A balance bike or runbike was on our list of things we wanted to get for our children. When I found a practically brand new one on Kijiji a mere 20 minute drive away we bought it right away (or rather, Mausi’s Auntie M did for her Christmas present the year she was 2).
Mausi is a petite child, and even on the lowest seat setting she wasn’t able to fit the runbike comfortably that first summer when she was 2½. It wasn’t until the following spring/summer that we came to fully appreciate the marvels of the runbike.
It took her a few days to get the hang of sitting on the bike while moving it forward with her feet, but once she did, there was no stopping her. She flew on the little wooden bike. When she started kindergarten last fall we discovered that that 2 little boys in the neighbourhood, both of whom were in her class, and with whom we had started to walk almost everyday (and still do!) also had runbikes, and the 3 of them started to ride home together. They rode those runbikes well into the fall, until the weather turned too wet and chilly to comfortably use the runbikes.
But more than the sheer enjoyment she clearly had from using the runbike was the speed with which she learned to ride a proper bicycle. We had thought we would buy her a bike this spring, but at the end of last August she was given a little hand-me-down bike with 12″ wheels. The bike came with training wheels, but they weren’t attached, and we didn’t bother putting them on. Three days was all it took before she was happily pedalling away. It was another 2 or 3 weeks before she figured out how to start on her own.
For Maus, learning to ride her pedal bike was such a clean and smooth transition. Maus is a cautious child by nature. She likes to get the lay of the land before jumping in to something. But it almost seemed as if learning to ride her bike was the most natural of transitions after her runbike. There was hardly any hesitation, no trepidation, no feeling of unease as the bike tilted awkwardly slightly to one side on a training wheel. She’d already mastered the biggest hurdle to riding a bike; figuring out how to balance. Adding the pedals in was the easy part. I attribute all of that to the runbike.
Her runbike still get a lot of use. But with each passing day she is asking to ride her pedal bike more. Which is really just as well, because we are just about ready to reset the seat back down to the lowest setting for Cub. I wonder if he will fit it yet. He is taller than his sister was at the same age, but he is only just over 2 now. It may well be another year yet before he is also flying down the path as fast as his little legs can propel him.
A note about our runbike ::
When I had first looked into runbikes I had landed on LIKEaBIKE balance bikes as my top choice, but the price was prohibitive. When I found a used LIKEaBIKE not far from home I jumped at the chance. We have the Mountain model designed for children aged 2-5. I really liked that they are designed and manufactured in Germany, as many of the other runbikes I had seen online are made in China. The LIKEaBIKE mountain bike is made of high quality birch plywood, has a removable seat pad and pneumatic tires, and has felt steering limiter which prevents younger children from turning the handles so sharply that they end up in a heap on the ground. All of these features were important to me, and to be honest I liked the look of the well-built little wooden bike. Ours gets a lot of use, and has held up brilliantly. We are however careful to store it inside, as I am quite certain the birch plywood would not appreciate being left in the rain. The only drawback really is the that the seat didn’t go quite low enough, but I have seen that LIKEaBIKE has another model of wooden runbike where the seat starts out lower still, so that may solve that problem.
I have no reason to get another runbike now, but if I did, I’d be sorely tempted by the new LIKEaBIKE Rosalie & Hardy, and aluminium framed runbike with spoked pneumatic wheels and a removable steering limiter. Available in simple pink or blue, vibrant grass green or deep cherry red. Looks like a great little bike, and perhaps better than a wooden one when the weather is soggy.
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