The Glory of Balance Bikes for Kids

Balance bikes are here to stay

Are you ready to get your kid rolling on 2 wheels? You should definitely look into a balance bike. Balance bikes for kids – often called a glider bike, strider bike, or pedal-less bike – can help kids learn to ride faster, easier and happier.

Times have undoubtedly changed and there is no longer a need for a child to start riding a tricycle or move on to a bike with training wheels attached in order to learn proper bike balance. A specially designed balance bike – often called a glider bike, or pedal-less bike –  makes teaching a young tot to ride a breeze. Toddlers as young as 18 months old can quickly learn to handle the two-wheeled balance bike. Most children achieve riding skill on the pedal-less bike in a relatively short time period. Many pick up the bike and start to immediately ride with no instructions required. Soon they are coasting and even jumping like a pro.

Balance Bike History

Balance bikes first emerged in Europe over a decade ago where they have experienced widespread popularity. It is not uncommon to visit a family park in Paris, Amsterdam, or London and see a bevy of youngsters skillfully riding around on the pedal-less bikes. Recently the glider bike trend has started to take off in the United States and parents are beginning to encounter numerous brands of balance bikes at most retailers.

No Pedals = Faster Learning

Toddlers tend to learn to ride a balance bike with far fewer bumps and bruises than more traditional tricycles or bikes with training wheels. The balance bike typically becomes a natural extension of the child and requires very little coaching from the parent. Most children find riding a balance bike less terrifying because they can easily utilize their feet to seek comfort and bolster their self-confidence. As the child gains assurance on the balance bike, he will naturally become more daring.

Bike Fit is Important

Parents can adjust the seat of a balance bike to accommodate their child’s specific body size. The seat’s adjustable height allows the child to sit completely on the seat with their tush while their feet are planted firmly on the ground. Having full control of his feet allows him to quickly push off, brake, slow down, and balance all with his soles. This gives the child a true sense of security and removes the scariness of a potential fall. Some balance bikes for kids do not possess a brake, but a few brands are sold with brakes. Most bike shops can install brakes if the bike does not possess a pre-installed factory braking system. Ideally, the balance bike should come with an enclosed rear braking mechanism for complete safety. Children as young as 2-years old can quickly understand and grasp the concept of the bike’s brakes.

Balance Bikes Require Less Energy

Riding and maneuvering traditional bikes with training wheels and tricycles tends to take a great deal of energy. The child often becomes tired from taxing their legs riding up hills and across difficult terrain. Even their arms start to feel the strain of trying to lift or steer traditional bikes because they are about two to three times heavier than a balance bike. As all parents know, a tired child is a cranky child. Avoiding overexertion on any bike ride makes the entire experience far more pleasurable for everyone involved. The balance bike makes physical exertion a thing of the past. A child can easily coast and scoot over hills with relative ease. A family can enjoy longer bike rides without worrying about junior becoming tired.

Tips for Getting Started

To start a child out on a balance bike, you should choose a flat location. Avoid hills during the first few outings. Once your child can ride on a flat surface, it’s time to tackle a hill or two. Toddlers who first start out their biking lives on a balance bike are normally able to transition to a modern two-wheel bike by the time they are four or five years old. Check out our Best Bikes for 3-4 Year Olds to see some of our top picks for balance bikes for kids.

There is very little doubt that biking helps form a deep parent-child bond. It’s a classic activity that families enjoy together. Balance bikes allow the fun of biking to start early and continue for a lifetime.

Kimberly Sharpe is an outdoor sports and travel writer. She has spent a lifetime mountain biking the trails of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Florida, Northern California, and numerous other locations with friends and family.

Keeping Kids Safe While Mountain Biking

The right safety gear is paramount when mountain biking with kids

Are you worried about keeping your kids safe while mountain biking?  One nasty crash on a bike could set your young rider’s confidence back quite a bit. To bolster the love of bike riding with your child, you need to take every safety precaution available to stack the deck in your favor. Unforeseen crashes happen. Be prepared.

Here are just a few ideas to help protect your child while biking. While no equipment is fool-proof and the odds are good that your little one will inevitably sustain boo-boos, following a stringent safety protocol helps lessen the odds of a severe accident or injury.

Helmet Required

A child’s head is highly susceptible to injury. Even a small bump can cause brain trauma. Most head trauma is avoidable by making sure your youngster wears a properly fitted helmet.  Any helmet that you purchase for your child should have a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker affixed to it. The sticker indicates that the helmet has passed the strict safety requirements set forth by the United States government. 

Bike helmets need to fit snugly and never slip or slide on the child’s head. Avoid letting your child wear a hat under the helmet or the helmet’s safety ability might be impaired. A properly fitted helmet sits level across the child’s forehead and covers it almost to the eyebrows. Always make sure the straps are firmly attached beneath the child’s chin. A slipping and sliding helmet is ineffective at providing any sort of safety.


