How do Balance Bikes Compare to Traditional Training Wheels?

Australian boy riding his bicycle on bike lane on a day, South Australia

The decision of whether to teach your child to cycle on a balance bike or a traditional bike with training wheels is quite often a hard one to make. After all, you probably learned to cycle yourself with training wheels, so why would your child need a balance bike? Is this not just an extra expense that you don’t need?

While training wheels are certainly still a viable option when it comes to teaching a child to cycle, balance bikes are generally accepted as being the better choice. It is like comparing old technology with new. While both may be capable of doing the same thing, one is definitely an improvement on the other. How then do balance bikes compare with training wheel bikes?

Balance Bikes are Suitable for Young Children

The great thing about balance bikes is that they are actually designed for very small children. They are made smaller, and they are lighter too, making them ideal for toddlers to learn how to cycle. According to the folk at Woom, lightweight kids bikes give children more control. Furthermore, because balance bikes are narrower than bikes with training wheels, they give kids much more freedom to move about as well.

Riding a Balance Bike Provides More Comfort

You probably don’t remember learning to cycle with training wheels but they can be very awkward, especially when it comes to traversing uneven surfaces. The small wheels made from hard plastic can easily get stuck or caught on surfaces that are uneven and this can impact the child’s comfort. Balance bikes allow children to quickly and effortlessly move from one surface to another.

Transitioning to a Pedal Bike is Easy

Many kids that learn to ride a balance bike from the age of two are already cycling on a pedal bike, without ever having needed training wheels, before they are four. This is because the hardest part of learning to cycle is balancing a bike. With training wheels, this is the part that children learn last. On the flip side, with a balance bike children master the art of balancing first, which makes the transition to pedals much easier.

Balance Bikes Make It Easier to Corner

Balance bikes tend to have a low center of gravity, which makes cornering much easier for the child. With training wheels, cornering is quite difficult. The training wheels prevent the bike from leaning into the corner in a natural way and the child might learn to lean towards the outside training wheel in order to turn. With a balance bike, the process of cornering is more intuitive and safer.

Is There a Case for Training Wheels?

The above points explain the benefits of balance bikes for kids, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try training wheels if this is your preference. Training wheels do provide a support for young children who are learning to cycle; if you are happy to have your child learn in this way, then this is entirely your preference.

Those in favor of training wheels will point to the fact that they are a more affordable solution for parents who only have to buy one bike for their child and simply attach the small plastic wheels while their child learns.


Both balance bikes and training wheels are designed to help children learn how to cycle, albeit in different ways. At the end of the day, how you teach your child to cycle as a parent is a choice that only you can make. Both methods are tried and tested and can help children transition to pedal bikes.