Glide Bikes Mini Glider Balance Bike Review

Pro Reviews

Reviewer: Zen_Turtle

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.

Review:

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.

CONSTRUCTION DETAILS

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).

RIDING IMPRESSIONS

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.

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  • morris martini says:

    Great idea and will look at them when the time comes. Why include photos of a young rider NOT wearing a helmet? Everyone needs to promote safety whenever possible.

  • francois says:

    We got to try the small Mini Glider. It seems very stable because of the slack angles. Also the light weight of under 9 lbs. makes it very easy for a small child to handle and control it.

  • Jeff says:

    I bought the Strider for my 4 year old. I was holding off because of the price. That was a mistake. He really took to the “bike” and after 2 weeks he said he wanted to ride without training wheels on his other bike. BAM, off like a shot. He didn’t even fall once which is a huge contrast to before the Strider. He couldn’t make it 10 feet. My only regret is I didn’t buy it earlier.

  • Rolled Meat says:

    I bought my son a Strider bike for his 1st birthday. He’s 20 months old now and is finally getting the hang of sitting on the seat and pushing. For the first 7 months, he just walked and held on to the handlebars. He can go pretty quickly now if he wants to. We’re still far off from getting him a pedal bike but I’d say the Strider was a good investment. If for no other reason, he really likes using it, especially when he sees me on my bike, which is bright orange, just like his.

    With the Strider, he can rest his feet on the chain stays. Strider stuck some grip tape on there for that purpose. There is no foot rest like on the bike reviewed. Also, there’s an optional foot brake but I didn’t order that. Not too many hills around here so he might not need it.

  • Jared says:

    Why not just pull the cranks off your child’s traditional bike?

  • Bowlander says:

    Agree with Jared, my daughter learned to balance by taking the pedals off of her specialized hot rock. She also rode it with training wheels (with pedals). Once the training wheels were worn out we just took them off. She was riding without training wheels at 4 yrs old. The one thing I learned about kids bikes is to get a real bike not a Kmart bike. The little specialized has held up to some serious abuse.

  • Uli says:

    We bought our 2 1/2 year old a Strider at the 2008 Sea Otter and he is already flying on it. The only downside of our strider: The “headset” is made from cheap plastic and steering is really sticky. This makes it harder to balance the bike. I asked the Strider folks about this at the Sea Otter and they told me it would wear in but it never did. In general I highly recommend these balancing bikes.

  • capitalist says:

    @ Jared & Bowlander:

    Good point, but why crap on someone’s attempt to offer a product that helps people not into wrenching their kids bike?

  • Phil says:

    Jared: Pedal bikes have a higher seat height than most balance bikes and much lighter. If you are talking about an older child (4+) then you are absolutely correct. But a Strider, for example, has an 11 inch seat height so most 2-year olds can use them with their feet firmly on the ground AND can easily handle the weight.

    I don’t like the quality of the Stider and think the price is about double what it should be, but overall it seems like the best design for getting kids on a bike as soon as possible. Light and short. I have not found a good-quality balance bike (Kinderbike, HotWalk, Likeabike, etc) with a similar seat height. Even an inch can mean a difference of many months before your little one can ride it, so measure that inseam and look around before you buy!

  • Phil says:

    Sorry, I think my post screwed up. I meant to say pedal bikes are usually much heavier, even without the drivetrain. Often twice as heavy, although sometimes only a pound or two.

  • John C says:

    For a top quality balance bike, take a look at the Norco offerings; really well made, durable and works wonders with your kids. The Norco balance bike has the same quality as their regular bikes

  • blair says:

    We started with a wooden Skuut which was nice but was worn out quickly. The seat had thin padding. We went full-on with balance bike #2 the Like-a Bike \Jumper\. This thing has functional rear suspension, aluminum frame and a great seat. We are reluctant to go to a pedal bike for trails beacause our son has so much fun on it. It only weighs 6 lbs!

  • Phil says:

    A few corrections need to be made on the “similar products” section of the review. It is Skuut, not Skoot, and the Strider has a steel frame, foot rests on the “chain stays”, and a foot brake is optional.

  • EddyKilowatt says:

    These look like a great idea, wish they were around 10 years ago when my kid learned. (Wasn’t a big ordeal anyway.)

    Glad to see they’ve sprouted little handbrakes; the first wave of these onto the market seemed to have no brakes and that didn’t seem like a good idea at all… very easy for a kid to accidentally head down a hill that was steeper than he thought, freak out, freeze up, and…

    These seem like a pretty limited-life investment in the sense that in 2 weeks the kid will be balancing confidently and will be ready for a real bike. Maybe bike shops should consider having rental/loaner models. One month free with purchase of kid’s bike! Just a little something extra to get traffic in the door (if you can afford the insurance that is.)

  • trendyMommy says:

    We bought our son a Strider this summer and he LOVES it! best purchase of the year. We’re form canada and we had to purchase in the US, but now you can buy in Canada at http://www.stridersports.ca and click on dealer to find a dealer near you.

  • Brian says:

    Phil: Why do you say the Strider is better than the Hotwalk, Kinderbike, or Likebike? I’ve heard great things about the build quality of the Hotwalk in particular.

  • ozisnipe says:

    why all the strider bike comments – this review is clearly not about strider bikes but Glider bikes- okay let’s settle on the generic term balance bike or we’ll end up with the same probs we had with rollerblades versus inline skates.

  • Scott says:

    Absolutely the best glider bike on the market! Foot pegs are great. Helped our 3 yr old develop great balance, control, and confidence after about 5 weeks of riding. Hand brake is perfect for teaching how the big kids stop their bikes. Highly recommend the Mini Glider.

  • Grubs says:

    Every one keeps talking about the Strider but is this review about the mini glider??

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