If you are hitting the roadways or trails for a bike outing, make sure you dress your youngster in bright colors so he is easily spotted by other riders, joggers, or drivers. Shoes should be properly laced up so they don’t drag the ground and pants should not be overly baggy or they may get caught in the bike’s chain. Never let your child wear sandals or flip flops or they could easily skin and peel the skin off their toes during a sudden stop or fall. 

Elbow, Knee, and Shin Guards/Pads

At some time, most kids will inevitably hit their shin with the bike’s pedal. Everyone knows that a shin bruise is painful. Often wearing a pair of shin guards helps prevent such an injury.

Eye Protection

Hitting the trails on a mountain bike is an exhilarating experience, but many trails are muddy and filled with rocks or debris. Wearing a pair of safety goggles will help protect your child’s peepers from flying objects.


If you plan to let your child ride near traffic, it is advised that their bike have reflectors to make them instantly visible to motorists.

LED Lights

When riding in the early morning or late evening hours, a headlight and tail light not only helps light up the trail for your child to see obstacles but also makes the child more visible to other bikers, joggers, or motorists in the failing light.

Bike Bell

What child doesn’t like a bell? Besides being fun, a bell is a handy safety item that a parent can teach their child to use appropriately when riding. 

Cycling Gloves

A pair of full-finger mountain biking gloves not only provides grip but also helps protect small hands from chafing or skinning during a fall. Gloves can go a long way in keeping kids safe while mountain biking.

Neck Braces and Back Braces –

Do your kids ride technical downhill terrain, elevated wood features, off-camber steep slopes, hucking the drops and jumps? If so, you should consider a neck brace with a full-face helmet and back brace for you and your kids. I’ve taken a hard crash with a neck brace in a bike park and so have my sons. All of our injuries have been limited by always wearing the proper gear.

With the proper equipment, biking can not only be fun but also safe for new and beginning riders alike.


Want more info on mountain biking, helmets, pads and accessories? Check out our Reviews

Kimberly Sharpe is an outdoor sports and travel writer. She has spent a lifetime mountain biking the trails of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Florida, Northern California, and numerous other locations with friends and family.

Preparing for a Mountain Bike Ride with Kids

Preparing for the mountain bike ride

Preparing for a Mountain Bike Ride with Kids – A bit of advance planning and preparation helps make any bike trip more enjoyable. No one likes to run around at the last minute trying to remember what needs to be done and what to pack. This is extremely true if you have children. Preparing for a bike ride a day or two in advance will lower the stress level and make the entire trip more enjoyable. Here are a few tips and tricks on how you can prepare for a bike ride with kids.

Bike Readiness – The key component to any successful ride is to have your bike in tip-top condition. Bike maintenance should be a standard preparation for any upcoming ride. Pump up the bike’s wheels and make sure they contain the required amount of air. Look closely at the bike for any signs of wear or any indications that the bike’s tire might not hold up to a ride. You should also examine the bike’s chain and braking system. A day or two prior to the ride have your child sit on the bike and make any necessary adjustments to the seat’s height and the bike’s pedals. Remember that kids grow fast and even if your tot’s bike fit him well a month ago the odds are good that he has grown and the bike will need a bit of tweaking to offer a comfortable ride.

Clothing – Pick out your biking outfit and your children’s clothing a day or two in advance. Try to take into consideration the weather’s forecast so you can dress appropriately. Ideally, you should dress to peel if the forecast calls for a warm afternoon but a chilly morning.

Helmet Check – Your child’s head grows just as quickly as the rest of his body, so be sure to make sure that junior’s helmet fits. Everyone in the family should examine their helmets for any broken straps, fasteners or other safety issues.

Sunscreen – No matter what the weather forecast is you should always remember to pack sunscreen. Burns happen even when the weather is chilly and overcast. Packing a sufficient amount of sunscreen helps protect not only your skin but also the delicate skin of your child.

Gear Up – Consider what gear you will need to achieve the ride from start to finish. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, biking gloves, proper shoes, and comfortable riding clothing.

Water and Snacks – Advance food and water planning are a necessity if you plan to bike with your children. Kids always want foods and snacks, so you should always pack necessary beverages and snacks to keep the children happy.

Map It – No matter how many times you have ridden the trail, if a season has passed then it’s time to map the trail again so you are familiar with the terrain. You should always know the trails you plan on riding, any distinguishing landmarks, and realistic distances.

Phones and Chargers– Pack your cell phone with a fully charged battery in the event of an emergency. You should also pack a solar charger to keep your battery fully powered.

Bring Money – Even though you plan on riding a trail through the wilderness, it’s always a good idea to bring money and identification.

