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  • Balance bikes – Next Steps – Thoughts Please
  • Premier Icon letmetalktomark

    So LMTTM Junior will be three in a few days.

    He has had a Rothan blanace bike since about 16months old. Through this summer and autumn he has gotten really confident with it and quick – I’v not had to run so frequently for a long time.

    He keeps asking about a bike with pedals.

    His nursery has a couple of geared bikes with stabilizers and he is quick on those.

    I know putting the two together (balance and peddling)will be challenging but thats all (hopefully) part of the fun!

    Isla Bikes (amongst others) do a 14” and 16” model of essentially the same bike.

    They say the 14” is suitable for 3+ with the 16” being 4+

    Soooo Do I look for a 14” and just concede that he will probably grow out of it in a year or hold on for a 16” with a view it will last longer?

    What have others done?


    I’ve just got my lad a frog tadpole 43cm which is 14″ there’s loads of growing room in it and I reckon it’ll do him for 18 months / until he’s 4

    Premier Icon geoffj

    12 > 16 > 20 > 24 > Kittens

    If he’s missed out the 12 stage, then 14 sounds logical. Both mine learned on 12s and then went to 16s, but kids are different.

    Edit: And I think the balance bike / stabilisers combo is a good one. They learn the two sets of skills separately and can then put them together when they are proficient at both. Our 2 always had scrappy tip bikes to rag around on in the garden. Mini me 1’s balance bike was a scooby doo special with 10″ solid tyres that I took the cranks off.


    I know putting the two together (balance and peddling)will be challenging but thats all (hopefully) part of the fun!

    You might be suprised. Most difficult thing is starting and stopping.
    You probably don’t need the stabilisers. Neither of ours have after balance bikes. Would probably have got the first one pedalling sooner but just kept using the balance bike instead.

    Moved 3 1/2 year old from 14 to 16 at the end of the summer and fits fine. He’s probably about average height.

    By the time spring comes along he might be big enough for a 16?

    Premier Icon scaled

    I went for the 14″ (for my daughters 3rd birthday) and she wasn’t interested in it for about 4 months, mainly as she was happy balance biking the ~mile to nursery and back. One morning she said ‘i want to ride my big bike’ sat on it, pedaled and off she went! don’t sweat the transition, it’s easier than you think!

    She’s 4 and a bit now and the 14″ is getting a bit small, the gearing is a bit low for her but I think the 14″ was the right place to start for building confidence, your first pedal bike isn’t something that you want to have to grow in to.


    14″ I think. Does depend on his height as well though.

    He will be off straight away I bet 😀

    Premier Icon lister

    First one went straight onto 16, 2nd went on to a 14, she’s much smaller. Both started on the Rothan.
    Both pedalled off a couple of days after starting on them, no worries. As already said, the stopping is the biggest issue, I’m glad we had the brake on the rothan so it wasn’t completely new for them.

    I struggle to see past Islabikes for those first small bikes. We’ve sold all ours for a huge chunk of the original price when we’ve finished with them. They just work and fit so well, and kids love them as they look like big bikes scaled down.


    I know putting the two together (balance and peddling)will be challenging

    Probably not. My eldest just got on his bike and rode off down the road.

    Premier Icon Yak

    Measure his height/ inside leg. Phone up islabikes and have a chat. The way they appear to size the bikes is to allow you to leapfrog sizes if you go to the max per bike. So it doesn’t really matter which one you start on as long as it fits.

    Premier Icon mattjg

    Soooo Do I look for a 14” and just concede that he will probably grow out of it in a year or hold on for a 16” with a view it will last longer?

    Just bought a 14″ for my little girl who is 3 3/4, she’s below average height.

    It’ll resell for most of its new price value so if you’re good with fronting the cash now that’s what I’d do (have done).

    I sat her on a Frog with pedals a few months ago, she’d have disappeared on it if I hadn’t kept hold.

    But if she’s not ready that’s cool. She can keep her Tinybike as long as she wants, she’ll see the Islabike waiting in the corner, she’ll jump on it when she’s ready.

    Premier Icon letmetalktomark

    Cool thanks guys.

    To be clear I don’t want to go from a balance bike to a geared bike with stabilizers.

    Hmm. So do I hang on a few months and get him the 16” with a view he will grow into it (sure we all had THAT as kids!) or go with a 14”

    His balance bike has a 12” wheel.

    Edit >>> Was uber slow typing that – Might just have answered the q above.

    Premier Icon mick_r

    My medium size eldest was easily on a 20″ Islabikes by 4 1/2 so I’m sure you could skip one size or other.

    The youngest is a shorty,so he went balance bike – 12″ – 16″ – 20″ (I modified a 2nd hand Ridgeback MX16 to drop the saddle further – still got it in the attic somewhere).

    Premier Icon Yak

    If he’s ready now, and it’s Christmas, then get whatever fits him. If you decide to stay with islabikes then the leapfrog thing will mean that your total spend will be about the same as your son grows as you’ll go through the same number of bikes.

    My boy is on a Zooom 12″ balance bike. He is really confident on it off and on road. We get out as often as we can.
    He will be 3 years in March. I measured his inside leg the other day and it came out at 36cm.

    I am looking at getting the Islabike 14″ as the minimum inside leg is 38cm. He has until march to increase his inside leg by 2 cm.

