Choosing Pedal Straps with Heel Support for Kids Including Tips and Tricks
Bike pedal straps are optional components that can be attached to pedals for extra support. While it is totally up to you to ride your bike with or without straps, correctly selected and properly tightened straps can really make a difference to your ride. Pedal straps with heel support for kids are ideal for those who are just learning the art of riding bicycles or have special needs. Choosing the right pedal straps for your kids is key to ensuring their safety.
Choose pedal straps with heel support for tricycles, bikes with training wheels, and reclining bikes since it is harder for a child to fall from these bicycles. For children with more advanced riding skills, toe clips and regular pedal straps will provide more pedaling efficiency and strengthen the proper motor skills.
What Are Pedal Straps?
Riding a bike offers kids plenty of benefits. While cycling is fun, it also allows children to stay physically active and socialize with peers. However, kids’ safety should always be the number one priority, even when it comes to fun activities, such as riding a bike. Along with wearing properly-fitted safety equipment, you can use pedal straps to prevent your kids from injuring themselves while cycling.
Pedal straps are bike safety components that fix the rider’s feet to the pedals. They keep the rider’s feet in the right place, the balls of their feet centered, and stop injuries due to their feet slipping off the pedals. Pedal straps make it easier to control the bike on rough surfaces, allowing for easier riding and pedaling. They also help kids with physical and mental disabilities to keep their feet in the right position.
Pedal straps are beneficial as long as you select the right type and consider your child’s needs. If you use a random pair of pedal straps without taking into account physical abilities and the kind of bike he/she rides, your child could get seriously hurt.
Should you want to add grips to the handlebar of your child’s bike we recommend that you read our article that provides handy tips for choosing mountain bike grips for small hands.
Types of Pedal Straps
As there are numerous bike variations, we need different types of pedal straps to improve our overall cycling experiences. Properly selected pedal straps can ensure our safety without getting severely injured in a fall.
Pedal straps come in 5 common variations including regular straps, pedal straps for special needs, toe clips, pedal straps with heel support, and pedal straps with heel and ankle support.
Below are 5 common types of pedal straps, along with some safety recommendations and tips for choosing the right ones for your kids.
Type 1. Regular Pedal Straps
Regular pedal straps are horizontal straps that go over the bridge of your feet. These adjustable straps keep feet in the correct position while riding a bike. Besides that, you get a maximum grip as they prevent your feet from slipping off the pedals. Therefore, regular bike pedal straps significantly reduce the risks of getting injured.
With standard pedal straps, your kids’ feet are not completely strapped in, meaning that their feet won’t be fixed to the pedals in case they start falling off the bike or lose their balance and need to steady themselves using their feet.
Generally speaking, regular pedal straps can be used with any type of bike, ranging from tricycles to bicycles without training wheels. These straps are recommended for 3-year-olds and older. However, regular pedal straps are not quite suitable for reclining bikes as your kid’s feet might slip off the pedals.
At this point, you may wonder if pedal straps are good. If so, be sure to check out our related guide for more information.
Type 2. Bike Pedal Straps for Kids with Special Needs
When it comes to kids with special needs, regular straps might not always be enough. In this case, you should go for an option that provides extra support. Ideally, you should use heel support pedal straps to prevent your child’s feet from slipping off the pedals. While regular straps also offer this feature, kids with certain physical disabilities might not have enough strength or muscle control to keep their feet in the proper position. Take a look at this inspirational article from Cycle UK about how a child with autism learns to ride a bicycle.
You can also choose heel support pedal straps with a strap going around the ankle like these, as an alternative. Along with fixing your child’s feet to the pedals, straps with ankle support could prevent severe foot and ankle injuries.
While bike pedal straps for kids with special needs are ideal for tricycles, training wheel bikes, and reclining bikes, they are not suitable and safe for bikes with no training wheels. This is because heel and ankle support straps make it impossible for the rider to remove their feet from the pedals in an emergency. Having their feet strapped to the pedals when falling off a bike will impair the child's ability to break his/her fall and could lead to severe injuries.
Bike pedal straps for kids with special needs can be used whenever your child is ready to ride a tricycle or a reclining bike, typically from 3 years old. If your child is not ready to ride bicycles yet why not try teaching them to use a pushbike as explained in this video by Cycling UK.
