So Long, Training Wheels

Parents don’t fret, teaching your child to ride a bike can be stress-free

Photograph courtesy flickr/Ed Yourdon

It’s a day every parent looks forward to: teaching their child how to ride a bike. It’s a milestone that’s fraught with potential hiccups—scraped knees (or worse), frustration, and stress. Hey, it’s not easy to let go.

That’s why we’re here to help. Becoming one big happy cycling family has never been so easy.

Before you get started, make sure you have all the safety equipment your child needs, like a helmet, which is required by California law, and knee and elbow pads, which we recommend.

Now that your child is ready to jump on, here are some things to consider:

Lower the seat and take the pedals off. Allow your child to use his or her feet to scoot the bike forward to get a feel for balance.

Once he or she (and you) are comfortable, challenge them to raise their feet from the ground so they can coast. From there, ask your child to turn left and right.

As you observe your child, make sure they are looking forward. It’s a good indicator of how comfortable they are feeling on the bike. Once you both feel confident and excited about bike riding, put the pedals back on.

Get your child on the bike with one foot on a pedal and the other foot on the ground. Initially, one pedal should be slightly higher than the other.

Have your child press down on the pedal to build momentum and then begin to pedal with both feet. Feel free to grab the back of the seat to help with balance. The goal here is for your child to begin pedaling while feeling comfortable on the bike in longer increments. They should be making turns and braking, too. Once they’re able to do each of these things, you have a new bike rider in the family.

Remember these important things:

  • Have patience. Some children need more than one day to learn.
  • Have fun. If you make riding a bike fun, it will be easier for your kid to learn.
  • This is way easier than teaching a teenager how to drive.

Watch this video by REI for some additional pointers.