Teach your kids the biking basics

Learning to ride a bike is one of the most exciting achievements of childhood, but it can be unnecessarily stressful if tackled in the wrong way. If you want to get your kid cycling, forget the hold-onto-the-seat method our parents used with us. We have a new technique - and plenty of other tips - to make this rite of passage enjoyable for everyone!

 

When to learn


Image source: romrodinka

Most children learn to ride a bike between the ages of 4 and 9 but, as with all milestones, different children are ready at different times. If your child isn’t ready, don’t push them too hard - it’s much better to wait until they really want to learn.

It can take anything from a few hours to a few weeks for your child to become confident on two wheels, but don't expect the learning process to be crash- or tear-free. Be calm, patient and understanding. Your job is just to comfort and encourage them and ensure the whole experience is safe and fun.

 

Getting started


Image source: pressmaster

First things first, they’ll need a bicycle! It’s important to get one the right size, so make sure they can reach the ground when they’re sitting on the seat and remember that thicker tyres give greater stability. Ask for help when you’re buying: the experts can find you the perfect bike.

Your child will also need:

  • Helmet - for safety and to encourage good habits from the start

  • Gloves - to prevent grazed hands

Next, choose where you’re going to teach them. Teaching on tarmac will improve their balance more quickly, whilst grass is better for beginners as it makes for a much softer landing. Your local park is the best place to start: there’s tons of obstacle-free space, soft grass and usually an ice cream van to perk up your little one when they get tired.

 

Teaching method


Image source: luckyraccoon

Parents used to use the hold-the-back-of-the-seat method, running behind the child and then pushing them into cycling solo. This method isn’t ideal and can end in a crash. 

These days there’s a much safer and easier method: the idea is that your little one teaches themselves each of the three necessary biking skills, with you as their guide.

Balancing: This is the trickiest of the three skills. Lower the bike seat so they can put both feet on the ground while seated, then get them to practise scooting and gliding in a straight line: pushing off, lifting their feet off the ground, and stopping themselves if they feel wobbly.

Pedalling: As your child becomes more confident, they’ll start gliding longer distances with their feet in the air. At this point you can introduce pedalling: first get them to put their feet on the pedals whilst they glide, then teach them how to use the pedals. 

Steering: This is the last skill they’ll need to master. You can help them with steering whilst they're learning balancing and pedalling, but once they’ve mastered these skills you can help them really get control of the handlebars.

 

Make it fun

Le Bicycle lunch bag

You can get your little ones even more excited about cycling by giving them a few treats for your family cycling trips, like a lunch bag for their snacks or a bicycle squeaker to warn people they're coming.

Just remember, this bike-riding business is a big deal for your child, so encourage them and celebrate their successes, however small!