We all remember the first time when the stabilisers were 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! When the little ones are around 2 or 3 years old you may start looking at bikes for them. 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 downside 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 for them to learn to ride on 2 wheels and could make teaching them to ride longer overall.

Twins riding the Raleigh POP kid's bikes

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 them 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, and even picking it up within astonishing 30 minutes!

Picture comparing a mini Raleigh Sherwood balance bike with a mini Raleigh Burner balance bike

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, a balance bike 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 kids bike range with stylish designs, for fun and safe cycling adventures!