Family bike rides are fun, the sooner you teach your child to ride their first pedal bike, the sooner you can enjoy spending time cycling together, or even just relaxing while they effortlessly burn off excess energy.
Tips for teaching your child to ride a pedal bike
Before you attempt your first training session, you need to be sure you have chosen the right size bike for your child. We can help with this, take a look at our kids bike sizing guide.
On your marks…
- >Make it fun – your child has to want to learn. Learning to ride in the freezing cold or in drizzle may put them off and lead to frayed tempers, pick a sunny day.
- >Find a gentle grassy slope – the local park or anywhere not too bumpy with plenty of space- don’t try to learn on concrete or tarmac, it’s too fast and more likely to end in a bad fall.
- >Make a day of it – bring a picnic or snacks, take your time and have plenty of breaks
- >Expect your child to fall off, make sure their helmet is comfortable and they are wearing trousers, jeans are best. Padded mitts/gloves are a must as the first thing anyone does when falling off a bike is to put the heel of their hand out (palm side down) to break their fall. The pads stop any scrapes etc. They will also need solid shoes not sandals or anything that may slip off like crocs. Learning to ride on a bike with a light frame will really help them to pedal more easily and freely which in turn will give your child greater confidence in their own ability to ride.
- >When your child is first learning to ride their new bike it’s best to lower the seat to make it as easy as possible for the child to get on and off. They should be able to sit on the saddle with their feet flat on the floor.
- >Temporarily remove the pedals so your child can use their new bike as a balance bike initially. This will help them get used to the weight of the bike without the pedals banging into their ankles and also the geometry of the bike which will be different from their balance bike.
- >Slowly build up the time they can coast along without putting their feet down, this will be much easier to grasp if the child has had a little balance bike from a young age.
- >Encourage your child to play with the brakes, having a good understanding of which brake controls the back and front tires and how to stop gently rather than suddenly, will really help once they start pedalling.
- >Replace the pedals. It’s best if you have your bike with you so you can demonstrate the best starting position for pushing off with the pedals to get maximum propulsion enabling the child to put their other foot on the pedal. This is by far the most difficult part of learning to cycle, so be very patient and positive!
- >Your child will feel like they are going to fall and this may result in them being reluctant to ‘go for it’. Try holding the rear of the saddle or a shoulder lightly. This should be more to reassure the child that you are there if they fall than taking too much weight. An old bicycle inner tube makes a great ‘strap’ to place under their arms so you can help support them centrally from behind.
- >Don’t be afraid to go back to the pedals off stage, getting the sense of balance is essential. Not all kids get it straight away; don’t let your child feel disappointed they haven’t mastered it in an afternoon. Keeping expectations low will help your child to relax.
- >Once your child seems to have got the hang of riding their bike (it’s an amazing feeling to watch them go cycling off!) you can slightly raise to saddle to make pedalling more powerful for them. They should still be able to reach the floor with both tips of their toes when sat in the saddle.
The golden rule is that teaching your child to ride their bike should be lots of fun and as stress free as possible – it’s a big parenting milestone and you need to enjoy it too – and don’t forget to bring the camera!
You can also watch our “How to teach your child to ride a bike” video!