Teaching them to ride

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  • flywheel88 wrote:
    Thanks for posting this! I have a dyspraxic daughter and have had the hardest time teaching her to ride. I was wrapping a scarf or towel around her to try and get her to keep her balance and it has not worked!
    fnegroni wrote:
    Keep the 12 inch bikes.
    Take stabilisers off, take that bar you mention off, take pedals off, *if you can* take cranks off too.
    Lower the saddle to the lowest comfortable position, so their feet are flat to the floor or just slightly higher.
    Then tell them to *scoot*: use their legs to propel forward.
    Do not at any time *help* them balance: the sweet spot when balancing is a matter of micro adjustments that they must learn instinctively: your interference will only compromise their progress.
    If they fall, it's no big deal: make sure there is plenty of room. Maybe a soft ground would be better.
    In a couple of hours they'll most likely get the hang of it and will learn to balance themselves.
    Practice makes perfect but, if they have already learnt to pedal, they'll be very keen so don't keep them at that stage for ever. As soon as they can balance lifting their legs while coasting down a gentle slope for a long stretch, put pedals back on and be prepared to be amazed. :-)

    +1 We teach about 50 kids a year using this method including (in last year, some with problems like autism, spergers and dyspraxia. Never failed yet.
    Just wanted to report back that by Christmas my daughter was riding her new bike with pedals and her mum and I have had a hard time keeping up with her. She looks forward to our weekly bike tours.
  • Sirius631Sirius631 Posts: 1,015
    Hello People,
    My son is almost 3 and had a balance bike for a while now (easy rider- highly recommended and VERY cool).
    He has wonderful balance and flies on it everywhere.

    I want to move him to a proper bike so I gave him his older sister's old bike a 16" Ridgeback in good condition (but pink...). I lowered everything as much as I could and he just barely reaches the ground (his a tall almost-3) - and of course no stabilisers.

    When I push him he's got amazing balance which now comes naturally, but he can't really pedal, I tried to teach him a few times but so far without much success... I don't want to add stabilisers but I can't see how to otherwise teach him to pedal... any ideas are welcome...

    Try to find something that actually fits him.
    To err is human, but to make a real balls up takes a super computer.
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    Struggling with your child to move up from a [cough] "baby bike"?

    Let Pepper Pig provide a bit of not-so-subtle encouragement.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oee5H4SGlV0
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • secretsam wrote:
    So - any tips? our two (twins) are 4 and a half, and have bikes (12" wheels, need something bigger really) and we're trying to teach them to ride without stabilisers. We have 'handles' for the bikes that enable us to hold them upright while they practice, but wanted to know if anyone has some top tips on how to get them up and running.

    Thanks in advance.

    Just to add. You seem to be more organised than me. With stabalisers or without my 5 and 8 year old girls are still struggling. I'm desperate for them to get the hang of it. Would like to get some top tips as well please.

    Thanks
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    MtbDiyShed wrote:
    . With stabalisers or without my 5 and 8 year old girls are still struggling. I'm desperate for them to get the hang of it. Would like to get some top tips as well please.

    The pedals-off, balance bike method. I even use that with adults (although, I generally use a folding bike and flip the pedals, but I also remove pedals from their own bike if they prefer).

    They can then slowly learn balance. Choose a good venue - grassy field with trim grass but a slight slope is perfect - they need to be able to roll, but it not get away from them - and a softer landing should that happen.

    Also, they are going to have to want to do it - otherwise it's VERY difficult - peer group pressure (as mentioned above) can help.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • jomojjomoj Posts: 777
    My daughter (7) was a slow learner cyclist, not very confident physically (apart from dancing) and was really hard to persuade to even try a bike. We tried balance bike from about 4 - didn't like the wobble, tried stabilisers - too awkward. Instead we got her a scooter and waited until she was confident on that, balancing, cornering etc and then gambled on a Frog bike for 7th birthday, hoping the combination of shiny bike, lightweight and proper fit would do it

    Took the pedals off, and found a gentle slope that she could freewheel down and did a few sessions on that until she 'got it' that actually the bike balances itself once you are moving fast enough.

