Jayn_Newell, once you are able to ride a bike, the seat should be raised so your knee is almost straight when your foot is on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke. When you have the seat low enough to stand with your feet flat on the ground, it is more difficult to transfer energy to the pedals. As a teen I had the seat low and I tried a friends bike who had it set higher, I immediately raised my own seat as it made a HUGE difference in comfort and effort. When you stop, you’ll have to stand up over the crossbar since the seat is too high to stop and reach the ground.
cormac262 covered my feelings WRT kittenblues question…well done!
long pants (jeans preferable)
bike that fits (if it’s too big, they won’t want to try it when they can’t touch the ground).
wide vacant area with short (30-50 ft?) gentle slope
The mittens are indispensible since when the fall (a lot) they aren’t scraping up their hands. Same with long sleeves and pants. The slope is needed so they don’t have to worry too much about pedalling, and the faster you move the easier it is to balance.
Teach them (and remind them) about braking…lots
Our 5 year old twins are now seasoned veterans. We got bikes for them when they were 3 and left the training wheels on for them since I didn’t want them to be afraid of the bike. I figured that if they fell down every time the got on, they wouldn’t want to use it. The used the training wheels the first summer.
The second summer (age 4) I took off the training wheels and they practiced with us running along beside and behind. They would get scared and take one hand off the handlebars to reach for us and then crash. They gradually tired of this and didn’t want to ride any more. We didn’t push them towards it. Then we had friends over and the kids excitedly wanted to show them their bikes and they forced our friends to push them around. Then, in an instant, they got it! And the excitement and fun they had was incredible. Our friends had left and we took them down to a parking lot of a construction site (virgin pavement with no stones or broken glass, and completely empty on the weekend).
They rode and fell and got back on and rode again for about 2 hours. We went back the next day and the difference in ability was unbelievable. The rest period between riding sessions must have allowed their brains to process the sensations and better understand the mechanics of riding. Their ability to steer, ride without falling and confidence was incredible. If I had seen them on that day only, I would have expected that they had learned long ago.
They’ve praticed in the vacant parking lot many times and then we went on a long ride on a converted rail-trail this spring. We rode for 7 kilometers. We’ve been doing these types of treks frequently now and we’re loving it! I haven’t raised the kids seats yet, since they don’t have the ability to stand up and pedal (the bikes are still too small…and I can’t wait to get bigger ones and go for some reall rides!).