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Start ’em early

See a slide show of Balance Bikes in the New York Times.

kid on bike 1

Lucky kid

From the New York Times:

BALANCE bikes, long popular in Europe, are making inroads in the United States as a way to teach children to ride a two-wheel bicycle without the need for training wheels. The bikes do not have pedals; instead, toddlers use their feet to steady themselves, propel forward and brake. Eventually they learn to coast — and balance.

Technically, the bikes are ride-on toys, because they lack gears. But they do look like small bicycles, with rubber tires, adjustable seats and adjustable handlebars (on the metal-frame ones, at least). All are low to the ground, so that diminutive riders can straddle them while standing on both feet.

“This makes them a better option than taking the pedals off a regular kids’ bike, since the bike may still be too tall to stand over,” said Tim Blumenthal, the executive director of Bikes Belong, a nonprofit advocacy group in Boulder, Colo. Velo Bartolome, age 2, recently tested five balance bikes, each no more than 11 pounds or $98. His father, Arsenio, a sales representative for City Bikes in Chevy Chase, Md., and Washington, D.C., said that a lightweight bike was easier for younger riders to control. “The learning curve for building and riding the bikes was quick,” Mr. Bartolome said. “About 15 minutes for each of us.”

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