Learning to ride a two-wheeled kids bike is best accomplished in multiple steps. Ideally, the child should have a tricycle before they even learn to walk. It is important to remember that a tricycle should be used on flat services, preferably in a contained area, or even indoors. Remember, tricycles have no brakes and can easily get away! While kids don’t learn balance on a tricycle, they will learn steering and pedaling. At about age 2 1/2, you can start looking at kids bikes with training wheels. Remember that there should always be a little “lean” in the bike. Adjust the training wheels at slightly different heights to force your child to balance.
Kids learn balance at different ages. Typically this is somewhere between 4 and 9 years of age. A good way to teach balance prior to conquering a kids bike is on a scooter. You can try teaching your child to ride a bike as early as 3 years old, but until they master balance, it will be frustration for both of you. The age for kids to ride a bike depends on several things. They must be physically capable and mentally ready to learn, their comfort level needs to be reached, and it must be fun. If it’s not fun, your kid won’t learn.
So your child is ready for adventure, and you are ready for them to take off on their bike in the fresh air? Don’t buy a specialized kids bike at this point, you just want them to learn to ride and they will outgrow it in a hurry. Here are a few graduated steps you can take to help them on their way.
· Have your child sit on the bike. Make sure it is not too small. He should be able to sit on the seat with both feet flat on the ground and legs straight. Now have him “scoot” the bike and get a sense of balance.
· Once he is scooting, have him pick up his feet and coast a little. You can give a little nudge from the back. This will force him to balance the bike. Have him practice applying the brakes. At a young age, pedal brakes are much easier for small children, as they may not have the hand strength for hand brakes.
· Balance looking good? Have him turn and steer. Perhaps go around a few obstacles while coasting.
· Do a check. Can your child look up while coasting and steering? Can he turn well? Is there a smile on his face?
· Now let’s pedal. You are probably going to have to help a little here. Never hold onto the handle bars, you want your child to steer. Don’t hold the back of the seat, you are balancing for him. Hold his shoulders. It’s awkward, but he will feel the pressure of your hands as you balance him and learn to do it on his own.
Once your child is riding, there are many specialized kids bikes available from the lightweight aluminum frames to mountain bikes to speed shifters. Have fun with this and remember the old adage, “it’s like riding a bike… “