You may also find some useful information in our complete guide to mountain bike pedal thread sizes so be sure to check that article out too.
Type 3. Toe Clips
Using toe clips like these is another efficient way to keep your kid’s feet in the right position while riding a bike. Toe clips look exactly like cages for the toes and they serve the same purpose as regular pedal straps.
Toe clips can be used as alternatives to standard pedal straps that go over the bridge of your foot. Therefore, the pros of using toe clips are almost identical to what we’ve described above. However, toe clips are not so convenient as they are not always adjustable. While standard sneakers work just fine, bulkier shoes or boots might not fit inside the toe cage.
Toe clips are also not safe for reclining bikes as your kid’s feet might accidentally slip off the pedals. To avoid injuries and make riding more enjoyable for the kids aged 3 and above, use toe clips for tricycles or bikes with no training wheels.
Type 4. Pedal Straps with Heel Support
Pedal straps with additional heel support straps offer an improved grip for the feet. As a result, your feet can control the pedals easily, enabling you to ride your bike more efficiently. Heel support pedal straps also make it easier for bikers to perform various tricks.
Pedal straps with heel support are not beginner-friendly and are not recommended for kids to use when learning to ride a bicycle with only two wheels. It is, however, totally safe to use pedal straps with heel support for tricycles, bikes with training wheels, and reclining bikes like these. As these types of bikes stay upright, the chances of your child falling off are pretty low.
Type 5. Pedal Straps with Heel and Ankle Support
Pedal straps with heel and ankle support are pretty similar to heel support straps, but they feature an additional strap that goes around the ankle, offering extra protection.
Since the last two types of pedals are so similar, you can basically alternate between these options. However, pedal straps that support ankles along with toes and heels might be especially beneficial for kids with special needs or physical disabilities.
Keep in mind that it is not safe to use pedal straps with heel and ankle support for kids with beginner or intermediate riding skills as this might increase the chances of them getting injured when falling while riding.
Check out this video by Utah Trikes that review 4 different types of heel support pedal straps to help you make the right choice when searching for pedal straps for your child.
For more detailed information, be sure to read our step-by-step guide on how to thread a pedal strap as well as our guide to mountain bike pedal strap replacement.
Similarly, you may also find interest in learning how to choose mountain bike grip heaters or how to install mountain bike pedal straps and toe clips so be sure to check those articles out too.
When To Use a Pedal Strap With Heel Support for Kids
While heel support pedal straps can be helpful, knowing when and how to use them is key to benefiting from using them.
Ideally, use pedal straps with heel support if the child is riding a tricycle, a bicycle with training wheels, or a reclining bike. Heel support pedal straps are also suitable for kids with special needs who have trouble keeping their feet in the right position.
By keeping kids closer to the ground on a lower type of bike, there is less distance to fall. Also, the risks of falling off a tricycle, a bike with training wheels, and a reclining bike are lower compared to regular upright bikes.
When you use a pedal strap with heel support like this, getting your feet out of the straps is challenging, making them dangerous for kids to use when riding regular bikes without training wheels.
How to Keep A Toddler’s Feet on Pedals
Although pedal straps keep feet in the correct position while cycling, they are not designed to fix toddlers’ feet to the pedals. If your toddler struggles to keep his/her feet in place, it is probably not the right time to ride a tricycle or a bike with training wheels.
For a toddler to keep their feet on pedals, they should first ride on a balancing bike to learn how to balance and steer while developing motor skills and coordination. At 3 years old, let the toddler slowly graduate from a balance bike to a standard bike with training wheels. At this point, regular pedal straps or toe clips can also be used to help keep their feet on the pedals.
Pedal straps allow kids to learn how to keep their feet on the pedals and make it much easier to maintain the proper position. However, it is essential to ensure that your child has already developed the necessary motor skills and is physically capable of riding a tricycle or a bike with training wheels. This article by Rascal Rides provides detailed information on teaching your child to ride a bike, starting with a balance bike like this and continuing on to a regular bicycle.
