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Transitioning your little one from a balance bike to pedals should be seamless if done at the correct time. They should have developed enough balance, coordination and confidence to figure out how to pedal in minutes. Judging when this crucial time is, is difficult because every child develops at different times. So how do you know when your child is ready?
While there is no hard and fast rule for this, knowing what to look out for and when, is really important in making it an easy transition.
1) Hand-eye coordination
Their hand-eye coordination should have developed significantly since starting on their AIRO balance bike. A good guide to knowing if they are ready for pedals is that they should be able to confidently steer and change direction. Pedalling a bike while balancing and steering is difficult, especially at the start of their pedal bike journey, but if they are confident on their AIRO, pedalling should come second nature.
Mastering balancing on a balance bike is key to transitioning to pedals without problems. They should be able to navigate various terrains and balance over long distances before you even consider pedals. If they aren't able to balance for longer periods of time or go over different terrain then it's best to hold off until both of these can be done successfully.
Once proficient on a balance bike, your child will naturally lift their feet to glide. If they are lifting their feet for long periods of time or using the integrated footrests frequently, then it's a sign they are ready for pedals. Testing them out on different terrains is important so they know how to deal with different surfaces.
Being in control of the bike is important and so testing your child out on different declines will help gauge whether they are able to slow down. Taking them down a gentle slope will allow you to check their skill level while also gauging how in control of the bike they are. Generally with less experienced riders, you tend to see them wobbling more at faster speeds and using the reducing slope as a break rather than their feet. It's important to note here, that instinctively they lean forwards when going uphill and further back when heading down which is normal.
Using a combination of all the factors above, will ensure you don't move them over to a pedal bike too soon or leave them on a balance bike for too long. Quite often, kids will want to continue on their AIRO once they have a pedal bike because it's easier and more fun over ramps and small jumps! So make sure you don't get rid of your AIRO or sell it on too soon - they won't thank you for that!
The HERO pedal bike comes in 14" and 16" and is the perfect step up from the AIRO. Don't worry if you feel like your child is behind their peers when it comes to riding a balance bike, every child develops at different speeds and rushing a child off an AIRO is more likely to be unsafe for them as they are not ready. Follow their lead, they will show you when they are ready for pedals!