Over the years the "best practice" theory has changed on how to teach a child to ride a bike. A few years ago, the main way to teach a child to ride would have been through the use of stabilisers attached to the child's bike, which tended to allow the child to learn the pedalling motion but also allowed them to rely on the stabilisers for balance. In more recent times, the focus when learning how to ride a bike has shifted away from pedalling and instead aims at teaching the child how to balance on the bike, moving on to learning how to pedal later on.
There are a couple of ways of allowing your child to develop balancing skills on their bike. The first is to get a standard kids bike of a suitable size and remove the pedals. This is not the best way as the cranks will require your child to have their legs further apart in order to avoid catching their shins, and so this could lead to your child taking longer to learn, and potentially could cause an accident.
The other option is to purchase a purpose built balance bike, sometimes known as a "Walker". These are bikes that resemble a standard bike with a saddle, handlebars and often pneumatic tyres, but they don't have any pedals or cranks at all, allowing the child to walk the bike along. Once the bike is up to speed, the child can lift their feet up, sometimes onto built in foot holds, and learn the skills necessary to keep the bike balanced without their feet on the floor.
When Should You Teach A Child To Ride A Bike?
There isn't really any hard and fast rule about when you should teach your child to learn to ride a bike. As a rough guide, most children learn to ride between the ages of 4 and 6 years old, however some children are able to learn earlier than this. Part of the decision should be based around the child's height. It is very important, particularly when learning to ride, that the bike is the correct size for the child. Many bikes including balance bikes allow for the saddle height to be adjusted by moving the seatpost up and down in the frame. The saddle should be adjusted to a height that allows them to just about touch the floor, enabling them to push themselves along but without relying to heavily on using their feet as stablisers.
Where Should You Teach A Child To Ride A Bike?
A lot of people think that the best place to learn how to ride a bike is on grass, which provides a softer surface to land on if they fall off. While this is true, it can be very difficult for small wheels to easily roll over mud and grass and the extra resistance can make steering adjustments more difficult. A better surface to learn on is smooth, flat tarmac, which provides the least resistance to the bike's tyres and steering and will allow the child to ride further with their feet up once the bike is up to speed. If you are concerned about the child hurting themselves in a crash, some light body armour could help protect them in the event of a fall.
Hills should be avoided when teaching a child to ride a bike as they could easily pick up too much speed and this could result in them losing control of the bike and injuring themselves. Often balance bikes aren't equipped with any brakes, so this should be taken into consideration when choosing a location.
Kids Bikes At Westbrook Cycles
Westbrook Cycles offer a range of balance bikes in store and online, as well as a full range of sizes for them to progress onto once they are ready. If you need any further advice on how to teach your child to ride a bike, please get in touch and a member of staff will be happy to help.