There are options to the traditional method of teaching a kid to bicycle was
to strain your back while running along side
them holding them up-right and pushing them until they crashed or final did it under their own
power and coordination. A tool to help with this is the "
More on common mistakes while teaching bicycling.
Contemporary bicycle education specialist advocate an alternative method for
teaching bicycling that isolates some of the separate skills needed to bike
ride. Using this approach (detailed below), the initial experience for the
student is far less overwhelming because they aren't trying to master everything
(balance, pedaling, steering, etc.) at once. In fact, isolated, the
individual skills need for bicycling are in fact pretty quick and easy for most
people to learn. Consequently the whole process generally goes fairly
quickly -- without the frustration and bumps of traditional methods.
Click here for testimonials, feedback and comments from parents and kids who have tried this approach.
For an interactive children's e-book on how to learn to ride a bike,
A product to help young kids learn their balance, but who may not be ready to
combine balance, pedaling, and steering, is the
Strider Running Bike (for
free shipping enter the coupon code "www.ibike.org") .
A commercial product that will help you teach bicycling without training
Just because a child is four years old doesn't mean that they are "ready" to
learn to ride a bike. Kids (and adults) are ready to learn to bicycle when
they want to bicycle. This is often connected to a desire to bicycle,
which may be connected to what siblings or peers are doing. For some kids
this is three years old and for some adults this is sixty-five years old
-- there is probably a cluster around ages four, five and six.
You can put training wheels are a child's bike, but this does more to make
the "bicycle" ride-able at a younger age, than do anything teaches bicycling. Some
bicycle instructors point to bad habits it can reinforce. Others argue that
it can help the child experience the fun and freedom of bicycling, which may
motivate them learn at a younger age, but again this may be heavily influenced
by siblings and peers. In any case when the training wheels come off the
bicycle learning sequence generally starts pretty much at the beginning.
Select a bike where the seat can be lowered enough so the learner can be
seated and have both feet flat on the ground. Lower the seat to the
point that the learner can put their feet on the ground. Remove any training
wheels. You can also remove the pedals, but most students seem to be
able to go through the first exercises without any problems with the pedals
Find a grassy field with a gentle downhill of 30 yards or so, that then
flattens out or goes uphill slightly. Ideally the grass is short enough
that it doesn't create too much drag on the wheels, but still can provide a
soft landing in case of a fall.. A hard surface learning area can also be
used, but it should have only a very slight slope - almost flat.
Strap a helmet. Tuck in shoelaces. Long pants (rubber
banded, strapped or tucked into the socks) and
gloves can add additional protection if it is warranted.
Go about 15 yards up the hill. If necessary, hold the bike while the
on. Have him or her put both feet on the ground, then you should be able
to let go of the bike and nothing should happen. Praise the learner.
Tell your student to lift his or her feet about an inch off the ground and
coast down the hill or scoot along. The objective here is to get a feel
for balancing on the bike. Try to resist holding the bike to steady
the learner. Because the bike will coast slowly, the cyclists can put
his or her feet down if they get scared. He or she might want you to run
beside the bike the first few times; do so, but don't hold the bike. Let
the rider feel the balance. Give a lot of praise for every improvement.
Help count the seconds that they balance and make a game of it.
Hopefully, they improve on almost every pass.
Tip: Through this process, if the cyclist keeps their knees (and feet)
close to the bicycle, they will tend to be able to balance better and not
swerve as much.
Repeat until your student feels comfortable coasting and doesn't put his or
her feet down to stop. Throughout the progression there is no need to
rush moving on to the next step.
Reattach the pedals, if they were removed (initial screw the pedals on by
hand so that you don't cross-thread them, which is fairly easy to do.) Now have your
student put his or her feet on the pedals and coast down.
First just one pedal, then both pedals.
After several runs, have him or her begin pedaling as he or she is rolling.
Repeat coasting/pedaling until the bicyclist feels comfortable, then move up
the hill. When the student is comfortable coasting/pedaling at this level,
raise the saddle in small increments and do a few more coast/pedaling runs. You can add some
exercises where they stop by braking sooner than they would just from friction
with the ground.
Riding in a straight line:
Go to a flat part of the field, cul-de-sac, empty unused parking lot,
etc., and practice starting from a standstill, riding in a straight line,
stopping, and turning.
Starting from a standstill - Start with one pedal pointed at the
handlebars (2 o'clock -- the power position). This gives the rider a solid pedal stroke to
power the bike and keep it steady until the other foot finds the pedal. Kids
tend to want to rush and take short cuts on this and get off to very wobbly
starts. Work to have them develop habits so that they consistently get
smooth steady starts.
Riding straight - Look straight ahead. Keep the elbows and knees
loose and pedal smooth circles. When a novice rider turns his or her
head, their arms and shoulders follow, causing the bike to swerve.
Stopping - Apply both brakes at the same time (if the bike has both
front and rear brakes). Using just the
front brake can launch the rider over the handlebars. Using just the
rear brake limits the rider to just 20 or 30 percent of braking power and
the bike is more likely skid.
Turning - Initially, slow down before entering a corner. Turning
is a combination of a little leaning and a very little steering. Keep
the inside pedal up and look through the turn. As confidence grows let
the speed gradually increase.
When the cyclist is ready to get into any environment that includes cars
they should ride like a car. (This may be a couple years later.) This
keeps the kid from swooping and swerving on roads, running stop signs and riding
on the wrong side of the road. See
Teach Your Child Well: Bicycle Safety Issues.
Going for a bike ride
As kids master the skills of bicycling and want to go on longer rides, keep it
interesting at their level: bring snacks, plan appropriate rest breaks
(initially, these may be a mile apart), stop for fun activities (i.e. play
ground, beach, chase butterflies, ice cream shop, etc.) and invite your kid's
Don't make learning day the first day on a new bike. You eliminate
some of the avalanche of new experiences and emotion, if you use a bike that they are
familiar with (one they have had with training wheels or an older siblings),
or one borrow from a friend. The new bike can be a reward
for mastering two wheels. If you need to use a new bike put training
wheels on it and let them get used to it for a couple weeks before before
trying two wheels.
Don't us the one-training-wheel method. It doesn't teach balance and
is not uniformly unstable.
If you use the hold-the-back-of-the-seat (better) or run-beside-the-bike
method, don't trick your child by claiming you're holding on when you are not.
If the child crashes, you erode trust, which erodes confidence. Before
you begin a run, tell your child you plan to let go when he or she looks
stable. When they are stable, tell them again that you are going to let
go BEFORE you do. Make sure they stay stable before you release and then
stick with them until they have substantially mastered the skill.
Don't expect the learning process will be crash-free -- though the one
describe above likely will be. Be ready to
comfort, coerce, cheerlead and bandage -- and possibly to wait for another
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