    Next step - pedals back on and found a nice flat space so she could practice getting started. I would put my hand on her back for reassurance and to help keep her moving as she started so she could find the pedals. She was a bit all over the place trying to pedal and steer so i would just keep my hand there to reassure her and then that moment when I just let go and shouted "you're riding your bike!"

    After that she cracked starting herself after about an hour and now she's flying. My son by contrast is 2 and half and has had a balance bike since 2. He scoots along, lifts his feet up to coast and loves playing on the little ramps in the skate park. I think he'll be on a pedal bike by 3 and half.

    Kids are different, sometimes you have to be patient and pick the timing, some just aren't ready to do it at an early age. If they aren't ready for a balance bike then i would still avoid stabilisers like the plague and try them on a scooter instead. it still builds balance and riding feel then go back to bike when they are ready
  • daveb99daveb99 Posts: 273
    Hoping for some advice to help my 6 year old daughter. Her 7th birthday is approaching (4 weeks time) and she hasn't really learned how to ride a bike yet. We took her stabilisers off at Center Parcs about 18 months ago, and she pretty much cracked it, but we haven't really had her riding since, partly due to where we live, and she has preferred to take her scooter instead.

    Now we would like to surprise her with a new bike for her birthday - I am thinking of the Frog 55. Size wise it seems to be OK, I've measured her up etc, but I was wondering whether to get her on the old bike, which is WAY too small for her now, it has 12" wheels, where the Frog has 20". I would put the seat up to max, and the bars if possible, but of course would just be an exercise of re-familiarisation - but at least it would get her used to riding again.

    The alternative is to wait, and get her straight on the new bike, but remove the pedals, following the advice on this thread.

    Not sure what would be best - any advice or guidance would be much appreciated!
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  • Going to buy our kids first bike this weekend this was a blooming good read thanks all! :) #firstpost
  • Hi,
    In my opinion, the bes way to teach children riding is.... to give them balance bike when they are around 2 years old. My kids just moved from running bike to the "normal" one when they were 4 years old in 30 sec. Obviously without stabilisers.

    Take care;-)
  • Nomad2Nomad2 Posts: 15
    We didn't give our eldest son a bike to ride until he was 4. We never used balance bikes. He had his training wheels until he was 5 and one day when we were packing all the bikes in the car (and we had a lot of stuff to carry that day) we took the training wheels/stabilizers off to fit the bike in. When we got to the park we told Nathan that he might as well give it a go without them. To his credit he did and it took him all of 3 minutes to pretty much nail it.

    Our youngest, Xavier, was different. This may be an interesting story for those with kids reluctant to let go of the training wheels. In terms of skill he was ready to drop the training wheels when he was still 4. However he was afraid of falling so refused. After numerous rides watching the training wheels (retracted as far as they could be) barely touch the ground except when cornering when they often caused him to lose control, I convinced him to give it a go. We tried on our street on the footpath. I gave him a little push and let go (silly me, it worked fine with Nathan) and he proceeded to stack straight away. He then stormed inside and refused to ride a bike again! Two minutes later after he calmed down I convinced him to try again but this time I'd make sure I wouldn't let him fall.

    In the time it took to get him outside I decided to get him to practice falling firstly to the left straight away and putting his foot out to stop the fall. Next to the right. After a practice on each I only had to launch and let go. He really found that fun and got his confidence up. Next I told him to fall to the left but then change his mind and fall to the right, then change his mind and fall to the left...you get the idea. Funny way around the problem but it instantly worked and within a few minutes he was riding up and down the street and deliberately crashing onto the grass next to the footpath for fun. Xavier is now five and recently did a 30km ride with us!
  • I started using bicycle at the age of 3. I had to bicycles at the age 3. One single side and one double side. Then later at the age of four, my dad got me a bicycle, one with the balance. I used to find it difficult to , then initially got used to it and then within a very short span of time I could drive cycle really well. That's about it. No special training was given. Just get your child , cycle one with balance. They 'll do it all themselves. :) cheers bro!!!
  • Steve-XcTSteve-XcT Posts: 267
    Nomad2 wrote:
    We didn't give our eldest son a bike to ride until he was 4. We never used balance bikes. He had his training wheels until he was 5 and one day when we were packing all the bikes in the car (and we had a lot of stuff to carry that day) we took the training wheels/stabilizers off to fit the bike in. When we got to the park we told Nathan that he might as well give it a go without them. To his credit he did and it took him all of 3 minutes to pretty much nail it.

