Learning how to ride a bike is one of the most valuable lessons that a parent could teach their child. It doesn’t only share certain wisdom, but cycling is also a muscle memory that could last a lifetime.
It teaches children Focus, Balance, and Navigation. All very important factors to create a recipe for success. However, there are certain caveats that you have to remember. You don’t want this fun activity turning into an accident. If you’re ready to take on this challenge, keep reading.
1. Safety First
Children often mimic what their elders do
The easiest way for them to agree upon wearing a helmet at all times whenever they’re riding a bike is by you, wearing a helmet yourself. Below are some things to remember about wearing helmets:
• Ensure that the helmet of your child is not ill-fitted. A loose helmet won’t be able to mitigate as much damage as a well-fitted one.
• A properly worn helmet provides maximum protection. Your child’s forehead should be covered. Double-check if the straps are tightly fastened. Avoid the helmet from tipping back.
• After using the helmet, teach your child to properly store it. Don’t let them throw it around. If the helmet is not dealt with ample care, it will be damaged and the protection that it provides will be lessened.
• If a helmet survived an accident, replace it.
• Unlike motorcycles and cars, most bikes don’t have lights. Putting reflective stickers on the helmet of your kid will protect them from drivers most especially at night.
To make wearing helmets less utilitarian and more fun for them, wear colorful cycling gear.
Ask your child what their favorite color or who their favorite character is and go from there. Don’t forget that they enjoy wearing a cool bike tshirt and Hulchul has plenty of selections to choose from. Mix and Match to your heart’s desire and look extra kickass in the park.
The Right Bike Size
Now that we’ve discussed the most important safety gear for riding a bicycle, it’s time to choose the right bike. Doing so entails the right size for your body type and in this case, your child’s.
Checking the size:
• Make sure that your child can straddle at the top bar of their bicycle while both feet fall flat on the ground.
• An extra space of 1 to 3 inches is available while your kid straddles. This space must be vertically present between your child’s body and the bike’s top bar.
Some safety precautions:
• Check if the handlebars, seat, and wheels are screwed or attached tightly.
• Regularly check and oil your kid’s bike chain.
• Ensure that the brakes are properly working and are not stuck.
• See if the tires are properly inflated and if the tire’s pressure is just right.
2. The Best Cycling Apparel for my Kid/s
Teaching your kid how to ride a bike doesn’t only entail the act itself. Riding a bike requires physical and mental participation. Before we get to the nitty-gritty of pedaling, choosing the right cycling clothes for kids is very important for reasons that will be explained below.
Have you ever wondered why professional bikers enjoy wearing eye-catchy gear? If so, the simple answer is this; SAFETY. Many people ride their bikes not only in the comfort of their zones and circuits. A lot of individuals use bikes as a means of transportation.
Blending in with the road or trail will make you less visible and prone to be run by speeding drivers. Always remember that before you let your child sit on their bike, they must be colorful. Luckily, Hulchul has plenty of colorful bike t-shirts for kids and unique bicycle tees for teens.
Not only do Hulchul shirts serve as eye candy, but they’re also Breathable, Durable, and Flexible. You may also find some stuff for yourself. Try checking out some of these cycling t-shirts for men and bike t-shirts for women.
Read more about What is the Safest Color for Cycle Clothing here
Avoid Bulky Fabric
Remember those elephant pants in the 90s and the bohemian skirts from the 70s? While picturing them being worn while cycling seems cool, the idea should be scrapped. Marrying disco and bicycle should only be done in movies but never in real life.
In the event that your little girl asks to wear her favorite Disney princess gown while riding a bike, give her a hard NO.
Doing so will compromise the safety of your child. Bulky fabrics will interfere with the chain, pedal, and tires of the bicycle. Added to that, you can also exclude footwear with shoelaces, backpacks with long straps, and textured pants.
Stick to shirts, jerseys, bike shorts, and bike pants instead.
The Correct Footwear
When it comes to selecting the best footwear for pedaling, GRIP must be at the top of your head. If a footwear doesn’t serve this purpose, it’s not good enough for biking. The footwear that provides the best grip for pedals is SNEAKERS. Don’t let your child wear the things below while biking:
- Heeled shoes
- Aquatic footwear
Moreover, don’t forget to stop them from riding a bike barefoot.
Riding gloves are very helpful in maintaining a grip of the handlebars. While anyone can ride a bike without gloves most especially if they’re biking within the city, it’s still important for your child to get proper training.
Starting them early with associating the importance of gloves when biking will help them naturally wear gloves while biking at all times.
