If I'd known what a balance bike was two years ago, we would've gotten one for Huck instead of the traditional bike-with-training-wheels setup. I've seen three-year-olds effortlessly wheeling around the neighborhood on a balance bike, and it seems like a great way to get started.
Until this past weekend, I figured we'd get Gus a balance bike for his next birthday; but this didn't help Huck, who's been on training wheels for a couple years. I tried taking Huck's training wheels off last year, and it was not a good day. His disposition, and my lack of patience that day were an unhealthy combination. I was not looking forward to the next two-wheel trial. Then it dawned on me that I could turn Huck's existing pedal bike into a balance bike.
If you follow the three simple steps below, you'll save $150 on a balance bike and get your kid confidently riding as quickly as possible. By reversing Step 2, you'll then have a pedal-bike that should last another couple years (depending on how fast your kid grows).
Step One: Remove training wheels from a 12" Kids' Bike.
Step Two: Remove pedals from a 12" Kids' Bike.
Step Three: Let your kid "ride" up a slight hill, pushing himself along, then balance and glide back down. (NOTE: you'll want the seat as low as it can go, and also angled down if possible. Huck complained of some pain in his "undercarriage" from scooting up the hill until I adjusted his seat's angle.)
Huck, who is neither the most adventurous nor the most athletic of our two boys, was balancing himself on his first trip down. I figure a few weeks of this, and he'll be begging me to put the pedals on.
I shudder to think of how this process might have played out had I not had this revelation.