    Our youngest, Xavier, was different. This may be an interesting story for those with kids reluctant to let go of the training wheels. In terms of skill he was ready to drop the training wheels when he was still 4. However he was afraid of falling so refused. After numerous rides watching the training wheels (retracted as far as they could be) barely touch the ground except when cornering when they often caused him to lose control, I convinced him to give it a go. We tried on our street on the footpath. I gave him a little push and let go (silly me, it worked fine with Nathan) and he proceeded to stack straight away. He then stormed inside and refused to ride a bike again! Two minutes later after he calmed down I convinced him to try again but this time I'd make sure I wouldn't let him fall.

    In the time it took to get him outside I decided to get him to practice falling firstly to the left straight away and putting his foot out to stop the fall. Next to the right. After a practice on each I only had to launch and let go. He really found that fun and got his confidence up. Next I told him to fall to the left but then change his mind and fall to the right, then change his mind and fall to the left...you get the idea. Funny way around the problem but it instantly worked and within a few minutes he was riding up and down the street and deliberately crashing onto the grass next to the footpath for fun. Xavier is now five and recently did a 30km ride with us!

    I can't really see the point in OWNING a balance bike... I've only go the one but it worked like your Nathan.
    He was proficient on a scooter ... happy with one leg in the air and as parents we more or less know they are up to it balance wise but do they ???

    If Nathan and my Ollie represent a "good balance kid" then the total time they need seems to be 2-3 minutes... (when they make their mind up) and we allow that some kids might take longer then longer is "hours" or "a weekend"

    I'd say ideally a teach your kid to ride place would use balance bikes for as long as needed but then move the kids to a real bike or if you had one you could borrow etc.. but if you spend more than a day with a "normally abled kid" on a balance bike and they haven't got it then they just aren't ready or motivated.

    Obviously we like to avoid negative motivation and scaring them.... but it seems to me that ideally you only really want a balance bike for 2-60 minutes and taking the pedals off seems more sensible???
  • Ed_PEd_P Posts: 12
    I would just like to say thank you very much for this thread; I am currently helping my nephew learn to ride and it has been fun to say the least but I have been running out of ideas, so this was a great help. :mrgreen:
  • Granddaughter I bought balance bike for is soon to be 8. Her parents never used the balance bike with her, or her younger sister. So she has no idea how to balance the bike I bought her. They got them both one of those 3 wheel scooters the steer when you lean. Neither of them can steer or sit up straight on the bikes they have here at our house. I take them out whenever they come here but it is getting ridiculous. Parents.don't have the time or patience to teach them. I go over the road to the local park but don't seem to be getting anywhere as we only see them a couple of times a month on our own to take them out.
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  • Ed_PEd_P Posts: 12
    We had another outing last night and he wanted to fall off and cut his hands... :oops: oh well, maybe I am not suited to being a teacher. :mrgreen:
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 4,040
    Steve-XcT wrote:
    Nomad2 wrote:
    We didn't give our eldest son a bike to ride until he was 4. We never used balance bikes. He had his training wheels until he was 5 and one day when we were packing all the bikes in the car (and we had a lot of stuff to carry that day) we took the training wheels/stabilizers off to fit the bike in. When we got to the park we told Nathan that he might as well give it a go without them. To his credit he did and it took him all of 3 minutes to pretty much nail it.