Elbow Pads and Knee Pads
Expect that there will be a lot of tumbles, trips, and turns when you teach kids how to ride a bike. To prevent your child’s skin from getting wounded, bruised, and cut, having them wear pads is a must.
However, some parents discourage doing so and let their kids experience the pain. They feel that once they have a taste of it, they will be more proactive in wearing the pads. Some even say that having a scraped knee or elbow is part of being a kid and that wearing pads is not something to worry about.
This cycling gear is optional and the use of it will highly depend on how you discipline your child. Should you choose to stay on the safe side and have your kid wear pads, comfort must be at the top of your list.
Your child must be able to freely pedal without feeling restricted. Many kids don’t like wearing pads because they think doing so is not cool. Prove them wrong by showing them different selections of kickass elbow pads and knee pads for biking online.
3. Best Place To Teach My Kids
Selecting the setting of your bike lessons is crucial. They must feel the utmost comfort for them to be confident in making the first step. The place must be safe and far from accident-prone situations. Moreover, it also must be where they will have fun.
You don’t want to spend your Saturday pacifying your child’s anxiety or put up with their sulking because they don’t feel inspired. If you want them to not just learn how to ride a bike but actually enjoy the cycling lifestyle, the place must be fun.
Some of the ideal places to teach how to ride a bike are:
- A park where other kids are present
- An empty basketball court or tennis court
- A biking trail
- An empty space whereby cars and motorcycles don’t pass by
Avoid streets, hills, avenues, train tracks, grass surfaces, parking lots (unless empty), and other places where vehicles often go in and out.
4. Balance Bike
Remember that your first goal here is to teach them how to balance. Pedaling comes next. In general, kids who discover balance before pedaling learn to ride a bike faster than kids who start riding bikes with training wheels.
This is why other parents choose to start with Balance Bikes (no pedals) instead. The goal here is for them to learn how to balance with just two wheels. If you don’t have balance bikes, you can modify a regular bike to be one.
Modifying A Regular Bike Into a Balance Bike
Step 1 – Remove the Pedals
Use a pedal wrench and detach the pedals from your kid’s regular bike.
Step 2 – Lower the Seat
Adjust the seat and lower it. Your kid must be able to sit upright while still being able to slightly bend their knees and have their feet flat on the ground. This is important in providing comfort and helps your kid have a better stance while learning how to balance.
It will also help them make a full stop whenever they feel like they’re losing grip and balance.
Step 3 – Check the Tire Pressure
A bicycle will run better when the tire pressure is correct. You may look for the recommended pressure that’s usually printed on the tire’s sidewalls.
5. Teaching Balance Without Pedals
Now that you’re kid’s all buckled up for safety, it’s time to ride! Written below is a step-by-step guide in teaching them how to ride a balance bike. This is not applicable if your child’s bike has training wheels.
Getting On and Getting Off. This step is trivial to a lot of parents. They often overlook the importance of it. Missing this will give your child a harder time in dealing with the brakes and starting from a balanced position. Have them do this as an exercise until they’re comfortable.
Scooting and Gliding. Once they know how to control their bike, it’s time for them to mobilize it. Have them sit on it while they grab the handlebars as they walk back and forth across the training ground. You may also suggest for them to scoot if they’re not comfortable walking upright.
If they’re scared, you may accompany them by holding their torso or supporting them under the armpits. Don’t hold the handlebars because it will defeat the purpose of them, learning about balance.
Hopping. If they’re able to glide several times without losing their balance, level up their training by asking them to push the ground using both feet to advance. Think of their feet as boat paddles.
You must be able to get them used to move without having their feet touch the ground for a certain period of time. They will learn easier if you show them how it’s done so you need to have a bike as well.
Gliding Method A (The Floor is Lava)
For this lesson to be more fun, you may try drawing hot lava on the ground whereby they need to pass without their feet touching the ground. You may increase the length of this drawing as their skill in balancing improves.
Gliding Method B (Countdown)
If where your place of practice doesn’t allow you to draw or have no symbols that can be used, you may try counting instead. For example, start having them glide without touching the ground for 2 seconds. Gradually increase the duration depending on the stage of their learnings.
Now that you have scooting and gliding out of the way, it’s time for your child to know how to steer the wheel. This will further improve their skill and make cycling more fun for them.
Steering Method A (Follow You)
Many kids enjoy games such as Follow The Leader and Simon Says. Incorporate these fun games into teaching your kid how to ride a bike. Be sure that you are teaching him in a place whereby you’ll still get to have your eyes on him without running into an object or a person.
