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No Need for Training Wheels: Ideas for Including Balance Bikes in Elementary Physical Education

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Although it was invented nearly two centuries ago in Germany, the balance bike is only now beginning to make its presence known in the United States. A balance bike is a bicycle with no pedals — propelled by running or walking — and is designed to teach young children how to ride a bike in less time by allowing them to practice balance and steering with minimal risk of falling. The use of balance bikes is gaining traction as the “new” way to transition children to riding a bicycle without the need to use training wheels. However, the implementation of a balance bike unit is surprisingly lacking in the vast majority of elementary physical education programs. The purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to the balance bike, highlight the benefits of implementing it in the elementary physical education curriculum, and offer a four-lesson, ready-to-use balance-bike unit plan.
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No Need for Training Wheels: Ideas for Including
Balance Bikes in Elementary Physical Education
Andrew Becker & Seth E. Jenny
To cite this article: Andrew Becker & Seth E. Jenny (2017) No Need for Training Wheels: Ideas
for Including Balance Bikes in Elementary Physical Education, Journal of Physical Education,
Recreation & Dance, 88:4, 14-21, DOI: 10.1080/07303084.2016.1270789
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07303084.2016.1270789
Published online: 27 Mar 2017.
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14 Volume 88 Number 4 April 2017
Andrew Becker is a graduate student, and Seth E. Jenny (jennys@winthrop.edu) is an assistant
professor, in the Department of Physical Education, Sport and Human Performance at Win-
throp University in Rock Hill, SC.
Ideas for
Including
Balance Bikes
in Elementary
Physical
Education
Ideas for
Including
Balance Bikes
in Elementary
Physical
Education
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Andrew Becker
Seth e. Jenny
The need to introduce
the use of balance bikes in
physical education (PE) is
greater than ever, in view of
the seady decline in overall
participation in cycling among Americans
(see Table 1). A cursory look at bicycle
trends over the past 20 years demon-
strates a rapid descent in the number of
Americans, ages seven and older, who
have ridden a bike six or more times in the
course of a year. However, one recent re-
port claims that 103.7 million, or 34 per-
cent, of Americans ages three and older
bicycle at least once per year (Breakaway
Research Group, 2015). This is still an in-
credibly low number of people participat-
ing in this health-enhancing, potentially
life-enriching physical activity, which is
also a viable form of transportation that
is environmentally responsible. American
youth are increasingly at risk of becom-
ing bicycle illiterate, further compound-
ing the decline in physical activity in the
United States.
JoperD 15
In the recent United States Report Card on Physical Activity
for Children and Youth (National Physical Activity Plan Alliance,
2014), the only category in which American schoolchildren re-
ceived an “F” was in “Active Transportation,” including walking
or biking to school. The percentage of American schoolchildren
who actively transport themselves to school has dropped from 47.7
percent in 1969 to a dismal 12.7 percent in 2009 (U.S. Department
of Transportation, 2009). Moreover, it has been reported that 12
percent of Americans 18 years and older do not know how to ride
a bike (Breakaway Research Group, 2015). Likewise, in a recent
JOPERD article that chronicled bike-skills training in PE (Wallace
& Sutton, 2015), the authors noted that seven students in one of
her fourth-grade classes did not know how to ride a bike. These
statistics are particularly alarming when studies have linked active
transportation to school with lower body fat and waist circumfer-
ence, and increased cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular strength,
and quantities of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
(Mendoza et al., 2011; Ostergaard, Kolle, Steene-Johannssen,
Anderssen, & Andersen, 2013).
A variety of government agencies, along with public health
and nonprofit organizations, are working hard at making cycling
more accessible to Americans — that is, creating urban bike lanes
(e.g., National Center for Bicycling and Walking, bikewalk.org),
converting railroad lines to walking/biking trails (e.g., Rails-to-
Trails Conservancy, www.railstotrails.org), providing safe cy-
cling routes to schools (e.g., National Center for Safe Routes to
School, www.saferoutesinfo.org), and so on. The physical educa-
tor can also play a vital role in making cycling available to the
next generation. Utilizing the pedagogical tool of the balance bike
in teaching elementary-age schoolchildren how to ride a bicycle
can assist in increasing American youth cycling participation. The
purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to the balance
bike, highlight the benefits of implementing it in the elementary
PE curriculum, and oer a ready-to-use four-lesson balance-bike
unit plan.
Balance Bike History
Throughout the years the “balance bike” has been referred to
by many names. Table2 provides a summary of balance bike syn-
onymous terms, key features, popular manufacturers, approximate
cost, and sizing information. For the purposes of this article this
style of bike will be referred to as a balance bike. A balance bike is
a bicycle with no pedals — propelled by running or walking — and
is designed to teach young children how to ride a bike in less time
by allowing children to practice balance and steering with minimal
risk of falling.