Check the Forecast– Weather is notorious for changing quickly. Even with the best weather forecasting methods, nothing is foolproof. It is best to prepare for the worst.  If it looks like rain, then pack rain gear just to be safe. Mornings and evenings are often chilly, so bring a lightweight jacket. Dress to peel if it looks like the afternoon will warm up.

Be Realistic – If you are biking as a family then you need to be realistic about how far and how many hours your child can ride. Prepare for long rides by gradually building up with shorter rides. No one, young or old, will have fun if you aren’t physically ready to meet the demands of the trail. Try to pick a trail level with the skill set of everyone in the party. Don’t think that you or your anyone in your group can do more than they realistically can achieve.

Rest and Rejuvenate – The night before a big ride make sure everyone gets a good night’s sleep. In the morning hydrate and fuel for the day ahead by planning a wise breakfast that will adequately fuel your physical needs.

Never underestimate the importance of advance planning and preparation for a mountain bike ride with kids. Taking care of everything prior to any bike outing lets you focus on the ride and revel in the moment.


Want more info?  Check out 7 Tips for Mountain Biking with Kids

Kimberly Sharpe is an outdoor sports and travel writer. She has spent a lifetime mountain biking the trails of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Florida, Northern California, and numerous other locations with friends and family.

Prevelo Alpha One Review

Prevelo Alpha One Review

MTB with Kids reviews Prevelo Alpha One: Your child’s first pedal bike will need to be designed so it’s “easy” to ride. It will need to have the right saddle height, reach, and bar width. The cranks, wheels and pedals all need to be the proper dimensions. If you have a child who is about 3-5 years old and ready to pedal – look no further than the Prevelo Alpha One. This single-speed 14inch wheel bike retails for $369.00 USD on the Prevelo website.

Prevelo Alpha One Review

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Your little one has mastered the balance bike and perhaps has a friend or sibling who can ride a pedal-powered bike. For many, the Prevelo Alpha One is going to be your kid’s second bike. It has the geometry and build that are two of the keys to learning how to ride a real pedal bike. Your child’s ability and will are going to help turn those keys and unlock a fun, new world of riding bikes together.

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Overview Of The Prevelo Alpha One

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15.6 – 17.5 inches

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Single Speed

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~13.45 lbs

Set Up For the Prevelo Alpha One

Of course the Alpha One has kid-sized everything. From the cranks to the brakes, the bike is set up for smaller feet and hands, shorter arms and legs. As opposed to the Alpha Zero, Prevelo’s balance bike, the Alpha One has a front brake as well. This is a great additional opportunity and natural advancement for building one’s skills and bike control. We also like the bashguard on the front chainring as well as the quick-release seat post collar.

Prevelo Alpha One bike badge
Hand on bar - Prevelo Alpha One
Prevelo Alpha One saddle
Prevelo Alpha One rear dropout

Be Sure To Get The Freewheel Option When Ordering The Prevelo Alpha One

The Alpha One comes with a coaster brake installed as the default build, but a freewheel option is available and perhaps preferable to most customers. Our kids had coaster brake bikes when they first learned to ride. That was over 10 years ago and we simply didn’t know any better. But in our opinion, going from a coaster brake bike to freewheel bike could be a cumbersome switch or unfavorable learning curve for children who have balance bike experience.

Add-Ons And Color Options

All the add-ons and options for the Alpha One include: a kickstand, the aforementioned freewheel kit, custom color grips, a bicycle bell, rider name lettering, USB rechargeable lights, the Prevelo Trade-Up Club Membership, a riser bar, and a 13t or 15t rear cog. The bike ships with a 14t rear cog.

Internal cable routing, clean welds and optional colors make the bike visually appealing to both parents and kids. Available colors for the Alpha One include: Speed Silver, Power Purple, and Braap Blue.

The Prevelo Trade Up Club

Learn About The Prevelo Trade Up Club

Prevelo also offers a Trade-Up Club Membership. As of this writing, the cost is $69.00 USD. The program allows you to save money when sizing-up while your kids continue to ride a Prevelo. Get all the detail and terms by visiting the Prevelo website.

