Parents who are cycling enthusiasts and are keen on going on mountain bike holidays with their children will have to first teach their little ones how to ride a bike. However, as many mums and dads know, this is easier said than done.
Lots of children are nervous about riding without stabilisers for the first time as they are scared they will fall off, which is why encouraging them to trust their balance can be extremely difficult. Here are some tips on teaching your child how to ride, so the whole family can enjoy bike trips in no time.
Get rid of stabilisers
While stabilisers offer children the feeling of security as they stop the bike from tipping, they prevent the child from balancing on the bike.
Former British national championships medial holder Isla Rowntree told Bike Radar: “[Stabilisers] hold the bike in a rigid upright position, so they don’t lean the bike in order to balance and steer.”
Get the right bike
To provide the right conditions for your child to learn quickly and confidently, it is important the bike is appropriate for them. Get a bike that is not too big or heavy; and position the saddle so the balls of their feet are on the ground to get their balance, but they cannot place their feet flat, as this makes pedalling and steering difficult.
We work with children’s bike brand Frog who develop children’s bikes with sports scientists at Brunel University. Every detail of the Frog bike is designed to instil confidence from day 1. Lightweight bikes mean riders can balance, pedal, and stop with more control. Plus easy to reach brake levers make controlling speed a breeze.
One of the easiest ways to learn how to ride is to do so without pedals first. This will teach your youngster to scoot along on the bike using their feet. While they will still need to learn to pedal later, encouraging them to ride and lift their legs every ten metres or so will improve their confidence with balance.
When getting them to pedal for the first time, hold the child’s body, not the bike. After they release the brakes, get them to look up and pedal, while you continue to walk alongside them holding on to their back. After a few metres, let go and show your youngster how far they have travelled by themselves.