Advice on teaching my kid how to ride a bike.

Any kid around here would die of heatstroke in minutes trying to learn to ride dressed like that in the summer.

I don’t remember what age I was when I learned to ride, or if/when I had training wheels, but I do remember learning to ride by coasting down my neighbor’s front lawn hill (very low hill). Then I advanced to the drivway and road.

I love cantara’s suggestion of long pants and sleeves and mittens. I have permanent scars on my knees from constantly having fallen down on them 20+ years ago. It never failed that every summer I’d completely olbiterate them by falling off some sort of bike. If the kid shuns kneepads, insist on jeans. I don’t know why my hands were sparred, though, but mittens make a lot of sense.

My daughter had never ridden a bike before. She was about 7 years old.

I brought her down to the nearby park. It has a moderately steep grass slope that levels out into a huge flat grass field. I had her put her feet on the pedals as I held the bike upright. After showing her how, I told her to coast down the hill. The bike picked up speed quite quickly which allowed her to balance more easily. The slower the speed, the harder it is to balance. As she neared the bottom of the slope, I told her to start pedaling hard. The bike was going fast enough so keeping it balanced was easy. She took off across the field and didn’t stop until she had ridden about 100 yards. That was it, she didn’t even need the slope any more after that first try.

Am I the only one who thinks knee scars are awesome, and I wouldn’t be the same person without them? Granted, I got mine slipping on a shoddily-maintained basketball court (I scored, though!), not on a bike, but still. Anyway, that brings me to my next point:


I got so frustrated with the process that I whined and whined until my parents let me give up, and now I can’t ride a bike. Life at Mega State University would’ve been much easier if I’da gone through with it, lemme tell ya.

My suggestion for the long sleeves, pants and mittens is to allow the kid to fall without getting scuffed up enough to want to quit. They will fall…a lot. If they fall and get scraped on the pavement and can see blood in a wound, then they will probably freak out and not want to keep going. With the mittens on, they can fall down on their hands and probably get a red mark where they can see they landed, but not so bad that it has caused any serious damage.

The mittens we used (are still using) are really thin knitted mittens, so they are ventilated and they can still feel the handlebars. They don’t need the padding, just the layer to scrape along the ground instead of their skin.

I haven’t read the other advice, but I was something of a special case. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was a senior in high school (I got a bike for graduation). At first my father tried to hold the bike up while I tried to ride it but that failed. I’m a klutz anyway and balance didn’t really come to me. After a few frustrating days of trying, he took a co-worker’s advice and told me to just let the bike roll down the slight hill in front of our house, just learning to balance.

After I could do that, I started to just pick up my feet and put them on the pedals, at least for a moment. Eventually I progressed to being able to ride, but not without a bunch of bruises on my calves where the pedals whipped around and dinged me.

A brief explanation of why a bicycle remains upright (gyroscopic effect of the spinning wheels). From there you should explain that turning left or right requires leaning while turning the front wheel. A little lean with a little steering. That is what a child ultimately learns to do, lean. From there you can use the method described above where the seat is lowered until the feet touch the ground. The child and go-cart it around until steering feels natural. A very slight hill helps the process and I mean an almost imperceptible hill.

My own experience was with training wheels but the day I learned I did it myself on a neighbors sidewalk that had a very slight slope to it.

Aculy the gyroscopic effect is pretty minimal. Most of the stability is due to (IIRC) trail. Basically if you tip the bike to the left the wheel turns to the left.


Not if you reduce the weight of the spinning wheel. The bike becomes much less stable. I’ll admit I can’t do the math but I have done the physical tests and… Ow.

Either that, or just put one training wheel on, rather than two.

I learned from my friends. Until I was ten years old, the only place I had to ride my bike was a small, extremely uneven cement patio, so I didn’t get a chance to REALLY learn until I was about eleven. And then I learned in just about an hour or so, with my friends.

Of course, right after I finally got it, I told my mother to come out and watch me. She did, and as I was running along side my bike, I tripped over the peddle, and fell down flat on my face. :smack:

It helps if you can start learning in the fall, or when the weather is cooler, so you if you fall, you’re wearing long pants and long sleeves. That way, you get less scrapes. That was also the case with me.

I was told that the proper height of the seat should be-your feet on tippy toes when you’re on the seat, and your feet flat when straddling the bar.

Damn, I miss riding my bike. I still have my old ten speed-I wonder if it would be any good (the tires probably need replaced, and the seat raised, but that’s it).

It all depends on the kid. Kid Kalhoun was more than ready to rock it when he was four. I bought the bike, sans training wheels, gave him a couple pushes, and he was rolling in no time. Another kid might have freaked. Not my boy. He was riding kamakaze missions into brick walls when he was three. This was a natural progression.

In-line skates for the parent/coach makes supporting the bike much easier.

It depends how old your little one is.
I started cycling around age 10. My Dad said he’d teach me. (I trusted him :cool: ).
So he says he’ll hold the back of the bike and stop me falling. I cautiously set off at about 2 miles / per hour (mph) and start to get the idea of balancing. Whenever I look round, there he is.
After some time, I go faster. When I’m confidently doing about 20 mph, I wonder how Dad is keeping up. Looking back I see him happily waving in the distance. :smiley: I pedal off into the sunset…

It’s not the end of the world if your kid doesn’t learn to ride a bike. I never learned to ride a bike (well, sort of…I went up and down the block a couple of times when I was 14 or so, and then promptly fell off the bike and bruised and scraped both of my palms, and just never tried again), and it’s never been a big deal for me. My younger brother learned, no problem, so my dad’s technique be ok.