Contrary to popular belief, teaching your kids to ride a bike safe and fun when done at the right time. More than half the world knows how to ride a bike, and this important skill is best taught at childhood between 5 and 8 years.
How I wish that every kid had a bike they could ride. It would mean hours of pure fun with their mates instead of playing video games all day. Since (I venture to say) you don’t want a hermit for a child, use this beautiful spring to cycle with them. But first, they need to learn how to cycle.
That is the best time to teach kids to ride a bike. Spring is the time of renewal when everything is fresh and flowers and in bloom. The weather is perfect, but there aren’t too many crazies on the streets yet.
Even the air seems to call you outdoors in spring. You want to introduce your kid to the outdoors at this time so that they can learn to appreciate nature at its best. What better way to do that than to go out on a parent/kid ride?
Spring cycling is so easy that you can teach a kid to ride in an hour or less. What you need to do is have the right gear and do it correctly.
What You Need To Get Started
You don’t need a lot of gear to get your kid cycling. And please, you don’t need balance wheels! That is the most ineffective way to teach a child to cycle.
All you need is a good bicycle, some safety equipment, and a patch of clear hardtop. Everything else will just be an unnecessary expense.
Now that you are invested in having your kid learn to bike let me lead you through it.
How To Choose the Right Bike
Picking the right bicycle for your child is the foundation of their riding life. You have to make sure the size is right, that the bike is comfortable and safe. There are a few things you need to learn about picking the right bicycle for your kid.
Children’s bikes are measured by wheel size. Bigger bikes have bigger wheels.
To get the right bike for your child, measure their inseam. Have them hold a book between their thighs, then measure the distance from the upper part of the book to the floor while standing straight. This is their inseam.
Every bike has an inseam height indicator, so make sure to choose the one that fits. Don’t go for a bigger bike and hope that the kids will grow into it; you are better off with a slightly smaller bike than a larger one.
If you can’t use the inseam, make sure the top bar is well below the crotch when the child is standing up.
Get a bike from a reputable brand. You can probably remember your first bike’s name and brand because it forms part of your cycling identity. The best brands nowadays include Schwinn, Prevelo, Woom, Early Rider, Guardian, and RoyalBaby.
Types of Bike
As the child gets older, the range of options available starts to open up. At an inseam length of 20″ or more, you can go for a discipline-specific bike.
Bikes for older kids come in many different types. This is the time you have to consider factors such as whether the bike’s purpose, your budget, and area you live in, among others.
Cruiser bikes are for casual riding around the neighborhood. They are comfortable, sometimes even flashy in style. A great option is the Schwinn Koen for boys or Schwinn Elm for girls.
Road bikes are just that. They are meant for the open road, and you will start seeing some gears (6-speeds, 8-speeds, and 12-speeds), flat tires, racing handles, the works. Here is an amazing bike road bike for girls.
Mountain bikes are probably the most popular. They are a highly versatile type of bike that is good for a casual rike, street race, or off-road adventure. However, their price tags will most likely give you sticker shock. This RoadMaster Granite is an excellent mountain bike for your child.
BMX bikes for the modern Kid Knievel. They are super strong, very cool, and made for stunts. Perhaps not the right way to get your kids started on bikes, but who knows what they will achieve? To start you off, here is the best-selling Mongoose BMX bike on Amazon.
Kid’s bikes are expensive in general, so some parents like to get second hands to start with. This is a great option, so long as you do your due diligence and make sure you get a good bike. You can save hundreds this way and still get a serviceable bike.
Gear You Will Need
After spending hundreds of dollars on the perfect bike for your kid, you don’t want to be bundled with a whole lot of ‘necessary’ equipment. You shouldn’t make it a bruised knees and bleeding elbows sort of thing either, so get this safety gear also.
A bicycle helmet protects the kid’s head from severe head damage when the inevitable fall occurs. Make sure it fits tightly, with no more space between it and the strap than you can fit your forefinger. You can get this classy but affordable Bell Rally helmet on Amazon.
Protection from the Elements
Spring brings rain and cold, so you should make sure your kid is well protected. A cycling jacket and pair of gloves will protect from the wind, rain, and cold, so get this printed Mountain jacket and Giro bike gloves as well.
Any pair of sneakers can do for starters, but as you get into more advanced cycling, you might want to get them specialized shoes with hooks or cleats. These Muddyfox cycling shoes for kids are an example.
