When learning to ride a bike, balance is the first fundamental that needs to be mastered by any child but along with this comes the underlying, subtle, yet very important aspect of safety. Safety gear is recommended for use by any child on a balance bike regardless of the security the bike offers. After all, what harm could there be in a helmet, knee and elbow pads? Nothing. It just increases your child’s security and decreases the likelihood of accidents.
Why are brakes beneficial for safety?
The obvious reason here would be that brakes in situ in every bike are what stops the bike especially when going at high speed. But why do brakes apply to balance bikes where children maneuver momentum with their own feet? Wouldn’t it be so that children also stop the bike with their feet? The balance bike teaches through fun but what we have to remember here is that in order for that teaching to take place, pedals were removed and this would not be the case when a child moves on to a classic bicycle. With pedals in place, it would be difficult to just put your feet down to stop and this could potentially lead to accidents. Brakes in balance bikes teach a child how to properly and safely stop a bike while they are still in this safe learning environment to get them ready to move forward.
The balance bike is meant for children aged between two to five years old so understandably enough, getting the hang of using a handbrake might be a bit difficult at first. Some challenges any parent might encounter would be:
Grip strength – a child’s grip strength is far from that of an adult’s and a child might not be able to get a firm grasp on their handbrake. Try pulling on the handbrake with your pinky finger to gauge how a child might feel it.
Distance – children’s hands are also very small, and before grip even comes into question, a parent first needs to assess whether a child can even reach the handbrake.
Adjusting the handbrake:
Modify your child’s handbrake and make sure it is the right fit for them, not only for their increased comfort and ease in maneuvering their bikes but also for safety.
There will be two bolts visibly seen in between the handlebars and the handbrakes, loosen the bolt closest to the handbrake and use a cable puller to adjust the cable as the handbrake draws closer to the handlebar. Adjust depending on your child’s need and comfort but remember to tightly put the bolt back in place.
If a child’s grip isn’t strong enough, the handbrakes can be adjusted via the springs found on the tires. Carefully push the springs inward and make sure that you do not push too far. Pushing too far will cause the tension needed to properly stop the bike to be lacking.
Lastly, when adjusting handbrakes make sure you do a safety test to make sure that both sides are equal. This will help in determining which is the best bike for your kid.
Never put a compromise on safety ever again. Balance bikes provide an outlet for children not just to learn how to ride but also how to ride SAFE. Let your child have fun minus the scrapes and bruises but also prepare them for the next step through proper brake usage and by making sure it is adjusted to suit their needs.