That feeling of exhilaration and control when you first sailed happily on your bicycle! Who can forget that wonderful sense of independence, that feeling of stepping into a grown-up world when you rode that bike around, when you ran errands for your parents or just went to a nearby friend's home. Many of us even rode to school as we grew older. But who can forget that sailing right into a fence, the ending up in a tangled heap and the bruises that we wore on our knees as we tried to balance and steer and pedal all at the same time ?
Most of us were probably around 5 or 6 years of age at the very least when we first attempted to ride a bike. It probably was made of metal and had training wheels that we were impatient to take off. Yet we were also secretly slightly worried about what would happen when those wheels came off. “What if we lost balance?” As parents we are even more concerned about the spills and falls that result from our kids losing balance while pedalling their bikes.
What then, if you could give our children the advantage of balance before they learn to pedal a bike? Research shows that the most important aspect of riding a bicycle is the ability to balance on two wheels – holding yourself in a manner best suited to enhance your stability while moving, turning etc.
History seconds the claim. In fact the earliest bike “The dandy horse”, also called Draisienne or Laufmaschine (German, lit.: running machine), to use only two wheels in tandem was invented by the German Baron Karl von Drais in 1817. Regarded as the forerunner of the modern bicycle, the rider sat astride a wooden frame supported by two in-line wheels and pushed the vehicle along with their feet while steering the front wheel
Wooden draisine (around 1820), the first two-wheeler and as such the archetype of the bicycle (Pic : Wikipedia)
The bicycle has since been stylized and fine tuned to suit the different needs (dirt bikes, mountain bikes, racing bikes, multi- geared bikes etc) Yet, we are now turning full circle and experienced to know that learning to balance is the first and best step to a smooth ride.
Also referred to as pre-bikes, toddler bikes, glide bikes, push bikes, training bikes and run bikes, these low-to-the-ground, light weight, pedal less bikes provide developmental benefits to children. You can teach a child as young as 18 months how to balance themselves on a balance bike. History seconds the claim. Children who use a balance bike for 20-30 minutes twice a week improved substantially in
*Static and dynamic balance.
Plus, riding a bike demonstrates mastery of skills such as body control and following directions.In effect, children who learn the right way to balance themselves, learn to pedal and use regular bikes much more confidently and with the least fear of injury.
Balance bikes focus on the development of a child’s gross motor skills. Learning to balance and steer a bike is easier without pedals. The shift in body weight from side to side while pedaling can throw a child off balance making them lose direction and riding stability. A balance bike is low and allows the child to drop their feet to the ground quickly steadying themselves and preventing a fall.
The advantages of balance bikes are -
* A stroll in the society garden is fun for the parents and the child.
*Young children start learning the basics of balance.
*The bike is light and easy to carry for adults.
*They encourage free play and imagination.
*They are easy to balance on, as the legs reach the ground quickly.
*The transition to a regular bike is smooth and easy without training wheels.
So, what are you waiting for? Check out the balance bike and let the fun times begin.
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