How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bicycle

Bike riding is one of the best childhood past times, but can be scary for children. Our friends at Divine Caroline tell us how to get kids excited about riding a bike through a few simple tips.

Get a Good Tricycle

  • A tricycle is more stable than a bike with training wheels and therefore can be less scary to ride.
  • It’s okay if the child ignores the pedals to begin with and just scoots along with his feet because steering is just as important. Once the steering is mastered, work on the pedaling.

Move On Up To Training Wheels

Once the child has a pretty good grasp of steering and pedaling, introduce a small bike with training wheels. A bike is the right fit for your child if, when straddling the center bar with feet flat on the ground, there is one inch between the bar and your child’s crotch. The training wheels should allow for the bike to lean a little bit—both training wheels shouldn’t touch the ground at the same time. Keep in mind that, because the training wheels are narrow and the child sits high above the ground, if the bike goes too fast, it is more likely to tip over when the child tries to turn. Stick with the sidewalk and keep away from sloping driveways for this reason. If your child is like my son, one fall will set him back quite a bit.

Teach Balance

When you feel your child is ready, start teaching balance. Gradually raise the training wheels (and it’s probably best to do this when your child isn’t looking. Don’t use just one training wheel. It’s possible that just by simply raising the training wheels every so often your child will learn to ride the bike without them.

Let 'Em Go!

If the previous technique isn’t working, remove the training wheels completely and head for an open grassy area. Try and find a hill and let your child coast down without pedaling at first. Once he is comfortable with this, add in the pedaling, and finally focus on steering. REI’s Expert Advice page suggests placing a cracker on the ground about ten feet in front of your child and having him run over it.

There’s always the hold the back of the seat method, but if you do that, don’t tell your child you are holding on if you aren’t. If the child falls, trust will be broken and you don’t want that.

Have fun and don’t forget the helmet!

Thanks to our friends at DivineCaroline!