The Best Way To Teach Your Child To Ride

I used the below method for teaching my 5 1/2 year old daughter to ride her bike.  One day she told me she wanted me to take off her training wheels and she wanted to learn to ride.  We first tried the method of me walking behind her with much frustration.  Then, I told her I wanted to try the method I had read about in Bicycling magazine.

She rolled down the hill a few times dragging her feet. Then after a few times she started picking up her feet as she rolled. after about 10 times she was going down the hill the whole way without her feet touching the ground. I told her to just start pedaling at the bottom of the hill and off she road.

Article from Bicycling Magazine June 2003

By BICYCLING editors

Helping your child learn to pedal a two-wheeler is a milestone-and an unforgettable experience for both of you. Here's BICYCLING's preferred method, which differs from the traditional run-beside-the-bike way most of us were taught. We've found that it results in fewer crashes and a faster learning time-many kids begin spinning on their own within 15-20 minutes.

  1. Remove the training wheels and lower the saddle so your child can put his or her feet flat on the ground when seated.
  2. Find a grassy field with a gentle downhill of 30 yards or so. Short grass is better because tall grass sucks momentum. The ideal area runs out to a slight uphill to slow the child gradually.
  3. Strap on the child's helmet. Tuck in shoelaces.
  4. Midway up the hill, hold the bike while your child gets on. Have him or her put both feet on the ground, then let go of the bike.
  5. Tell your child to lift his or her feet about an inch and coast down the hill without pedaling. Try not to hold the bike to steady your child. Because the child is coasting slowly, he or she can put his or her feet sown if scared.
  6. Repeat until your child feels comfortable coasting and doesn't put his or her feet down to stop. He or she might want you to run beside the bike the first few times; do so, but don't hold the bike. Let your child feel the balance.
  7. Now have your child put his or her feet on the pedals and coast down. After several runs, have him or her begin pedaling as he or she rolls.
  8. Repeat until your child feels comfortable, then move up the hill. After another run, raise the saddle and go to a flat part of the field or a cul-de-sac to ride loops and to practice turning, braking and starting from a standstill.

If This Doesn't Work
Before you go to the run-beside-the-bike method try this:

  1. On a level surface, hold the back of the saddle as you push the bike at a walking pace.
  2. Reassure the child that you won't let go, and tell him or her you'll play The Balance Game.
  3. As you push, gently swing the saddle from side to side transitioning to larger motions as your child gains confidence and proficiency. This teaches your child how to adjust the handlebar and his or her body to maintain balance-the key step to riding a bike.
  4. Play this game for 5-10 minutes, then go back to the hill.

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