I had no idea it was so easy to convert a regular old kid’s bike into a Strider-style, no-pedal balance bike. Forget training wheels! This is really the way to learn to ride a bike. I’m hoping this page will be understandable for those like me who are not familiar with bike terminology. In figuring out how to remove the pedals, I had to wade through a bunch of pages with phrases like “drive-side pedal” and “spindle.” Sadly, although a mechanical engineer, these instructions were not crystal clear to me. I’m hoping to save you some confusion with this DIY tutorial.
*** ETA: I think this tutorial will still be helpful if your bike is not exactly like mine, but please compare your bike with my bike and read through the comments to see if there might be some unexpected challenges. The main difference seems to be that some bikes have the chain threaded through the frame. One person seems to have been able to zip-tie the chain in place and others seem to have removed the chain. If you end up needing to remove and reattach the chain, you can still turn your bike into a DIY balance bike, but you may need to search YouTube for videos on this step as it’s something I’ve never done! ***
Before you get started, I should let you know that it will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Also, you might need to borrow some strength to remove the plastic pedal from the metal shaft it connects to. Apparently there is something called a pedal wrench, but we didn’t have one. Luckily, my husband was still able to get the pedal off using a regular old adjustable crescent wrench once we figured out which way to turn it. (Hint: It’s not the way you’d think.) I’ll even give you instructions for putting the pedals back on, so you should have nothing to worry about.
My son was already pretty good at the regular Strider bike which is quite a bit smaller, when we got him this bike, but he still couldn’t ride his big boy bike without training wheels. Actually, he tipped the bike over even when he had training wheels by trying to start on a slight hill, so he didn’t want to ride at all. Training wheels were getting us nowhere and we knew he loved using the Strider.
About a month ago, we removed the pedals from his regular kid’s bike using the tutorial outlined below. He was great at balancing within just a couple days. We probably could have put the pedals back on after just a week, but we ended up waiting 3 weeks total, so he got lots of practice and confidence without pedals. A week ago we put his pedals back on and within minutes he was zooming around as if he’d been riding a bike his whole life. I’m now convinced training wheels are completely unnecessary. A no-pedal balance bike is definitely the way to go.
- A kids’ bike
Supplies & Tools:
- An adjustable crescent wrench
- A phillips screwdriver
- A 5/8″ socket wrench (optional: the crescent wrench would likely work too, but we had the right size, so we used it.)
Instructions for Removing Pedals:
- First, turn the bike upside down.
2. Then, remove the chain guard (the plastic piece that covers up the chain). Ours was held on by two screws which could be removed with a phillips screwdriver.
Here is a picture with the chain guard removed.
3. Next you need to remove the foot pedal from the metal shaft that holds the foot pedal. (I think it’s really called the crank shaft.) You want to remove the foot pedal that is NOT on the same side as the chain and gear. I assume it’s the same on all bikes, but for us that was the right pedal if you were standing at the back of the upside-down bike). This was definitely the only slightly difficult part of this whole process as the pedal was screwed in pretty tightly and it’s a little awkward to get leverage. However, we initially were turning the wrench the wrong way, so I’m sure that didn’t help. Nearly everything that you come across will follow the “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” rule. This pedal is one of the few exceptions. You want to turn it CLOCKWISE (or right) to loosen it. Find someone strong and use this “squeezing” trick as shown in the picture. You can do it!
(Note: Now that we’ve already put the bike back together, I’ve noticed that my pictures are a little bit confusing. The arrows appear to be counter-clockwise/turning left, but that is because I am photographing from the wrong side of the bike. Trust the direction of the arrows in the picture and pretend you are standing on the other side of the bike. Sorry!)
4. Now that the pedal is off, there is a nut that you will have to remove at the base of the shaft to get the bearing out. This is also reverse-threaded, meaning that you have to turn it the “wrong” (clockwise) direction to loosen it, as shown in the picture.
5. Once you get the nut off, there is a washer and a bearing to remove. These should not be hard to take off, but you may need to pry gently.
6. Now you can carefully start to pull out the shaft that holds the pedals.
7. As you pull it out, take the chain off the gear attached to the shaft so that you can remove the shaft completely.
8. Put the bearing, washer, and nut back on the shaft for safe-keeping and so that you remember what order they go on.
9. All that’s left is to remove the chain completely. To do this you have to detach the back wheel for just a minute. Loosen the nuts on the back wheel. These have normal, righty-tighty, lefty-loosey threads, so turn all the nuts counter clockwise to loosen them.
Be sure to loosen the nuts on both sides.
10. Slide the back wheel off just enough to guide the chain through and remove it.
11. Slide the back wheel back on.
12. Tighten the nuts (the normal clockwise, righty-tighty way). You may have some extra pieces to hold training wheels on that you can leave on or remove.
13. Put the chain guard back on.
14. Now your do-it-yourself no-pedal balance bike is ready!
Instructions for Putting Pedals Back On:
- Start with the bike upside down as shown above.
- Remove the chain guard again.
- Loosen the nuts on the back wheel and slide it down, so that you can slip the chain guard back through and let it hang off the back gear.
4. Slide the wheel back on and re-tighten the nuts (only finger tight, because you may need to adjust it in a minute).
5. Next, remove the extra pieces from the shaft except for one bearing and stick it back through the hole.
6. Add the other bearing, then the washer, then the nut back to the other side, then tighten. Remember, this nut is reverse threaded meaning you want to turn it the counter-intuitive, counter-clockwise, left way to tighten it (if you were standing on the same side of the bike as the pedal), as shown in the picture.
7. To get the chain back on, you should first loosen the nuts holding the back wheel, then put the chain in place over both gears. This will be easiest if you move the back wheel as close to the handle bars as possible. Next, you need to pull the back wheel backwards so that there is a little tension in the chain. Once you have the back wheel where you want it, tighten it in place.
8. To put the foot pedal back on, remember that it also needs to be turned counter-clockwise as shown in the picture.
9. Put the chain guard back on.