    Our youngest, Xavier, was different. This may be an interesting story for those with kids reluctant to let go of the training wheels. In terms of skill he was ready to drop the training wheels when he was still 4. However he was afraid of falling so refused. After numerous rides watching the training wheels (retracted as far as they could be) barely touch the ground except when cornering when they often caused him to lose control, I convinced him to give it a go. We tried on our street on the footpath. I gave him a little push and let go (silly me, it worked fine with Nathan) and he proceeded to stack straight away. He then stormed inside and refused to ride a bike again! Two minutes later after he calmed down I convinced him to try again but this time I'd make sure I wouldn't let him fall.

    In the time it took to get him outside I decided to get him to practice falling firstly to the left straight away and putting his foot out to stop the fall. Next to the right. After a practice on each I only had to launch and let go. He really found that fun and got his confidence up. Next I told him to fall to the left but then change his mind and fall to the right, then change his mind and fall to the left...you get the idea. Funny way around the problem but it instantly worked and within a few minutes he was riding up and down the street and deliberately crashing onto the grass next to the footpath for fun. Xavier is now five and recently did a 30km ride with us!

    I can't really see the point in OWNING a balance bike... I've only go the one but it worked like your Nathan.
    He was proficient on a scooter ... happy with one leg in the air and as parents we more or less know they are up to it balance wise but do they ???

    If Nathan and my Ollie represent a "good balance kid" then the total time they need seems to be 2-3 minutes... (when they make their mind up) and we allow that some kids might take longer then longer is "hours" or "a weekend"

    I'd say ideally a teach your kid to ride place would use balance bikes for as long as needed but then move the kids to a real bike or if you had one you could borrow etc.. but if you spend more than a day with a "normally abled kid" on a balance bike and they haven't got it then they just aren't ready or motivated.

    Obviously we like to avoid negative motivation and scaring them.... but it seems to me that ideally you only really want a balance bike for 2-60 minutes and taking the pedals off seems more sensible???
    Depends on their ages. My son was on his from about 18-20 months months and my daughter from 2 years and no way would they have been ready to go on a pedal bike after just a short time on the balance bike. My kids were on balance bikes way before we even considerd scooters. Balance bikes (good ones) have a much lower seat-height than any pedal bike I've ever seen and are far far lighter.

    My kids loved their balance bikes and used them until they got their first pedal bikes at 4yrs. Best thing was that the balance bikes massively extended their range when out on family walks. I think my 6yr old daughter would still use hers now from time to time if she could, but she's far to big for it now!
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  • mikpemmikpem Posts: 139
    Balance bikes are great for teaching kids, my lad has been on one since he was 18 months old, as he comes to my bike races he was itching to get on one and you should see the video of the look on his face when his grandparents turned up with it on Christmas day, he was falling over everything to get to it.
    He has since progressed from a Strider (lower seat height, very light) to an Early Rider Road Runner because he wanted a bike with daddy handlebars for racing cyclocross (he joined in a few of the the local under 8 races this year) and it encouraged him to stretch his legs and balance more. He has just got a 12" Specialized bike with pedals for his 3rd birthday and took to it like a duck to water, starting off needs a bit more practice but a quick push to give him some momentum and he's off and can come to a controlled stop.
    He loves being on his bike and if it wasn't for balance bikes we would have had a very frustrated little boy.
  • GingerDanGingerDan Posts: 2
    It's all been said in the tread i feel.
    My two boys started on balance bike made by Early rider, and went on to the early rider Belter, and then the early rider belter 20" trail. No stabilisers.

    Golden rule. No helmet - no bike.
  • I'm one of those that think balance bikes are great for teaching kids how to ride a bike. My son loved riding his. If anyone is interested you should check this article out. http://www.kidsbikeguru.com/teach-kid-to-ride-bike/ The whole site has been very helpful for me.
  • I learned with my Dad pushing me down an incline in an alleyway. Lol. Lots of bruises but I learned eventually.

    That's not the best way to do it though.

