The Trouble with Tricycles and Why Balance Bikes are Better

Last updated 28. April 2019


Your child has probably reached the right age to start riding and are thinking about buying a tricycle. There is usually a great sense of nostalgia when you buy your kid their first bike. For my firstborn son, I performed an in-depth web search to find the right tricycle for his 3rd birthday. While I saw myself a hero for this birthday present, things ended up turning sour when he first got onto the tricycle. While the idea of three wheels was thrilling, it was disappointing that he could not even pedal comfortably and in a short time, the present was a complete turn off for him. This was one of my worst parenting fails which I indeed learned from. When I interacted with my neighbors, most of them advised against tricycles and instead vouched for a balance bike.

After buying a balance bike, things were no longer the same again. I could watch my first born navigate the pavements and yard with great fun as the tricycle remained in the basement collecting dust. My experience with the balance bike was incredible that I have always vouched for it as the best for kids who are looking to learn how to ride as opposed to a tricycle. It was evident that a kid should ride on two wheels even when they are new to biking. And while a balance bike is an excellent learning tool for kids, it is also more fun to ride.

Related; Toddler Bike Helmet.

Why is the Tricycle a Poor Choice for Kids?

While many people actually think that balance bikes present a hazard to kids who are just learning how to ride, the truth is that there is a lot of trouble associated with tricycles. And while some of the problems with trikes are obvious, here are some issues that make the tricycle a poor choice for your child.

1. A Kid Gets Tired Quickly

When it comes to riding a tricycle, you will probably realize that your kid will need to put in more effort for them to cover a considerable distance. While the math is a bit complex, the truth is that the number of times your kid needs to complete a pedal stroke to drive them several feet ahead is just impractical. This is the reason why tricycles often come with a push bar – they are inefficient for children to ride them without a helping hand. Besides, trikes are very slow – other kids will smoothly run past a kid who is riding a tricycle because their legs are more efficient than the small pedals of a tricycle. When compared to balance bikes, the latter is more comfortable to ride because it lets a child utilize their efficient legs to create sufficient forward motion as compared to the inefficient pedals of a tricycle. Besides, a kid does not tire quickly when riding a balance bike.

2. For Most Toddlers, Tricycles Are Not the Right Size

While tricycles are aggressively marketed for toddlers, they are embarrassingly a poor fit for most of them. A majority of toddlers find it hard reaching the pedals on tricycles and what manufacturers do to make up for all this is to design a platform for kids to rest their legs. Another problem is the tricycle’s top bar which is usually too tall which makes it difficult for the short toddlers to swing their legs over and alight the bike.

3. Tricycles Are Not Safe On Rough Surfaces

While these three-wheeled bikes could seem excellent for balance, the sad truth is that they usually tip over more than one would expect. The problem with three wheels is that your kid could quickly get off balance when one of the wheels is at an elevated position than the other when moving over an uneven surface. While you might not readily notice that the sidewalk in your street or the end of your driveway is not entirely even, it will be evident once your kid gets onto that tricycle. Sharp turns could also pose problems to your kid. Three-wheeled bikes are not allowed in city streets in the United States because they are prone to tipping over. With a balance bike, your kid can ride on pretty much any type of terrain without danger of tipping over.

4. Tricycles Are Heavy To Carry Around

Kids will often want to move their toys around the house as they look for a perfect riding spot, and this could be a problem if your kid owns a tricycle because they are heavy and cumbersome. A tricycle could weigh more than the kid riding it and could be heavy on your hands when you have to carry it home after a long stroll into the park. With this extra weight, your kid will obviously tire quickly. Balance bikes, on the other hand, usually weigh less than half the total weight of a tricycle and are easy for your child to carry around should the need arise. Besides, balance bikes are easier to store all thanks to their narrow design.

5. Tricycles Teach Pedaling and Not Riding

Tricycles could be viewed as a short-term solution to a long-term problem. To ride a bike, you have to get your balance right. You can ride your bike without having to pedal it, but you cannot ride without proper balance. Tricycles are designed on the concept that kids cannot balance a bike on their own, which is entirely false. Tricycles help children learn how to pedal, a skill that could easily be mastered on a balance bike.


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