Now that you are all geared up and ready, let’s get started. First, look for an expansive space preferably paved or covered with asphalt, concrete, or other hard surfaces. It should be away from traffic or distracting activities. A local sports ground will do, but if not, your backyard will do.
How to Teach Your Kids to Ride a Bike
When you get to it, there is no scientific way to teach your kid to ride. My dad had me coasting for a while and then let go. After two painful falls, I got it! Someone else will give you a 10-pointer plan on how to go about it, but you will find that most of them are useless.
The key to teaching your kid to ride a bike is to be responsive and dynamic. Some kids are fast learners and will be zooming around the block in one afternoon of teaching. Others, especially girls, may need weeks of patient coaching.
Instead of an action plan, I will give you a few pointers to light the way. Just remember that this should be one of the best times for you and junior, so be sure to have loads of fun.
Balancing is Key
The first step of riding a bicycle is balancing, but anyone will tell you that training wheels don’t help even a little. The best way to teach your kid to balance is to have them coast gently and counterbalance with their legs.
To do that, use a pedal spanner to remove the pedals from the bike, effectively turning it into a balancing bike. Now they can walk back and forth in hops or long steps as they practice balancing. You should only offer minimal support at this stage.
Mark Out an Obstacle Course
The most important thing with mobility is control. So, make sure your kids learn the importance of keeping the steering in check, finger the brakes, and use their legs for support when needed.
A good way to do that is to mark out an obstacle course with chalk on the surface.
Have them make increasingly tight turns, alternate between fast and slow cycling, and stopping. Do this first when learning to balance, and then later when they can pedal.
Drill in the Basics
Always wear your helmet, keep your bike well maintained, obey traffic rules, and wear high visibility clothing at night. These are basics of cycling every kid should make a habit as they grow older.
Remember that kids never forget what they learn, so this is the perfect time to drill in these things. You might save their lives this way. Traffic safety is especially important, so don’t leave them to learn it on their own. You may as well give your car to a 10-year old.
Some parents are scared of teaching their kids to ride a bike because they don’t want them to hurt themselves.
Remember that cycling is as safe as you make it be. Here are some statistics to show how dangerous or safe it is to ride. Unless your kid rides without a helmet, rides drunk or goes into traffic, there is almost no chance they will die. Don’t deny them this amazing opportunity to enjoy their childhood.
For Very Young Kids, Use Bike Seats and Trailers
Unless your kid really wants to learn, there is no need to teach them to cycle at two or even three years. It’s much better to enjoy some quality out time with them by strapping a child’s seat to your bike or attaching a trailer.
Between the two, a child’s seat allows you to share a beautiful bond by sharing the sights, chatting along the way, and letting them experience the dynamic nature of cycling.
Trailers may be more convenient, but they are heavier and expose your kids to more vehicle exhaust and potential danger from cars. For kids older than 5, it’s best to let them come on their bikes.
What age should you teach your child to ride?
The best age is between four and six. For older kids, any age is appropriate so long as you approach it the right way.
Do you need training wheels to teach a child to cycle?
No. Training wheels only impede the process because they keep the child from learning balance naturally.
How do you teach an older child to ride a bike?
Older kids have more leg power, are heavier, and are more used to falling and pain. Be more open with them and make the session friendly. Don’t push them too hard.
How do you teach a reluctant child to ride a bike?
The key is to make them feel safe. Ensure they have all the safety gear and encourage them to start slow. Offer a lot of support along the way.
How old does my child have to be to ride with me?
You can bring them along as soon as they are strong enough to sit up unsupported. As early as 12-18 months, you can take your baby with you on adventures using a bike seat or trailer.
Riding with kids is fun and easy. In spring, when the weather is mellow and everybody is getting their bikes out, make sure to entice your kids to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful sights.
If your child already knows how to ride a bike, they don’t need much help. The trick lies in teaching them to start biking. This is where you need a few tips or two on the equipment and actual learning process.
Learning to ride a bike should be one of the most memorable parts of a child’s life. It’s a skill that lasts with them through life, and one they can remember you by. Make sure you invest and do it right.
If you’re just looking to take your baby out with you to enjoy the spring weather, a bike seat or trailer is an amazing option. All you need to do is prepare them properly for the road.
All in all, spring cycling is so simple even your kids can do it. Don’t let them miss out on the fun!