Balance Bikes or Stabilisers? Which to Choose for Your Child’s First Bike

Raleigh Kids Bikes

Balance bikes or stabilisers?  It’s the most debated question when it comes to buying a first kids bike. Do you choose to stick with with the old school stabilisers – it worked for us, right?  Or do you jump on the Balance bike bandwagon and ditch the stabilisers in favour of this newfangled fad?

Teaching your child to ride their first bike is an exciting milestone for any parent; but it can be confusing trying to choose the right option for your child.  We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both to help you choose.


StabilisersWhich are best; Balance bikes or Stabilisers?

We all remember when the stabilisers were first removed and you finally mastered riding without them.  You probably ended up with a few cut knees along the way but it was all worth it in the end!  At around the age of 2 to 3 you may start looking at bikes for your little one.  Most 12” and 14” wheel bikes come with matching stabilisers so this can seem like the most obvious option.   Plus, stabilisers have historically been accepted as the first step in teaching your child how to ride.  The down side to stabilisers is the extra weight, plastic rattling noise, and turning circle limitations.  Plus, stabilisers can be a nightmare to fit! We’ve seen a few wonky sets in our time and that certainly doesn’t help your child’s balance.

However stabilisers can be a blessing for parents; your child will be able to zip off on their own almost straight away.  Forget constantly following your child with one hand behind their back terrified they’ll topple over at any moment!  They’ll have almost instant confidence and be ready to cover decent distances relatively quickly.  This is great if you’re keen on family rides and want to get them covering some distances quickly.

The biggest disadvantage of stabilisers is that your child will rely on them and won’t develop the same sense of balance on the bike.  This makes it very difficult and for them to learn to ride on 2 wheels and could make teaching them to ride take longer overall.


Balance bikes

Balance bikes are relatively new to the market and have already taken the UK by storm.  The lack of pedals may make you feel like you are getting less for your money but the gains to your child’s confidence make every penny an investment!

Balance bikes work by building up the muscles a child needs to be able to balance effectively on their bike.  They’re also significantly lighter than their stabiliser clad counterparts; perfect for little legs and easier for mum and dad to carry once they’ve had enough.  Balance bikes are actually suitable for children from as young as 18 months old and help to start their cycling journey early.

What’s more, after a few years when it’s time for your child to move onto a bigger bike, you’ll most likely find that no stabilisers are needed.  There may be a few wobbles while they get used to the bigger bike but they’ve already built up their balance and the muscles that they need to control their new bike.  You’ll find your child  will take to their new bike surprisingly quickly with some even picking it up within an astonishing 30 minutes!


Which are best; Balance bikes or Stabilisers?


The verdict

Obviously when making the choice between balance bikes and stabilisers it’s important to think about your lifestyle and most importantly  your child.  Stabilisers have their advantages in getting kids moving fast and giving them the initial confidence to get going.  However studies have shown that children who have had a balance bike as their first bike are much more confident when first riding a 16” wheel bike compared to children that have been using stabilisers.

It’s hard not to favour balance bikes when the benefits are so significant.  We think that if you’re looking to get your child on two wheels quickly this is by far the best option.  At the end of the day, anything that increases confidence, comfort and fun for kids is a winner in our book!

Check out our full kids bike range.


Raleigh UK Kids Bikes Christmas Competition

Win your child’s bike this Christmas!

Feeling festive?  Why not enter our Christmas competition to be in with the chance of winning a Raleigh bike for your child, delivered in time for Christmas.

Simply get your child to write a letter to Santa telling him why they’d love to find a bike under the tree on Christmas morning.  Entries close on the 15th December, so don’t delay!

Visit our Competition Entries Page to find out more.