Bicycle training wheels are very much a part of life for most children who are learning how to ride a bicycle. A rite of passage, an acquired skill, a must know for all children – this is what bicycle riding is all about.
The way in which a parent would teach his child how to ride a bike would depend on how he was taught bike riding during his childhood. For instance, I was taught to just pedal fast enough to gain balance and momentum while my dad was by my side, and holding the bicycle seat.
Apart from some minor cuts and bruises I learned one thing that would be hard for me to unlearn, and that is riding a bicycle.
Introduction to Bicycle Training Wheels
Training wheels are tools to help children master the skill of riding a bicycle.
These are two smaller wheels, which hang slightly higher off the ground, connected to either sides of the rear wheel. The reason why they do not entirely touch the ground is so that they are only there as a support mechanism.
If the child looses balance then the training wheels will prevent the child from falling over. During the course of the learning process, the child will usually be comfortable enough and will have developed the skill to ride a bicycle without training wheels ever touching the ground.
Most parents buy these accessories without thinking too much – it was second nature to fit them to my bike when I was a boy – but you should be aware that there are pros and cons for their use, not to mention alternative methods for teaching a child to ride their bike unassisted.
Pros and Cons of Bicycle Training Wheels
- The fastest way to impart confidence
- Can be retro-fitted to virtually any bicycle
- Will prevent a lot of spills during the bicycle training period
- Your child can become dependent upon them
- They will slow down the training process
- Some maneuvers are more dangerous with training wheels
- They can be difficult to install on some bikes
Tip: Give your child a deadline for taking off the training wheels.
Training wheels make the process of learning to cycle a gentler and safer one for children, but there exists a danger that your child will become overly dependent on the wheels and never really learn how to ride a bicycle without them.
To avoid this, give your child a fixed deadline for taking off the training wheels. This will give him an objective to work towards and let him know that the wheels will have to come off eventually.
Purchase and Installation of Training Wheels
Buying training wheels is easy enough. There are a lot of places from which purchase is possible. The local bicycle shop will surely have tons of types and sizes to choose from. If you are too tired to scout out the neighborhood then you can also purchase online where it would be easier.
The installation of training wheels is a breeze as the only tools that you would need are the following:
- Bicycle Training Wheels
The steps that you would need to take are:
- Figure out where your rear wheel is located. Got it? Good!
- Scrutinize your rear wheel and look for the nut on the axle that connects the wheel to the bike frame.
- Take your wrench and loosen and remove the nut on one side of the wheel.
- Slide on one of the training wheels.
- Replace the bolt.
- Do the same thing on the other side of the wheel.
- Place the bike upright. The training wheels will have to be a few centimeters above the ground so that the bicycle will tilt to either side once upright.
- Tighten all the nuts.
- Stand up and give yourself a pat on the back.
Learning How To Ride a Bicycle With Training Wheels
Ensure the bicycle training wheels are well-fitted. They should be a well-regarded brand, such as Bell EZ Training Wheels, extremely well-secured to the frame (get a professional at your local bike store to do this if you're unsure), and when installed, the bike should have a small amount of side-to-side tipping angle. Too much, and your child will fall down just as badly, if not worse, than they would without training wheels.
Once you can see your child is totally confident with the wheels at their lowest setting, raise them a notch. This will make the bike a little more unbalanced, and your child will have to develop their own sense of balance to compensate.
Eventually you'll see that the stabilizers are no longer needed and you can remove them.
Risks of Using Training Wheels
Because the rear wheel is not vertical when one of the training wheels is taking the balance, the effectiveness of the rear brake is reduced. Turning while travelling fast is also much more dangerous, as the child is over-reliant upon the training wheels to catch them and they will have neither the experience of falling to warn them what's coming, nor the natural balance to correct themselves.
You'll also need a very safe, traffic-free environment, in which the child can ride around to practice, otherwise you will spend just as much time with them while they "spin their wheels", not learning how to balance, as you would with one of the more parent-proactive bicycle training methods.
For a child learning how to ride a bicycle, as in all forms of education, if the parent takes a more active role, the child will learn faster and get more out of the experience. This means that buying your child bicycle training wheels should not be an automatic decision; consider the other options before you buy:
Alternatives to Training Wheels
There are three main alternative methods to fitting stabilizers to a child's bicycle:
- You can trust the child to learn without assistance. If your child is a confident, sporty-type, and with good coordination, than it may not be necessary to help them with balance aids. Ensure that the child learns to ride with plenty of protection - knee and elbow pads in addition to the best bicycle helmet - and find a flat, grassy place to train them to make the falls as painless as possible.
- The next least invasive method is for the parent to accompany the child as they learn, running alongside the bike to correct their balance. This implies a certain competence in both the child AND the parent! It's also a good way to bond with your child: the learning experience takes place together.
- The third alternative to training wheels is to attached a walking stick to the back of his bike and ran along, holding the stick to keep his balance correct. These days, enterprising companies have introduced safer, higher-tech versions of the same principle, such as the Dimension Bike Training Handle For Kids
Unlearn the Skill
People would usually say that once you have learned how to ride a bicycle, you would never forget it. This is something that I could dismiss because older people would either tend to not have the same balance and coordination that they had in their youth or they would just forget how to go about riding a bicycle altogether.
Read more about adult bicycle training wheels.
Buying Bicycle Training Wheels Online
If you are interested in buying bicycle training wheels online you can buy it in one of these trusted online stores:
Bicycle with training wheels have been tried and tested with regards to learning how to ride a bicycle and have passed with flying colors. Teaching how to ride a bicycle to kids is made easier through bicycle training wheels.