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How To Ride A Bike

Updated on August 2, 2013

Help Your Child Through This Milestone In Life

We've all been there. One of our parents took the time to push us off into a new found independence. There were scrapped knees and tears, but in the end a new found freedom was gained. After I learned to ride my bike, the world was open to new possibilities. I could pedal off across town and visit my friends. I had new patches of woods to explore. I also had to carry my little sister on the seat with me. I guess mom knew I was up to no good. Below, you will discover products and techniques that are available to pass on this tradition of childhood to your own little ones.

*All Photos Are Shared With Permission Of My Awesome Little Cousin Fischer.

Skills Needed To Ride A Bike

bike jump
bike jump

Before your kids take off, there are a few things they need to learn. The first is Balance.

Balance is a skill that can be learned before hopping on a bike. I would suggest you NOT use a bike with training wheels as this will cause your child to depend on them and will most likely lean to one side or the other. This is a hard habit to break. I would suggest using a small foot powered scooter or a balance bike. Children can easily learn to balance by using their hands and feet to scoot around. A scooter is a good choice for learning this skill. I recommend the balance bike because of the lack of pedals. Instead of relying on training wheels or pedals, a child can practice stopping with their feet. This is a good skill to have in case of wrecks. Every child should learn how to safely get off of a bike if it is out of control. Another reason for no pedals is because that, in itself, is a separate skill. I will cover that in the next section.

Learning To Pedal

boy and his bike
boy and his bike

After mastering balance, pedaling should be introduced. You want to make sure you get a bike that fits your child. To find out what size of bike you will need, you need to have them sit comfortably in the seat. Their feet should be able to touch the ground. This is important because of that newly acquired stopping skill. If the bicycle is too big, the child will have a hard time mounting and dismounting the bike. Their feet will dangle which leads to a lack of control over the bike. This upgrade should allow for the same feel as the balance bike. The difference is the addition of pedals. You may want to consider buying a safety harness at this time. It will save your back in the long run! At this time, you will assist your child in pedaling. You will not be letting go of the bike just yet! Just work on mastering the pedals on different terrains to get a feel of how to push. They need to also learn now to get started on the initial push as well as learn how to handle a situation where the get stuck. My daughter always seems to have difficulty when the pedal reaches the highest point, then stops, and cannot seem to push it back down. Your child can also practice using breaks at this point.

Save Your Back. Use A Balance Bar or Bike Harness!

Learning To Brake

While pedaling, you can begin teaching the skill of braking. Start with a gentle decline. Some children will be intimidated or frightened when speed begins to pick up. You can alleviate their fears by showing them how to use the pedal brakes. I have not mentioned hand brakes because this may be too complicated for a beginner. By purchasing a bicycle with pedal brakes, you can help your child focus and improve their skills. Braking can be a great ego boost because the child begins to feel more in control of the bike. As they improve, you can increase the amount of slope and different terrains of the path you use. This will help build their skill in a variety of circumstances.

Steering A Bike

Our final big hurdle is steering. The biggest challenge is learning how to use the handle bars when you become unbalanced. The best advice for any child is to teach them to steer in the direction they are beginning to crash towards. For instance, if they lose balance and head to the left, then they should steer towards the left. If they are lucky, they can recover and continue riding. They also need to learn to hold the handle bars steady. Most children tend to swerve back and forth. If they can learn to hold their hands still, then they can avoid losing balance. You should also work on turns now. This includes another element of balance, so there may be times they lose control. You will have to continue working this skill several times before they know how to turn effectively.

Learning To Ride

Who taught you how to ride, and how did they teach you?

Putting It Together

By now, your child has mastered all of the skills needed to ride a bike. You will continue to hone these skills through repetition, which is why I highly recommend getting the harness! Riding a bike is one of those skills that you build a physical memory for. Your body just incorporates the skill into its memory. This is why you hear the phrase "it's like riding a bike". You never forget because your body remembers even after years of nonpractice. I hope you have enjoyed my page and that your child will enjoy years of riding. It is a great form of exercise and can lead to many great adventures, as you've seen. I have a feeling you just might see Fischer in X games or the Olympics one day. After all, his mom did win a gold medal!

Beginner Bikes

Just be sure to take off the training wheels!

Do You Still Ride Bikes?

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    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this! Our granddaughter is about to graduate from her Skoot to a bike with pedals. Your tips will be most helpful.

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 5 years ago

      Very well put together lens. Reminds me that when the snow melts and the weather warms, my youngest may need a new bike.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice lens, love the photos, very proud bike rider your cousin Fischer.

      Yes I still ride a bike in my 70's but I prefer to walk for exercise these days. Thanks for sharing information with us, it is sure to help some new rider. Blessed.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Great guide! Thanks for sharing! Blessed by a SquidAngel! (For the record, I'm not a bike rider, I'm more of a runner, but any kind of exercise is good!)

    • linhah lm profile image

      Linda Hahn 5 years ago from California


    • NYtoSCimjustme profile image

      NYtoSCimjustme 5 years ago

      Every once in a while - then for the next week my body thanks me for it ... how? By reminding me every waking second that I forgot certain parts of my anatomy need to move once in a while.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      Yes, but not often enough!

    • BenJacklin LM profile image

      BenJacklin LM 5 years ago

      Nope, never! But can't believe this domain was free!