Basic Guide: Teaching A Kid How To Ride A Bike
First Relax… riding a bike is supposed to be fun. Teaching a kid to ride takes patience on your part. As every parent knows kids are not going to learn until they want to. So don’t get frustrated or expect them to get it right off the bat. The most important thing is that your child feels comfortable on the bike and knows how to balance. With enough practice, they’ll feel more confident and learn to do the final steps pretty quickly. Some older kids can learn in a matter of minutes, but younger children may need to progress over a longer periods of time. No matter the age, using the progression of skills below will get them riding.
Kids can only learn one skill at a time, so break it down.
- Start with Balance - using a Balance Bike or a bike with the pedals removed; have them scoot with their feet on flat ground to get used to the way the bike feels. When they are comfortable with the bike and seem to be balancing well, progress to a hill with a very gentle grade and a flat roll out. Starting at the top of the hill work on costing down with their feet just off the ground. Once they have this skill down, move to the next.
- Steering/Counter Steering - now that they have balance down, it’s time to introduce steering. Working on the same gentle hill, set up a slalom course of cones or other small objects. Having them steer to the right and the left as they coast down the hill. They will soon get a feel for how a bike leans in a turn.
Another good drill to do on a flat area is to have them scoot in a circle going to the right then the left while trying to make the circle as small as they can.
- Pedaling - with pedals back on the bike, start again at the top of a gradual downhill with a flat run-out (for stopping with their feet, we haven’t gotten to braking yet) have them start by pushing off as if they were scooting. Once they have their balance have them pick up their feet and apply easy pressure to the pedals for a few pedal strokes then come to a stop with their feet. After a few runs it’s time to move on to braking.
- Braking using a coaster brake - put something on the ground that they can see, but won’t cause a wreck if it gets run over (a towel, a sheet of paper, etc…). As they pedal down the hill have them gently apply backward pressure on the pedals to come to a controlled stop as close to the object as they can without hitting it. Practice this a few times at different speeds and with the object a different distances from the starting point.
- Braking with a hand brake - the idea for this is the same as using a coaster brake, but with kids you want to make sure they are initially applying more pressure to the rear brake when trying to stop. Start by putting an object on the roll out that they can see. As they pedal down the incline, instruct them to stop by gently squeezing the handle without hitting the object.
- Shifting Gears - the final skill to learn is best done on a flat path. As with the previous skills, only use a bike they are familiar with. Put the bike in an easy gear and let them ride it for a day or two until they are used to how it handles and brakes. Now on a flat path or parking lot have them shift the gears up and down while pedaling to get use to how the gears move and feel. Once they are used to shifting it’s time explore how gears can help them go almost anywhere.
Learn how the line of Performance Kids Bikes are designed to progress with your child as they learn and grow as young riders.
For more information on buying a kids bike check out our How to Buy a Kid's Bike article in our buyers guides section.