Originally intended for adult transportation needs, the balance
bike or “Laufmaschine” (German for “running machine”) was cre-
ated by Karl Drais in 1817, in Mannheim, Germany (Athavaley,
2010). His invention was the predecessor to the modern bicycle,
but it faded from memory as the bicycle gained popularity. It was
not until the mid-1990s that the balance bike would be resurrected
by Rolf Mertens, again in Germany, in the form of a training tool
for children to learn how to ride a bicycle sans training wheels.
Mertens founded the Like-a-Bike brand, and his creation quickly
became the standard for early-childhood bicycle education in
Europe (Athavaley, 2010).
Today, the balance bike is becoming increasingly available to
American consumers, and early research has demonstrated that it
does improve balance in children. Balance-bike curriculum creator
Balanceability (2015) has claimed that across the 400 sites in the
United Kingdom where the Balanceability curriculum has been
used, 94 percent of the children (ages 4 to 6 years old) were able
to safely transition to a pedal bike at the end of the 12-week pro-
gram. Similarly, a case study conducted by Balanceability (2015)
reported that 35 out of 38 reception year (i.e., kindergarten) stu-
dents were able to transition to riding a pedal bike after partici-
pating in the 12-week (12 × 45 minute sessions) Balanceability
curriculum implemented by a PE teacher and a Balanceability cur-
riculum instructor.
Table1.
Cycling Participation Rates
in the United States
Year Cycling Participants Reference
1995 56.3 million Edmondson (2011)
2000 43.1 million Edmondson (2011)
2010 39.8 million Edmondson (2011)
2012 39.3 million NBDA (2013)
2013 35.6 million NBDA (2013)
Note. Data includes Americans ages seven or older who rode a bike at
least six times during the year. NBDA = National Bike Dealer Association.
Table2.
Balance Bike: Terms, Features,
Manufacturers, Pricing and Sizing
“Balance Bike” Synonymous Terms
Draisine (named after the inventor); Glide Bike; kick bike,
Laufmaschine (German for “running machine”); learner
bike; Like-a-Bike; no-pedal bike; pedal-less bike; push
bike; running bike; Strider Bike; walking bike
Key Features
Adjustable seat and handlebars; foot pegs/rests; hand
brakes or no brakes; limited range of steering; lightweight
wood or metal frame; no pedals
Popular Manufacturers
Early Rider Bikes; FirstBIKE; Glide Bikes; Kazam; Kinder
Bikes; Like-A-Bike; MiiR; MUNA; Novara; Radio Flyer;
Scoot; Skuut; Strider Bikes; Trikke; TykesBykes; YBIKE;
Yvolution; Zum
Price Range
$40 to $315, with the average around $60 to $100
Sizing
12-inch frame height = ~2 to 5 year olds; 16-inch frame
height = ~4.5 to 9 year olds
16 Volume 88 Number 4 April 2017
Moreover, Shim and Norman (2015) found that children (ages
3 to 5 years old) were able to significantly improve their balance
within four weeks, using balance bikes three times per week for
20 minutes each session. It was found that the experimental group
that used balance bikes experienced “significant changes within
the third week of training compared to the control group” (Shim
& Norman, 2015, p. 50). This study is the first impartial study to
validate what balance bike manufacturers have been touting for
years: that the balance bike is a faster and easier way to learn to
ride a bike.
Although it was invented nearly two centuries ago, the balance
bike is just beginning to make its presence known in the United
States. The use of balance bikes is gaining traction as the “new”
way to transition children to riding a bicycle without using train-
ing wheels (see Table3). However, the implementation of a balance
bike unit is surprisingly lacking in the vast majority of elementary
PE programs.
Benets of Balance Bikes in Elementary
Physical Education
There are numerous reasons why the balance bike should be
included in elementary PE programs and this article highlights five
of them. The balance bike (1) teaches balance; (2) can be used
to assist in meeting SHAPE America’s National Standards for PE
(SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators,
2014); (3) can be used as part of a comprehensive school physi-
cal activity program (CSPAP); (4) can provide a foundation for
upper-elementary bicycling education; and, most importantly, (5)
can provide an early introduction to a high-quality, lifelong physi-
cal activity and eco-friendly form of transportation.
Teaches Balance. As the name suggests, the balance bike teaches
children balance. Balance is the most dicult aspect for children
learning to ride a bicycle to master, but, beyond cycling, it is a
fundamental skill theme used across an array of physical activities.
Balance is used in every single sport or physical activity to varying
degrees, and it is essential for everyday living (Graham, Holt/Hale,
& Parker, 2013; Pangrazi & Beighle, 2013).
