By Trina Haynes
Balance bikes are a great way to introduce your toddler to two wheels. Basically, your child can throw a leg over the frame and start walking/gliding along, taking “baby steps” on learning how to ride a bike, eventually going straight to pedals. I will be finding out very soon if this method was effective with my four-year-old, Odin, when he upgrades to his “big boy” pedal bike.
Odin has had experience on balance bikes and quickly took to the First Bike Big Apple, calling it his “race bike.” With reflective stickers and an ego boosting #1 sticker on the front, I could see why. This is his first experience on pneumatic tires—the smooth-rolling Schwalbe Big Apple tires gave him the confidence to push the limits of speed and terrain with great success.
The 8lb. Big Apple includes a steering inhibitor, which stops the handlebars from being turned too far inward. The saddle is ergonomic rubber and the bike includes front and rear mini-fenders, which deterred a bit of backsplash when he decided mud puddles were worth going through. A rear drum brake with a hand lever came in handy a few times when too much speed resulted in Dukes of Hazard-like skids.
At $205, the Big Apple is a bit pricier than other balance bikes on the market, but it’s the only one to have the combination of a hand brake, pneumatic tires, fenders, a lifetime warranty, and a cool-looking truss style frame made from unbreakable nylon composite. FirstBike offers no-brake models for a lower price, as well as several wheel and tire options to hone in on what type of cycling you hope your little one favors. All models accommodate riders from two to five years of age; the seat can be adjusted from 13.8–17.8 inches and the bike supports up to 50lbs. Made in Taiwan.