    Personally though? First post is best post in this regard
  • Good tips.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,860
    I got my daughter a bike with stabiliser when she was 2 1/4. She rode that till it fell apart. I got her a Isla bike for her 4th bithday. Again with stabiisers but her bike control was clearly not good enough to remove them. When she started school in september I ride with her every day to school My wife rides her home in the afternoon. within a month it was clear her bike control was good enough to remove her stabilisers. It took a less than a week of daily practice (10 minutes) with all the falls done in the first couple of days on grass. By the end of week she was riding without falling on pavement. Last week she was back too school after half term and she rides without issue. There are no falls.

    Balance bikes are therefore not essential. I did get my daughter one but the village we lived in was hilly and it was not useful. She will be 5 in december. The Isla bike was picked because the 16" wheeled model was 6kg.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,860
    I got my daughter a bike with stabiliser when she was 2 1/4. She rode that till it fell apart. I got her a Isla bike for her 4th bithday. Again with stabiisers but her bike control was clearly not good enough to remove them. When she started school in september I ride with her every day to school My wife rides her home in the afternoon. within a month it was clear her bike control was good enough to remove her stabilisers. It took a less than a week of daily practice (10 minutes) with all the falls done in the first couple of days on grass. By the end of week she was riding without falling on pavement. Last week she was back too school after half term and she rides without issue. There are no falls.

    Balance bikes are therefore not essential. I did get my daughter one but the village we lived in was hilly and it was not useful. She will be 5 in december. The Isla bike was picked because the 16" wheeled model was 6kg.

    They can pick it up pretty quickly.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • TashmanTashman Posts: 2,693
    My eldest we bough a bike with stabilisers as that's what we remembersed as kids, my youngest we went for the balance bike option. The youngest "got it" so much quicker as she relied on her natural instinct rather than the support of the bike. The balance bike is now on it's 4th owner after being passed around 3 families :)
  • Great post. Just wanted to say thank you for all the shared knowledge.
    I will just work on my patience a bit more and let my 2 year old carry on with his balance bike a bit longer. He is on it at every opportunity but walks with his legs and only occasionally push and lift them both up.
    I'll wait until I see both legs up in the air more before getting him a pedal bike :-)
  • everymorningeverymorning Posts: 1
    edited April 2017
    We have two boys. When the first of them would learn to ride a bike, he was pretty nervous and uncertain. He could not trample by himself so that he had enough speed to stabilize the movement. I always had to be there and push on. As soon as I took my hand away from his back he fell or stopped. Then one day, I took him to a little downhill. It leaned so much, that he could roll by himself, but not so much damfakta that the speed became too high. On the other hand, 20 yards away it was a little uphill. So when he rolled 10 yards down it went up and he stopped himself. This very day he learned to ride a bike. When his little swots brother tree years learn to ride a bike, we tried the same thing with the same good results.
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 3,951
    Finally got round to taking the stabilizers off our lad's bike. He's had access to scooters, balance bike and a trike. He could use all of them but never did tyre scooting along on the balance bike.

    We knew he had balance from 3 years when we got his bike with stabilizers. He tried it without while camping because the stabilizers were too hard to pedal on grass. He pedalled for almost 5 full revolutions before putting his foot down. The second time he fell. After that he lost interest. That was at 3.5 years. He's now 4.25 years and we're trying again. He refused all that time.

    Today we went to a gently sloped tarmac path with grass either side to fall on. It took about 5 runs before he got it. The way we did it was my partner held him steady and gently let go so he didn't notice. Very important that last bit because a push meant he put his foot down straight away. The only issue is that as soon as he realizes he's on his own he takes his feet off the pedals in case he falls.

    IMHO the hardest thing is giving him confidence. Encouragement helps a lot. Also i think it helps if you're not tall. I'm tall and bending over while running i found he never got stability. I am convinced i introduced instability not him because my much shorter partner never had this issue. As much as us dads want to be the one to teach our kids to ride in our case it's the mother that got him further on.