Specific benefits of the balance bike compared to the traditional
method of utilizing training wheels when learning how to ride a
bike center on three aspects: safety, confidence and balance. Since
balance bikes are lighter in weight compared to a pedal bike with
training wheels, and children’s feet remain in contact with the
ground during usage, they tend to provide more stability and are
easier to control, thus making them safer. Due to this increased
sense of safety and stability, children may feel more in control
of the balance bike, which may increase their confidence and au-
tonomy in exploring movements required to ride a bike with less
fear than riding with training wheels. This, in turn, may lead to
increased practice time on the bike. The key benefit of the bal-
ance bike is that it directly targets the hardest skill to master when
learning to ride a bicycle — balance.
Table3.
The “Old” and “New” Three-step Approach for Learning How to Ride a Bicycle
1. Tricycle
2. “Old” Learning Progression
(Training Wheels)
                →
2. “New” Learning Progression
(Balance Bike)
3. Bicycle
JoperD 17
Manufacturers tout the balance bike as the quicker and easier
way to learn how to cycle, but until recently there was little re-
search to support these claims besides anecdotal evidence provided
by parents of children who learned to cycle with the balance bike.
As previously mentioned, Shim and Norman (2015) demonstrated
early promising results that the balance bike can indeed improve
balance in children in as few as three weeks. Implementing the
balance bike provides not only a foundation for cycling educa-
tion, but also a foundation of balancing skills for the rest of an
individual’s life.
Assists in Meeting the National Standards. Of utmost impor-
tance in today’s PE classroom is aligning the activities in the class-
room to state and national PE standards and grade-level outcomes.
Incorporating the balance bike meets at least one grade-level out-
come of each of the five National Standards (SHAPE America,
2014) presented in Table4. Adding the balance bike to the elemen-
tary PE curriculum can help achieve any or all of these standards.
However, of note, there is no specific mention of bicycling in the
elementary standards.
Addition to a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Pro-
gram. The balance bike is well suited to play a role in a compre-
hensive school physical activity program. A CSPAP is “a multi-
component approach by which school districts and schools use
all opportunities for students to be physically active, meet the
nationally-recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day,
and develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to be physically
active for a lifetime” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
2015, para. 1). Balance bikes represent a fun yet challenging form
of exercise that can be part of the overall physical activity equa-
tion leading to students attaining 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-
vigorous physical activity as prescribed by the CDC and SHAPE
America.
Three ways in which the balance bike could be blended into a
CSPAP include: (1) use in an after-school program or dedicated
after-school learn-to-cycle program, (2) use at recess as an incen-
tive for good student behavior, and (3) as part of a Family Fitness
Night.
First, for elementary schools that have a limited amount of
time for PE (i.e., 30 minutes once per week), hosting a balance-
bike workshop after school may be more conducive to teaching
students how to cycle. This would also provide opportunities for
students to interact with parents in a positive physical activity set-
ting, and the potential for inviting adult volunteers can be a plus
when trying to manage the cyclist-to-instructor ratio. Second, if
balance bikes are included in the PE curriculum, a great way to
oer more opportunities for practice would be to set up a balance
bike course to be utilized during recess. Since the number of bal-
ance bikes at any given school will be limited in number, and the
demand to have the opportunity to ride the balance bike at recess
will be great, homeroom teachers could use the balance bike (with
helmet) as a reward for good behavior or performance in the class-
room. Lastly, at the end of the balance bike unit PE teachers could
host a culminating Family Fitness Night (i.e., “bike rodeo”) where
students have an opportunity to show o their newly acquired cy-
cling skills to their parents and perhaps even go on a short family
bike ride together. For more ideas on starting a CSPAP, see SHAPE
America (2015b).
Continuity in Cycling Education. Currently, there are several
cycling curricula available for school-age children. As shown in
Table 5, bike curricula appropriate for lower elementary grades
are surprisingly lacking. The vast majority of these curricula tar-
get third- through sixth-grade students and older. However, the
problem with implementing these curricula is that they assume that
all children have already learned how to ride a bike by the time
they reach third grade. In other words, many curricula are too
advanced for some students who do not know how to ride a bike.
Introducing balance bikes in lower-elementary (i.e., grades
PK–2) PE provides continuity and an appropriate progression in
cycling education for the latter elementary grades. As previously
mentioned, recent reports have noted that students as old as fourth
grade never learned how to ride a bike (Wallace & Sutton, 2015).
This is consistent with current declining trends in cycling partici-
pation among Americans, due to some students never having had
the opportunity to ride a bike for a multitude of reasons (e.g., so-
cioeconomic status, no one ever taught them, lack of safe places
to ride). Balance bike programs such as Balanceability (2015) and
Strider Camps (Strider, 2015) noted in Table5, as well as the sam-
ple unit plan provided later in this article, can build a firm founda-
tion in bicycle literacy and balance as students progress to more
advanced cycling motor-skill proficiency in later grades.
