My first recommendation for parent’s who want to teach their kids how to bike is to start with a balance bike. Balance bikes have the benefit of simplifying the biking process (no pedals), allowing kids to focus on the most important skill needed for biking – balance!
For those kids who are using training wheels and/or are too old to switch to a balance bike (like my first born), here are five easy steps that will have them riding training wheel free in no time, all while saving your back!
5 Steps to Lose the Training Wheels
Step 1: Get the Gear
The first step in getting ready to ditch the training wheels is, yes – you’ve guessed it, remove the training wheels. After you’ve removed the training wheels, adjust your child’s bike seat height so he/she has both feet flat on the ground. It’s also important to make sure you child is wearing the proper safety gear. Make sure your child is wearing a properly fitted helmet (see Common Mistakes to Avoid when Fitting a Child’s Helmet), has tucked in shoe laces and pants and if you have them, gloves are also a good idea to protect their hands if they fall. To prepare for step 2 and 3, you can also remove the pedals from your child’s bike, although this is not necessary for older children (4+).
Step 2: Find the Location
The next step is finding the perfect location to start practicing. An ideal location is a gently sloping grass hill that is approximately 20 meters long. Carry or push the bike to the top of the hill.
Step 3: Master the Glide
Once you’re at the top of the hill, point the bike downhill and hold on to it while your child climbs on, putting both feet on the ground. Tell your child to lift his/her feet up and coast down the hill (without touching the pedals). You don’t need to hold on to them here – if they get scared, they can put their feet down. The grassy location will help slow the bike down and provide for a soft landing if they fall. Repeat this step until your child is comfortable gliding down the hill.
Step 4: Master the Glide with pedals
Now it’s time to master the glide with pedals. If you removed the pedals in step 1, re-install them now. Have your child place their feet on the pedals as they coast down the hill. Slowly raise the seat after each subsequent trip down the hill, until their toes are touching the ground. Next, with a raised seat, have them start to pedal down the hill. Practice turning and stopping near the end of the hill.
Step 5: Standstill Start
Now that your child has mastered balancing down a slope and is feeling more confident, it’s time to learn how to ride in a straight line. Find a flat section of grass and/or sidewalk. Have your child start from a standstill with one foot positioned with the pedal at about 2-o’clock. I can’t stress this enough – this is the POWER POSITION! By having your child start with one foot in this position, they’ll have enough ‘Oomph’ to get them going so they can pull their second foot up without falling as they move forward.
Transitioning from training wheels to two wheels doesn’t have to be a struggle. Start slow, learn to glide and then work towards a standing start. With these easy steps, your child will be training wheel free in no time!