Two-Wheels (No pedals).

 I still remember the day my dad took the training wheels off of my bike and I learned to ride a two-wheeled. I swear it was August and he dressed me in a snowsuit but I might be making that up. I remember being bundled in some capacity (to reduce injury) and uncomfortably hot.

I also remember being terrified.

Yes, I learned to ride. And I was impossibly proud. And most of my neighborhood memories have me rolling around the suburbs on my banana seat bike, the "Poppy Patch". But I thought then as I do now: There has to be an easier way.

And there is.


Skip the training wheels all together and the pedals for a while. (How long is "a while"? Depends on your kid. A few weeks, a few days, or a whole season, depending on their comfort and skill level. But a tiny fraction of the time that most kids spend on traning wheels.)

I know. It's a little baffling to see a bike that is missing its pedals rolling down the street. An acquaintance was yelling out his car window at us today: "Where are the pedals? Rachel, where are the pedals?" utterly perplexed. But then Lupine showed off her balancing skills and he got it instantly.





We didn't make this up, thought I'd love to take credit for it. I stumbled upon the concept in a magazine at my mom's when Sage was a toddler. Though the article on the subject was in a past issue, I gathered from the letters to the editor that taking the pedals off was the idea and it was the easiest, most painless way for kids to learn to ride. And that was the sum total of my research until Sage was four. Then I thrifted a small two-wheeler for him for $5 and we removed the pedals.

Without pedals the child must propel themselves with their feet (easy) and as they do they learn to balance quickly (normally the hard part when you are accustom to relying on training wheels for balance). Then when the balance it good the pedals are added and you're good to go.


How long does it take? Sage learned to ride in one lap around the block. (He was barely four. We left the pedals off for two weeks and he never missed a beat when we put them on.) At three Lupine rode a scooter bike that I bought on Craigslist because the bike pictured above was too heavy for her to balance easily. (We used this wooden type.) She rode it all last summer. She was still pretty small for pedals and not super interested. That being said, a friend her age was on two wheels with pedals using this same method by 3 1/2. Pretty amazing by my standards.

This season she's riding on a small pedal bike that I picked up off of someone's free pile at the curb. And she's unstoppable. On a recent ride she was chanting "Never stop! Never stop! Never stop biking!" Inexpensive, painless, and easy? Works for me. And judging by her passion for two wheels, it's working for her, too.

25 thoughts on “Two-Wheels (No pedals).

  1. Casey says:

    I love this approach. So glad it’s working for you and your kids!

    This post reminds me of a song — kind of political but you might like it: “Handlebars” – The Flobots.

  2. Rachel Wolf says:

    They both had brief relationships with trikes (one season) but neither of them were the best at steering. Somehow when it came to two wheels and the scooting stance they just got the concept right away. Pretty sweet!

    ~ Rachel

  3. Lis says:

    our oldes son loves guy us balance bike, he got it just before he turned three, he will be getting a pedal bike for his fifth birthday in a couple of months and we will pass the balance bike onto his little brother who will just have turned two. We had skeptical on-lookers too, but most are pretty convinced after watching him on it for a few minutes.

  4. Laura A says:

    We didn’t take the pedals off, but I had my daughter do this with a bike that was a bit small for her. She learned real quick!

  5. Kari B. says:

    Oh! The Germans here LOVE some balance bikes! We finally came across one a few weeks ago at a flea market and I snatched it up for my 18 month old son. On the way back to the car at least two older folks comment on how nice it was that we found one for him. He is still too short to ride it but likes to push it around by the handle bars so far. I think it’s genius and love the idea of simply removing the pedals from a normal bike! 🙂

  6. susan says:

    I came across this concept a while ago and it made so much sense. Glad to see it works well in real life!

    PS Does Lupine’s old skuut need a new home? I’m not local, and obviously getting it to someone local takes priority, but if it NEEDS a new home… My daughter turns three in June and we’d already planned on getting her one (hopefully used) for her birthday. Nothing on our local craigslist at the moment. Just thought I’d put it out there 🙂

  7. Caroline says:

    Such a fantastic concept! I’ve never liked the idea of training wheels- I had actually considered buying a wooden balance bike when my kids were old enough, but the cost seemed silly for something they wouldn’t need very long. I’ll have to remember this in the next couple years 🙂

  8. Danielle says:

    My little guy got a balance bike for his 2nd birthday. He sits on the seat and walks with it around the house and outside but he has yet to really run with it or balance (aside from when he is at a stand-still). I would love to find another kid that already knows how to really cruise and let my little guy watch. I think if he saw the bike in action, really in action, he’d take off!

  9. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Susan,
    I have promised her skuut to a neighbor but if they have another plan already made Ill let you know. Have you found Search Tempest for craigslist? It makes life so much easier as you can search by miles from home, multiple CL at once. Google it. :0)


  10. Rachel Wolf says:

    And at free or cheap (and useful for more than a season or two) it makes great financial sense. If the pedal posts bother your child you can take them off too.

  11. Rachel Wolf says:

    The balance bike (purchased) makes sense only if you are in a hurry and want them on it at 2 or 3. Wait until four and then the bike that will fit them as their first two-wheeler will work brilliantly! Peace, Rachel

Leave a Reply