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Brakes, Steering Limiters, Footrests?

A few common questions that come for parents looking to purchase their first balance bike are whether the bike need to have a hand brake, steering limiters or footrests.  All are great questions;  there is no answer that is 100% correct.  We will give you to the best of our knowledge the reasons we have to support each bike feature.

Hand Brakes on balance bikes.  I don't think they are a total necessity for 2-3 year olds that are just getting into balance bikes.  From what I have observed, these younger riders are not as coordinated or willing to use a hand brake.  Many toddlers at this age are also pretty content with using their feet as brakes and tend to glide with their feet hovering about 2-3" above ground ready to apply their "feet brakes". When it comes to older kids that are stronger and much more coordinated, I feel they are a great thing to have. Just how snowboarders progress by adding maneuvers and technique; cyclists must increase speed, techniques and equipment.  The use of a hand brake also promotes coordination.  it should also be notes that as children grow stronger and taller, they tend to glide much faster on their bike which necessitates the need for a better braking system to prevent accidents. 

Steering Limiters on Balance Bikes. This is a great subject to discuss.

I compare the arguments of whether or not to have steering limiters to the same arguments of whether there should be noodles in chili J. Also it should be noted that there are also referred to as de-limiters.

First of all, here is quick explanation of balance bike steering limiters.  Steering limiters on balance bikes are generally a part of the headset that restricts the handlebars from over turning while toddlers are riding their bikes.  Most limiters will restrict the turning of handlebars to 30-40 degrees in each direction.  The thought here is to prevent a child from over turning the handlebars, which could cause a jack knife situation. A jackknife situation would be described as a child turning the handlebars too far to the left or right, which in turn may cause the wheel to roll backwards in the opposite direction, causing the bike to fall.

 steering limiter

Steering limiters are great in that it will prevent the bike from jack knifing. The drawbacks to these limiters is that the turning radius of a bike is hindered.  By restricting the amount of turning during the balance bike stage, you are not getting them as ready as they should be for a pedal bike with full turning capabilities.

Parents should make a decision based upon their concerns for safety and their child’s level of coordination.  The good thing is that most steering limiters on balance bikes can be removed.