How To Teach a Child To Ride a Bike (In 4 Steps)
We all remember our first bike ride. The feeling of excitement. The freedom (and no small bit of fear!). You took your time and went at your own pace.
Soon enough, cycling through cobbled streets or escaping to the countryside was at your fingertips (weather permitting). And the best thing about it was - there was no right age to learn to ride a bike (and there still isn’t) - here at Bobbin, we think - the sooner the better.
So keep scrolling to find out how to teach a child to ride a bike.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before they start to learn, there are a few things we recommend checking. Let’s dive in:
First thing’s first; getting the size right will make learning to ride ten times easier. Grab a tape measure, and measure their inside leg. This takes into account the distance from the saddle to the pedal.
So long as their inside leg is within the size guide for that particular bike, they’ll be comfortable on the bike. If they’re in between sizes: size up for confident riders, or stick lower if they’re a beginner.
You can even browse our kids bike collection right here.
Next up, assembly. There are 3 key areas to take into account: stabilisers, saddle height, and handlebar height. The stabilisers can easily be attached and removed behind the rear wheel nut.
Top tip: take a 10mm spanner out with you so you can remove the stabilisers once they’re ready.
For both the handlebars and saddle, it’s important not to pass the minimum insertion line. Both of these settings are down to personal preference. Higher handlebars will give a more upright riding position - lower will feel more like a racing adult bike.
A lower saddle may feel safer, but higher up will make it easier to pedal. We’ll let you decide on this one - there are no wrong answers!
Everyone learns at a different pace, at a different time. It’s totally okay for their stabilisers to be on for 1 hour or 1 year!
Tarmac or not Tarmac, there is no question.
Before taking to luscious country parks, we recommend learning on tarmac. This gives a smooth, even surface, ensuring pedalling is easy, with no tricky and unmanageable terrain to combat.
Top tip: a slightly sloped surface will allow them to gain some forward momentum, increasing confidence early on.
Wear a helmet and stay visible!
Check out our helmet size guide, and make sure it fits them comfortably by using the adjustable straps, extra padding, and clip. We’ve got loads more accessories to keep them safe too. Be sure to get some tassels to fly behind them as they cycle off into the distance!
With the Bike
So, they’ve received their brand new Bobbin bike. Now it's time to get pedalling.
This stage can be the most daunting, and often takes the longest. What’s this strange new 2 wheeled vehicle in front of me? Be patient, and let them get used to the feel of the bike. They can stand over it and walk it a few paces at a time. More than anything - let them get used to the feel of it at this point.
So they’ve had a few strolls round the block with their 2 wheeled companion. Next up - let them sit on the saddle, and have them push off with their feet as above. If they’re confident, getting them around other riders at this point can be great, and ignite a lot of the joy of cycling. If they’re more shy, keeping them on their own may be more helpful as they concentrate on themselves.
By this point, they’re ready to become fully fledged all terrain cyclists. It’s best to get them somewhere open with lots of space to explore. Believe us, they’re going to love flying away on this bike, and you’ll need to run after them. They’ll often have one foot off the floor at this point, so helping them learn to balance is key.
With the new feeling of freedom on the horizon, it’s time for them to get excited. From here, it’s helpful to get them used to all sorts of new terrain, and practice new things like going up/down hill, and cornering. All you need to do is stay nearby for any accidental topples, and enjoy watching them on their new adventure!
(Image Credit: Instagram/@ajemackie)
Bikes with stabilisers
Brand new bike! Ah! Must look down to feel safe.
We see this reaction in first time riders all the time. It’s totally natural. But we recommend getting them to look forward from the off. Not only does this help with balance, but avoids any accidental bumps and crashes en route.
Little and often
It takes everyone a different amount of time to learn. But it’s usually best to break this down into 5-10 minute sessions. Keep them interested and excited, and they’ll be flying along in no time.
The benefit of stabilisers is the balancing aspect of riding is all taken care of. This can be a great opportunity to get them used to some of the more technical bits and bobs. You can have them place their foot on the pedal whilst you rotate them gently by hand, so they get used to the motion. Then ask them to recreate this themselves.
Once they’ve got the hang of the above, you’ll want to teach them to brake. Hold them on the bike as they pedal, and practice coming to a gradual stop. You can demonstrate this by showing them the effect of squeezing the brakes gently and powerfully.
Bikes without stabilisers
Lower the saddle
Initially, it can help to lower the saddle slightly. This helps with balance, as they have a lower centre of gravity, and will make them more comfortable in case they need an emergency stop.
Remove a pedal and dance the 1 pedal scoot
This brings a sense of familiarity and groundedness to otherwise unfamiliar territory. Removing one pedal allows them to practice pedalling with one foot, and scooting along with the other, a la balance bike riding. Once they’re confident with this, you can add the second pedal.
Make them feel comfortable
The easiest way to do this is have them sit on the bike, both pedals attached and stationary. Have them hold the brakes, and give the bike a little “wiggle” from side to side. This shows them the bike is steady, safe, and nothing to be frightened of.
You can keep hold of their clothes from either side as they take their first few rotations. As they gain confidence, let go of them to balance on their own for a few rotations, before catching them again. This will help build confidence, and you can leave them on their own for longer each time.
Now - It’s Cycling Time
So, you’re now an expert at teaching your little one how to ride a bike. Remember - everyone learns at their own pace. The most important thing at this stage is to let them enjoy this very exciting new adventure - and, of course, to look super cool on their Bobbin. Good luck, and happy cycling!