    Another thing that helped. We didn't have pedal spanners with us so he was initially using the bike as a balance bike. The seat hadn't been lifted so was a bit lower than it needed to be for his height. That helped because he was able to run with legs further out to avoid pedals. I've noticed he has more confidence on both balance and pedal bike if the seat is lower in relation to his height than you would normally think is best. I've known adult learners who found that out too.
  • Steve-XcTSteve-XcT Posts: 267
    Daz555 wrote:
    Depends on their ages. My son was on his from about 18-20 months months and my daughter from 2 years and no way would they have been ready to go on a pedal bike after just a short time on the balance bike.

    My kids were on balance bikes way before we even considerd scooters. Balance bikes (good ones) have a much lower seat-height than any pedal bike I've ever seen and are far far lighter.
    But not an advantage over a scooter in teaching kids to ride...
    I've nothing against balance bikes... I'm simply saying they don't have a purpose in learning to ride that's any different to a scooter or playing flamingos or training wheels or any other way to develop balance.

    As a toy they are fine (I don't mean toy in a bad way... we are talking about toddlers) ... but so are scooters... and training wheels and scooters are not some invention of the devil to prevent kids learning to ride. If they fit your life and kids have fun then great... but they are not needed.
    My kids loved their balance bikes and used them until they got their first pedal bikes at 4yrs. Best thing was that the balance bikes massively extended their range when out on family walks. I think my 6yr old daughter would still use hers now from time to time if she could, but she's far to big for it now!

    Yes but to point out scooters also extend the range but also are easier to carry ... (round supermarkets, while carrying kid etc.) ... but it's not good/bad...

    Up until 5 my kid had no interest in bikes... that was because his friends all had scooters... but when he went to school he suddenly developed an interest... and he asked for a "real bike"...
    I don't think it took him more than 2 minutes .. literally I took the stabilisers off gave him a push and that was it..
    So lets say he'd had a balance bike .. would it have taken 1 minute? 15 seconds etc.?? (I'm being a bit sarcastic just to make the point that saving 1 min and 59 seconds of learning wouldn't have been significant.)

    By far the most significant thing was he had chosen to want to ride without stabilisers... and he didn't have any negative fears from previous attempts etc.

    When a kid is ready its a matter of minutes if they have balance and no fear from failed attempts.

    We turned up to an local race Saturday... Given this was hosted by a serious cycling club and attended by other serious cycling clubs I'd bet half the kids or more like 80% did the balance bike thing "this is the only way"... but aged 6-7 it has no affect at all on their riding but it didn't help a learned on a balance bike kid to win.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,353
    Steve-XcT wrote:
    As a toy they are fine (I don't mean toy in a bad way... we are talking about toddlers) ... but so are scooters... and training wheels and scooters are not some invention of the devil to prevent kids learning to ride. If they fit your life and kids have fun then great... but they are not needed.

    When a kid is ready its a matter of minutes if they have balance and no fear from failed attempts.

    We turned up to an local race Saturday... Given this was hosted by a serious cycling club and attended by other serious cycling clubs I'd bet half the kids or more like 80% did the balance bike thing "this is the only way"... but aged 6-7 it has no affect at all on their riding but it didn't help a learned on a balance bike kid to win.

    No - a balance bike isn't NEEDED - but it can help develop balance.

    When a kid is ready (to ride without stabalisers) - but this is partly the point - knowing how to balance means the kid just learns to pedal whilst on the bike - rather than having to learn stability too - so the point of being ready comes earlier in their cycling experience. But that's going to vary depending on the child and their attitude to risk.

    Of course a balance bike isn't going to make them anymore likely to be the next Pro rider..

    FFS - it's not a competition - it's about the kid having fun - some kids won't "get" a balance bike - some kids won't be without it.

    My boy - at 2 - is now "riding" his balance bike - and loves riding with us and when he's ready, we'll get him a bike with pedals - no stabalisers.
  • drhaggisdrhaggis Posts: 771
    OK, so I am now the very proud father of a novel cyclist!

    While Haggis Jr. handled a two-wheel scooter pretty well, he had to overcome his fears. So we used a lot of patience, a gentle slope, and a pedal spanner. A bit of a confidence push and off he went! We're now both chuffed to no end.
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