Marco’s Original Review: http://www.zenturtle.net/gear-reviews/2008/pv-mini-glider-balance-bike/
Introduction: From PV-Glider web site:
The first U.S. made balance bike, the PV GLIDER and now the MINI GLIDER and GO GLIDER provide young children, eighteen (18) months to nine (9) years old, a safe and fun way to both enjoy bicycling, improve motor skills; confidence and learn how to balance.
Teaching your kids how to ride a bike can be one very challenging and rewarding activity.
The traditional approach is put your kid on a regular bike with training wheels and then at a certain point a difficult transition needs to happen: taking the training wheels off.
More recently a different approach has become more popular, the so called balance bikes: basically a little bike with no pedals and no training wheels. Both feet are comfortably placed on the ground and initially the little one can just walk around on the little bike. This allows a much more gradual and smooth transition to balancing and steering the bike. The little rider never gets used to a self standing bike and learn to deal with balance right away.
Very quickly the balancing becomes walking, then running and coasting. At that point the only step left is adding the pedaling, which possibly has been learned previously on a tricycle.
The PV Mini Glider has many features that make learning to ride easy and fun. It is designed for kids age 2-5 while the bigger model Go Glider is designed for kids age 5-9.
The Mini Glider has a sturdy but light aluminum frame, with 12″ rubber wheels, adjustable seat post and handlebar height and rear brake.
The bike weighs 8.6lb, a little less than a wooden bike (around 9lb) and less than half of a regular 12″ toddler bike (yes, that’s 18lb)
The light weight is one important feature, since it allows the little rider to easily move the bike around: very often kids bikes of this size (10-12″ wheels) are extrelemey heavy, especially considering the small size of the rider.
There are several features to enhance safety: the handlebar and stem have padding to protect from direct impact, the slack head angle guarantees a stable ride and avoids dangerous endos, the rear brake only and the limited steering angle help also avoiding crashes.
The seat is ergonomic and relatively soft: this is another pro compared to the wooden bikes, where the seat is generally pretty uncomfortable and can even cause saddle sores on long days on the bike. The seat post has a quick release and is easily adjusted.
The rear brake has a little lever, suitable for little hands, and the reach of the lever is adjustable: the advantage compared to coaster brakes is that the kid gets familiar with lever brakes, avoiding to have to learn that skill later when transitioning to a bigger bike.
The little 12″ tires are made of EVA foam and have no tube or air in them. This makes the bike overall lighter and require less maintenance (no flats, no need to inflate tires).
My 3 1/2 old daughter test rode the Mini Glider.
Handlebar position and seat were easily adjusted to fit her.
She’s already learned to balance on a Skuut wooden bike, so the transition to this one was very easy and she was rolling in a second. The presence of the brake gave her more confidence (as was not present on the Skuut), but at the end of the first day she was still braking mainly a-la Flintstones.
The foot rest is a very nice addition, not initially when they just walk around on the bike (is actually a little bit in the way) but when they learn to coast downhill: having someplace where to rest your feet helps and improves also stability. On the other hand the foot rest limits somehow the clearance, not really a problem, until they start to tackle sidewalk curbs. After few rides the little rider will start to keep one foot on the rest while pushing with the other one.
The slack head angle makes for a very stable ride while the steering radius is limited also helping to limit or avoid crashing: in other words the handlebar will turn only to about 30 degrees.
PV Gliders has just released an Hot Pink version of the Mini Glider, that would definitely appeal better young female riders.