“It’s as easy as riding a bike …”
Oh, as if those words were as true to our tikes who are learning to ride those two-wheel bikes for the first time! Between the ages of 4 and 6, most children will learn to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time, with an average age of just above 5 years old, according to Cleary Bikes. But children develop at different times so some may begin earlier or later, depending on what is right for them.
Most experts are that parents should assess your child’s readiness and take their lead. Pushing your child too soon or forcing them to learn when they’re not ready may backfire, said Today’s Parent.
“Many different physical and mental developmental factors can influence when a child is ready and can learn to ride a bike by themselves,” said Cleary Bikes. “By the age of four, most kids will be able to follow instructions and have developed the natural balance, agility and physical leg strength required to ride a bike.”
When your child is physically and emotionally ready to learn, get a properly fitted helmet and bike. Many stores offer height charts, which can properly match your child to their right size. Most children’s starter bikes are 14 or 16 inches. Today’s Parent recommends that “your child’s feet should touch the ground with straight legs when he or she is sitting on the seat.” They also recommend a lighter bike without hand brakes—kids should learn to ride and brake by backward pedal.
Vital bike skills to first master are getting on and off the bike comfortably, tiptoeing and scooting on the bike, and gliding or coasting for a few feet while upright to get the feel, according to Cleary Bikes.
When the time comes, take your child to a large flat area with minor obstacles such as a park, patio or unobstructed sidewalk. Children should always be supervised when learning to ride, but parents should especially watch for motorists, cyclists or pedestrians.
And they’re off! Well, ideally of course. Begin with your hand at the seat of the bike while your child pedals with one foot and then gains confidence to place their other foot on the pedal. Stay with your child until they have good balance, then let go as soon as you feel they can handle it—even if that means a likely soft fall. Those experiences will give them the assurance that they can keep going the next time, said Today’s Parent.
Some children can learn to ride a bike in one afternoon while others take weeks or months. The key is making it a fun process while emphasizing the benefits of bike riding to your child.
Cleary Bikes emphasizes: “Riding is a skill that is both great exercise and helps kids build confidence and independence. Remember to keep things fun and avoid putting too much pressure on kids to master riding immediately. When you let kids learn at their own pace and speed, you’ll both enjoy the process much more.”
Want to get a leg up on bike riding? Try a Balance Bike.
Today, many cycling experts advise against using training wheels. One
of the hottest toys on the market, balance bikes are a popular solution to teaching the mechanics of bike riding without the crutch of training wheels. Plus, balance bikes are recommended for children as young as 2 years
old! Balance bikes have no pedals and allow young children to easily learn balance, said Kindercare. Once they are ready for a two-wheeler, most experts agree they can more easily transition from a balance bike.