Lifelong Physical Activity and Transportation. Finally, includ-
ing the balance bike in PE, starting in pre-kindergarten, assists in
forming the foundation of a high-quality, lifetime physical activ-
ity that is also an eco-friendly form of transportation. Bicycling
has been ranked the fifth most popular lifetime physical activity
among adults (Pangrazi & Beighle, 2013). A recent longitudinal
study of 673 children ages six to 12 years old found a significant
positive relationship between time spent in moderate-to-vigorous
physical activity and cardiovascular fitness, health-related fitness,
and performance-related fitness at the three-year follow-up, in-
dicating cardiorespiratory fitness in childhood may be an impor-
tant determinant of physical activity later in adolescence (Larsen,
Kristensen, Junge, Rexen, & Wedderkopp, 2015). The balance
Table4.
National Standards and Elementary
Outcomes Addressed
with Balance Bikes
National
Standard Elementary
Sub-standard Elementary School
Outcomes (K–Grade 5)
1 E1 Locomotor skills (while
maintaining balance)
1 E7 Balance
2 E3 Movement concepts
3 E2 Engages in physical activity
4 E1 and E2 Personal responsibility
4 E3 Accepting feedback
4 E4 Working with others
4 E5 Rules and etiquette
4 E6 Safety
5 E2 Challenge
5 E3 Self-expression and
enjoyment
18 Volume 88 Number 4 April 2017
bike can assist in helping young children build and maintain car-
diorespiratory fitness, which may facilitate physical activity levels
later in life.
Furthermore, research has suggested that cycling and brisk
walking are the best forms of low-impact physical activity for
fighting a multitude of modern health ailments, such as obesity,
diabetes, and heart disease (Carnall, 2000; Mendoza etal., 2011;
Ostergaard etal., 2013; Pucher & Dijkstra, 2003). More relevant
to the elementary physical educator:
one of the most reliable predictors for lifelong physical activity appears
to be the power of early physical activity experiences to shape future
attitudes and expectations toward physical activity…[and] there is sub-
stantial consensus that early physical activity experiences presented in
traditional approaches to physical education are not meeting the na-
tion’s need for lifetime physical activity. (Ennis, 2010, p. 19)
Moreover, lessons regarding wearing helmets taught at an early
age lead to good safety habits for a lifetime (Graham etal., 2013).
The bottom line is that introducing the balance bike in early-ele-
mentary PE is likely to facilitate lifelong cycling habits in children,
which could help to address the decreasing trends in youth cycling
participation, the current state of health in the United States, and
the need to promote lifelong physical activity.
Table5.
Sample Bicycle and Balance Bike Curricula
Name Grade Levels Description
Bikeology Curriculum and Parent Guide
(SHAPE America, 2015a)
6th–12th Ready-to-use bicycle safety curriculum for PE teachers and
recreation specialists.
Bicycle Safety: Sport Education Style
(Sinelnikov etal., 2005)
4th–6th 15-lesson bicycle safety program that incorporates the sport
education model; piloted at Ogeltree Elementary School in
Auburn, AL.
Let’s Go Biking! (Let’s Go NC, 2015) K–5th 9 classroom lessons, 6 bicycling lesson plans and 2 video
lessons devised by the North Carolina Department of
Transportation, which includes the balance bike in the curriculum.
Lessons also address Common Core standards.
Ride with Abandon (Palmer, 2006) 6th–12th 15-lesson mountain biking unit from an article titled “Ride with
Abandon.
Street Wise: Bicycle Safety (Crider &
Hall, 2006)
3rd–6th Five-lesson bicycle unit for elementary schools consisting of
two days in the classroom, followed by two days on bikes,
culminating in a “Bike Rodeo.
Teaching Lifetime Outdoor Pursuits:
Cycling (Timken & Lutz, 2010)
6th–12th Book chapter on cycling teaching tips, equipment, safety and
skills/techniques; includes a comprehensive 10-day unit plan with
lesson objectives, activities and assessments.
Teaching Lifetime Outdoor Pursuits:
Mountain Biking (McNamee & Claus,
2010)
6th–12th Book chapter on mountain biking equipment, safety and skills/
techniques; includes a comprehensive 10-day unit plan with
lesson objectives, activities and assessments.
Balance Bike–specic Curriculums
Name Ages (years) Description
Balanceability (2015) 2.5 to 6 UK’s self-proclaimed rst accredited “learn to cycle” program
consisting of two levels, each with six 45-minute lessons. Taught
at over 400 schools and recreation centers.
Strider Camps (Strider, 2015) 2 to 6 Strider Camp kits come with resources, visual aids and lesson
plans for ve 1-hour hands-on sessions.
Sample Balance-bike Unit
Table6 provides a sample balance-bike unit consisting of four
basic lessons that follow many guidelines suggested by Shim and
Norman (2015). It is built around a “safety-first” model. The very
first lesson discusses proper fit and wear of a helmet, as students
must always wear helmets while on balance bikes. Moreover, re-
garding safety, students must be taught to respect the personal
Figure 1.
The two-nger check for proper chinstrap tightness
(Lesson 1-1)
JoperD 19
Figure 2.
