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Teach your kids to ride a bike, no pedals required

May is National Bike Month and what better way to celebrate than teach your kids how to learn to ride. 2012 Trekaroo Superoo PCDoctorNC shares the scoop on how to get even the most timid riders on two wheels? Does it work? Well after learning about the method I used it with my two kids and they were riding around the cul de sac in no time!

As a new parent, I couldn’t wait to help my child reach the milestone of learning to ride a “2-wheeler.” My daughter was about 6 years old when we went to the local bike shop and purchased her first bicycle equipped with training wheels. Unfortunately, I was more excited about the experience than my daughter was. A couple of minor spills caused by those training wheels was all it took for my daughter to abandon the bike and return to her battery-powered Barbie Jeep.

I finally convinced my daughter to ride a trailer bike (no front wheel or brakes), which attached to my bike. This allowed her to get the feel of a bike without the possibility of taking a spill. It also was a way to get our daughter to join us on bike outings.

As my daughter reached the maximum weight capacity of the trailer bike, I began to research different methods for teaching a child how to ride a 2-wheeler. Thanks to Google and YouTube, I found a method that was simple, painless and successful. Here’s how it works:

  1. Remove the pedals from the child’s bicycle.
  2. Set the seat low enough so the child can touch the ground with enough force to stop.
  3. Locate a safe place to practice that has a very slight slope. We used a local church’s parking lot during the week when it was empty of cars.
  4. Have the child get seated on the bike and begin “walking” it with their feet. Once they’re comfortable on the bike, encourage them to build up a little speed (this is where the slope comes in) and have them lift their feet off the ground. With practice, they’ll be balancing without touching the ground.

On our third trip to the parking lot, my daughter asked me to put the pedals back on the bike. She gave herself a push and began pedaling like she had been riding a bike for years. My wife and I were ecstatic, and my daughter was grinning from ear to ear.

For more information, check out Bike New York’s “Learn to Ride” video on YouTube.

A personal note on buying that first bicycle- I recommend going with hand brakes versus a pedal brake. If you’re concerned about your child going over the handlebars because they panicked and squeezed the brakes too quick, keep the front wheel brake (usually the left one) slack enough to it only helps slow them down. Let the rear brake do all the work and teach them, “The right brake is the right one to use”.

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4 Responses to Teach your kids to ride a bike, no pedals required

  1. brigitta May 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    I am so glad you posted this because I’ve been slacking on getting my 6 year old out on her bike. She does the Trail-A-Bike thing attached to my bike but nothing solo yet. This was just the inspiration I needed!

  2. Linda May 14, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    This is exactly what we did with my oldest. At age 8, he was still sticking with the training wheels. We had promised each of the kids a new bike when they learned to ride without them. My two middle children did well with an uncle helping with the traditional “run alongside and balance” method, but the oldest child just wasn’t getting it that way. We took the training wheels off an old bike and he got the hang of it very quickly.

    (This turned out to be somewhat bad timing, because my three older children learned to ride their two-wheelers in a span of a week and a half. Kind of tough on the pocketbook!)

  3. Maud Rothell August 23, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    Thanks so much for an educational blog. I’ve been looking around for this kind of data for a long time now.

  4. jeffthomsan1 April 28, 2014 at 3:33 am #

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience. I think using training wheels is a bad idea mainly because the don’t prepare the child for the balancing act. I think using a balance bike is preferable. Between, Glad to hear that you daughter managed to ride 🙂

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