bikes would be great for. Maybe people should refrain from the comments mocking them. Some mothers would love nothing more than for their children to experience “real life” on a “real bike” but their child may not have that luxury.

  • Quite right, Katy. I too would hate for my kids to actually experience real life on a real bike. Yes, by all means, keep these pretend bikes in a controlled area. Maybe even pad your walls.

  • the best thing about these little bikes is that they can be used in the house or on a little patio.

    it’s pretty scary to me to let my child ride an actual bike on a real road with cars and teenagers on scooters, dogs, leashes, and all manner of obstacles.

  • Is there a dirt bike without pedals? Can’t wait for the review! But wouldn’t their feet get really dirty?

  • What a sad commentary on society that we think it’s a good thing that these bikes give kids confidence by virtually removing any chance of falling! If there’s no or very little chance of falling, what is there to feel confident about?! How silly.

  • Wow, I guess Lance was wrong, it is “about the bike”…

    Although my older boys learned the old fashioned way and lived to tell about it(road rash and all), it’s nice to know there are options for my younger guys.
    Thanks Katy!

  • We just took the chain/pedal mechanism off our daughter’s second-hand bike. So, essentially free.

    BTW, her balance is fine. It’s a confidence issue.

  • We brought one from Germany. It’s wonderful, kids learn to balance on it instead of leaning into the wrong direction while going around the corner right away. Emma, just turned 4 in Feb is already riding her new bike without training wheels, the transition took 5 minutes and 2 falls.

  • If your child is not developed enough to balance a bike, perhaps he or she should not be on a bike. There is no shame in waiting for growth milestones like balancing.

    Katharine asks, “But instead of a teeny-tiny bike with pedals, why not buy one of these?” Perhaps the better question is, “But if your child is not ready to ride a bike, why not buy a “Big Wheel”?”

  • But instead of a teeny-tiny bike with pedals, why not buy one of these? Although you are less likely to find one of these beauties on Freecycle!

  • These bikes are for the over-indulged. I say let them take a few tumbles from a REAL bike with REAL pedals. How much more pampering can we do, for pity’s sake?!

  • We took the pedals off my son’s bike – he learned to ride in one day. We put the pedals back on and he was good to go! Certainly not as fancy but works just as well.

  • ooooo….cool. my daughter just tried to ride her bike for the first time this year and we discovered the chain was rusted solid.

    pulling off the pedals and letting her try it as a balance bike might be the perfect (free!) quick fix!