Learning to ride a bike is one of the great rites of passage for any kid, and proud parents get to join in the action.
Once your little rider is keen to learn, get a bike in their size (not too big), strap on a helmet, head for a smooth area, and then practice, practice, practice how to balance, steer, brake and push those pedals.
For a little help along the way, here are 7 videos that teach kids how to ride a bike. They’re off and racing.
Push, push, glide method
Around the age of two, a balance bike is a great way for tots to learn their bike-riding basics, without needing to worry about pedaling. It’s all about learning to get that all-important balance and confidence. The push, push, glide method of learning to ride a bike starts with slowly walking along with your child on their balance bike, while you hold onto their handlebars. Then it’s your little rider’s turn.
Get your child to ‘walk’ their bike along, using their feet to push at either side of their bike. To stop, they just need to stop walking. As they keep practicing, they’ll naturally start to pick up speed. Encourage them to take longer steps, saying the words ‘push, push, glide’, until they learn to lift their feet off the ground and glide along.
Straight to pedals method
Older kids between three and four can skip the balance bike stage, and head straight to learning to ride a bike with pedals – and no training wheels. At this age, they’re developmentally ready to give this a go. It really helps if they’ve had the chance to watch other kids pedal a bike, so they know what to do with their legs.
If they haven’t got a clue how to pedal, hold their feet onto the pedals and use your hands to show them how to move them forward, while another adult holds the bike upright. If they’re physically and developmentally ready to ride a bike using the pedals, they’ll get the hang of the concept really quickly. If not, just wait a few more weeks and try again. Once they are confident with pedaling correctly, stand behind the bike and your child, and hold the rear wheel steady using your feet. Support them under their armpits, and let them go, running alongside and keeping your hands close so you can catch them if they wobble.
No pedals method
By removing the pedals from a normal bike, you’re essentially turning it into a balance bike. This helps your child learn to control their balance before you reattach the pedals. Let them get the hang of pushing and coasting along, and then pop just one pedal back on.
Get your child to coast along again while using the one pedal that’s attached. Once they’ve mastered gliding along, attach the second pedal. This way they’re slowly being introduced to the most complicated part of riding a bike – learning to pedal.
Five steps method
In just one hour and five steps, your kid will be sitting proudly in the saddle of their bike, riding along like a pro. Step one is to remove the pedals from a normal children’s bike. Step two – get your child to walk their bike around while sitting in the saddle. Next step – ask them to build up some speed and glide along – lifting their feet as they get more confident.
Step four – put those pedals back on, the fun is just about to start! Finally, it’s time to get back on and start pedaling. In just one hour, your child should be riding a normal bike. Next stop, Tour de France!
Kangaroo hop method
With this fun method, you need a bike without training wheels or pedals or a balance bike. Once they have the hang of walking their bike while in the saddle, it’s time to get them coasting along. And here’s where it gets silly!
To help teach your child how to coast along while lifting their feet for longer and longer periods, get creative. Tell them to take huge steps, just like a giant would. Then use the ‘kangaroo hops’ method, so they’re pushing off with both feet at the same time. Now it’s time to reattach just one pedal and do the one pedal scoot before the second pedal is put back on, and the real fun starts.
The mimic method
Kids learn by mimicking, so watching other kids ride their bikes is a sure-fire way to get those legs pedalling. A trip to the local skate park to watch other kids riding is perfect, or tune into YouTube clips like this one where four-year-old Emma explains exactly how she learned to ride, without training wheels.
She uses the pedals-off method, learning how to balance first, before mastering normal bike riding once her pedals are reattached.
The nine-minute method
Persistence is key with this method, which involves mashing up a few different techniques. This four-year-old learns to ride his bike in just nine minutes, by having his parents help, coasting along, watching others, and then just giving it a crack!
Being that little bit older he’s got the coordination and developmental skills to get the hang of riding his bike really quickly, so age is definitely something to keep in mind.