How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike

If you’ve just bought your little one their first kids’ bike, then you probably have a few questions when it comes to teaching a child to ride a bike. Mastering the skills need to ride a bike will give them confidence and a first taste of independence.

There will be a few bumps, scrapes and the occasional tantrums while learning how to ride a bike, but all-in-all, it’s usually one of the most exciting experiences a parent and their child can experience together. If your child is ready to learn how to ride a bike (and you’re ready to teach your child to ride a bike!) then this guide is for you. Helmets on, let’s get started!

Grab a helmet

There will be a few bumps, scrapes and the occasional tantrums while learning how to ride a bike, but all-in-all, it’s usually one of the most exciting experiences a parent and their child can experience together. If your child is ready to learn how to ride a bike (and you’re ready to teach your child to ride a bike!) then this guide is for you. Helmets on, let’s get started!

As a good rule of thumb, your kid’s bike helmet should be level, with a gap of about an inch or two fingers between the eyebrow and the helmet. The straps and adjustments should also be firm, but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable for them. For extra help on how to get the right size, take a look at our advice article.

 

Pick the right environment

If your child is just starting to learn how to ride a bike, they might not feel comfortable or confident riding with lots of other people around. Start your bike learning in your back garden, or find a quiet route so they can concentrate and ride without pressure.

It may feel more natural to get them to cycle on grass first to help soften any falls, but the spongy surface can actually make it trickier for your child to grip and pedal properly. Instead, the best way to learn to ride a bike is by riding on tarmac as the harder surface will aid balance. Once they’re making good progress, you can start to explore some of our favourite traffic-free UK routes.

Focus on balance

kids balance bike

When teaching kids how to ride, a lot of parents focus on getting pedalling right from the start. However, the biggest challenge when it comes to safely learning to ride a bike is actually balancing. Try doing slow rides down small hills or slopes with their feet still on the pedals to see how your child balances. Once they get this part of it right, the pedalling process should naturally just happen without any major fuss.

For children up to four years old, a balance bike may be a better starting point. Balance bikes don’t have any pedals, so children can simply push along with their feet then glide on two wheels to practice balancing.

 

Start with stabilisers

riding with stabilisers

If your child is struggling to stay upright, then confidence could be a factor. This is where a pair of bike stabilisers can do the hard work while letting them focus on building confidence while cycling. Bike stabilisers simply attach onto the hub of the rear wheel and support your child’s weight on each side, so there isn’t any need to balance. Teaching a child to ride a bike with stabilisers attached is easier, but understand that, as they get older (and get jealous of children riding without them) they’ll have to learn to ride without stabilisers at some point.

Aide Bike Stabilisers 12-20"

A set of Aide Bike Stabilisers can be attached to pretty much any kids bike, providing support as they figure out steering, control and pedalling. You won’t need any additional tools and they can be adjusted depending on the size and shape of the bike.

Eyes on the prize

When learning how to ride a bike for the first time, children can struggle to keep their eyes firmly focused on the path ahead as they’re drawn towards the parent trying to teach them. When learning how to ride, ask your child to look at a certain object in front and just use their ears to listen to any instructions you need to give. This will help them pick up the art of balancing a lot more quickly.

Little and often

One of the most important elements to remember is to not overtire them. Trying to master the art of learning to ride a kids bike isn’t always easy, so encourage them to do it for small periods of time, but on a frequent basis.

According to Cycling Weekly, it roughly takes a child around 45 minutes in total to learn to ride a bike. So try breaking every lesson into 5-10 minute periods to keep their minds’ fresh and focused. After all, you don’t want your little one to do it for a longer time and start to feel disheartened. You should always help them finish on a high as well, by reminding them about all the great progress they made during that particular session.

Get some extra help

Once your little one is whizzing around on their bike, it’s always worth thinking about a few extra lessons to keep them safe when they embark on their next two-wheeled adventure. Here at Halfords, we work closely with instructors to help them run Bikeability – the UK’s government cycle education programme.

There are three fun levels for children to complete, all of which are designed to provide them with new skills, confidence and awareness when riding a bike. To find out more about this wonderful scheme, take a look at our Bikeability blog post.

Learning how to ride a bike is a life lesson that we don’t forget. As adults, we may have mastered the complex skills needed to ride a bike, but for some kids it can be a challenge that may take some time. Enjoy the process and take pride in teaching a child how to ride a bike because you’re passing on to the next generation something that will bring them a huge amount of pleasure – and if they cycle a lot, a little leg pain too!

Good luck!

 

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