Balance bike, runner bike, run bike, strider bike…all the same name for the funnest thing at our house since Austin was 2. While most kids won’t lean toward half pipes and free falls, the premise of balancing while running is accessible to even toddlers. Austin was 2 when he began to run, and then balance. At 3, he can do the first foot on the half-pipe at our local skate park, and I imagine given the opportunity he could pick up pedals inside of a few tries.
The catch is, the possibility of all this opportunity gets a tad discouraging when you discover these puppies retail for $100 or more. It’s like buying kid shoes for $60. Trying to cost-justify the purchase without knowing if your kid will even like it can lead to nothing happening or worse, unwarranted pressure for the child to be interested in what is viewed as a major investment. Have fun darn-it! 😉
I got lucky and scored one from Salvation Army, on half-off day, for a cool $5. But if you own a wrench and some muscles, yours could set you back even less. The one in this tutorial had been set to the curb after the end of a garage sale, for free.
Our thrift store runner bike, re-homed to Dallas for sanity while visiting
So, give it a try! You have nothing to lose…or at least nothing more than a $5 thrift store bike and some elbow grease.
- Step 1: Obtain a kid’s bike. Fancy or not, doesn’t matter. It could be the brand new one with training wheels he just got for a birthday or an old rusted out junker from a trash pile. It just needs to roll straight. Word to the ambitious though: if you get a rusted-out junker, you might need more tools to pry rusted chains off, saw off rusted-together pedals, etc. But if the bike isn’t rusted out, the conversion should be pretty straight-forward.
- Step 2: Take of the pedals, which will allow the crank arm to slide out. If your pedals are rusted on, you may need the aid of a clamp to put the bike in while you finagle the pedals off.
- Step 3: Get the chain off.
- Step 4: Give it a tune up. Grease the wheels (Papa and Austin are using WD-40 here). Check the tire pressure if it has air-inflated tires. Set the seat height so the child sits comfortably on it while standing.
- Step 5: Admire your sweet new balance bike, grab a helmet, and set your child to exploring the wonderful power of balancing!