Prevelo Alpha One - Rear Tire/Wheel

Geometry/Numbers For The Prevelo Alpha One

Prevelo Alpha One Geometry Illustration

Click the photo to enlarge it

A Wheel Size14"
B Wheelbase26.3 in / 667 mm
C Effective Top Tube Length13.7 in / 349 mm
D Head Angle69°
E Seat Tube Angle70°
F Chain Stay Length10.7 in / 271 mm
Weight (including pedals)14.4 lbs / 6.5 kg (13.45 lbs / 6.1 kg with freewheel kit installed)
Minimum Saddle Height15.6 in / 397 mm
Maximum Saddle Height17.5 in / 445 mm
Bottom Bracket Height6.7 in / 170 mm
Gain Ratio3.7
Standover (ground to top of top tube)14in / 355.6mm

Prevelo Alpha One – Specifications

FRAME6061 heat treated aluminum alloy custom formed tubing
FORKAluminum alloy blades with chromoly steerer tube - 35mm rake
SEAT CLAMPAluminum alloy with toolless adjustment
FRONT BRAKETektro aluminum V-brake
REAR BRAKETektro aluminum V-brake & coaster brake
FRONT BRAKE LEVERTektro aluminum short reach
REAR BRAKE LEVERTektro aluminum short reach
CRANK SETPrevelo anodized alloy 3-piece square taper with 85MM crank length.
SPROCKET25T with double chain ring guard
BB SETSealed cartridge
HEAD SET1 1/8" threadless
RIMAluminum with grinded sidewalls
FRONT HUBLightweight alloy 1-piece forged CNC with low profile rounded hex bolts
REAR HUBSteel with integrated coaster brake - 14T cog
TIRE & TUBEKenda Small Block Eight Pro 14 ×1.5
SADDLEPrevelo small kid saddle
HANDLEBARPrevelo Aluminum - 470mm wide x 50mm rise - 22.2mm to 19mm taper
HANDLEBAR STEMAluminum 30mm extension
GRIPKraton rubber
PEDALSComposite with 9/16 chromoly axle
Prevelo Alpha One pedal, crank, bashguard
Quick release seat post collar - Prevelo Alpha One

Riding The Prevelo Alpha One

We found the perfect candidate to ride our Prevelo Alpha One. Derek’s a lad just shy of 5 years old who had never pedaled a bike on his own who had a year of balance bike riding under his belt. This was truly the perfect applicant for the job.

Inspecting the Prevelo Alpha One

After inspecting the bike for a moment, we adjusted the saddle height using the quick-release seat collar and Derek mounted-up. We were sure to play it safe and have the saddle low enough so the rider could easily plant both feet on the ground. He pushed around with his feet on his own for a bit so he could get used to the bar width, kid-sized grips, and the hand brakes.

The reach is an important fit factor for kids' bikes
Hand on bar - Prevelo Alpha One
Foot on the pedal - Prevelo Alpha One

Our first task was to see if Derek could coast down a gentle slope with raising his feet off the ground and then resting them on the pedals when he felt safe and confident. Getting his feet off the ground was easy enough. His balance bike experience enabled him to do this on the third try. Getting Derek to rest his feet on the pedals only took another 5 minutes or so.

Next was pedaling. This concept can tough for a kid to grasp initially. When you take a moment to think about it – it’s foreign at the very least. The physical motion that takes place when pedaling a bike involves alternating the force exerted from left-leg to right-leg in a constrained circular motion. This is one of those things that you really have to simplify when instructing.

Getting both feet on the pedals

Watching this take place in-person with a new rider who’s ready to try this and figure it out is really rewarding. Derek and his mom were both shocked when he got a couple of full rotations on the pedals. From there, it’s just a matter of maintaining forward momentum while safely controlling the bike.

Pedaling for the first time - Prevelo Alpha One

With each attempt, Derek was able to go farther and farther without having to put a foot down. We were on a paved bike path and our demo rider soon learned how to use both hand brakes evenly while making turns and even climbing slight hills.

Taking the Prevelo Alpha One to dirt

Our next location with the bike was a small skills park. We were excited to see that Derek was ready to take the Alpha One to dirt and build upon his skills.

Riding the Prevelo Alpha One

He rode the bike with confidence. As opposed to being on a wide-open paved trail – some of the terrain was bordered with weeds and sagebrush. The Kenda tires did a fine job on the dry, loose dirt and our rider was able to handle weaving the bike through the channels of trails.

Inspecting the repair stand at the skills park

It was great to see how Derek was able to brake evenly with both front and rear brake on the Alpha One. This being his first experience with handbrakes, he simply took it as fact and used them as instructed.

Prevelo Alpha One Summary

We were beyond stoked to see a kid ride a pedal bike on his own for the first time with the Prevelo Alpha One. Derek’s mom was always close by and she shouted with joy when he took off on his own.

Due to your child’s size and abilities, your kid’s first pedal bike may not be the Prevelo Alpha One. The company also offers bikes with 16inch wheels and 20inch wheels. Although they’re different sizes, they still serve the same purpose: enabling kids to have fun on bikes. The Alpha One is definitely the right tool for the job if you have a young child who’s ready to give it a shot. If you want to ensure success, start with a balance bike such as the Prevelo Alpha Zero. This will properly prepare you daughters and sons to build the foundation necessary to advance to pedaling.

Taking off on the Prevelo Alpha One