We love to ride bikes together around the neighborhood, camping, wherever we can. I got my son his first bike with training wheels at 3 years old.
IS IT TIME TO TAKE OFF THE TRAINING WHEELS?
Skills of Bike Riding:
In order for your son or daughter to master the technique of riding a bike, they will need to learn a few skills first. If they know how to do the below skills, they are ready for their own bike without training wheels!
Balance – the most critical skill that needs to be learned is how to balance while movingPedal – one of the steps for riding a bike is learning the idea of pedaling in a circle to get your bike to go forward and pedaling backwards for stopping
Stop – Slowing down enough to put your foot out to stop is the next critical step
Steer – Putting this all together and learning how to turn while pedaling, balancing, and knowing when to stop is the final step
I fully support the philosophy of trial by error and allowing your kids to push their boundaries in a safe way. In other words, let them fall safely!
This means providing the right equipment at the right age. Allowing your kid to progress through the different stages of bikes allows them to gain the necessary skills to ride a bike with the least amount of stress or chance of serious injury.
They are able to take risks in each of the stages to gain the skills they need to eventually ride a bike without training wheels.
So what’s the best bike to buy for your 2 year old son? Or your 4 year old granddaughter? How do you give them the confidence to ride without training wheels? How do you help them learn the skills they need to prepare them to ride a bike without training wheels once they are ready?
Here is what we recommend based on our experience!
The Stages of Bikes by Age
Stage 1: The Pedal Tricycle, Recommend Ages: 18 months – 3 years
My oldest son got one of these Pedal Tricycles when he turned 18 months for Christmas. On this trike, he learned how to pedal and the idea behind it. His favorite part was the bell for sure. We also loved the cup holder, trunk to carry toys to the park, and removable handle to push him when he got tired or up hill.
Stage 2: The Balance Bike, Recommend Ages 3 – 5 years
When you buy the balance bike, definitely do your best your to get the right size bike for your little one. Most of the bikes have seats that go up and down, but make sure they can sit on the seat and their feet be able to touch the ground with their legs straight.
Stage 3: The Pedal Bike aka Big Kid Bike, Recommended Ages 5+ Years Old
Nine steps to riding a bike without stabilisers
1. Lower the seat and remove the pedals
Lowering the seat and removing the pedals enables the child to scoot along on the bike with both feet. Use this opportunity to provide instruction on using the brakes.
2. Giant steps
When the child is ready, encourage them forwards for about 10 metres using giant steps.
3. Kangaroo hops
Encourage the child forwards for about 10 metres using the hops.
4. Put one pedal back on
Either left or right, it doesn’t matter. Make sure the child is comfortable on the bike and feels secure. An easy way of doing this is to get them to do a little ‘wiggle’ with the brakes on.
5. One pedal scoot
With one foot on the pedal encourage the child to scoot forwards using the other foot. Make sure they are looking up. Stop after about 10 metres.
6. Both pedals on
Put the other pedal on. Do the ‘wiggle’ (with brakes on) to show that the bike is stable and safe.
7. First go
Hold the child, not the bike. Explain that you are going to hold their back and their shoulder/upper arm. Get the child to put their feet on the pedals and check that they are ready. Encourage them to look up, let go of their brakes and pedal. Walk forwards (still holding on to them) and slowly release your grip. Stop after three to five metres.
8. Second go
Do the ‘wiggle’ (with brakes on). Holding the child as before, get them to put both feet on the pedals. Encourage them to look up. If all clear, count down from three and encourage the child to let go of the brakes and pedal forwards. Let go after a few steps, then step back to exaggerate the distance they have travelled. Shout ‘stop’ after 5 - 10 metres. Now count out the paces so they can see how far they have gone.
9. Third go!
This time, reduce contact with the child by gripping their clothes with one hand and holding the bike handlebars with the other. Repeat steps as before, releasing them after only a few steps and letting them ride for as long as they wish.
“ To help them balance on their bike, encourage the child to look up, not down at the wheel or their feet ”
Things to remember when teaching children to cycle without stabilisers
Find a quiet, traffic-free area such as a cycle path or somewhere with short grass or smooth tarmac.A slight downwards slope can often help.Look out for hazards like pedestrians, dogs, balls and vehicles.Ensure that pedals are replaced correctly.