Pointing to the tire in
“Simon Says bike parts”
(Lesson 1-2)
Table6.
Balance Bike Unit Plan (Grades PK–3)
Lesson 1: Introduction Activities and Assessment
Objectives (S2, 3 & 4)
1. Identify bike parts
2. Identify proper helmet t
1. Helmet tting – Should be centered, chinstrap fastened tight leaving enough room for two
ngers (Figure1)
2. Simon Says bike parts – Parts to identify: fork, frame, handlebars, seat, spokes, tires,
wheel (Figure2)
3. Walking the bike – Students follow the leader single le while walking their bike. (Figure3)
4. Seat height – Feet at on the ground, with slight bend in the knees while seated (Figure4)
5. Scoot, walk, run – Students explore moving on the balance bike in general space.
Assessment: Helmet t check (peer assessment)
Lesson 2: Stop and Go
Objectives (S1 & 3)
1. Sustained glides with
balance
2. Stopping with balance
1. Walking balance warm-up – With no bike, walking on staggered poly spots while keeping
arms parallel to the ground; simulating hands resting on an imaginary bicycle handlebar
(Figure5)
2. Scoot, walk, run – Students explore moving on the balance bike in general space.
3. Go and glide – Create a station with an acceleration zone followed by a gliding zone.
(Figure6)
4. Stop station – Create another station with acceleration zones followed by stop signs.
(Figure7)
Assessment: Glide distance measurement (performance evaluation)
(continued)
Figure 6.
Gliding as far as possible in the
“Go and glide” station
(Lesson 2-3)
Figure 4.
Proper seat height — feet at on
the oor with slight knee bend
(Lesson 1-4)
Figure 3.
Walking the balance bike
(Lesson 1-3)
Figure 5.
Walking balance warm-up
(Lesson 2-1)
Figure 7.
Stopping at the stop sign at
the stop station
(Lesson 2-4)
20 Volume 88 Number 4 April 2017
space of others while riding balance bikes. Topics such as stopping
at a stop sign, looking both ways when crossing at an intersection,
and watching out for cars backing out of a driveway while travel-
ing on a sidewalk can all be taught within the context of a balance-
bike unit. Teaching how to handle these safety issues will provide
the beginning of trac awareness needed on the road later in life,
both when cycling and driving (Figure 10).
This four-lesson plan is centered on progressively more complex
skills. If students are not ready for some of the more challenging
tasks, simply continue to build on the tasks they are comfortable
with. In this way, this balance-bike unit corresponds well to the
teaching by invitation model, oering “children choice among ap-
propriate challenges (or tasks) [which] not only creates a more in-
clusive environment, but also empowers children by allowing them
to make decisions about how they want to participate” (Graham
etal., 2013, p. 659).
Final Considerations
Several more points to consider when implementing balance
bikes in elementary PE are the number of bikes, volunteer help,
bike maintenance and storage, and funding. First, ideally it would
be beneficial to have about 10 to 24 balance bikes so that the stu-
dent-to-bike ratio is either 1:1 or 1:2. This will increase time on
task and will reduce wait times. However, to start, consider part-
nering the students and provide each partnership one bike as the
students become accustomed to riding and develop space aware-
ness on the bike. Also, enlist the help of guardians, grandparents,
older students, or other volunteers to help ensure the safety of the
students and to oer encouragement and feedback.
In addition, balance bikes will need to be maintained and in-
spected on a regular basis. The key is to establish an inspection
checklist (e.g., tire pressure, handle bars, seat; see Timken & Lutz,
Table6.
(Continued)
Lesson 3: Twists and Turns
Objectives (S1 & 3)
1. Balancing through a turn
2. Changing direction with
balance
1. Scoot, walk, run – Students explore moving on the balance bike in general space.
2. Zig-zag cones – Create a station of cones for students to weave back and forth. (Figure8)
3. Busy intersection One intersection between one or more routes where students practice
stopping and looking both ways before continuing
4. Big loops – Design courses with large loops so students can practice balancing through a
curve.
Assessment: Zig-zag cone course timed event (performance assessment)
Lesson 4: Balance Bike Rodeo
Objective (S1, 3 & 5)
1. Ride safely in a dynamic
environment
1. Obstacle course – Create an obstacle course with objects for students to go around, over
or under. Have other students become pedestrian obstacles as well. Students may assist in
creating the course.
2. Hard hat challenge – See how long students can keep a plastic hard hat (or bean bag) on
their helmet while riding the balance bike around the obstacle course or in general space.
(Figure9)
Assessments: Obstacle course bike safety observation checklist
Note: Many of the activities are adapted from Kodrin & Videmsek (2013) and Shim & Norman (2015). Lesson objectives are linked to SHAPE America’s (2014)
National Standards for Physical Education. S = Standard.
Figure 8.
Navigating the zig-zag cones
(Lesson 3-2)
Figure 9.
