In our previous post, Balance First!, we discussed the importance of teaching a child “balance before pedals” in order to create a solid foundation of basic bike handling skills and instill the love of biking from a young age without the added intimidation of pedals.
The next milestone in your little balance biker’s journey is the most exciting one - THEIR FIRST PEDAL BIKE!
In our experience, most balance bike graduates are ready for their first pedal bike by the time they are around 2.5-3 years old. If they're not ready by then, don’t worry about it. Allow your child to progress at their own pace - they will get there. We'll show you how to help your little one on that journey!
Our Story and The Bikes
Our son was ready to move on to pedaling on his own by the time he was around 2.5 and back in Autumn of 2011 all that was available at our local bike shop were big brand kids’ bikes with coaster brakes that weighed double what our son did. Imagine learning to pedal on a dirt bike - and it wouldn’t be much fun having to pedal that backwards to stop either!
So after very little consideration and a lot of research, as well as one serendipitous connection, we set out to create a lightweight, high quality bike with geometry designed specifically for little kids. Spawn Cycles came into existence shortly thereafter and we attended our first trade show with prototypes in March 2012.
We have learned a lot over the years and spent copious amounts of time and money developing our own components because what we wanted to make simply did not exist.
Since this is a post on the first pedal bike, we’d like to cover the following two models in depth - the Yoji 14" and 16" models.
The Yoji 14” is the ultimate first pedal bike that is suitable for 2-4 year-olds (refer to our size guide if you have any questions). The Yoji 16" is best for 3-5 year olds generally. Both sizes share a lot of the same characteristics. They are extremely capable on both trails and pavement - they are super lightweight with appropriate geometry, high quality and properly sized components, amazing hand brakes and real freehubs! We developed the Spawn Loam Star tires specifically for these bikes to give your little one great traction, fast rolling center treads and puncture protection. The Brood Perch seat is lower than most railed seat options by about an inch thanks to the patented Pivotal interface and gearing can be changed front and back with commonly available components. We've done everything possible to make sure these bikes rip!
Full bike highlight videos are available on our YouTube channel for the Yoji 14" and Yoji 16" (we also have bike assembly videos on our YouTube channel too - Fraser is an amazing bike mechanic here in Squamish and he makes it all look easy).
Our size guide is spot on and was designed to size kids on our bikes properly without having to pop into a shop and try out the bikes. Since we use a combination of height and inseam to select the correct size bike, we want to make sure inseam is measured properly:
- Have your child to take their shoes off and stand up straight, with their back against a wall.
- Place a book between their legs and slide it up the wall to meet the crotch firmly as if they are seated on a saddle.
- Make sure your child still has their heels on the ground, then mark where the top of the book the touches the wall.
- Measure the distance from the floor straight up to the mark.
Tips For a Successful Transition to Pedals
Now that we’ve covered sizing and a bit of information about the bikes they should be moving to, it is time to get your new bike unpacked and built and get out for a ride!
Here are a few simple but tried and true strategies to get your kiddo riding on his or her own quickly and with minimal pain!
- Keep the pedals off the bike for the first day or two and let your child get used to the new bigger bike
- Consistency is key, just like with everything else, so try to spend as much time outside riding as possible until they figure it out
- Start out on a gentle slope and let your child coast down - this will help them focus on balance while they get used to the new bike
- Encouragement is key - so get your cheer squad out :)
- When your child is comfortable with using the bike as a balance bike, put the pedals on
- Do not sell your balance bike quite yet - your young Padawan may revert to using it as a “fun” bike since learning something new can be intimidating and toddlers tend to go back and forth :)
- If you are strapped for time (most of us are), we recommend using a local bike camp for beginners. Pedalheads and The Little Explorers are ones we're familiar with in our area, but you'll probably have to look around to find something similar where you live - there are a lot of great groups out there now!
- Another great resource that is often overlooked by parents is a local BMX track. These are usually run by parent volunteers and provide a great and encouraging environment for young kids who are just starting out and parents who may be feeling a little rusty and would like to brush up on their bike handling skills. You may also want to take advantage of coaching sessions offered by professional riders at BMX tracks; you don’t have to race, but it is a great way to learn something new as a family.
Most balance bike graduates pedal off into the sunset within the first couple of days and the transition is amazing to watch! It truly opens up a whole new world of freedom on two wheels for the whole family.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this post - if you have any questions or comments, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a Wheelie Good Day!