A right of passage most adults vividly remember is first learning to ride a bike. That feeling of anxiety mixed with exhilaration when our parents or trusted adult first let go of the seat and we took off, wobbling and shaking while we attempted to balance is a memory many of us cherish.

Whether you are the parent, guardian, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend of a child, one of the best gifts you can give that child is teaching them to ride a bike. But while we may have learned with training wheels and no pads or helmets, the bumps, bruises, and scrapes have led to a new and safer approach that teaches kids to balance on a bike before pedaling.

Safety First!

Before you help your kid learn to ride a bike, make sure you have the right safety gear on hand. Helmets, knee and elbow pads, and sneakers are the foundation for bike safety. If you need help finding the right safety equipment to fit your growing kid and at the right price, keep reading to the end of the article!

Why Teach Balance Before Pedaling?

Old-school training uses training wheels to keep the bike balanced while the child is mastering the circular motion of pedaling. However, once you finally remove the training wheels, your kid is back at the starting line, trying to balance on a wobbly bike! The balance first method is a more effective approach that will teach your child to ride a bike in no time.

Related: Buying A Used Bicycle The Smart Way

Four Simple Steps to Helping a Kid Learn to Ride a Bike

Step 1: Walk the Bike With No Pedals

To help a very young child learn to ride a bike, a balance bike with no pedals might be an ideal place to start. Alternatively, simply removing the pedals from a regular bike for slightly older kids may be sufficient.

Your child should be able to easily walk the bike while comfortably seated. The child’s feet should be flat on the ground or their heels off the ground by up to an inch. The idea is to provide a sense of comfort because the child can still touch the ground. When the rider has more control over the bike, move on to step 2.

MEr ride a bike balance is everythingStep 2: Balance and Coast on the Bike With Feet Up

Then, with feet up, encourage your child to freewheel down a very slight slope. This will help them adjust to momentum and balance without making them nervous. Turn this exercise into a fun game by counting off (1-2-3-4-5! etc.). Once the aspiring bike rider has mastered balancing and can coast consistently for 15 seconds, the pedals can go back on.

Step 3: Teach Use of the Brakes

Before the child starts to pedal, they need to know how to stop. Even dare-devils may feel nervous starting down a path without knowing how to slow down. This also can prevent injuries from kids dragging their feet along the ground to stop.

  • Coaster Brakes: Hold the bike while the child is on it and have them practice pressing on the brakes. This will help them get a feel for when the brake engages and how it feels to gradually slow to a stop.
  • Hand Brakes: While the child walks alongside the bike, have them use the hand brakes, so they learn how much pressure to use when they do ride the bike.

Step 4: Pedal the Bike

You’ve made it! Now that your child can balance and break, the time has come to start pedaling. Hold onto the child’s side while they learn to pedal the bike and teach them how to start from a stopped position – one foot on the ground and the other on the pedal at the 2 o’clock position. By pushing down on the pedal, they can generate immediate momentum – the key to balancing. Then its just a matter of practice makes perfect before your kiddo is zooming past you on Colorado Springs’ beautiful bike trails.

Be sure to have your phone ready, so you never forget the grand sight of your child riding confidently away from you!

Kids on Bikes’ Pedal Station Inside MER is Your One-Stop Shop for Bikes and Accessories

MER is proud to partner with Kids on Bikes, a local Colorado non-profit whose mission is to inspire and empower all kids to lead healthy, active, and happy lives through bicycling. As part of this partnership, Kids on Bikes has opened Pedal Station inside our store on Bott Street in Colorado Springs. Pedal Station is your one-stop shop for used bicycles for any budget and carries a wide assortment of new and used parts and accessories.

Stop by our outdoor gear consignment store today to see what products we have in stock, or just to say hi.  We love getting to know everyone in our community!

MER | Great Gear. Greater Cause.