    I was thinking of keeping him on the balance bike a bit longer but is so keen I don’t want to hold him back any. If it is too much too soon, the balance bike is still there.

    Premier Icon mick_r

    Just for info, this is what I did to the Ridgeback:-

    Trimmed seat tube down to lower the clamp collar 15mm

    Then put an old seatpost on where the head could be removed and inverted to drop the rails another 25mm

    I’m certain all the manufacturers could design a 16″ wheel bike with a bigger adjustment range if they really wanted to…..


    My lad went from a balance bike to the Islabikes 14″, he was nervous to start due to the large size so I simply took the pedals off and let him use it as a balance bike. Within a few weeks he was asking for the pedals and he had no problems.

    He’s a tall lad (I think) for 5 and is having a 20″ Islabikes for Christmas, we missed out on the 16″ because the thing that is holding him back now is gears (or lack thereof).

    The thing I’ve noticed about the Islabike is that it’s very adjustable, I thought he had grown out of it in the summer, but by pushing the bars forward and the seat up and back it’s surprising how much more time he has had out of it

    Premier Icon brassneck

    My 3 all went from 12″ balance bike to 16″ pedal once tall enough, with no problem at all. They oscillated between the two options, but eventually settled on the ‘big bike’. Didn’t push them, just let them do it in their own time.

    Took about 10 minutes on a flat smooth area to get them pedalling, and they haven’t looked back. Really don’t believe stabilisers are at all necessary and possibly a retrograde step if riding a balance bike properly (scooting, down hills etc.)

    Youngest was first riding at a decently competent level (good control, but not enough sense for me to let him ride to school) when 3 years and 2 months, and he’s no giant.


    My eldest went from a rothan to a cnoc16 with the pedals off at 4 but to be honest it was a little big (would have been fine with pedals and stabilizers but I didn’t want to do that as I’d never get them off him) once he grew a bit he was fine. Took him a while to get the pedals. I’d put them, let him have a go then take them off when he asked. (He’s a cautious wee soul)
    Once he was ready, he had pedaling mastered in 10 minutes

    Youngest has a cnoc16 ready for Christmas day. He’s not quite 4 yet but bigger than his brother at the same age and a bit braver so he’ll have no problem

    If you think a 16 might be a bit big, I’d get the 14 on the basis that you’ll get most of your money back at resale anyway.


    If they’re happy on a balance bike and used to pedalling then they may well just get on it and go. Our eldest did (at just over 3) – video proof in near real time of first ride 🙂


    The youngest started earlier at 2 1/2 or so (copying big brother) and needed more help – but only with stopping and starting really, the riding and pedalling bit was fine.

    They were both happy on the Cnoc14 until they were 5 (or nearly 5), then went to a small Beinn 20. The 14 is still getting used as a play bike though. Neither of ours are that tall though.


    The jump in size or more importantly weight, from a Rothan to a Cnoc 14 is quite significant.
    It took my Daughter a while to adapt to it as a balance bike, just because of the different feel of everything.
    We then put the pedals back on it and shes had a go, but isn’t super confident.
    She can ride it with pedals when she doesn’t think about it, but doesn’t believe she can. 🙁

    Its my fault really, I need to spend more time with her on it, not least because her brother who is 2.5 but the same size and weight, really needs to get on the Rothan while he can still fit it 😯


    My eldest is 3 and a bit, currently on a Strider balance bike, but after some impressive crashes it’s time to get something with brakes. He’s getting a second hand Spesh Hotrock for xmas and being a bit small for his age, gone for a 12 inch frame, the same size as his balance bike just to make the transition to a `big bike’ a little easier .

    Suitable for 3 year old? I think leg length would be a much better sizing guide!! Don’t be tempted to go for one that’s too big, they still need to be able to put their feet down easily. Their first pedal bike doesn’t need to be expensive either, just get a cheap-as-chips small one, then when they’re confident get a better/bigger bike.

    My boys both went straight to pedals after balance bikes, no stabilizers.

    Ridgeback mx14 then 16 then 20.

    Premier Icon stealthcat

    As above – check his inside leg length – that’s the important bit with Islabikes. My nephew has just gone from a Rothan to a Cnoc 16, and was apparently pedalling quite happily within minutes.

    Do any of your friends/kid’s friends have pedal bikes you could try? My cousin’s kid is about 3 months older than my nephew, so my nephew had a couple of goes on his bike (which I think was the 14) before he got his own, and that helped us judge the sizing…


    I think it’s worth pointing out that you don’t necessarily have to race up through the sizes at the earliest opportunity. Having time to ride a bike that either fits, or is actually a little bit small, does wonders for handling confidence, particularly on technical (for them) stuff and pump tracks etc.

    A good small bike (like a Cnoc 14) can be very capable – our youngest has ridden it over large sections of fairly rough/rocky red route as part of some good length rides (10+ km). Similarly the eldest stilled raced his Beinn 20 when some of his contemporaries were hauling 26″ around – I know who had the better riding position.

    [Quote]I know putting the two together (balance and peddling)will be challenging[/quote]

    I’m going to guess sub 5 minutes for your kid to figure it out… Assuming he can currently glide on his run bike and make balance/ direction corrections without needing to put his feet down.
    If he still relies on feet on the ground.. You may want to wait.
    As far as the next bike. Get the one that fits him for the size he will be when he gets on it. If you can afford to.

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