Added challenge to zig-zag cones
— balancing a bean bag throughout.
(Lesson 4-2)
Figure 10.
A physical education teacher
provides balance bike instruction
to a kindergarten student.
JoperD 21
2010) to be used on a daily basis. Moreover, storage of 10 to 24
balance bikes may be an issue. Four possible solutions for storing
the balance bikes include: (1) purchasing or allocating an external
storage shed, (2) finding unused storage or custodial closets in the
school, (3) hanging the bikes on hooks in storage ceiling closets,
or (4) using a trailer to store and transport the balance bikes to
several schools throughout a district (see Wallace & Sutton, 2015).
Finally, there are several grant opportunities available for el-
ementary PE teachers who may lack resources to purchase balance
bikes. Balance bike manufacturer Strider (www.striderbikes.com)
has donated over $400,000 in cash and bikes since the company’s
inception and oers $500 grants for Strider Bike products. Other
avenues for applying for a grant to purchase balance bikes in sup-
port of an elementary PE program include SHAPE America grants
(http://www.shapeamerica.org/grants), Carol M. White Physical
Education Program grants (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/white-
physed), Let’s Move! Active Schools (http://www.letsmoveschools.
org/resources-grants), or the PE Central School Funding Center
(http://www.pecentral.org/schoolfundingcenter.html).
Conclusion
The purpose of this article was to provide a brief introduc-
tion to the balance bike, explore the benefits of implementing
balance bikes in the elementary PE curriculum, and provide a
ready-to-use balance-bike unit plan. Incorporating balance bikes
in elementary PE can assist in: (1) teaching balance, (2) meeting
the SHAPE America National Standards, (3) supporting a CSPAP,
(4) providing continuity in bicycling education throughout ele-
mentary school, and (5) providing an excellent introduction to a
lifelong physical activity and eco-friendly form of transportation.
With the rise in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, accompa-
nied with the decrease in cycling participation and overall physi-
cal activity among Americans, the need for balance bikes in el-
ementary PE is greater than ever. The use of balance bikes in
elementary PE can form the foundation for universal bicycle
education and cycling physical activity patterns for the next
generation of Americans.
ORCID
Seth E. Jenny http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4876-577X
References
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... The use of the bicycle with lateral training wheels (BTW) is a worldwide practice, however not everyone agrees with this approach [24,25]. Recently, the use of the balance bike is increasing; in Portugal, one of the biggest sporting goods retailers started selling this bike in 2012-2013, and some of the biggest supermarkets also started in this decade, which may also have contributed to making BB more accessible and popular. ...
... The use of the bicycle with lateral training wheels (BTW) is a worldwide practice however not everyone agrees with this approach [24,25]. Recently, the use of the balance bike is increasing; in Portugal, one of the biggest sporting goods retailers started selling this bike in 2012-2013, and some of the biggest supermarkets also started in this decade which may also have contributed to making BB more accessible and popular. ...
... This ordering of patterns seems to confirm, only for the data presented, the association between the use of BB in the learning process and the lowest LA. Some authors consider that balance is the most difficult challenge in the process of learning how to cycle [24,25]. The balance bike improves balance from an early stage, not focusing on the pedalling coordination, and maybe this is the key for its success. ...
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Background: Learning to cycle is an important milestone in a child's life, so it is important to allow them to explore cycling as soon as possible. The use of a bicycle with training wheels (BTW) for learning to cycling is an old approach practiced worldwide. Most recently, a new approach using the balance bike (BB) has received increased attention, and several entities believe that this could be most efficient. Drawing on the work of Bronfenbrenner (1995) and Newel (1986), this study aimed to analyse the effect of BB's use on the learning process of cycling independently. Methods: Data were collected in Portugal from an online structured survey between November 2019 and June 2020. Results: A total of 2005 responses were obtained for adults and children (parental response). Results revealed that when the BB's approach was used, learning age (LA) occurred earlier (M = 4.16 ± 1.34 years) than with the BTW's approach (M = 5.97 ± 2.16 years) (p < 0.001); or than when there was only the single use of the traditional bicycle (M =7.27 ± 3.74 years) (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Children who used the BB as the first bike had a significantly lower LA than children who did not use it (p < 0.001). To maximize its effects, the BB should be used in the beginning of the learning process.
... The idea of the BB is to allow children to first acquire balance before pedalling. Different authors (Ballantine and Grant 1992;Becker and Jenny 2017;Shim and Norman 2015) argue that the BB is the most effective way of learning to cycle and promotes an earlier and smooth transition to the CB. Kavanagh, Moran, and Issartel (2020) opted to use two different instruments, one group used the balance bike and the other used the training wheel bike. ...
... However, after being contacted to provide additional information, the authors reported that the participants in the balance bike group learnt quicker and more of them acquired independent cycling than the participants in the training wheel group. This information corroborates the idea that the BB could promote an earlier and smooth transition to the CB (Ballantine and Grant 1992;Becker and Jenny 2017;Shim and Norman 2015). ...