This is highly recommended if you’re teaching your child with a partner.
Steering Method B (Cones)
Borrow or buy some orange cones and create an obstacle course. Props like these will make the lesson more exciting for your child. Added to that, you’ll also be able to watch them at all times.
Steering Method C (The Floor is Lava)
You can also use this game to teach your kid how to steer. Instead of asking them to pass through a lava drawing, create an obstacle course on the ground by drawing lava figures that they must avoid. This will be more fun if you ask them to participate in creating the courses.
6. Teaching Riding a Bike with Pedals
Now that they’re familiar with how to operate the bike, it’s time to put the pedals back. Please don’t proceed if your kid does not know how to properly coast with both feet up, glide, steer, and turn.
Step 1 – Attach the Pedals and Keep the Seat Lowered
Put the pedals back if you’ve modified a regular bike or you may simply take out the regular bike of your child if you did not do any modifications. However, ensure that the seat is still lowered for your kid to stop at any moment they feel the need to.
Step 2 – Pedal Introduction
- Hold the handlebars and clasp the front wheel with your legs to stop the bike’s movement.
- Have your child sit facing you.
- Let them step on both pedals to familiarize themselves and to learn how to get a good grip.
- Get them to step on the pedals by looking ahead. Have them pick up their feet on and off the pedals.
It’s very important for them to avoid looking down. Doing so may result in them navigating the handlebars incorrectly and losing their balance.
Step 3 – Brakes
Teach them how to operate the brakes and ensure that they are using the correct pressure. Having a weak hold on the brakes will result in them not being able to make a full stop.
You may do this by having your child walk alongside the bike and having them hit the brakes on and off. Let their fingers and hands have a better feel and control of the bike and they’ll learn the correct way of using the hand brake naturally.
Step 4 – Pedaling
This is the turning point of your lesson and what will give you a better assessment on whether your child has to relearn balance. Below are options on how to teach your child to pedal from a stopped position.
- Let them sit on the bike with one foot on the ground. Have the other on a pedal that’s raised and on the 30-degree angle (1 o'clock position). This will give your child more time in raising the other foot from the ground to land on the other pedal. Ask them to press hard to get the bike going.
- You may also have them step on one pedal while the other foot is simply avoiding the ground like they’re semi-coasting. Get them to do this repeatedly until they’re ready to pedal with both feet. Think of this method as if your child’s riding a scooter.
- They may also try gliding or coasting; closely followed by putting both feet on the pedals as the bike moves naturally.
As much as possible, avoiding holding the bike for your child. Let them maneuver and familiarize themselves with the pedals. If they can’t find their balance yet, try going back to the Teaching Balance Without Pedals section.
Step 5 – Steering with Pedals
Once your kid learns how to ride their bike and move forward using both pedals on their own, the only thing left to learn is how to steer it properly; most especially when they make turns.
Make this lesson fun by creating obstacle courses with what’s available in your practice place. Be resourceful and creative when teaching your kid how to ride a bike. It should NOT Discourage, Bore, and Scare them.
The best way for them to keep going is by you, having enough patience. Remember, not everyone learns at the same pace. Don’t get frustrated if your kid doesn’t meet your expectations. Added to that, you must also make the lessons enjoyable and upbeat.
As a parent, you should be the one extending your efforts because you’re the one who knows more. Help them gain confidence and reward them every time they’re able to learn a thing or two. Knowing that they’re doing the right thing will encourage them to keep going further.
7. Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a perfect age to ride a bike?
There is no perfect age to ride a bike. Teach your child once you think they’re ready or if they start showing interest in learning. However, some people say that kids from 4-6 learn to ride a bike easier.
Do I need top-of-the-line gear to teach my child?
No, there’s no such prerequisite in learning how to ride a bike.
Is there a speed standard that they have to reach?
Your child should avoid cycling too fast to avoid danger. Riding a bike should not be competitive at their age.
Can I still teach them with training wheels?
Yes, if they have not found the confidence to learn how to balance yet, they may start riding a bike with training wheels.
Can my child go to school while riding a bike?
If your child won’t have to go through a busy street, train track, or an avenue, they probably can. But you still have to make sure that their route is safe. Cars still pass through residential areas.
Moreover, you need to teach them about bike traffic rules and warn them about the dangers of listening to music while riding their bikes.
Lastly, don’t forget to… HAVE FUN!
We hope that you enjoyed reading this guide. Please don’t forget to share this with your friends and loved ones who are in the process of teaching their kids how to ride a bike.
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