At BBF, our goal is to give people a lifelong love for cycling. This all starts at a young age – If you’re like me, you still remember gliding down the street on your very first bike!
As a parent myself, teaching a child to ride a bike is one of life’s most rewarding experiences, but it can be intimidating. So I’ve put together this email to make the process a little easier.
With some practice, your little ones could be pedalling alongside the rest of the family in no time!
HOW TO TEACH YOUR CHILD TO RIDE A BIKE – WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS
1. Ensure the bike fits your child
Make sure the seat height, handlebar and brake levers are all adjusted to suit your child. The balls of their feet should reach the ground easily. If this isn’t the case, the seat should be adjusted slightly lower.
2. Do a safety check
It’s always important you do a quick inspection before every ride to make sure the bike is safe:
1. Check tyre pressure: The tyres should be properly inflated and in good condition.
2. Test the brakes: Check both brakes are working properly and not too loose or tight.
3. Find a suitable area
It’s important to teach your child to ride in a safe, comfortable environment.
Look for a quiet bike path to give your child a chance to practice safely. Passmore reserve, Manly Vale is a great example.
4. Practise braking
Teach your child to squeeze, not grab the brake levers. They should use both brakes together for safer control of the bike. The rear brake can be used to reduce speed and add stability.
The child should be supported for balance during this exercise at walking pace only. You can walk beside the child holding the handlebars or shoulders to build confidence while riding and braking.
5. Practise stopping
Before you move on, make sure your child gets used to getting their feet down at the same time as coming to a stop.
NOW LET’S GET MOVING
Once the student has mastered the brake control and stopping with the feet safely reaching the ground they are ready to try balanced riding without support.
1. Start on a slight incline
Start on a slight uphill or into a headwind for added stability. This also prevents the bike gaining speed too quickly. On geared bikes, use a slightly higher gear for even more stability.
2. Pushing off
Start with the bike stationary with your child seated on the bike with their feet on the ground. Have them keep one foot on the ground and use the other to push off. The right pedal should be at the 2 o’clock position while pushing off.
3. Keep their eyes up!
Eyes up! Head up. Always look further ahead up the path. Scan your intended path of travel. Never look down at your front tyre or at an obstacle you are trying to avoid. Where you look is where you go!
Keep these in mind…
- Riding on the footpath: In NSW it is legal for kids to ride on footpaths up to 16 years of age. This rule also includes adults supervising kids riding on footpaths.
- Helmet: Make sure a correctly fitted helmet is worn. You can measure the circumference of your child’s head with a cloth tape measure or string to find the right size.
- Daytime running lights: Bike lights are not just for night-time. Daytime lights give you the best chance of being seen by everyone at all times.
- Training wheels: Using the above tips should overcome the need to use training wheels. (20” wheel size and bigger).
- Geared vs non-geared bikes: BBF generally recommends gears. There is a short learning period but gears will ultimately make the bike easier to use. Remember the gears don’t need to be used during the learning stage.