Learning how to ride a bike is an exciting experience and one many of us remember. It’s an exciting first step for your child and provides hours of fun, giving them the confidence to try new things.
But, of course, teaching your kid to ride before they’re five years old is best, while their inhibitions are low and they’re eager to learn.
But where do you get started with teaching your toddler to ride a bike? Here’s our six-step guide.
6 Steps to teach a child how to ride a bike
Getting ready to cycle
Before you teach your child to ride a bike, you want to ensure you have everything you need to get started, including a helmet, bicycle and a quiet place for them to learn.
We recommend teaching your child to cycle in a quiet area with a hard, level surface and is free of pedestrians and traffic, so there is less chance of a high-speed collision.
Get the right bike
You must get the right bike for your child because if not, it may take your child longer to learn. Ensure they can stand over the top tube with both feet on the ground and reach the handlebars without leaning forward too much. If the bike has brakes on the handlebars, make sure the child can comfortably reach and pull them.
There are two popular types of bike available for toddlers – balance bikes and bikes with training wheels.`
A type of bike without pedals. To move forward, the kid pushes off the ground using their feet. They usually start by walking while sitting on the seat, followed by running then cruising with their feet off the ground.
Once they can cruise along with their feet up, they have learned to balance and are ready to begin pedalling.
With a balance bike, your child learns to balance and steer first meaning when your child is ready, they can progress to feet on the pedals.
The child learns to pedal first while being supported by stabilisers. Once the stabilisers are taken away, they have to try to learn how to balance while pedalling, which is much harder than a balance bike.
This is the old-school way of learning to ride a bike, and although it still works, it’s less effective than the newer method of gliding.
Preparing the bike
The gliding method teaches children to balance on two wheels first and adds in peddling later. We’ve found that kids who start riding this way have an easier time transitioning to a two wheeled bike than those who start with stabilisers.
Balance bikes have been designed to get your kids to balance first, but it’s easy to modify a standard child’s bike by;
- Removing the training wheels
- Removing the pedals
- Lowering the seat
- Properly inflating the bike tyres
Get them on and off the bike
It’s an often ignored step, but some children may need practice getting on and off a bike. Encourage them to do it many times so they’re comfortable.
Ask them to pop one of their legs over the frame so they’re standing over the bike and adjust the seat so they can sit comfortably with feet on the ground.
Make sure your kid can reach the handlebars and can put their feet on the ground when seated on the saddle. Once they’re comfortable, get them to stand up and walk with the bike.
Ride a bike independently
Motivate your child to sit on the seat and hold the handlebars whilst they push along the ground using their feet. Practice stopping and starting a couple of times and pretty soon your child will understand that with a little more striding they can lift their feet off the ground for longer periods of time and begin to balance.
Once they can safely balance for a few seconds, add the pedals back, move the seat up, and teach your kid to ride a pedal bike for the first time.
Transfer balance bike skills to a pedal bike
Once your kid has mastered using the balance bike and can glide, they should be ready to transfer those skills to a pedal bike.
How do I teach my 2 year old to ride a bike?
By following our six step guide you can confidently give your 2 year old the skills to be able to cycle away with ease. Our top tips are:
- Make it fun!
- Start off slow, pedalling will come later
- Set the correct saddle height
- We recommend teaching your child to cycle in a quiet area with a hard, level surface and is free of pedestrians and traffic, so there is less chance of a high-speed collision
- Don’t rush
- Hold onto the child and not the bike
Our top tip is to start your child off early on a balance bike to help build up their confidence before they take on pedalling. If you leave it too long, the child will become hesitant and more fearful so it pays to begin when they are young.
What is the best age to teach a child to ride a bike?
There’s no right age to learn to start riding a bike, but we recommend teaching your young ones between three and six years old. If you wait any longer, it may become more difficult.
There are a variety of developmental considerations that will influence your decision when your child is ready to start learning, or is able to ride a bike on their own so think about this when deciding whether or not your child is ready.
Can a 2 year old learn to ride a bike?
Bikes can be used by two year old children, to learn the key skills needed to upgrade to a full-size two-wheeled bike when they get older. Balance bikes are great for children up to the age of five, as they can be adjusted as they grow and gain confidence cycling.