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Background: The bicycle is a popular means of transportation, exercise, recreation and also socializing for children worldwide, allowing them several physical and psychological benefits. Several methodologies and types of bicycles have been used for learning how to cycle, however, the best approach is still unclear. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to review and summarize the existent studies of programmes that aim to teach children how to ride a bicycle independently, in order to identify which possibilities lead to a more efficient intervention. Methods: A comprehensive search was performed in seven electronic databases (TRID, CENTRAL, Web of Science, SCOPUS, EBSCO, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses and Google Scholar), including grey literature and the citations of relevant articles, from their inception to April 2020. Studies were included according to the eligibility criteria: children and youths aged 18 or less, with and without disabilities; intervention programmes that aimed to teach how to ride a bicycle with a pre- and post-intervention assessment regarding the ability to ride. The Downs and Black checklist was used for quality assessment. Results: Nine intervention studies, including a randomized controlled trial, were included. The mean quality score was 11.8 ± 3.6 points. Just one of the included studies was targeted at children without disabilities. Different facilitating constraints and barriers were identified, which resulted in a list of tips for future intervention programmes to teach children how to ride a bicycle. The facilitating constrains were using a progressive learning strategy; using an individualized approach; making bicycle adjustments; having motivated children and having family support throughout the learning process. The barriers were: the fear of falling; lack of parents’ support; and lower leg strength. Learning to cycle was also associated with a decrease in sedentary time, increase in physical activity, improvement in leg strength, and a positive influence on body composition, indicating that it can be a solution to disrupt the cycle of consistent weight gain over time in children with disabilities. Conclusions: There is a gap concerning intervention studies to teach children without disabilities how to cycle. The best strategy is probably a progressive learning strategy by using simpler training bicycles that enable the child to explore balance from the beginning, and simpler exercises first. Teaching programmes should adopt an individualized intervention, feedback and motivation, considering each child’s specific characteristics.
... The use of the bicycle with lateral training wheels (BTW) is a worldwide practice, however not everyone agrees with this approach (Becker and Jenny, 2017;Shim and Norman, 2015). ...
... This confirms the association between the use of the BB in the learning process and a lower learning age. Some authors consider that balance is the most difficult challenge in the process of learning how to cycle (Becker and Jenny, 2017;Shim and Norman, 2015). The balance bike improves balance from an early stage, not focusing on the pedalling coordination and maybe this is the key for its success. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Learning to ride a bicycle is an important milestone in children’s life, so it is important to allow them to explore cycling as soon as possible. The use of a bicycle with training wheels (BTW) for learning to cycling independently is an old approach practiced worldwide. Most recently, a new approach using the balance bike (BB) has increased, and several entities believe that this could be most efficient. Drawing on the work of Bronfenbrenner (1995) and Newel (1986), this study aimed to analyse the effect of BB’s use on the learning process of cycling independently. Data were collected in Portugal from an online structured survey between November 2019 and June 2020. A total of 2005 responses were obtained for adults and children (parental response). Results revealed that when the balance bike’s approach was used, learning age (LA) occurred earlier (M=4.16 ± 1.34 years) than with the bicycle with training wheels’ approach (M=5.97 ± 2.16 years) ( p <0,001); or than when there was only the single use of the traditional bicycle (TB) (M=7.27 ± 3.74 years) ( p <0,001). Children who used the BB as the first bike had a significant lower LA than children who didn´t use it ( p <0.001). To maximize its effects, the BB should be used in the beginning of the learning process.
... So far, and despite the BB's increasing popularity, the research specifically targeting this bicycle is still scarce. We could find two articles with suggestions for BB exercise or sessions [17,21], and only one article studied the effect of the BB sessions with preschool and/or elementary school children [22]. However, in none of them were the different patterns of locomotion analysed, defined, or categorized. ...
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The balance bike (BB) has been pointed out as being the most efficient learning bicycle due to its inherent stimulation of balance. However, the process of acquiring the control of balance on the BB has not been explored. This study aimed to: (i) categorize the cycle patterns of children on the BB, (ii) compare the cycle patterns in different stages of learning (before and after six sessions of a BB practice program), and (iii) verify whether velocity is a control parameter leading to transitions between different cycle patterns on a BB. The data were collected during the Learning to Cycle program from 12 children aged 6.06 ± 1.25 years. The velocity was measured using an inertial sensor. Seven different movement patterns were captured and categorized through video analysis. After practice, there was an increase in the mean number of different patterns and in the global mean and maximum velocity. These were interpreted as an improvement of the motor competence in the use of the BB. The results obtained support the hypothesis that velocity is a control parameter which leads to the emergence of diverse patterns of behavior. As the speed increased, the amount of foot contact with the ground became less frequent and the locomotor modes that imply that longer flight phases began to emerge.