Note that you should avoid using pedal straps that support heels and ankles. Such straps will restrict a toddler from loosening his/her feet if they have an accident. This is why it is recommended to use either regular pedal straps or toe clips that improve grip but do not restrict movement completely.
This forum discussion on Netmums highlights the fact that pedal straps do not actually help kids learn how to pedal and can be dangerous for younger kids who have not mastered tricycles like these and training bikes yet.
Do Pedal Straps Make a Difference?
The primary purpose of pedal strap systems is to keep the feet in the correct position while enhancing the grip and allowing the rider to push the pedals down and pull them up. As there are several types of pedal straps, they are suitable for a wide range of bike and pedal options. This also makes it easier for parents to choose the right pedal straps based on their kids’ needs.
Pedal straps make a difference as long as they are the right straps used in the right way, the child has the necessary physical abilities and needs to warrant using them, and using them can help to make riding more fun. Using the wrong pedal straps can actually have the opposite effect and increase the risk of injuries.
While pedal straps can be used for literally any child who is just learning how to ride a bike, these straps are especially convenient for kids with special needs. This post from The Adventures of Colten Robert is an interesting discussion about DIY adaptive pedals for a toddler that rides an adaptive bike. The information provided is approved by a pediatric physical therapist, Emily Hoffman.
You may also be interested in learning how to choose mountain bike pedals for grip maximization. If so, be sure to check out our related article. At this point, you may also be wondering if pedal straps are dangerous. If you are, make sure to read our article to find out more.
What Are Adaptive Bicycles and Tricycles?
Whether you are trying to teach your kid how to ride a bike or your child has special needs, you should consider starting with an adaptive bicycle or a tricycle before proceeding with a regular bike.
An adaptive bicycle is one that has been modified to fit the needs of a specific individual or to make riding a bike possible for someone that cannot ride a regular bicycle. Tricycles are three-wheeled bikes that help toddlers and kids develop gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, balance, and steering. Adaptive bicycles and tricycles make it easier for toddlers and kids with special needs, to master these skills while remaining physically active and having fun.
Sometimes it is necessary to modify bikes based on an individual person’s needs. If your child has special needs or certain physical disabilities, getting an adaptive bike would be easier and more fun to use. Keep in mind that selecting the right adaptive bike is of huge importance, so take a look at this article by Ameri Disability experts that highlights different types of adaptive bicycles, before purchasing one. Once you have your child kitted out with a suitable bicycle and the necessary accessories, you might consider buying yourself and the rest of your family a bicycle so that you can go riding as a family. If this is the case then you will find our article that shares tips on what mountain bike you should buy, very useful. We also provide a handy mountain bike sizing chart for you to make sure that you buy the correct size mountain bike.
For kids to make the most of their cycling experience, parents should always take into account the support needed for their children before modifying bikes or purchasing adaptive bicycles. If you are having trouble finding a bike that is suitable for your child’s special needs, Therafit Rehab shares different types of adaptive bicycles along with some popular accessories to choose from.
Summary of Pedal Straps for Kids
|Child Skill Level||Type of Bike||Type of Pedal Strap Recommended||Example|
|Beginner||Tricycle or Bike with Training Wheels||Regular straps, toe clips, or heel and ankle (optional) support straps||Outgeek Bike Pedal Straps for Fixed Gear Bike ~$15Toe Cage Pedal Adapter with Adjustable Straps ~$50TerraTrike Heel Support Pedals with Straps ~$145|
|Beginner||Reclining Bike/Car with 4 Wheels||Pedal straps with heel and ankle (optional) support||Sunlite Adjustable Heel and Toe Support Pedal Straps ~$80|
|Intermediate||Upright Bike without Training Wheels||Regular straps or toe clips||Onipax Outdoor Bike Pedal Straps ~$15Adjustable Pedal Adapter Toe Clips with Straps ~$30|
|Advanced||Upright Bike without Training Wheels||Regular straps, straps with heel and ankle (optional) support, toe clips, or no straps||Any of the options provided above.|
|Children With Special Needs||Adaptive Bike, Tricycle, or Reclining Bike||Pedal straps with heel and ankle support||Exerpeutic Neurological Ortho Pedals with Binding Ratchet for Toe, Heel, and Ankle Support ~$100|