... Moreover, decisions on implementing BeeLine Reader as an educational tool not only depend on learning gains in the short run, but also on learning gains in the long run. For example, presenting texts with BeeLine layouts to beginning readers may ultimately hamper their reading skills for texts with a traditional layoutjust like learning how to ride a bicycle by using lateral training wheels may not always present an optimal learning situation (Becker & Jenny, 2017;Shim & Norman, 2015). In all, the current study is a first examination of the efficacy of BeeLine Reader. ...
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Children who learn to cycle at a young age do this by using training bicycles that simplify control requirements compared with regular bicycles, such as bicycles with training wheels or balance bikes without pedals. The primary purpose of the current study was to investigate whether the two types of training bicycles result in a different age of onset of independent cycling on a regular bicycle. We asked parents of 4‐ to 6‐year‐old children (n = 173) to complete a questionnaire regarding their child's bicycling history. The results showed that children who had practised with a balance bicycle started practising at a younger age, had shorter practice duration, and were able to cycle independently at a younger age in comparison to children who had practised with a bicycle with training wheels (or with both training bicycles). We argue that the observed advantage of balance bicycle is associated with the balance bicycle actively challenging postural control. Further research is needed to uncover the impact of training bicycles on the further development of the foundational skill of cycling.
Conference Paper
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Conference Paper
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is widely used as a method in making rapid prototyping and one that is developed is a bicycle. Balance bike is a type of bicycle that does not use a pedal. Balance bike moves by being pushed with legs while running or walking. One of the most important parts of a bicycle is a tire. However, in reality pneumatic tires have disadvantages in environmental problems. In this study, the tire will be processed with 3D printing using Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) filaments in its manufacture. By analyzing several variations of tire geometry designs, namely honeycomb, tweel, diamond and triangle. By testing static load using Ansys simulation software, it is found that airless tire with honeycomb variation is the best in several aspects analyzed such as equivalent stress of 976,190 Pa, equivalent elastic strain of 0,00043773 m / m, total deformation of 0.000022627 m, the best stress-strain curve compare to other design, real weight for scale of 75% by 410 grams, and public survey by 32%. So that this tire is worth printing with the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) method.
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The consensus that regular physical exercise is a vital part of maintaining health and wellbeing has existed for at least a decade.1 The human body is made to exercise, yet our increasingly motorised existence means that we now walk an average of eight miles less each day than our forebears 50 years ago.2 Cycling has shown a similar decline: in 1949 34% of miles travelled using a mechanical mode were by bicycle; today only 1-2% are.2The car, weighing the best part of a ton and often conveying only one person and a briefcase, is a highly inefficient mode of transport. The fumes cars expel cause appreciable mortality3 and are a major contributor to …
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Physical educators are expected to develop activities that promote psychological and physiological benefits for children during their pre-adolescent years, especially in pre-K through third grade. One of these skill components is the development and acquisition of stability or balance. This article describes how to use pedal-less bicycles to teach balance and stability to pre-K through third-grade children.
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Incorporating bike skills into the elementary- and middle-school physical education curriculum encourages students to be physically active in a fun way while also learning bike safety skills. Winston-Salem's (NC) Safe Routes to School program demonstrates how collaboration with the public schools' health and physical education program can strengthen the physical education curriculum while teaching students important skills for lifelong physical activity. This article describes how the Bike Smarts program started and how it has grown since its inception in 2010. Also included are recommended resources and questions for consideration for those interested in starting a similar program.
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As programs increasingly emphasize lifelong physical activity, bicycling—and its safety requirements—will likely become a more frequent unit in physical education.
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Physical activity is associated with several health benefits in children, and physical activity habits developed in childhood tend to persist into adulthood. Physical activity may be the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and motor performance has been shown to be positively associated with physical activity in cross-sectional studies. The purpose of this study was to explore the longitudinal relationship between motor performance and physical activity in a three-year follow-up study. Longitudinal analyses were performed using data from 673 participants (44% boys, 6-12 years old) who had been included in the Childhood Health Activity and Motor Performance School Study-DK (CHAMPS-Study DK). Baseline motor performance tests consisted of vertical jump, shuttle run, handgrip strength, backward balance, precision throw and cardiovascular fitness. Composite Z-scores were generated to express health-related fitness and performance-related fitness. Physical activity was measured by accelerometer at baseline and at three-year follow-up, and was expressed as a percentage of time in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Cardiovascular fitness, vertical jump, health-related fitness and performance-related fitness showed significant positive associations with three-year follow-up measures of physical activity in both sexes. Furthermore, the shuttle run showed significant inverse associations with follow-up measures of physical activity for both sexes. Cardiorespiratory fitness, shuttle run, vertical jump, health-related fitness and performance-related fitness were significantly associated with time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity at three-year follow-up. The clinical relevance of the results indicates that cardiorespiratory fitness and shuttle run in childhood may be important determinants of physical activity in adolescence.